The disease of Chanuka is Competition. I´m only good if I´m better than you.
The Greeks were the founders of the
Olympics. Their philosophy was that a person is only worth something in
comparison to someone else. Life is all about competing and winning.
Looking the best, acting the best, being the fastest, the smartest, the prettiest. That´s all that matters.
The Parsha tells us that Yosef had chen, charm.
He had a unique form of beauty and attraction that stood out. Yosef was
also the only person that the Torah has ever referred to as a tzaddik.
This is because he lived alone in Egypt, with no one to compare himself
to. He was just, well, Yosef.
Humankind often projects women with
flawless skin, big eyes, full lips, small nose, pure white teeth, smooth
and shiny hair, curvy body, wearing size 0 designer clothes, and they
portray them as being happy because of those qualities and possessions.
portray men as tall, with smooth skin, six packs, perfectly square
jaws, with any woman at their disposal, quite literally at their
disposal, stepping into their luxury car of choice, and they define
that that is what makes a man happy.
Society is extremely successful in being
able to brainwash people into believing they should look a certain way,
act a certain way, or be a certain someone, when in reality every
single one of us is different. People are born to be different; no two of
us are the same. We have different mindsets, different personalities,
different emotional makeups, different intellectual capacities,
different needs, different desires, different backgrounds, different
strengths and weaknesses, different opinions, and different experiences.
Even identical twins are different from one another.
one way in which we´re all the same: We´re all flawed human beings. We
have defects and flaws that were given to us to improve and perfect, in order to help us each fulfill our own individual missions in
Society likes to categorize people with the intention of
causing us to believe that we have fewer rights to be happy because we
do not fit into the idealistic lifestyle. This is the reason that so
many men and women hide away from society, and grow up thinking that
there´s something wrong with them. This is also why a disproportionate
amount of men and women carry the number of their local plastic surgeons
in their back pockets.
Comparing ourselves to others is a sure way
to knock our self esteems down to the ground, trample on them, and hose
them down the drain.
There will always be those who are
´better´than us, and those who are ´worse´than us. Denying this, and
trying to live the life of the subject of our envy, will cause us to
start wishing we were different people, causing thoughts of
worthlessness and hopelessness.
Here´s the main problem I see evolving
from this. By trying to parallel or match another person, I still come
up short of being them, but at the same time I´m coming up short of
I´m not living their life, and I´m not living my life. So, am I
Breathing doesn´t mean I´m living. It means I´m alive.
There´s an entire world of difference between being alive, and actually
Weighing ourselves against another,
takes us nowhere, wastes a lot of time and energy, and puts us in an
emotionally and psychologically awful place. As Albert Einstein so
wisely quoted, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its
ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it
Contrary to Greek ideology, Judaism
teaches that the result of something is not what´s important, but rather
the effort and motivation put into the act. Pirkei avos explains: ¨L´fum tzaara agra¨ The harder the effort, the greater the reward.
parent who´s interested in teaching their child to be confident and
healthy, will never tell them ¨I´m proud of you because you´re the best
in your class¨, but rather, they´ll tell them ¨I´m proud of you because
you really tried your best¨.
We all have intrinsic value as individuals. We´re not only good just in comparison to others.
The proof of this is another lesson from our sages: ¨Lo Alecha Hamelacha Ligmor¨, It´s not up to you to finish the task. What is up to me is to start it, and to give it my absolute best.
The Miracle of Chanuka is not just that
we were a tiny army who won over a much more powerful one. It was an
internal war that we won. It was a battle of confidence and assurance.
The Greeks tried to remove everything we stood for; everything that made
Shabbos, kashrus, bris milah, limud Torah, and rosh Chodesh.
These are five Mitzvos that are
absolutely unique to the Jewish people. To replace these spiritual
activities, they tried enticing us with their external enterprises
fueled by competition and vanity. But we didn´t fall for it! We stood
up to fight! We fought against a life of externality! We fought against a
life of competition! We fought against a life of emptiness!
And we won.
So when we celebrate Chanuka, we´re
embracing our uniqueness. We´re recognizing our individuality and
accepting the essence of who we are.
It´s no coincidence that the main
character of the parsha this week is Yosef, who had reached spiritual
perfection, being the solitary person to earn the title tzaddik. He
achieved that by having no one to compare himself to, and therefore
being able to use his own potential by being true to himself.
Chanuka means that the only person I need to be better than, is the person I was yesterday.
Have a beautiful shabbos, a happy Chanuka, and a chodesh tov!