Leap of Faith: gift wisely this Chanukah

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Leap of Faith: gift wisely this Chanukah

If we listen carefully we can give presents that have real meaning

I am definitely the grinch of Chanukah. This is what happens when you are a rabbi born on Christmas Day and, not only that, but the one time in 19 years it fell on the 25th of Kislev – the first day of Chanukah.

What’s worse than getting birthday presents wrapped in Christmas paper? Plus everyone else getting presents on your birthday – both your secular and Jewish birthdays!

Joking aside, giving presents on Chanukah is a relatively new addition to the festival and much more a western diaspora preoccupation. But there is something wonderful about receiving a present that you want or gifting one that someone else wants. Maybe the deep psychological repercussions of my birth date have made me somewhat preoccupied with getting people exactly the right present, something they never realised they wanted until they unwrapped it. The joy you get from watching their eyes light up is immeasurable.

There is a great Jewish saying that a fool gives and a wise person takes. In other words, a wise person is the one who realises they benefit by giving.

This year my children’s school sent out a letter recognising that it is a hard year for presents, but that if people really want to give something to the teachers they could make a donation towards a defibrillator. The teachers and staff have decided what they really want is something that everyone can come together for and potentially change lives.

The truth is that, for many, this is a hard year in which to fulfil the perceived expectations of what you think everyone might want to receive. But it’s very possible that if we listen carefully to what people are really saying we may find we can do just that. Inspired by the school, this year I am going to try and ensure that all the gifts I give are about enhancing the relationship I have with them, something that makes us grateful for each other and for life.

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