web analytics
December 21, 2014 / 29 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
8000 meals Celebrate Eight Days of Chanukah – With 8,000 Free Meals Daily to Israel’s Poor

Join Meir Panim’s campaign to “light up” Chanukah for families in need.



Carriers Of The Talmudic Torch

Front-Page-083112

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.

About the Author: Rabbi Naphtali Hoff is an executive coach and president of Impactful Coaching & Consulting (www.ImpactfulCoaching.com). He can be reached at President@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.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Carriers Of The Talmudic Torch”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
funny rocket joke
Israel Retaliates: Hits Terror Tunnel Cement Factory
Latest Indepth Stories
UN Flags

If the UN Grants national recognition to Palestine, why stop there? Tibet, Chechnya, Basque…

The annual  Chabad menorah lighting in Sydney has been called off this year because of the murders in the Lindt cafe.

The decision to not publicly light the Menorah in Sydney, epitomizes the eternal dilemma of Judaism and Jews in the Diaspora.

Greiff-112814-Men

Am Yisrael is one family, filled with excruciating pain&sorrow for losing the 4 kedoshim of Har Nof

Two dreidels from the author’s extensive collection.

What is its message of the dreidel?” The complexity and hidden nature of history and miracles.

Police play down Arab terrorism as mere “violence” until the truth can no longer be hidden.

The 7 branches of the menorah represent the 7 pillars of secular wisdom, knowledge, and science.

Obama obtained NO verifiable commitments from Cuba it would desist from acts prejudicial to the US

No one would deny that the program subjected detainees to less than pleasant treatment, but the salient point is, for what purpose?

For the past six years President Obama has consistently deplored all Palestinian efforts to end-run negotiations in search of a UN-imposed agreement on Israel.

It’s not an admiration. It is simply a kind of journalist fascination. It stands out, it’s different from more traditional Orthodoxy.

For Am Yisrael, the sun’s movements are subservient to the purpose of our existence.

Israelis now know Arab terrorism isn’t caused by Israeli occupation but by ending Israeli occupation

Anti-Semitism is a social toxin that destroys the things that people most cherish and enjoy.

Amb. Cooper highlighted the impact of the Chanukah/Maccabee spirit on America’s Founding Fathers

More Articles from Rabbi Naphtali Hoff

Where did this incredible strength come from? What drove these Jews, who had nearly lost all of their national identity and spiritual connectivity, to risk their lives by standing up against one of the strongest and most fearsome governments of its time?

Of all the Jewish holidays, I would say Sukkos is far and away the least appreciated.

While there is no formula that will work for everyone, there are some strategies that if followed carefully and consistently can help our children – and us – gain the most from the upcoming school year.

“If Israel’s offering of land, economic improvements, and even autonomy will not help, what will?”

For breaking his oath of allegiance, Tzidkiyahu was forced to witness the death of his sons before he himself was blinded and exiled to Babylon.

It’s as if Hamas has pulled a page out of Pharaoh’s handbook.

As a guide to others and a foremost member of the Great Assembly, Ezra provided strong leadership and a moral conscience to a people that had lost its way.

For our children, technology is not just another activity that is forbidden on Shabbos.

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: