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Thought for the Day: The Light of Chanuka is the Light of the Human Soul

In case you haven't heard, an orangutan was ruled to be a non-human person by an Argentine court.  (If you don't believe me, just google "Sandra the Orangutan".)  The orangutan, further ruled the court, is therefore due certain rights; two of which are privacy and freedom from captivity.  Animal rights activists around the world are elated and celebrating.  Humans around the world should be fasting and engaged in serious soul searching to reinstill in themselves what it means to be human; as we Jews do every year on Asara b'Teves; the fast of the 10th of Teives.

There is a tragic error people make in understanding what the Greeks wanted from us in the first place and why that led to an "all hands on deck" rebellion -- even HaShem Himself got involved by supplying a miracle.  First a review of history:  The Greeks contaminated the oil for the menorah, punched 13 holes in the fence that ran around the inner courtyard of the Beis HaMikdash, and required the Jews to engrave "ein li chelek b'Elokei Yisrael"/I have no portion in the G-d of Israel, and forced us to translate the chumash/Five Books of Moses into Greek.  More than a little strange, no?  First of all, if they didn't want us to light the menorah, wouldn't it have made more sense to dump out the oil instead of simply contaminating it?  In fact, just break the menorah for goodness sake!  Also, punching 13 holes in the fence?  Just knock the thing down.  If they wanted us to renounce Judaism, why not "I don't believe in G-d" or "I don't believe in the Torah"... what's with "I have no portion?"  Finally, if you want the Chumash in Greek, then translate it yourselves... there were plenty of Greek scholars who knew Hebrew and could surely have written better Greek then we did.

The only rational conclusion is that the Greeks didn't want us to stop being Jewish at all.  They simply wanted us to admit that all philosophies are the same, just different; that is, freedom of religion.  They wanted to teach our Torah in their universities.  They wanted us to use regular oil from the supermarket (all they did to "contaminate" it was to open it).  They wanted us to translate the Torah so that we would put our imprimatur that Greek and Hebrew were equally good communication of our religious beliefs and principles.

In other words, they wanted us to be Jewish... as long as we admitted that being Jewish neither engendered nor signified any special relationship with the Creator.  So we fast and repent that we were forced to do the translation.  We annually celebrate the occasion of our resounding adherence to the Torah and declaration that there is spirituality and we do have a unique connection to it.  We rejoice that we held to our faith and that HaShem mirrored that spark of divinity that makes us human with a small flame that illuminates the ages.

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