The definition of chutzpah … a lady sold pretzels on a street corner for a dollar each. Every day, a young man would leave his office building at lunch time and, as he passed the pretzel stand, he would leave her $1.00, but never take a pretzel. This offering went on for more than three years. The two of them never spoke. One day, as the young man passed the old lady’s stand and left his dollar as usual, the pretzel lady spoke to him for the first time. Without blinking an eye, she said: “Pretzels are $1.25 now.”
Chutzpah is a quality never in short supply among Jews. Chanukah, in fact, celebrates the chutzpah of the Jewish spirit. Imagine the chutzpah of that small band of Jewish fighters who stood up, fought against and were victorious over the mighty Syrian Greek army. And the chutzpah to light the menorah in the newly dedicated holy Temple, even though there was barely enough oil to last one day. And the chutzpah that we exhibit when we light our chanukiyot in our windows for all to see, calling attention to the Chanukah miracle.
On this beautiful holiday of Chanukah, may all of us be blessed with more chutzpah! To stand up for what is right in the midst of darkness, to cast our light as we reach out to those in need, as we speak out against injustice. May we each be reminded that we have the power to redeem our world.
Happy Chanukah to everyone. May this festival bring happiness, blessings, and good health to you and your loved ones!
Rabbi Brian Glusman serves the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta and is the visiting rabbi at Shearith Israel synagogue in Columbus, Ga.