In some ways, though, this final day of the holiday's lingering seems appropriate. Chanukah was the last holiday added to the calendar by the rabbis of the Talmud, at least as far as its origins are concerned. The events that Chanukah commemorates occurred in the second century BCE, after all of the events recorded in the Hebrew Bible. As such, Chanukah represents the last celebration of a miracle performed by God for the Jewish people. Ever since then, we have been lingering anticlimactically — like we do on the eighth day of Chanukah, after the candles are spent — waiting for the next miracle.
Of course, just because we don't have a holiday on the calendar to celebrate another miracle, does not mean that there are no miracles today. (Some will argue, and I will agree, that Yom Ha'atzmaut is actually the commemoration of a modern miracle). Miracles surround us all the time.
Later today, I will be traveling to a mikveh in Orlando for the ritual conversion to Judaism of a woman I have been working with for the last year. Her story is nothing short of miraculous. She discovered, quite on her own, that Torah and the Jewish approach to God and life spoke to her much more powerfully than the religion of her upbringing. Without ever being a part of a Jewish community, she learned on her own until she came to the synagogue in search of a place to practice the tradition she had already adopted in her heart.
I love that story. I love the idea that in this crazy world with so many things tugging at us to abandon ourselves to our own immediate gratification, wealth, and privilege, people still have a deep craving to discover something deeper, richer, and more fulfilling. People are still searching for God, even in an age when God can sometimes seem very quiet. That, to me, is a miracle.
It is a miracle that is very fitting to the last day of Chanukah, after the candles have guttered. Even in a moment of lingering and waiting, we discover dear and beautiful miracles waiting for us, all around us.
Other Posts on This Topic:
A Day of Chanukah
The Last Miracle