web analytics
April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



Carriers Of The Talmudic Torch

Front-Page-083112

Share Button

Beginning during the reign of Ptolemy I (one of Alexander’s generals and successors), however, their span of influence widened. Cities such as Gadara and Philadelphia in Trans-Jordan, and Beth-Shean in Samaria, took on a strong Greek flavor. They joined the coastal cities Ashkelon, Acco, and others in tightening the Hellenistic noose around the Jewish heartland.

On the whole, the Jewish population in Judah successfully resisted these Hellenistic inroads. This was by no means a trivial accomplishment. The vast majority of conquered peoples outside of Israel willingly allowed themselves to be Hellenized. Only the Jews’ ever-present drive and sense of mission kept them from following suit.

There were, however, exceptions. A growing percentage of Jews, primarily from the upper classes, began to progressively embrace aspects of Hellenistic culture.

First, they adopted certain external trappings, including speaking the Greek language, participating in Greek festivals, and using Greek names. Over time, they chose outright assimilation, indulging in the imported Greek culture, visiting gymnasiums, etc.

This group was driven by distinct aims. Most were motivated by secular and economic causes. They saw Hellenism as their first-class ticket to new opportunities for social mobility and wealth. A smaller faction was inspired by an appreciation of the external beauty promoted by Hellenism. The grandeur of Greek architecture, in the form of theaters, stadiums and gymnasiums, captured their passions. Greek artistic and cultural expression, not to mention its strong emphasis on philosophic debate and understanding, seized their imaginations.

* * * * *

Perhaps the most painful aspect of the war that would ultimately follow was that it was not just a war against the Greeks. It was a civil war as well. Jews loyal to their ancestral faith fought against their Hellenistic coreligionists.

Those who remained loyal to their tradition were nationalistic in their quest to preserve their religious – and, eventually, political – independence. The anti-national Hellenists, on the other hand, were willing to sacrifice the very identity of their religion and nationality in order to achieve their assimilatory goals.

From this struggle, a new, “Jewish” definition of hero would emerge – individuals who summon up extraordinary strength of character at pivotal moments. Our heroes were and are bastions of the spirit, men and women who refuse to buckle under trying conditions. It is a definition that has stood the test of time.

Where did this great bravery and moral courage come from? In his address to the Chicago siyum, Rav Uren Reich, rosh yeshiva of Woodlake Village (NJ), spoke of the true nature of Torah study. In the process he referenced a verse that was designed to comfort us following the harrowing predictions of Parashas Bechukosai:

“But despite all this, while they are in the land of their enemies, I will not despise them nor will I reject them to annihilate them, thereby breaking My covenant that is with them, for I am the Lord their God” (Vayikra 26:44).

Rav Reich quoted Chizkuni, who asked a seemingly insolent question. How can Hashem say He will neither reject nor annihilate us? Has not history proven otherwise? Have we not been forced to endure every form of unspeakable suffering known to man? Did we not lose every precious gift that had been bestowed upon us, including the Temple, our Holy Land, etc.?

He answered that there was one special gift we never lost, one constant reminder that we remained His nation, despite our many sins – the holy Torah. And we were spared that gift because Jewish life would not be possible without it. Taking away our Torah was tantamount to our complete destruction, Heaven forbid.

The Jews who lived during the time of the Hellenistic struggle understood that they were not simply fighting for the preservation of their culture. Their fight was for their very existence; their battle would determine whether the Torah, the true life source of our nation, would continue to provide us with its life-sustaining teachings and direction. For that, they were willing to risk their lives, because a life without Torah was a life not worth living.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012 will live on in the minds of the world at large as one of many dates on which hundreds of modern-day Olympians transfixed the minds of viewers the world over with their unique blend of strength, speed, skill and courage. It was a day of celebration and disappointment, with gold for some and no acclamation for many others.

Share Button

About the Author: Rabbi Naphtali Hoff is president of Impactful Coaching and Consulting (ImpactfulCoaching.com). He can be reached at info@impactfulcoaching.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

No Responses to “Carriers Of The Talmudic Torch”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
FBI Wanted poster for Osama bin Laden
Pakistan Library Renamed to Honor bin Laden
Latest Indepth Stories
matza

If itis a mitzva to eat matza all Pesach, then why is there no berakha attached to it?

Masked Palestinian Authority Arabs hurl blocks at Israel Police during and after "worship" at Temple Mount mosque. (archive photo)

When we are united with unconditional love, no stone will be raised against us by our enemies.

Haredim riot after draft-dodger is arrested.

The reporter simply reports the news, but it is greater to be inspired to better the situation.

Bitton-041814

The Big Bang theory marked the scientific community’s first sense of the universe having a beginning.

Freeing convicted murderers returns the status of Jewish existence to something less than sanctified.

“The bigger they are the harder they fall” describes what God had in mind for Olmert.

We, soldiers of the IDF, who stand guard over the people and the land, fulfill the hopes of the millions of Jewish people across the generations who sought freedom.

How much is the human mind able to grasp of the Divine?

Jews have brought the baggage of the galut (exile) mentality to the modern state of Israel.

The Haggadah is an instruction manual on how to survive as strangers in strange lands.

It’s finally happened. New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan reported on her blog that “many readers…wrote to object to an [April 2] article…on the breakdown in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians,” claiming “[they] found the headline misleading and the article itself lacking in context.” Ms. Sullivan provided one such letter, quoted the […]

Nor did it seem relevant that according to widely circulated media reports, Rev. Sharpton was caught on an FBI surveillance video discussing possible drug sales with an FBI agent.

Jewish soldiers in the Polish forces often encountered anti-Semitic prejudice.

When the state was established, gedolim went to Ben-Gurion and asked him not to draft women and, later, yeshiva bachrim.

More Articles from Rabbi Naphtali Hoff
Front-Page-032114

I can testify from experience, however, that despite such experience and/or training, top-tier leaders often begin their tasks unprepared for the rigors of their new position, particularly when the experience and training focused on instructional leadership (such as classroom observation and curriculum) rather than organizational stewardship and management.

Front-Page-011714

Humility is perhaps the least understood quality a person may possess. Often it is perceived as a form of meekness, a reticence that stems from a lack of self-confidence or an unwillingness to stand up and assert oneself. But that is far from what true humility is.

Throughout the past week we have thanked Hashem for the improbable defeat of the powerful Seleucid forces by a small, untrained band of Jewish fighters. We also celebrated the story’s one open miracle, when the menorah’s lights burned for eight consecutive days following the Temple’s rededication.

The exchange was brief and simple in its content, yet profound in its implications.

One morning this past summer, I davened at a shul in Passaic, New Jersey. Passaic was our new home as of mid-July, following nearly a decade of school leadership in other communities. After tefillah, I opened a conversation with someone who had also just concluded his tenure as a principal out of state. He informed me he had left the field of education entirely and had moved to the tri-state area to go into business with a relative. In the course of our talk, he mentioned that another colleague, also young by comparative standards, was not returning to the school he had helped found out west.

Throughout our nation’s long history we have resided in countless countries and lived under numerous governmental regimes. For the most part, our existence in the diaspora has been difficult at best, intolerable at worst.

Earlier this month the London Games were all the rage. Tens of thousands descended upon Great Britain’s crown jewel to witness the Olympics and cheer for their respective countrymen.

After three-plus years of economic challenge and uncertainty, we remain anxious for positive news, the kind that will finally let us believe the worst is fully behind us. Unfortunately, the outlook for the 2012 global economy remains uninspiring: recession in Europe, anemic growth in the U.S. and a sharp slowdown in China and other emerging-market economies all weigh on economist forecasts.

Asara B’Teves, the 10th of Teves, commemorates the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem by the Babylonian ruler Nebuchadnezzar that ultimately culminated with the First Temple’s destruction on the 9th of Av the following year.

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/front-page/carriers-of-the-talmudic-torch/2012/08/29/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: