Student Teaching in the New Millenium

Chanukah Questions (5772)

In Midrash on December 21, 2011 at 9:42 pm

Copyright © 2011 The author

We pursue Justice
This is light. This is the good
that we stumble on.

Chanukah is not just about the miracle of the oil. Chanukah is about the military victory of Israel over Antiochus. The Rabbis emphasized the story of the oil because, to them, it was inappropriate to celebrate a war victory as a religious holiday. What does this teach us about war and religion? What do they say about each other? How can we turn this into a positive lesson for humanity, and a healing balm for our troubled times?

Why do we read about spoils of war on each day of this holiday? Isn’t it ironic that such are the Torah’s words on a holiday dedicated to “peace?”

Why kindle lights to honor a war?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image copyright © 2011 The author
Redistribution and use in source and binary forms, with or without modification, are permitted provided that the following conditions are met:
1.Redistributions of source code must retain the above copyright notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer.
2.Redistributions in binary form must reproduce the above copyright notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer in the documentation and/or other materials provided with the distribution.
3.Neither the name of The author nor the names of its contributors may be used to endorse or promote products derived from this software without specific prior written permission.
THIS SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED BY THE AUTHOR AND CONTRIBUTORS “AS IS” AND ANY EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTIES, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE ARE DISCLAIMED. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHOR AND CONTRIBUTORS BE LIABLE FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, SPECIAL, EXEMPLARY, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES (INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, PROCUREMENT OF SUBSTITUTE GOODS OR SERVICES; LOSS OF USE, DATA, OR PROFITS; OR BUSINESS INTERRUPTION) HOWEVER CAUSED AND ON ANY THEORY OF LIABILITY, WHETHER IN CONTRACT, STRICT LIABILITY, OR TORT (INCLUDING NEGLIGENCE OR OTHERWISE) ARISING IN ANY WAY OUT OF THE USE OF THIS SOFTWARE, EVEN IF ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGE.

Advertisements
  1. We don’t like to remember/celebrate the war for a few reasons. One, is that it was not only a war fought over ideology against the Greeks, it was also a Civil War of sorts, fought against Hellenist Jews who had assimilated into Greek society. A Civil War is not something to be celebrated. Two, G-d is never proud of war. I remember my grandfather always quoting the Talmudic saying, concerning the Exodus and the drowning of the Egyptians in the sea: “The work of My hands is being drowned in the sea, and you want to sing songs?” G-d does not like to see enmity between His creations, especially not amongst the Jewish people. Furthermore, when King David was ready to rebuild the Temple, G-d would not allow him to do so, as he had “blood on his hands,” being a great military leader and fighter. Nevertheless, King David is known mainly for his psalms, as opposed to his victories. Instead, Solomon was appointed to do the work that David had set out to do. Thus, we see that while G-d allows for self-defense, this is not the ideal state of peace and holiness. We kindle lights to honor the spiritual victory of Judaism and Torah, symbolized by the Menorah in the Temple, not the physical victory. Ultimately, religion should bring peace not war.

    • Hi Lexah, I’m with you most every step of the way. “we kindle lights to honor the spiritual victory…not the physical one” is a troublesome statement for me, but I think you already knew that!

      I find the Talmudic saying particularly apt to the holiday, especially in light of some of the really obnoxious songs they teach in our religious schools. There’s one that starts “my name is Auntie Ochus.” I realize I’m getting a touch too dramatic, but that reminds me of how Iraq became I-Rak virtually overnight as part of the campaigning for that war. Do the songs we teach our children influence the adults they’ll become? How does religious nanny-nanny-poo-poo accomplish this, and peace not war? Of course, this leads into the question of how then do we instill our youth with religious identity…but that’s another conversation.

      More seriously, is a meaningful spiritual victory like you’re describing meaningful without the physical one? Does it mean anything without an awareness of what the physical cost? I appreciate the modern need for “Jewish Christmas,” but should we sing “I Am So Great” or “A Great Miracle Happened There…So We Can Sue For Peace Here” to honor it?

      I heard a lot about Auntie Ochus this year.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: