Keep Trying

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Chanukah and Covey

Tonight is the first night of Chanukah. We light one candle tonight and add a candle each night until lighting eight on the last night of Chanukah. This is following the opinion of the House of Hillel in the Talmud. But the House of Shammai says that we should start with eight candles and subtract one each night. How can we understand this difference of opinion?

Rabbi Shlomo Yosef Zevin points out that a fire has two functions, to burn and to give off light. In terms of the human personality, Shammai says that we have to burn away our negative traits and thus we should decrease the number of lights. But Hillel says we have to focus on increasing our positive traits and this is highlighted by an increase of lights.

In the 8th Habit, Mr. Covey is focused on increasing the positive in yourself and those around you. His response to the stifling of voice in our times is to concentrate on making your own voice great, not on tearing down the voices of others. On our blogs and in our lives we spend much time focused on the negative. But we might be wise to follow Mr. Covey and Beis Hillel's advice and shift our focus on finding and increasing the positive in ourselves and in others.