Anticipation is probably the best word to describe what’s in the hearts and minds of children when they learn that it is already Chodesh Kislev, conjuring up images of Chanukah parties with bubbies and zeidies, menorahs flickering in the background, and lots of Chanukah gelt and presents.
For those coming of age, I am sure that they are clamoring to have their own menorahs this year. Unlike the older children, they will definitely not wait for the eve of the holiday to make sure they have their own supply of candles or oil and wicks; they will be ready weeks in advance so that they can proudly light their menorahs in the picture windows of their homes.
Anticipation is a combination of waiting and wanting, something we all hopefully do each and every day in the context of waiting for Moshiach. Anticipating is also something that the Torah tells us our forefather Yaakov did, after chiding Yosef for sharing his dreams with his brothers.
After appearing to berate him by saying, “Is this the dream you have dreamed? Are we to come—I and your mother and brothers—and prostrate ourselves to you on the ground?” (Bereishis 37:10), the Torah states, “[Yosef’s] brothers were jealous of him, but his father shamar es hadavar—he awaited the matter.” Rashi adds, “He waited and looked forward to the time when this would happen.” Although the word “shamar” literally means “he watched,” it implies that Yaakov stood guard, anticipating the events that were foretold in the dream.
Of course, there are different ways to anticipate something. You can stand around waiting with your arms folded, or you can actively prepare for an event, which actually helps to bring it about.
Having foresight, however, isn’t reserved just for prodigious events; it’s wise to be proactive with regard to every aspect of life. Thinking a few steps ahead is the essence of “ro’eh es hanolad, seeing that which will be born,” and is the true sign of a wise man.