July 18, 2024
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The Chanukah Weight-Loss Plan

No offense, but we really need to lose weight already.

Every year, everybody makes the same jokes about how Chanukah is horrible for our diets, between the latkes and the sour cream and the doughnuts and the lasagna and the onion soup with cheese melted in it, and—OK, I’m going to take a break now because I need to go make myself some of those foods.

Okay, I’m back. So what I’m saying is that I don’t think that we, as a society, are trying hard enough. See, we keep saying things like, “How do we lose weight after Chanukah?” But who says we need to lose weight after Chanukah? Let’s lose weight on Chanukah!

Sure, losing weight on Chanukah is not easy. After all these years, we should know by now that we’re never really going to eat better on Chanukah. But what we forget is that there’s more than one way to peel a potato. You can eat right, or you can exercise. We’re never going to stop eating, but there’s nothing that says that we can’t be more active. Sure, that first half hour we’re supposed to be sitting in front of the candles. But there are 24 hours in a day. And even that one half hour, you could be running down the street with your menorah. Imagine the pirsumei nisa!

Though that could be too much like the Greeks. Also, a lot of people read this column, and if all those people start running down the street with menorahs, it would not be good for the Jews. No one is going to say, “Ooh, pirsumei nisa!”

But maybe we, as a society, can work a little harder on reconfiguring some of the other things we do on Chanukah to make them more of a workout. Because as it stands, we’re not very active on Chanukah. Pesach has all the same potatoes, but on top of running around and baking matzah, we clean our entire house. That’s a workout. And for Sukkot, we build a house. We also walk around in circles doing aerobic exercises with our arbah minim and our machzorim. But what other holiday do we just sit around at parties for an entire week, saying, “I don’t know, let’s play a game where we have to answer questions about our spouses”?

What do we do for recreation on Chanukah? We play dreidel, which is arguably the least athletic game in the world. You sit around, you flick your fingers, and the winner gets chocolate. They should at least make the dreidels heavier, so it’s actually like lifting weights. In the old days, they made them out of clay, so that was something, at least.

In fact, if we really wanted to work out, dreidels would be massive, 7-foot, 600-lb. toys, and the way to spin one is that you have to get four people together, and have each one hold a side up and run in unison, and then you all let go at once and back up as it spins around the room, and then you have to keep dodging it so no one gets flattened. The winner of that can get chocolate.

And the games we play at massive family Chanukah parties can also be more athletic than they are. For example, we can play games like “How Many Babies Can You Hold?” Or “Who Can Put On the Most Coats?”

And speaking of making games more active, how about playing dreidel in a cave, like they did in the old days? Dreidel would be a lot better for weight loss if we can add spelunking to the game. And also, quite possibly, running from bears.

And speaking of the olden days, I think we should all have to make our own olive oil. The stores should stop selling olive oil altogether and just sell olives. And giant vats. And the olives can be available in different colors, so you can buy a color that you don’t normally eat. That way, there’s no confusion of, say, someone eating from the wrong vat.

On second thought, maybe you should keep the vat out at the Chanukah party, so people have less of an appetite.

We should also have to twist our own wicks, which is probably not a big deal, so maybe we should also have to pick the cotton. And we should also have to make our own Chanukah candles. For one thing, they’d be bigger. I made candles exactly once in my life, on a fourth-grade field trip. Everyone had to walk around in a circle, and when we got near the hot stove, we would dip our string into the wax. I’m not sure why all the walking was important, other than they didn’t want everyone dipping their hands into hot wax at once, but all the walking would definitely help in our situation.

And then we can write songs that make more sense than the current dreidel song!

“I have some little candles,

I made them out of wax;

I did all those hakafos,

So I’d fit into my slacks.”

“I had a little wick that,

I made from cotton balls;

I twisted all the chutin,

Like I do for all my shawls.”

“I have a vat of oil,

I made it out of zeisim;

I crushed the olives barefoot,

And the whole thing smells like meisim.”

And we can even take this back to dreidels:

“I have a massive dreidel,

It weighs about a ton,

And now I need four players,

Or this thing will crush someone.”

So the idea is to go back to what they did in the olden days. You didn’t have people a thousand years ago complaining about how fat they were after Chanukah. You think the Chashmonaim would have won the war if they weighed what we weigh?

Maybe. If they would have weighed what we weigh, they probably could have gone head to head with the elephants.


Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia and other magazines. He has also published seven books and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected].

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