Student Spotlight: Avi Citron

The Chanukah 'Present'

Parshas Mikeitz & Chanukah

There is a famous question that is posed about Chanukah. Why do we celebrate 8 days when the miracle was really only 7 days? There are hundreds of answers as to why we are celebrating the first day. One of the basic ones is the miracle of actually finding the oil and that there was enough oil for the first day.

I would like to share another answer, that may not seem so miraculous at first. We see in this week's Parsha that Yosef had the challenge of Eishes Potiphar. Had Yosef, on the first day when he was tempted by her, thought "Ya know, I'm a tzaddik, but I don't know if I can keep this up", who knows how the story would have ended. Day after day she was relentless in trying to trigger his tayvah. The first day Yosef was presented with the challenge, and he had a choice to make. He didn't know how long he would be there, and Eishes Potiphar was simply not giving up. He could've easily thrown in the towel right there and then. Or, he could choose to focus on the first day and give it all his strength to fight the yetzer hara. It's a matter of perspective; The first day is not too bad, but when you look at the whole challenge ahead it seems impossible. Yosef managed to stay strong for the entire 12 months he was there. He almost didn't make it one time. Only after a full year can he then look back and see how much he accomplished as a whole. But first, he had to take on the battle one day at a time.

By the menorah, the first day may not have been such a miracle. In hindsight it lasted 8 days, and each day in itself was miraculous. Maybe Yosef didn't think he could last the entire time he was in Potiphar's house, but he could battle that day. Then the next. Then the next. When the Chashmonaim lit the menorah with what little pure oil they found - they weren't thinking about the next day or how long they could make the Menorah last. Unfortunately, after the Chanukah story, we still lost the Beis HaMikdash despite the miracles of Chanukah. But had the Chashmonaim stopped to looked at the statistics and chances of them defeating the Greeks before stepping into battle, the Chashmonaim probably never would have even bothered fighting in the first place.

The same is true when struggling with addictions. If you ever try to think "I'm never going to touch a cigarette again in my life," within minutes you'll be weak. Had Yosef known that he would be tempted by Eishes Potiphar for a whole year, maybe he wouldn't have even tried to resist on day one. Had the Chashmonaim known the oil was meant to last a full 8 days, they would have been disappointed at having found such a small amount of it. It's about taking it day by day. Tomorrow will bring another day and another challenge. In other words, you can't fight tomorrow's struggles today. With a focus on our day-to-day effort without the overwhelming look at the long range challenges, we all have a much better chance of succeeding with Hashem's help. May the Chanukah lights provide that inspiration and ability for us all to truly appreciate the present day, and give it all we got.

~ Avi is a first year student at Lev Zion from Lakewood, NJ.

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