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The Flood

The Flood

My Chanukah Lesson


Planning and organizing: two of my worst enemies. And when they combine forces, they are nearly unstoppable. Don’t misunderstand. I do enjoy being organized, and I recognize the immense benefits of planning in advance. But, for some reason, I’m just allergic to thinking ahead.

My wife, Ettie, on the other hand, has list after list of what needs to be done, ranked by priority of urgency and deadline. She always knows exactly where to find a specific pen, some change for tzedakah, or the lone glove that we put aside to use as a puppet.

Ettie’s organizational skills are particularly helpful when planning an event. Last year, as Chanukah approached, we decided to host a farbrengen (joyous chassidic get-together) in honor of the Festival of Lights. Ettie’s birthday is on the first night of Chanukah, so we always have a double reason to celebrate. After some thought, we settled on Saturday night, after Shabbat ended.

Even I had to admit that hosting a party only two hours after Shabbat ends is a daunting task. Since most cooking and cleaning activities are prohibited on Shabbat, we would have to have everything ready well in advance. Planning ahead and organization was a must.

Thanks to Ettie, we cleaned the house early in the week, did the shopping, and had everything chopped, cooked, fried and baked by mid-day on Friday.

We were going to spend Shabbat with friends, so all we had to do was come home after Shabbat to a spotless home, set the table, and warm up the latkes. I have to say that I felt a sense of calm and inner peace going into Shabbat, knowing that everything was done. I thought to myself, “I could get used to this. I think I’ll start to be more organized from now on.”

After Shabbat, we arrived at our “spotless apartment” and opened the door. Something was wrong. Almost in slow motion, I looked at the floor, and realized that it was glistening unnaturally. Then I heard a familiar and unsettling sound; drip . . . drip . . . drip. My eyes immediately darted to the sink. The faucet was dripping directly onto a glass cutting board. In a split second it all registered; the beautiful picturesque sparkle on the floor was from an inch of water.

Immediately I started the calculations: Time: 6:00 p.m. Time the party was called for: 7:30 p.m. How many towels we’d need to clean up: way more than we had. I felt my sense of calm slip away. I pictured everyone arriving to an unset table, a room full of soaked towels, and me in my Shabbat clothes and blue Crocs asking the crowd to please be patient as we would be ready to entertain momentarily.

The logical thing to do would have been to go straight to the phone, call everyone we had invited and cancel the party. But just at this moment, all my last-minute instincts kicked into high gear. Flood shmud, I decided, the show must go on.

So, with the help of our extended family, and many, many towels, we created our own, mini chanukah miracle. The water was cleaned up in time, and the party went off without a hitch.

Now, this isn’t to say that planning and organizing isn’t beneficial, because it definitely is. However, sometimes we need something more than that. In fact, we can see this from the Chanukah story.

After their miraculous military victory, the Maccabees entered the Holy Temple, which the Syrian Greeks had pillaged and desecrated. Of the entire cache of oil stored in the Temple, they could not find even one pure jar with which to light the menorah.

Undeterred, they kept searching, and finally found one small jar. Again, logic would have dictated that they give up. The one jar was barely enough for one day. But they went ahead and kindled the menorah, expecting the unexpected. And a miracle happened—that small jar of oil burned for eight days.

One of the many lessons of Chanukah (and our flood) is that while planning and organizing are necessary and commendable, they must be complemented by a willingness to embrace every unexpected turn with zest, enthusiasm, and trust in the Almighty.

Nuta Yisrael is the Editor-in-Chief and Senior Writer of the e-newsletter and website A Shtikel Vort.
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Leah NY November 28, 2012

beautiful article! What wonderful insights. Thank you for this humorous and meaningful article! Reply

Robin Spencer Hauppauge, NY November 28, 2012

Wonderful message I always tell my children that it's important to be flexible, and to react with an open mind to last-minute changes to a plan. This article certainly supported my advice! It was very cleverly put into perspective with the Chanukah story. Well done! Reply

Patricia McMahon Coram November 27, 2012

Chanukah Article I was very moved by the simplicity of this article. It sent a message we all should live by every day. Reply

Cheryl Schaeffer Coram November 26, 2012

Such a Great Article I loved how this article was talking to an old friend. Must check out more of the author's articles. Thank you! Reply

BETSY SHURACK Coram November 26, 2012

Chanukah article good interesting article Reply

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