Give It All You've Got

May 9, 2009

3 min read


The Maccabees taught us that immobilizing perfectionism leaves no room for God.

One of the miracles celebrated on Chanukah is the miracle of having found a flask, containing enough pure oil to burn for one day, amongst the havoc the Greeks wreaked in the Holy Temple. The Maccabees wanted to light the menorah with sacred olive oil, and knew it would take eight days to produce a new batch.

Have you ever wondered how society today would have related to such a miracle?

Perhaps the discovery would have been discounted by the media as insignificant, since the oil was anyway insufficient to alleviate the scarcity of pure olive oil which prevailed at the time.

"All or nothing" advocates may have recommended not lighting the menorah at all. (If you can't do it in the best possible way, why even bother?)

Pragmatists may have assessed that since it is apparently impossible for one days' worth of oil to remain aflame for eight days, one should either light one-eighth of the oil each day, or have the menorah lit for less hours each day, or other compromising possibilities.

The Maccabees no doubt knew their options, yet decided to light the menorah in the most preferred way. This was done despite the fact that it entailed exhausting their entire supply of pure olive oil on the first day, leaving them with the probability of not being able to maintain the highest standard they so aspired to reach. But they decided to do their maximum with the resources they had, and let the Almighty take care of the rest.

There is a deep message here for us today. How many worthwhile endeavors are cast along the wayside because we are not guaranteed total success? Yet the result of inaction due to fear of failure, is failure by default. We can learn from the Maccabees that when there is a worthwhile goal to achieve, one should let go of immobilizing perfectionism, and instead capitalize on existing assets and do ones utmost under the circumstances.

This Chanukah, you can transform the Maccabees' legacy into your own. Choose an important goal which you have been pushing off due to fear of failure, and try to accomplish whatever you can. Don't worry whether complete success will be yours. Just give it all you've got at the moment, and leave the degree of success up to God.

For just as God let one days' worth of oil burn for eight, His Divine assistance can enable you to realize your objectives -- even those you believed to be beyond your grasp. And that's a real miracle.


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