I'm an Irish Girl, A Dubliner, with the 'Gift of the Gab' ... I like to talk & to tell you things. In Celtic times news, views and comment were carried from place to place by wandering Seanachaí ~ Storytellers ~ who relied on their host's hospitality and appreciation. I will need that from you too, as I venture to share Politics, Poetry, Laughter, Love, Life & everything in-between ... from Bog to Blog!!
Saturday, December 17, 2011
Chanukkah is NOT Christmas. Neither is it just a symbolic light to brighten the dark days of Winter .... although it is the 'Festival of Lights' !!!!
Chanukkah is probably one of the best known Jewish holidays, not because of any great religious significance, but because of its proximity to Christmas. Many non-Jews (and even many assimilated Jews) think of this holiday as the Jewish Christmas, adopting many of the Christmas customs, such as elaborate gift-giving and decoration. It is bitterly ironic that this holiday, which has its roots in a revolution against assimilation and the suppression of Judaism, has become the most assimilated, secular holiday on our calendar.
The story of Chanukkah begins in the reign of Alexander the Great. Alexander conquered Syria, Egypt and Palestine, but allowed the lands under his control to continue observing their own religions and retain a certain degree of autonomy. Under this relatively benevolent rule, many Jews assimilated much of Hellenistic culture, adopting the language, the customs and the dress of the Greeks, in much the same way that Jews in America today blend into the secular American society. More than a century later, a successor of Alexander, Antiochus IV was in control of the region. He began to oppress the Jews severely, placing a Hellenistic priest in our Temple, massacring Jews, prohibiting the practices of the Judaism, and desecrating the Temple by requiring the sacrifice of pigs (a non-kosher animal) on the mizbe'ah.
Jews opposed Antiochus, & led by Mattathias the Hasmonean and his son Judah Maccabee, revolted against both the assimilation of Hellenistic Jews and oppression by the Seleucid Greek government. The revolution succeeded and the Temple was re-dedicated. According to tradition as recorded in Talmud, at the time of the re=dedication, there was very little oil left that had not been defiled by the Greeks. Oil was needed for the Menorah (candelabrum) in the Temple, which was supposed to burn throughout the night every night. There was only enough oil to burn for one day, yet miraculously, it burned for eight days, the time needed to prepare a fresh supply of oil for the menorah. An eight day festival was declared to commemorate this miracle and this is Chanukkah!!!
Our rabbis taught the rule of Chanukkah: ... on the first day one [candle] is lit and thereafter they are progressively increased ... [because] we increase in sanctity but do not reduce.
~ Shabbat 21b, Babylonian Talmud ~
And each day we light a candle in our Menorah (or Channukiah) which is displayed in our front window, for all to see our celebration of our Jewishness. What a bright & beautiful holiday Chanukah is !!!!!!!
Candlelight ~ The Maccabeats !!!!!