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April 17, 2014 / 17 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Chanukah’

Is Hanukkah a Minor Holiday?

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

Originally published at Chabad.org.

Question:

My friend told me that Hanukkah is a minor holiday, unlike Rosh Hashanah and Passover, and so we shouldn’t make such a big deal out of it. He said that the only reason it became so big was because of the season.

Answer:

Unlike Rosh Hashanah, Passover and other “major” holidays, which are prescribed by the Torah as days of rest, we go to work on Hanukkah. Even on Purim, going to work is not recommended. Also, on Jewish holidays we wear special clothes. But the days of Hanukkah are regular workdays in regular clothes.

Yet Hanukkah is a hardly a “minor” holiday. Read what Maimonides writes in his Laws of Hanukkah:

The mitzvah of kindling Hanukkah lamps is a very precious mitzvah. A person should be very careful in its observance, to publicize the miracle and thus increase our praise of God and our expression of thanks for the miracles which He wrought on our behalf. Even if a person has no resources for food except what he receives from charity, he should pawn or sell his garments and purchase oil and lamps to kindle them.

Maimonides continues by instructing that if one has only enough money to afford either a cup of wine for Shabbat kiddush or oil for his Hanukkah lamp, the mitzvah of Hanukkah takes precedence. Doesn’t sound too minor to me.

Especially when you take into account that this is what Hanukkah is all about: to “light up the darkness” (which is why we light it at night, at the door or window). So, even though it’s a regular workday—well, that’s really the whole idea: to light up the regular workday. And that takes a very special light.

At any rate, since when do we look for excuses not to celebrate? On the contrary, in the words of wise King Solomon, “A good heart always celebrates.”

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman, senior editor at Chabad.org

Pass the Cranberry Latkes for Thanksgivukkah Holiday (Video)

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

If the Pilgrims are lighting menorahs and the Maccabees are chasing turkeys, it must be Thanksgivukkah, as some have come to call the confluence of Thanksgiving and Chanukah that will happen this year on Nov. 28.

It’s a rare event, one that won’t occur again until 2070 and then in 2165. Beyond that, because the Jewish lunisolar (lunar with solar adjustments) calendar is very slowly getting out of sync with the solar calendar, the Chanukah-Thanksgiving confluence won’t happen again by one calculation until the year 79811 — when turkeys presumably will be smart enough to read calendars and vacation in space that month.

How do we celebrate this rare holiday alignment? Do we stick candles in the turkey and stuff the horns of plenty with gelt? Put payos on the Pilgrims? What about starting by wishing each other “gobble tov” and then changing the words to a favorite Chanukah melody:

“I cooked a little turkey, Just like I’m Bobby Flay, And when it’s sliced and ready, I’ll fress the day away.”

The holiday mash-up has its limits. We know the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade will not end with a float carrying a Maccabee. But it has created opportunities as well: Raise your hand if you plan to wait until the post-Thanksgiving Day sales for your Chanukah shopping.

Ritually, just as we’ve figured out that we add candles to our menorahs from right to left and light them from left to right, a new question looms this year: Should we slice the turkey before or after?

“I think it’s wonderful,” said Dr. Ron Wolfson, whose book “Relational Judaism” (Jewish Lights Publishing) speaks to how our communal relationships — how we listen and welcome — can make our Jewish communities more meaningful. “This year is about bringing friends and family together.”

Wolfson, also the author of “The Chanukah Family Guide to Spiritual Celebration,” said in a recent interview that this year’s calendrical collision was a way to enhance “Thanksgiving beyond football and a big meal.”

In the American land of commercial plenty, the confluence certainly has served up a feast of merchandise. There are T-shirts saying “8 Days of Light, Liberty & Latkes” and a coffee mug picturing a turkey with nine burning tail feathers. And then there’s the ceramic menorah in the shape of a turkey — a Menurkey, created by 9-year-old Asher Weintraub of New York.

But being more of a do-it-yourselfer, this writer recycled an old sukkah decoration to create a Thankgivukkkah centerpiece — the cornukiyah.

For the holiday cook trying to blend the two holidays’ flavors, there’s a recipe that calls for turkeys brined in Manischewitz, and another for cranberry latkes. But what about a replacement for the now infamous Frankenstein of Thanksgiving cuisine, the turducken? How about a “turchitke,” a latke inside of a chicken inside of a turkey?

For Wolfson, who has largely ignored the merch and wordplay, this year simply is an opportunity to change the script. At his Thanksgiving dinner, he is going combine Chanukah ritual with holiday elements found on FreedomsFeast.us, a website that uses American holidays to pass on “stories, values and behaviors.”

Wolfson, a Fingerhut professor of education at American Jewish University, wants us to consider the similarities of the stories at the heart of each holiday.

“The Pilgrims were escaping religious persecution in Europe. They did not want to be assimilated,” Wolfson said, adding that “the Maccabees were fighting against Hellenization,” another form of assimilation.

Counter to the usual “December dilemma” for the intermarried — whose numbers have increased to 58 percent since 2005, according to the recent Pew study — Wolfson noted the “opportunities and challenges” presented this year by Chanukah and Christmas not coinciding.

“We usually feel the tension between the two holidays,” he said. “This year we can feel the compatibility of the two.”

The early Chanukah will help people to appreciate its “cultural integrity,” said Wolfson, adding that he “would not be surprised by a spike in candle lighting this year.”

But for others in the Jewish community, the pushing together of the Festival of Lights with Turkey Day has forced other changes, some unwanted.

Rabbi Steven Silver of Temple Menorah in Redondo Beach, Calif., is canceling his temple’s traditional Friday night Chanukah dinner. “That holiday weekend will be vacation time, people will be out visiting family and friends,” he said. “The rabbis won’t have anyone in front of them that weekend, and that’s a problem.”

Radio: End of Chanukah, Tension in Hebron, Update on the Petting Zoo, and Turmoil in Syria.

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

(((CLICK BELOW TO HEAR AUDIO)))

Yishai and Malkah discuss the end of Chanukah and the feelings the holiday’s end leaves behind.  They move on to talk about the ever-tense situation between Arabs and Jews in the city of Hebron along with an update on the herd of goats that Malkah tends to in the Fleisher’s neighborhood petting zoo and they end the segment by discussing the capture of American journalists and Syria.  Don’t miss this segment!

Yishai Fleisher on Twitter: @YishaiFleisher
Yishai on Facebook

Post-Chanukah Musings at the Maccabees’ Hometown

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

Late last week, as the sun was setting, I stood in the center of an archaeological ruin in the town of Modi’in, Israel, about a five-to-ten minute walk from my home. Israel has thousands of archaeological sites, some of tremendous historical and religious significance and others which will be investigated but likely bulldozed someday, as they are deemed of lesser value and standing in the way of the modern state’s progress.

What made that evening very special was the fact that it was the start of Shabbat, the seventh night of Chanukah and the site was Umm el-Umdan, containing an ancient rural village, mikveh and beit knesset, confirmed as one of the oldest ever unearthed in all of Israel, dating back to the Hasmonean Period. Given its location and dimensions, some archaeologists contend that it was very possibly the home of the Maccabees themselves. The beit knesset was unearthed in 2002 and according to the Israel Antiquities Authority the layout is similar to only a handful dating from the Second Temple period such as those discovered in Gamla and Herodium.

A large gathering of men and women from the surrounding Buchman neighborhood had entered the site. For the past several years the residents have come to this place to welcome Shabbat and pay tribute to the Maccabees. The men stood in the central part of the site, in a rectangular area that was probably the main floor of the beit knesset. In front of me was a small indentation in the stone framework surrounding the floor, perfectly positioned to accommodate an ark to hold Torah scrolls. As I looked past it, I realized that it was perfectly oriented on this hill to face Jerusalem. Our prayers began- we completed mincha and proceeded with a very beautiful kabbalat Shabbat service incorporating the music of Shlomo Carlebach.

However, it was not lost on any of us that this site has remained unmarked, undeveloped and virtually ignored by both municipal officials and our national government. Although Umm el-Umdan holds a prominently high position on the national registry of “Heritage Sites,” the only thing of note that has occurred here is that the weeds engulfing its large stones have periodically been pulled by municipal workers. The average city resident doesn’t even know the location of the site although it lies squarely along the main entry road to Modi’in from the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway. In fact, as we were preparing to pray last night, a jogger came by and shouted a thank you to us, saying “I never knew this was here.”

While standing and praying in the quickly receding daylight and having great difficulty reading from my siddur, just to our right, perhaps 200 yards away, I could see Modi’in’s new pride and joy: our recently opened extreme sports park lit up as brightly as Yankee Stadium at a night game and full of skate boarders. I’ve been told that it’s the biggest and best one in the country. The juxtaposition of the two sites really struck me: all I could think of was Maccabees vs. Hellenists. Please don’t get me wrong. I love skate boards. In fact in high school back in the 1960s I owned a first generation board and used it often. I believe Israel has room for all of us, no matter what path we choose to go down.

But that’s the rub— How could we have been standing those 200 yards away on this incredibly meaningful site, in the town where the Maccabees’ efforts assured Jewish continuity and be in the dark? How could this archaeological site be so ignored and treated almost as a nuisance by the municipal government, without – aside from the weeds being plucked – a shekel having been invested in site preservation? Without a shekel spent to put up a proper historical marker acknowledging the beit knesset’s existence in our town? Without even a string of cheap light bulbs strung to allow people to pray comfortably and in safety at the site? Maybe what we have forgotten is how to be modern day Maccabean activists who need to let our countrymen know how we feel.

Twas the Last Night of Hanukah

Sunday, December 16th, 2012

I grew up lighting Hanukah candles, but we also had a Xmas tree, so that we wouldn’t feel different from the other kids in the neighborhood. That’s the way it is with a great many Jews in America. In the Orthodox world, homes don’t have Xmas trees, but that, and Shabbat, is about the only thing separating them from being just as American as everyone else, just as passionate about baseball and football, the latest movies, and the popular American songs. By and large, no one is really waiting for Mashiach to come. He would just mess up their lives and make them come to Israel, as this fun holiday poem I composed points out:

Twas the Last Night of Hanukah

Twas the last night of Hanukah, when all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The latkes were laid out on the table with care,
In hopes that Moshiach soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mamma in her kerchief, and I in my yarmulke cap,
Had just settled into bed for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the luster of midday to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be Moshiach.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

“Who is it? Who is it?” my wife wanted to know.
“Moshiach,” I told her, trembling with fear.
“Wake the children!” I urged. “Hurry and hide them! Don’t stall!”
“Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”

“He’s come to take us away to the Land of Israel,” I said.
“Isn’t that what we pray for?” she asked, her faced flushed and red.
“What?! And give up all that we have? Are you nuts?!”
“Hide the kids in the basement. Now! Without any buts!”

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I crawled under the bed, and was turning around,
Down the chimney Moshiach came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of Jews he had flung over his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.

My heart was beating so fast, I thought I’d have an attack!
As he went about, looking for Jews he could put in his sack.
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

“Wake up! Wake up from your slumber!” he called.
If you don’t come now, you’re gonna be mauled!”
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowl of gefilta-fish jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
But I peed in my pants in spite of myself!
“You’ll all be sorry!” he called, shaking his fist.
Then, with a grunt, I saw him cross our names off his list.

“You forgot to place Jerusalem above your highest joy.”
“So your children will grow up to marry some goy.”
“You had your chance, but I can’t waste my time and delay.”
“Stay here with your bagels and money and continue to pray.”

He spoke nothing more, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings with bagels, then turned with a jerk.
And holding up his finger by his big Jewish nose,
He gave a nod, and up the chimney he rose!

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
“Happy exile to all, and to all a good-night!”

Hebron Border Policewoman Taught Us Everything We Need to Know about Chanukah

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

Yesterday morning I awoke to a cute headline in the NRG-Maariv news site. It read “Hebron Arabs: If Israeli Soldiers Return – We’ll Beat Them Up Again.”

Last week, an IDF patrol in Hebron, just past a checkpoint dividing two parts of the city, spotted a uniformed “Palestinian policeman” in an area where he shouldn’t have been. While attempting to arrest him, they were attacked by an Arab mob. Despite the fact that their lives were in danger, rather than shoot or use hand grenades against the attackers, the soldiers took cover inside a butcher store, threw potatoes at the Arabs, and finally ran for their lives.

A similar event occurred a few days later, up north, in Shechem. Anonymous IDF commanders, uncomfortable with the situation, explained that the “rules of engagement” are very complex and soldiers are too highly restricted in the measures they may use, even to defend themselves.

Seeing the headline, I mentioned to several of my friends that this Arab chutzpah cannot go unanswered. Arabs, exclaiming that they will “beat up” Jewish-Israeli soldiers, must be answered, in the harshest of terms.

Last night they received an answer.

There is one main road leading from Kiryat Arba into Hebron. At the bottom of the winding, hilly road, is a right turn, to Ma’arat HaMachpela (Cave of the Patriarchs) and Hebron’s Jewish community. To the left is a checkpoint, manned by Israeli border police. Last night, at about 7:30, during a routine check, a 17 year old Arab man attacked a border policeman, knocking him down to the ground, and then he pulled out a pistol, placing it on the fallen man’s temple. A second officer, a border policewoman, present at the site, seeing the events transpiring, loaded her gun and, without hesitating, shot the Arab terrorist three times, killing him.

It later turned out that the Arab’s gun was a fake, toy pistol. However, made out of black metal, it certainly looked like the real thing. The woman border guard did exactly what she had to, and thank God for that. A partial response to the Arabs quoted at the beginning of this article. The Arabs play for keeps. But so do we.

Seeing Israeli soldiers run from marauding, rioting Arabs is a disgrace. Hearing a policewoman say, “I did what I was taught to do, I was only doing my job,” is a Kiddush HaShem, a sanctification of God’s name.

For two thousand years, in exile from our land, Jews had no choice but to run. Today, we must stand strong and tall, as did the Maccabees, 2,300 years ago, thereby bequeathing us Hanukkah.

The holiday of lights, as Chanukah is called, takes on many expressions and variations. For example: A few days ago we marked the 21st anniversary of the passing of a friend and fellow Hebron resident Yona Heiken. Yona was a fascinating man, whom I remember well, showing me his original IBM computer, which cost, probably close to 30 years ago, more than $10,000. Yona and Malka made Aliyah, that is, they came to live in Israel, from the U.S., directly to Hebron. That was quite a move, and Malka has been here ever since. Yona survived a critical injury, after being stabbed in the back by an Arab terrorist in the Kasba. He ran after the terrorist, shooting until he finally hit him, and then, somehow, made his way back to Beit Hadassah, where he collapsed. A real close call. But a few years later he fell to cancer, leaving Malka and their large family here in Hebron.

Every year, at the memorial event, Malka finds interesting people to speak about various subjects. This year, her in-laws provided the evening’s attraction. Avigdor Sharon, among other things, produces wine. He spoke about the process, and brought several different wines to taste. They were very good.

As interesting as he was, his wife, Adi, was, in my opinion, the highlight. She has written several books, including a true story about her mother, who escaped from Rumania with her siblings in World War 2. Finally boarding an overcrowded boat to Israel, they made it as far as Haifa, where the British, refusing to allow them into Israel, sent them to Cypress for a year. At age 17, she finally made it to Israel, fulfilling her dream. Here, she found herself at Kibbutz Yavneh, working as a lookout in a tower, all by herself, night after night. Armed with a World War 2 “Czech” rifle (the 7.92 mm Mauser), she was told to watch for Egyptian airplanes trying to get to Tel Aviv. And if she saw a plane? She was to shoot it down.

One night, suddenly, she heard a buzz in the heavens above. She froze, searching the sky. And then, there it was, an Egyptian plane, flying low, above her. What to do? She raised the “Czech” rifle, pulled the trigger and shot, straight into the plane, which plummeted to the ground. A young refugee woman from Rumania shot down an enemy war plane, with a rifle, all by herself. If this isn’t heroism, I don’t know what is.

This is the same heroism displayed by the young border policewoman who shot and killed a terrorist last night in Hebron. This is the legacy of our ancestors, Mattityahu, Yehuda, and all the others, who fought, against all odds, and won.

As I write this, another group of heroes are celebrating these happy days. Hebron’s children are being treated to a Chanukah play, complete with games, riddles, prizes, and of course, sufganyot, the traditional Chanukah jelly donut. Seeing these joyous children in Hebron is a realization that the dream which began almost 4,000 years ago, here, in Hebron, has borne much fruit, which we have observed over the centuries and are privileged to witness here today.

Chodesh tov – Happy New Month, and Chanukah Sameach – Happy Chanukah!

A Great Miracle is Happening Here Again!

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

Every child in the Diaspora knows the difference. But when they get older, I suppose they forget.

In the Diaspora, the Hebrew letters on a dreidel are Nun, Gimmel, Hey, Shin. “A great miracle happened THERE.”

In Israel, the letters on the dreidels are Nun, Gimmel, Hey, Peh. “A great miracle happened HERE.”

That says it all.  This is the Land of Miracles. This is the Land that God gave to the Jewish People. This is the Land of our Biblical history, and the Land where our Redemption is unfolding today.

Yesterday, we drove to Modiin, where the Chanukah rebellion began, to pay our respects to Mattitiyahu and his brave and holy sons, and to pray at their graves. Across the highway, you can see the vibrant, modern city of Modiin with its hi-rise buildings, a new Israeli city filled with synagogues, mikvaot, brit milah ceremonies every day, and happy Jewish life, the very things the Greeks sought to destroy. Just along the road is the Haredi city of Modiin Elite with even more yeshivot and mikvaot. Their rebuilding is the greatest revenge over the Greeks and over all the nations that have tried to destroy us and to uproot our faith.

Happy Chanukah!

The Darkness and the Light

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

A candle is a brief flare of light. A wick dipped in oil burns and then goes out again. The light of Chanukah appears to follow the same narrative. Briefly there is light and warmth and then darkness again.

Out of the exile of Babylon, the handful that returned to resettle and rebuild the land faced the might of new empires. The Jews who returned from the exile of one evil empire some twenty-six hundred years ago were forced to decide whether they would be a people with their own faith and history, or the colony of another empire, with its history and beliefs.

Jerusalem’s wealthy elites threw in their lot with the empire and its ways. But out in the rural heartland where the old ways where still kept, a spark flared to life. Modi’in. Maccabee. And so war came between the handfuls of Jewish Maccabee partisans and the armies of Antiochus IV’s Selecuid empire. A war that had its echoes in the past and would have it again in the future as lightly armed and untrained armies of Jewish soldiers would go on to fight in those same hills and valleys against the Romans and eventually the armies of six Arab nations.

The Syrian Greek armies were among the best of their day. The Maccabees were living in the backwaters of Israel, a nation that had not been independently ruled since the armies of Babylon had flooded across the land, destroying everything in their path.

In the wilderness of Judea a band of brothers vowed that they would bow to no man and let no foreigners rule over their land. Apollonius brought his Samaritan forces against the brothers, and Judah, first among the Macabees, killed him, took his sword and wore it for his own.

Seron, General of the army of Coele-Syria, brought together his soldiers, along with renegade Jewish mercenaries, and was broken at Beit Haran. The Governor of Syria who dispatched two generals, Nicanor, and Gorgias, with forty thousand soldiers and seven thousand horsemen to conquer Judea, destroy Jerusalem and abolish the whole Jewish nation forever. So certain were they of victory that they brought with them merchant caravans to fill with the Hebrew slaves of a destroyed nation.

Judah walked among his brothers and fellow rebels and spoke to them of the thing for which they fought; “O my fellow soldiers, no other time remains more opportune than the present for courage and contempt of dangers; for if you now fight manfully, you may recover your liberty, which, as it is a thing of itself agreeable to all men, so it proves to be to us much more desirable, by its affording us the liberty of worshiping God.

“Since therefore you are in such circumstances at present, you must either recover that liberty, and so regain a happy and blessed way of living, which is that according to our laws, and the customs of our country, or to submit to the most opprobrious sufferings; nor will any seed of your nation remain if you be beat in this battle. Fight therefore manfully; and suppose that you must die, though you do not fight; but believe, that besides such glorious rewards as those of the liberty of your country, of your laws, of your religion, you shall then obtain everlasting glory.

“Prepare yourselves, therefore, and put yourselves into such an agreeable posture, that you may be ready to fight with the enemy as soon as it is day tomorrow morning.”

Though the Macabees were but three thousand, starving and dressed in bare rags, the God for whom they fought and their native wits and courage, gave them victory over thousands and tens of thousands. Worn from battle, the Macabees did not flee back into their Judean wilderness, instead they went on to Jerusalem and its Temple, to reclaim their land and their God, only to find the Temple and the capital in ruins.

The Macabees had fought courageously for the freedom to worship God once again as their fathers had, but courage alone could not make the Menorah burn and thus renew the Temple service again. Yet it had not been mere berserker’s courage that had brought them this far. Like their ancestors before them who had leaped into furnaces and the raging sea, they had dared the impossible on faith. Faith in a God who watched over his nation and intervened in the affairs of men. And so on faith they poured the oil of that single flask in the Menorah, oil that could only last for a single day. And then having done all they could, the priests and sons of priests who had fought through entire armies to reach this place, accepted that they had done all they could and left the remainder in the hands of the Almighty.

If they had won by the strength of their hands alone, then the lamps would burn for a day and then flicker out. But if it had been more than mere force of arms that had brought them here, if it had been more than mere happenstance that a small band of ragged and starving rebels had shattered the armies of an empire, then the flames of the Menorah would burn on.

The sun rose and set again. The day came to its end and the men watched the lights of the Menorah to see if they would burn or die out. And if the flame in their hearts could have kindled the lamps, they would have burst into bright flame then and there. Darkness fell that night and still the lamps burned on. For eight days and nights the Menorah burned on that single lonely pure flask of oil, until more could be found, and the men who for a time had been soldiers and had once again become priests, saw that while it may be men who kindle lamps and hearts, it is the Almighty who provides them with the fuel of the spirit through which they burn.

120 years after the Maccabees drove out the foreign invaders and their collaborators, another foreign invader, Herod, the son of a Roman Idumean governor, was placed on the throne by the Roman Empire, disposing of the last of the Maccabean kings and ending the brief revival of the Jewish kingdom.

The revived kingdom had been a plaything in the game of empires. Exiled by Babylon, restored by Persia, conquered by the Greeks, ground under the heel of the remnants of Alexander’s empire, briefly liberated by the Parthians, tricked into servitude and destroyed by Rome. The victory of the Maccabean brothers in reclaiming Jerusalem was a brief flare of light in the dark centuries and even that light was shadowed by the growing darkness.

The fall of the Roman Republic and the civil wars of the new empire, its uncontrollable spending and greed made it hopelessly corrupt. Caesar repaid Jewish loyalty by rewarding the Idumean murderers of Jewish kings, and his successors saw the Jewish state as a way to bring in some quick money. Out went the Jewish kings, in came the son of Rome’s tax collector, Herod.

The promises made by Senate to the Maccabees ceased to matter. Imperial greed collided with Jewish nationalism in a war that for a brief shining moment seemed as if it might end in another Chanukah, but ended instead in massacre and atrocity. The exiles went forth once again, some on foot and some in slave ships. Jerusalem was renamed and resettled. The long night had begun.

But no darkness lasts forever.

Two thousand years after the Jews had come to believe that wars were for other people and miracles meant escaping alive, Jewish armies stood and held the line against an empire and the would be empires of the region.

And now the flame still burns, though it is flickering. Sixty-four years is a long time for oil to burn, especially when the black oil next door seems so much more useful to the empires and republics across the sea. And the children of many of those who first lit the flame no longer see the point in that hoary old light.

But that old light is still the light of possibilities. It burns to remind us of the extraordinary things that our ancestors did and of the extraordinary assistance that they received. We cannot always expect oil to burn for eight days, just as we cannot always expect the bullet to miss or the rocket to fall short. And yet even in those moments of darkness the reminder of the flame is with us for no darkness lasts forever and no exile, whether of the body of the spirit, endures. Sooner or later the spark flares to life again and the oil burns again. Sooner or later the light returns.

It is the miracle that we commemorate because it is a reminder of possibilities. Each time we light a candle or dip a wick in oil, we release a flare of light from the darkness comes to remind us of what was, is and can still be.

Originally published at Sultan Knish.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/daniel-greenfield/the-darkness-and-the-light/2012/12/13/

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