Hillel's approach for Chanukah and for couples
In Made in Heaven: A Jewish Wedding Guide, (Moznaim Publishing, 1983 p. 32), Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan brings up the issue of squandering money on lavish weddings that should be put to better use in providing the couple with necessities. He recalls an illustration offered by his friend, Rabbi Shmuel Mendelson. Hillel and Shamai had different views about the order in which Chanukah candles should be lit. As we know, we follow the opinion of Beis Hillel, which is to begin with one and add on a candle each successive night. However, Beis Shamai’s view was that the candles should parallel the cows offered during Sukkos, which began with the full number but went down one each day.
Rabbi Mendelson observed that Beis Shamai’s approach is followed by those who believe they must start out married life with everything. They are the ones who would register for the expensive china and silver sets, buy full suites of Italian furniture, and set it all up in a home they cannot afford to keep up. “When they begin, they have everything.” But when reality sets in and their income cannot keep up with their expenses, “they find their lives diminishing.”
Then there are couples who see the wisdom of Beis Hillel’s approach in their own life. “They can start off with one candle – with very little.” These are the ones who make do with a modest apartment furnished with second-hand pieces and dishes that are priced by the set rather than the place setting. So they do not begin in a blaze of glory. “But for the rest of their life they are adding.”