Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Chanukah ends

Does Chanukah have a happy ending? Tonight the thought occurred to me that it does not. Within a generation the Maccabee successors were Hellenized complete with Greek names. John Hyrkanus was one. Alexander Yannai was another. They were corrupt, vicious, enemies of the Rabbis. Greek in every way. Very, quickly, they became the very sort of people the family founders had fought against. All Judah and his band of brothers managed to do was delay the inevitable.

But the impact of Greek culture on normative Judaism Judaism, the influence the Mighty Macs tried to prevent, has not been all bad.  Our wisdom books carry the stamp of Greek philosophy. The seder, and various legal and liturgical forms are based on Greek predecessors. We embraced a hellenistic hermeneutical method. Plato's theory of ideas gave us the concept that the soul posses perfect knowledge before birth, and Greek astronomers corrected our Torah-true cosmology. 

Much later, we absorbed Greek mathematics and Greek medicine. Maimonides and others dedicated Herculean efforts to reconciling Jewish thought with Aristotle's ideas.  The very idea of a logical, legal code is based on Greek principles of codification.

So the fact that Judah and his brothers ultimately lost, isn't quite the tragedy we might imagine it would be.

 Search for more information about the real meaning of chanuka at4torah.com

No comments: