Skip to main content

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.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Using a Mitzvah Object for Non-Mitzvah Purposes

As I am -- Baruch HaShem -- getting older, I am more cognizant of the fact that I'd like to stay as healthy as possible right up the moment I leave this world.  Stuff hurting is not the problem (I am told there is an old Russian saying that once you are 40, if you wake up and nothing hurts -- you're dead), stuff not working, however, is a problem.  To that end, for several years now I commute to work by bicycle (weather permitting, 30 minutes on an elliptical machine when weather does not permit).  I recently took up some upper body weight training.  Not because I want to be governor of California, just simply to slow down loss of bone mass and extend my body's healthy span.  Simple hishtadlus.  I have an 18 month old grandson who is just the right weight for arm curls (yes... I am that weak), so I do about 10 reps when I greet him at night.  He laughs, I get my exercise; all good.  (Main problem is explaining to the older ones why zeidy can't give them the same "…

Thought for the Day: Coming Into This World for Torah, Avodah, and Acts of Loving Kindness

This TftD is so self-serving that I should be embarrassed.  But I am not... talking about grandchildren is always off budget.  I have, bli ayin hara, a beautiful new grandson; born at 6:11 PM CDT last Friday night.  The secular (aka -- by me, anyway -- slave) date is October 20, 2017 CE.  The Hebrew (aka Real) date is certainly Rosh Chodesh חשון/Cheshvan and certainly in the year 5778 since Creation.  The date, you ask... good question!

Sundown on Friday night was 6:01 PM CDT, which means he was born either at the end of the last day of תשרי or the beginning of the first day of Cheshvan; a period know as בין השמשות/twilight.  What's the big deal, you ask... I am so glad you asked.  We all deal quite handily with בין השמשות every week and every holiday; we're just stringent.  We start Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov before בין השמשות; that is, before sundown.  Likewise, we end Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov after בין השמשות; some 42, 50, 60, or 72 minutes after sundo…