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Entries in Bet Hillel (1)


The good that passed, the good that is yet to come

Bet Shammai hold that on Chanuka we light eight candles the first night, and one less every subsequent night. But in practice we follow Bet Hillel's view, that one candle is lit the first night, and we add another candle every night.

For me, Bet Hillel's position symbolizes the belief that you fight darkness by adding light, one small candle at a time. This is the position we choose to adopt in approaching the struggles and pain in our lives. This is why we follow this custom - Bet Shamai's position holding no such message. That has been how I have understood it in the past couple of years.

This year, however, I understood something new - and I think it is a function of the fact that I am now mid-way through my life. I always thought life gets better and better, and have lived for a long time with a sense of anticipation as if the truly good things are round the corner and in the future. But now I am understanding that some of the good things - the great things - that characterize my life have already happened and are past. Life is not a linear ascension of the good, it is ups and downs. Yes, much good undoubtedly awaits - maybe even more good than I can even imagine. But let me appreciate also the things that were, and understand that they were good too and are now gone, not to be held on to. The thrills of youth, all the first times, an age that was more innocent and less characterized by terrorism and suspicion...

Hence, both Bet Hillel (the good only increases as time goes on) and Bet Shamai (things pass and decrease) are correct - that is life. This year, while continuing to light as Bet Hillel, I will also light as Bet Shamai in my heart, symbolically, to thank for the past and its good, and most of all - recognise that it is important to really appreciate the present rather than waiting for that incredible future to show up.