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The History of Chanukah

The Menorah Files

How to Celebrate Chanukah


Thoughts on Chanukah

   Short tidbits

Long(er) Essays

   The Heroines of Chanukah

The Secret of Chanukah

The Greatness of Peace - The Purpose of Light

Being P.C. or C.P.

The Big Collision

The Shape of The Menorah

Let There be Light

Two Miracles: Two Modes of Commemoration

A New Level of Awareness

The Message of The Chanukah Lights

Why The Maccabees Rebelled

Increasing The Amount of Candles Lit on Chanukah

Reliving Chanuka

Chanukah and Moshiach

Chasidic Discourse - Mai Chanukah

Q & A

Letters From the Rebbe

Children's Corner

The Significance of Chanukah

 Being P.C. or C.P. The Shape of The Menorah

The Big Collision

Planets. Meteors. Stars.

Every once in a while we hear astronomers predict, and usually pretty accurately, that bodies in space will collide and crash.

Sometimes this has an effect on us earthlings, other times it has no repercussions for us whatsoever.

What happens when it's not two stars or planets, but two worlds that collide? That's exactly what happened a little over 2,000 years ago. The result of this collision is celebrated each year on Chanuka.

Chanuka recalls the clash of two worlds: on the one hand, the Jewish world of faith and Torah, based on pure monotheism, with its concept of holiness permeating daily life down to the minutest detail; on the other hand the Gentile Hellenistic culture, with its polytheistic and largely materialistic concept of life.

By force of arms the Greeks attempted to impose their culture on others. However, their aim was not to eradicate indigenous cultures, but rather to Hellenize and assimilate them.

Thus, the Greeks were willing to recognize the Torah, or even accept it, as a perfect and beautiful literary creation, a work of poetry, wisdom and profound philosophy, provided it was considered a human creation, something like their own mythology.

As such the Torah could be, nay, ought to be, changed and modified from time to time, so as to harmonize with the novel ideas and mores of the period, which, of course, would do away with the permanence and immutability of mitzvot such as Shabbat, the laws of kashrut, circumcision, etc.

Thus it was not the suppression of the Torah that they aimed at, but at its acceptance as G-d-given word, as G-d's Torah.

Similarly, they were not averse to the moral and ethical values contained therein, but they prohibited the Divine statutes -- the so-called "supra-rational" precepts -- which more than any others distinguish the Jewish way of life and make it specifically Jewish, holy and pure.

Moreover -- and this was the greatest danger posed by the Greek penetration of the Sanctuary -- they favored, and actually endeavored to bring about, the rekindling of the menora, specifically in its hallowed place in the Sanctuary, whence it should spread its light everywhere as before, except that its light should come from oil that had the Greek "touch" -- the touch that defiles the oil.

The menora, which was kindled with pure and consecrated oil, was the visible symbol of the purity of the Jewish way of life; its Perpetual Light flashed this message from the Holy Temple to every Jew wherever he might be. The Greeks were resolved to change this.

Indeed, there were Jewish Hellenists who felt that a "touch" of the more "modern" and "sophisticated" Greek culture ought to be applied to Judaism and Torah.

But a handful of Hasmoneans recognized that this "touch" is the fatal blow that strikes at the inner sanctum of Jewish life.

Divine Providence saw to it that a cruse of oil, pure and uncontaminated, should be found with which to rekindle the menora, and that it should not only hold its own, but grow and spread and keep the Perpetual Light burning.

What was true in those days is just as true in this season, in our day and age; what is true of the Jewish people as a whole is also true for every individual Jew.

Under the assault of environmental influences, a Jew may find his "Sanctuary" -- his attachment to and identification with G-d, Torah and mitzvot -- invaded and contaminated by ideas and mores which are alien to the Jewish way of life, incompatible and inimical to it.

But in the inner sanctum of his soul there is always a "cruse of oil" that remains pure and holy -- that spark of G-dliness which is his Divine soul, which is indestructible and beyond reach of defilement.

The Jew has but to kindle it; although it may seem like a tiny light at first and of brief duration, it is sufficient to light up one's whole being until it becomes a Perpetual Light.

 Being P.C. or C.P. The Shape of The Menorah

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