Regardless of the country, Independence Day celebrations are generally huge public events, complete with flag-waving, speakers, entertainment, fireworks, and all the rest. If the particular people achieved its independence through the barrel of gun, the official program often includes homage to the army - often in the form of a military parade or a sky show by the Air Force.
These mass events, of course, follow in the Hellenistic tradition. It was the ancient Greeks who reveled in the public spectacle – especially in their staging of drama or sports. They re the inventors of the stadium.
In marked contrast to these stands the celebration of Jewish independence won by the Maccabees: small candles in the window of alongside the door. There are no mass rallies, no theatrics, just a few small candles burning in silence.
Our celebration of Chanukah is ever so typical of the way of the Torah. Judaism recognizes that while the individual may be influenced momentarily by a big show, this doesn't last. The fireworks disappear quickly, leaving behind only a trail of smoke.
How can a lasting effect be achieved? How can genuine inspiration be nurtured?
Not by a big show, but by a series of many small actions – the fulfillment of one mitzvah after the other, day after day, year after year. The Chanukah candles remind us that only a consistent step-by-step approach can make a profound impression on the heart and on the mind.