First of all, Happy Hanukkah!
In the spirit of the holiday I thought I’d share a thought about what the Hanukkah lights can teach us about relationships.
You probably know that throughout the eight days of Hanukkah one additional light (starting with 1) is kindled until the total number of lights equals eight. What you might not know is that there was actually a dispute between the two most famous rabbinic schools of the Mishnah regarding this sequence.
According to the school of Hillel the lights increase with the days, which is what we do today. According to the school of Shammai however, you start by lighting 8 lights on the first night, seven on the second, six on the third, and so on until you are left with just one light on the eight day. What is the reasoning behind this dispute? (I actually discuss this and much more in my book, Deep Waters).
According Shammai the 8 lights represent the complete actualization of the miracle, which was put into effect on the first day. As the days progress the miracle power becomes depleted until there is only one light left at the end of the holiday. According Hillel the lights represent the potential of the miracle, which starts off small and gradually increases until it is fully manifested on the final night with 8 glowing lights.
There’s a huge lesson that can be learned from these two opinions of how to kindle the Hanukkah lights.
What is the healthy relationship progression supposed to look like?
Many, if not most, relationship seekers expect to be blown away on the first date. They look for that electric charge, that bolt of lightening, to strike immediately…love at first sight…an immediate soulmate connection that leaves them positive that they have met the love of their life whom they’ve waited for since the moment of their birth. They are followers of the school of Shammai.
Unfortunately, after that blockbuster beginning, they often find their feelings begin to wane as the initial excitement wears off and the reality of their relationship takes hold. Unlike a miraculous event, relationships don’t spontaneously burst into existence.
Relationships take time and effort to develop. Healthy and lasting relationships follow the school of Hillel. They start off slowly, with just a tiny spark and flicker of light and gradually grow and become stronger and brighter until they are fully developed and glowing with the light of love and happiness.
Think about how many potential relationships you threw away after only one or two dates, or even less, simply because you weren’t immediately overwhelmed with feelings for the person. I can think of a few in my own history. And I’m not talking about people who you were totally not interested in off the bat. I’m talking about people you were attracted to and were somewhat interested in initially, but who didn’t match your unrealistic expectation for love, or lightening, at first site. Do you have a few folks you can put on that list? Do you want to keep adding more to that list? I really hope not.
The Hanukkah lights, from one to eight, represent the gradual progression and growth of a healthy relationship.
Take that lesson to heart and learn from it. Most importantly, put it into practice and integrate it into your relationship search.
And remember, it’s Hanukkah…miracles do happen!