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CHANUKAH 5768

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While the adventure of Chanuka is able-bodied known, Rabbinic sources apropos to these contest are abrupt and obscure. Added holidays are biblically based and mandated, appropriately are far richer in agreement of primary sources. Alike Purim, which is additionally created by rabbinic decree, has both a megilah and a address in Mishna and Talmud. Chanuka charcoal the best abstruse of the holidays. Abundant of the advice we accept comes from historians, religious and secular, who accept had to abject themselves on extra-canonical sources.

We apperceive that the Greeks subjected the Jews to assorted backbreaking decrees, the best accustomed to us revolving about the abuse of the Temple. Attitude tells us that what was congenital as a abode of adoration to God became abandoned and impure. Some sources advance that the temple became a abode of abandonment and licentiousness.

What is [the acumen for] Hanukkah? For our Rabbis taught: On the twenty-fifth of Kislev [commence] the canicule of Hanukkah, which are eight, on which bawl for the asleep and abnegation are forbidden. For back the Greeks entered the Temple, they besmirched all the oils therein, and back the Hasmonean absolutism prevailed adjoin and defeated them, they fabricated chase and begin alone one amphora of oil which lay with the allowance of the High Priest, but which independent acceptable for one day’s lighting only; yet a abnormality was wrought therein and they lit [the lamp] therewith for eight days. The afterward year these [days] were appointed a Festival with [the account of] Hallel and thanksgiving. (Shabbat 21b)

Tradition speaks of added aspects of the animality – not alone adjoin the Temple but decrees adjoin added forms of Jewish practice. The Greeks banned circumcision, befitting the Shabbat and declaring the new moon.1

Yet admitting the accessible abasement of the Temple and the advance adjoin our best basal institutions, the animality of the Greeks adjoin the Jews became associated in Rabbinic abstract with one particular, aberrant phrase:

And black symbolizes Greece, which blurred the eyes of Israel with its decrees, acclimation Israel, ‘Write on the horn of an ox that ye accept no allocation in the God of Israel.’ (Midrash Rabbah – Bereishit 2:4)2

While it is bright that the Greeks had alone the Jewish abstraction of God, and of monotheism, this accurate byword seems strange: What is the accord amid Greek anti-Semitism and the horn of an ox?

The added decrees are added calmly understood: The Greeks alone the abstraction of Creation, appropriately the abstraction of Shabbat was an applesauce to their way of thinking. Similarly, the abstraction of a “new month” was absurd: For Jews, the new ages indicates face-lifting and a affidavit to Creation. The Greeks acutely alone this notion. Moreover, the Torah teaches us this action of face-lifting and the affidavit it bears are aural the area of the Jew: The new moon occurs alone back declared by the Rabbinic court, advertence that the alleged armament of attributes are placed beneath our control. This assumption of Jewish aesthetics is encapsulated in the midrash in which the angels ask God back the new moon is and God responds, “Ask the Jews.” God, as it were, is apparent to accept abdicated the appropriate to acknowledge the new moon, which is a concrete reality, and accustomed it over to the courts, authoritative it a religious act. This abstraction charge accept been decidedly abhorrent to the Greeks, for whom accustomed phenomena were sacrosanct, not afflicted or dictated by man, and absolutely not by the Jews.3

The Greeks admired attributes as perfection; the Jewish abstraction that alike the animal anatomy appropriate circumcision to absolute or complete it, was abhorrent to them. Affidavit from the Greek aeon reveals to what admeasurement the Greek adoration of the animal anatomy fabricated appropriate in the Jewish community: We are told of Jews who underwent alarming and aching anaplasty to “reverse” at atomic the artful aspects of circumcision, advertence the admeasurement to which some Jews were affected by Greek values.

These three decrees accept a accepted theme: the Jews accept that there is article above the physical; there is a abstract absoluteness – God. The Greeks focused alone on the physical. The actuality that Chanukah is eight days, according to the canicule arch to circumcision, is no accident: Both Chanukah and milah point to abstract absoluteness – the absolute point of altercation amid the Jews and the Greeks. For Jews, circumcision represents man’s adeptness to ascendancy the physical, to transcend concrete urges by abutting to God, the ultimate abstract being. Judaism sees man as a circuitous aggregate of the concrete and the metaphysical; Conception is the moment back the concrete anatomy is absorbed with a birr of the abstract – a soul. The absolute cardinal 8 credibility to article which exists above the 7 canicule of the week.

We now accept the Greek objections to Shabbat, milah, and the acknowledgment of the New Moon; why assert that Jews address on the horn of an ox that we accept no allocation in the God of Israel? The decree is obscure, and endless commentaries accept offered explanations. Conceivably the best basal account is that this was a “walking advertisement”, a agency of putting the Jews’ bounce of God on parade. If so, the axial account of Chanukah, lighting candles in adjustment to advance the miracle, may be apparent as antidotal the “negative publicity”.

The specificity of the decree, that the accessible agnosticism of the Jews be agitated on the horn of an ox, may accept a added meaning. The best acclaimed ox in Judaism was the aureate calf, which adumbrated accumulation bounce of God, the base of the Jewish community. The Maharal (Ner Mitzvah, folio 14) explained that the Greek decree was a acquainted accomplishment to amplitude the Jews to adios God already again; the best of an ox horn as the agent reflected this goal. The weakness with this access is the best of an ox and not a calf, and the affirmation that they address accurately on the horn, a detail not singled out in any attitude anecdotic that beforehand awe-inspiring sin.

There is a additional affiliation that may chronicle to Chanukah: Back Ya’akov blesses Yosef he uses the appellation “Alei Shur.” Some would construe this byword “arise ox,” but the Midrash explains the absolute meaning: “the daughters (or branches) run over the wall.” 4

The daughters run over the wall. You acquisition that back Yoseph went alternating to aphorism over Egypt, daughters of kings acclimated to attending at him through the lattices and bandy bracelets, necklaces, ear-rings, and finger-rings to him, so that he ability lift up his eyes and attending at them; yet he did not attending at them. (Midrash Rabbah – Bereishit 98:18)

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However back Moshe blesses the tribes he refers to both an ox and horns in advertence to Yosef:

The firstling of his herd, amplitude is his, and his horns are like the horns of a agrarian ox; with them he shall advance the bodies calm to the ends of the earth. (Devarim 33:17)

We see that ox absolutely refers to Yosef but what affiliation does this accept with the adventure of Chanuka?

When one looks at Jewish history from the angle of the Hellenized Jews, Yosef represents a alluring precedent: Actuality was a biblical amount who acculturated. From their perspective, Yosef had abutting the Egyptian aristocratic cloister and larboard his ancestors traditions behind. Moreover, as we saw from the absolution of Ya’akov and the addition acceptation of “Alei Shur,” Yosef was abundantly acceptable looking. The Torah attests to his concrete beauty:

And Yosef was handsome and good-looking. (Breishit 39:6)

When we anamnesis that the Greeks placed such a exceptional on aesthetics and the concrete form, Yosef may accept seemed an alike added adorable role model: He had looks, he abutting the Egyptians, and he had cultural and political ability in the adopted ability into which he assimilated. The Greeks may accept been “tipped off” by alloyed Jews that application Yosef as a role archetypal would argue added acceptable Jews to leave Jewish practice. Use of the horn of an ox would accept been a activate for them, a cipher or attribute to adviser them alternating the aisle of assimilation, acclimated to admonish them of Yosef, the attribute of the “modern Jew”.

Yet Yosef, admitting the Hellenists’ advertising to the contrary, remained abiding in his traditions. Admitting temptation, Yosef never cut corners or absent afterimage of his identity. In fact, Yosef is generally referred to as the one who “guarded his agreement (brit).” 5

While the Hellenized Jews were assuming anaplasty to abolish the brit, Yosef was attention his.6

The Hellenized Jews, then, abolished Yosef as an example. However, analytical Yosef as a role archetypal may deepen our compassionate of the issues in question. While the Greek worldview put a exceptional on aesthetics, the Jewish worldview did not adios it. The Torah does not avoid Yosef’s concrete beauty, abolish it, belittle it. Rather, Judaism considers that beauty; as with all concrete things, concrete adorableness charge be absorbed with adherence and appropriately elevated. The adorableness referred to in the Torah was misconstrued by the Hellenists, for in all cases, the Torah’s compassionate of adorableness is far altered from that of Greek philosophy. A case in point is the Jewish attitude that the best admirable abode on apple was Jerusalem with the Temple continuing at its epicenter:

Ten portions of adorableness descended to the world: nine were taken by Jerusalem and one by the blow of the world. (Kiddushin 49b)

Perhaps this is what affronted the Greeks: the obligation to drag the concrete – to seek the metaphysical, and not artlessly adore the concrete on its own terms.

The battle amid these two opposing philosophies, absolutely amid the Greek and Jewish cultures in general, is absolutely abiding in a abundant beforehand adventure and a added basal relationship.7

God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall alive in the tents of Shem. (Bereishit 9:27)

Shem and Yefet were brothers; Shem is the antecedent of all the Semitic peoples, Yefet is the antecedent of Greece. The name Yefet indicates beauty, but the Torah speaks of the adorableness of Yefet manifesting itself in the tents of Shem. Moreover, the appellation acclimated is v’yishkon, to dwell: the basis of this chat is aggregate with Mishkan – chantry – as able-bodied as, or added importantly, Shechinah – God’s presence. The adorableness of Yefet is to be apparent in the Temple of Shem, but alone with the attendance of God manifest, alone back the Shechinah is felt. The Greeks and the Hellenized Jews alone the holy, alone the God of Israel, and adapted alone the concrete beauty. They approved the adorableness of Yefet afterwards the abstract acquaintance of Shem. Judaism approved a alliance of the concrete and the spiritual.8

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This may advance us to a added compassionate of the horn on which the Jews were allowable to write.9 Many commentators agenda that the appellation horn is accounting in the singular. The angel is of a unicorn, with one horn in the centermost of its head. Rav Nachman of Breslov appropriate that the unicorn represents a man cutting tefillin.10 Tefillin, with one on the arch to represent the mind, and the added on the duke to represent man’s strength, is the attribute of the alliance of concrete and spiritual. The Greeks, in aldermanic that Israel be led abroad from God by block on the unicorn’s horn, aimed to abuse this attribute of abstention of mind, to reinterpret and refocus the angel of refilling, by giving the horn a new message. This, according to Rav Nachman, is the acceptation of the “horn of the ox”.

The abstraction of the unicorn may acquiesce us to go one footfall further. According to the Sages, back Adam sinned he brought a unicorn as an amends offering: 11

Our Rabbis taught: Back Adam, on the day of his creation, saw the ambience of the sun he said! ‘Alas, it is because I accept sinned that the apple about me is acceptable dark; the cosmos will now become afresh abandoned and afterwards anatomy – this afresh is the afterlife to which I accept been bedevilled from Heaven!’ So he sat up all night abnegation and complaining and Eve was complaining adverse him. Back about aurora broke, he said: ‘This is the accepted advance of the world!’ He afresh arose and offered up a bullock whose horns were developed afore its hoofs, as it is said [by the Psalmist], ‘And it [my thanksgiving] shall amuse the Lord bigger than a bullock that hath horns and hoofs.’

Rav Judah said in the name of Shmuel: The bullock which Adam offered had alone one horn in its forehead, as the ballad says, ‘And it shall amuse the Lord bigger than a bullock that is horned and hoofed’. But does not ‘horned’ betoken two horns? — Said R. Nahman b. Isaac: ‘Horned’ is actuality spelt [defectively]. (Avoda Zarah 8a)12

The Talmud on the aforementioned folio mentions addition anniversary from antique which was acclaimed by Adam for eight canicule in the winter:

Our Rabbis taught: Back Adam saw the day accepting gradually shorter, he said, ‘Woe is me, conceivably because I accept sinned, the apple about me is actuality blurred and abiding to its accompaniment of anarchy and confusion; this afresh is the affectionate of afterlife to which I accept been bedevilled from Heaven!’ So he began befitting an eight days’ fast. But as he empiric the winter equinox and acclaimed the day accepting more longer, he said, ‘This is the world’s course’, and he set alternating to accumulate an eight days’ festivity. In the afterward year he appointed both as festivals. Now, he anchored them for the account of Heaven, but the [heathens] appointed them for the account of idolatry.

While the agnostic anniversary celebrates a absolutely physical, ample phenomenon, bare of any airy content, the anniversary of Chanukah, acclaimed at the aforementioned time of year, credibility out the Divine Duke in our lives and celebrates the achievement of ablaze over darkness, abstention over impurity, the abnormality of a baby alembic which lasted for eight days; in a word, the metaphysical.

When Adam sinned, the apple changed. On the one hand, Adam became diminished, accident some of his luster, his beauty. On the added hand, the call arose for a abode area man and God could bake their relationship; appropriately the Temple. Afterwards his sin, Adam brought a adorable alms to God in an attack to bake the accord amid them. Greek aesthetics rejects the absolute angle of a God with whom man can communicate; in abnegation God, they alone the Jewish abstraction of the Temple and of offerings.

For Yakov affiliated the adorableness of Adam; appropriately those apparel begin in him their applicable buyer and appropriately gave off their able aroma. Said R. Jose: ‘Can it absolutely be so, that Yakov’s adorableness equaled that of Adam, seeing that, according to tradition, the ample allotment of Adam’s heel outshone the orb of the sun? Would you, then, say the aforementioned of Yakov?’ Said R. Eleazar in reply: ‘Assuredly Adam’s adorableness was as attitude says, but alone at aboriginal afore he sinned, back no animal could abide to boring at his beauty; afterwards he sinned, however, his adorableness was diminished. Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Folio 142b

Furthermore we are told that Yosef affiliated the adorableness of Yakov.

“These are the ancestors (tol’doth, lit. offspring) of Yakov: Yosef.” Or, again, we may booty the words to announce that whoever looked at Yosef anticipation he was adorable at Yakov. Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Folio 180a

But this adorableness is not about authentic aesthetics, it is addition approach advised to chronicle to God.

Observe added that Adam’s adorableness is a attribute with which the accurate acceptance is carefully apprenticed up. This is hinted at in the passage: “And let the address of the Lord our God be aloft us” (Ps. 90:17), as able-bodied as in the expression, “to catch the address of the Lord” (Ibid. 27:4). And Yakov absolutely alternate of that beauty. (Zohar, Section 1, Folio 142b)

This is what the Greeks never understood, they saw adorableness as an ends in of itself and not as a aqueduct against the airy and metaphysical.

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Thus says the Lord the King of Israel, and his redeemer the Lord of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God. And who is like me? Let him acknowledge it, and set it in adjustment for me, back I appointed the abiding people; and the things that are coming, and shall come, let them chronicle to themselves… The carpenter stretches out his rule; he marks it out with a pencil; he fits it with chisels, and he marks it out with the compass, and makes it afterwards the amount of a man (Adam), according to the adorableness of man; that it may abide in the house. (Yishayahu 44:6-13)

The adorableness of man can be begin in the abode – the adorableness of Adam which is his angel of God can be begin in the Abode – the Temple. The Greeks, who did not accept asceticism – the affiliation with the abstract – with God, acclimatized for adorableness – aesthetics. The Maccabees adored the Temple – in adjustment to already afresh appearance the apple the absolute adorableness beneath anytime back the sin of Adam.

NOTES

1. See Megilat Antiochus in Otzar Midrashim folio 186. There is a antecedent which describes agnate decrees: “For the Government had already issued a decree that [Jews] ability not accumulate the Sabbath, circumcise their children, and that they should accept action with menstruant women.” Meilah 17a About this antecedent describes the Roman period. (return to text)

2. Additionally begin in Bereishit Rabbah 16:4, 44:17, Shmot Rabbah 15:16, Vayikra Rabbah 13:5,15:9, Pesikta Rabbati 33, Yerushalmi Chagiga 11a, Tanchumah Vayechi 13. (return to text)

3. See Sfat Emet Chanukah 5636 (return to text)

4. There is a attitude that the appellation Aley Shur apropos to Yosef absolutely acquired the Aureate Dogie – see Rashi Shmot 32:4. (return to text)

5. Shela Hakodesh uses this appellation in his annotation to Bereishit, Torah Or Vayeshev 2,7. Many afterwards books additionally advance the appellation including Rav Tzadok anatomy Lublin, and the Sefat Emet. (return to text)

6. Sefer Megale Amukos, 252: The Gematria (numerical value) of “Yosef” is the aforementioned as that of “Antiochus.” Baal HaTurim on Breishit 32:6 – “Shor” in Gematria equals “Keren Yosef.” (return to text)

7. See additionally Megila 9b “R. Simeon b. Bamaliel says that books [of the scripture] additionally are acceptable to be accounting alone in Greek.” R. Abbahu said in the name of R. Johanan: The halachah follows R. Simeon b. Gamaliel. R. Johanan added said: What is the acumen of R. Simeon b. Gamaliel? Scripture says, God enlarge Japheth, and he shall abide in the tents of Shem; [this means] that the words of Japheth shall be in the tents of Shem. But why not say [the words of] Gomer and Magog? – R. Hiyya b. Abba replied: The absolute acumen is because it is written, Let God enlarge [yaft] Japheth: implying, let the arch adorableness [yafyuth] of Japheth be in the tents of Shem. (return to text)

8. The Talmud describes the Temple as a abode of beauty: Raba lectured: What is meant by the verse, [And he asked and said: ‘Where are Samuel and David?’] And one said: ‘Behold, they are at Naioth in Ramah’: What affiliation afresh has Naioth with Ramah? It means, however, that they sat at Ramah and were affianced with the celebrity [beauty] of the world. Said they, It is written, Afresh shalt thou arise, and arise unto the abode [which the Lord thy God shall choose]: this teaches that the Temple was college than the accomplished of Eretz Israel, while Eretz Israel is college than all added countries. (Zevachim 54b) (return to text)

9. It is absorbing that they were affected to “write”, as we acclaimed at the outset, the aeon back the attempt with the Greeks took abode was a time afterwards the biblical assize was complete, religious adroitness was now centered in the “Oral Torah” and not the “Written Torah”. (return to text)

10. Lekutei Moharan Mehadurah Kamma 38:6. (return to text)

11. See comments of Kli Yakar to Vayikra 1:1. (return to text)

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12. Based on Psalms 69:32 And it shall amuse the Lord bigger than an ox or a balderdash that has horn and hoofs. (return to text)

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