Hanukkah In The Internet Age

Remember when we were in high school? If we wanted to know something, anything, about a subject, we needed to go to the library and research it.
Often the answer couldn’t be found. I remember thinking to myself as a kid, “How tall is Dave Kingman?” (former baseball player) and of course, for athletes, that type of information was easier to obtain. As a matter of fact, trading sports cards was a great way to store information about your favorite athletes. Nowadays, finding any bit of information (and sometimes, much more than you ever wanted to know) can be accomplished in seconds – even without typing a keystroke, thanks to talking search results on most smartphones.

Most of our rituals have joined the internet age as well. Everything is instantaneous. No effort is required, just good vibes. Buy your prepacked “Shalach Manos” for Purim, and send them out. Your hands never touched a food item, and you don’t even have to say hello to the recipient. I’m assuming someone will invent an app to allow folks to send משלוח מנות Mishloach Manot with a swipe of a finger on their Android, and have everything “taken care” by some little workshop in Dimona.

Up until just a few years ago, lighting the menorah (חנוכיה) on Chanukkah was pretty the same as it had been for centuries on end. One could use wax candles, line them up in the menorah, each night taking care to remove the unburned wax from the previous night. Many preferred to use Olive Oil, to more closely align with how the Menorah was lit at the Temple for which we are commemorating on this holiday. The task consisted of pouring a bit of oil with a mix of water, into each receptacle, and then placing a wick threaded into a small metal and cork plate. That would keep the oil burning for the required time. This effort, and it did take some time and experience, was part of the fun of Chanukkah. Parents gave this task to the kids as a way of teaching them the importance of preparing for a mitzvah (good deed). Going with the old Jewish aphorism, if you didn’t toil for it, don’t believe it. The work and time required to get the candles ready was a palpable part of Chanukkah for many generations – possibly all generations from the time of the first time it was celebrated, until a few years ago.

Part of the great ingenuity of Israeli minds, something that has wowed everyone from Bill Gates to the Nobel Prize Committee, is to use technology to find practical solutions to everyday needs. A few years ago, one such smart dude came up with the idea of prepacked, ready for use, mehadrin (highest level of kosher) olive oil “candles”.

For less than 40 NIS (approx $11) in most supermarkets in Israel, you can pick up a “set” of all the candles you’ll need for the entire eight day holiday. Each night, you simply pop-out the used plastic holders from the menorah, and put the new ones in. The process takes all of ten seconds. Thanks to the advancement of technology and user experience engineering modification, the spirit of Hanukkah will now have to be sponged from something other than the candle lighting experience.

Anyone care for some low-fat no-salt low-carb all-natural organic, sweet potato latkes?

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