Eco Rabbi: Take the Hanukkah Challenge!

hanukkah, menora, chanukah

A modified version of this post will be presented as part of Sviva Israel’s Eco Lights Hannukah Program

Ever wonder why every day of Hanukkah we add another candle?

The Talmud explains that this disagreement goes back to the great sages Hillel and Shamai. Hillel explains that we add another candle every day “for the days coming” and Shamai explains that we start with eight and remove a candle every day until there is one left on the last day. We do this, he explains, “for the days gone by.”

What are the “days coming” and the “days gone by?”

These philosophies are connected with perspectives on life. The “days gone by” is the perspective of the people who say, “in the old days things were better.” In medieval times this was a powerful feeling permeating the culture. Many technologies from the ancients had been lost, and people felt that that had been the height of humanity and we are only growing away from greatness as each generation goes by. In Jewish Historical terms, the receiving of the Torah was our pinnacle and since then we have been growing farther from those heights.


The perspective of the “days coming” is the perspective that humanity is always growing and moving towards a perfection. Judaism holds a messianic philosophy that one day man will reach a level of perfection and the world along with him.

In today’s modern world with the ever quickening pace of technological developments it is certainly easier to identify with the approach of Hillel. Computers are getting faster, as well as transportation. We can plow more ground in a day then could be done in a week and plants are being engineered to fight of disease and unwanted pests. It is wonderful to see this development in the green-sphere.

This approach can also be taken with knowledge and personal development. And I would like to share it from an environmental perspective.

There are more and more tips and tricks coming out every day telling you how to “green” your life. But it can all be overwhelming. Let’s take a page out Hillel’s book.

Take the Hanukkah challenge. Take on one thing at a time. Every day incorporate one more thing into your life that will help heal our planet. Whether it’s switching over light bulbs to florescent or educating yourself, each day add one thing for each of the eight days.

You’ll see that things that you didn’t think that you could do seem easy when you build up. Let’s do this “for the days coming” and ensure that there willl be days coming to look forward to for many generations to come!

Image Credit: drurydrama

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