Thursday, December 09, 2010

The 8 Facts of Chanukka

Jewish Insurgent put together a fun fact about Chanukka to know and tell for each of the 8 nights. With his permission, I now give them all to you in one shot.

>>See them after the jump

Chanukah fact #1: Chanukah was not a victory of religious freedom over tyranny. It was a civil war between Jews who wanted to live like Greeks and those who wanted to live like Jews without Greek influences. Therefore, Hanukah actually celebrates the imposition of religious observance under duress, and NOT religious freedom at all. Or as I said in 2006 Politicians, conservative columnists, and reform Rabbis often call Chanuka "The Festival of Religous Freedom." They are 180 degrees from the truth. As soon as the Greeks were gone, the Macabees set up a monarchy, which is hardly conducive to freedom as the word is understood today. The Mighty Macs were fighting not for religious freedom, but for the right to practice their own understanding of their own religion. They had no intention of providing freedoms of any kind to other faiths, or even to co-religionists who might have wanted to practice a different sort of Judaism. Hasidim or Reformers, for example, would have been most unwlecome in MacabeeLand.

Chanukah fact #2: No primary sources mention the miracle of the Menorah burning for 8 days. The Book of Maccabees mentions an 8 day celebration to celebrate the victory in battle and Josephus (250 years later) says the same. The first mention of the Menorah miracle is in the Talmud, 650 years after the Hasmonean victory.  >>Read more

Chanukah fact #3: The first Chanukah was put in place because the Temple had been under Hellenist control during Sukkot. That Chanukah probably looked and felt more like Sukkot than Chanukah. Subsequent Chanukahs were celebrations of a military victory as made law by Judah in the Greek tradition of celebrating military victories with annual holidays. >> Read more

Chanuka fact #4: Chanukah presents are given only as a copy of the Christian practice of giving presents on Christmas, meaning that present-giving on Chanukah is very close to Chukat HaGoyim. >> Toys yes, turkeys no?

Chanukah fact #5: While the battle in Judea was a civil war, the Hellenists enforced laws imposed by the Selucids that prevented the Traditional Jews from practicing under penalty of death. The Hellenists killed a whole city of Jews for keeping Shabbat while they did not fight back. While it was a civil war, and the Hasmoneans were not blameless, they were clearly in the right.

Chanukah fact #6: Josephus calls it "The Festival of Light, because, I imagine beyond our hopes this right was brought to light..." Perhaps Chazal, in discussing the miracle of the oil, used allegory, that it should not have been possible to expect victory, but the Hasmoneans fought anyway, and God allowed them to win, like if one were to light one nights worth of oil and it would last 8 nights. >> Read more

Chanukah fact #7: Traditions of other nations may be used in the Jewish tradition, and often are. Many synagogues imitate church architecture, and many liturgical melodies stem from Christian hymns. Judah, while celebrating a military victory, only copied the Greeks in making a celebration. However, the celebration was to celebrate the dedication of the temple, and was therefore of religious focus (1 Maccabees 5:59).

Chanukah fact #8: Chanukah gift giving TO CHILDREN is a form of Chinuch for the holiday and encourages them to learn about the holiday as a function of Persumei Nes (R' M.M. Schneerson). Therefore, while it may not be a Jewish concept to start with, it does have a purpose, and is not a direct copy of Christmas, as it is not done in conjunction with Christmas. Therefore, as it is not Avodah Zarah, and has a purpose and can be done FOR CHILDREN. [DB: Grinch]

>> Other facts

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