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January 23, 2017 / 25 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Chanukah’

Sderot Police Officers Bring Chanukah Joy to Seniors in Southern Israel

Monday, December 26th, 2016

City police in Sderot visited seniors in the community on Monday to bring them a bit of holiday joy.

The officers lit Chanukah candles with the seniors, sang holiday songs and ate sufganiot (special Israeli holiday jelly doughnuts).

“Israel Police are continuing to carry on operational activities to keep the public safe, prevent terrorism and capture offenders to bring them to justice,” said a national police spokesperson.

“But the aim of this program is the strengthen the connection between Sderot’s seniors and the rest of the community, and that of the city police department, which is there to ensure the personal safety of the citizens of the community.

“Some of the elderly residents in Sderot are truly alone, with families who have moved away and now live elsewhere. There is no feeling more heartwarming than to help and care for this population,” the spokesperson said.

“The main thing that their light will continue to shine for many more years to come, in good health, safety and happiness.”

Hana Levi Julian

Netanyahu: ‘According to UN, Maccabees Did Not Liberate Jerusalem, They Occupied Palestinian Territory’

Monday, December 26th, 2016

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lit the second candle on Chanukah Sunday night at the Western Wall, saying he hadn’t planned to be at that place at that time, but “in light of the UN resolution, I thought that there was no better place to light the second Chanukah candle than the Western Wall.”

Netanyahu lights Chanukiah at the Kotel 2016

With some irony, Netanyahu went on to say, “According to the UN resolution, the Maccabees did not liberate Jerusalem, they occupied Palestinian territory.

“According to the UN resolution, the villages that they started out from in the Modi’in area, those villages and that area were ‘occupied Palestinian territory.’

“Of course the Palestinians arrived much later. We were in these places. We will return to these places and I ask those same countries that wish us a Happy Chanukah how they could vote for a UN resolution which says that this place, in which we are now celebrating Chanukah, is occupied territory.

“The Western Wall is not occupied. The Jewish Quarter is not occupied. The other places are not occupied either. Therefore, we do not accept, nor can we accept, this resolution. We are certain of our future just as we are certain of our past. And here I would like to light Chanukah candles on behalf of the Glory of Israel. Happy Chanukah.”

Hana Levi Julian

Netanyahu Summons US Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, For ‘Clarification’

Sunday, December 25th, 2016

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly summoned U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro for “clarifications” on Sunday, the first day of Chanukah and also Christmas Day; a legal holiday in the United States but not here in Israel.

It is an unprecedented move by the prime minister, one that reflects just how angry he is over the betrayal by the United States on Friday for its abstention in a vote that enabled the unanimous passage of the anti-Israel Resolution 2334(2016).

Netanyahu warned fellow Likud ministers at a closed-door session on Sunday morning, “The issue is still hot, and we haven’t heard the end of this yet.” The prime minister said he believes it is possible the U.S. will seek another vote in the UN Security Council to set forth more “detailed parameters” based on Secretary of State John Kerry’s “vision” for a Middle East peace agreement, according to a report Sunday night by Israel’s Channel 2 television news.

Netanyahu said, “Don’t come out now with statements about annexing territory and building in the settlements, because there may be another international move before the change in the U.S. administration on January 20.” A number of lawmakers, including several from the Bayit Yehudi party, have made public statements in response to Friday resolution that now is the time to annex Area C and extend Israeli sovereignty over parts of Judea and Samaria, in response to the vote.

The prime minister maintains that Friday’s abstention at the UNSC vote was personally ordered by U.S. President Barack Obama. The move broke with a long-standing tradition of diplomatic protection for Israel by America in the international forum of the UN Security Council, where Israel has had few friends it can count on.

Now it is clear that for now — at least until January 20 — Israel has none.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu ordered the Foreign Ministry to summon the ambassadors of all 12 nations with whom Israel has had diplomatic relations and who cast their ballots against the Jewish State in that vote. Ten ambassadors – in two cases, deputy ambassadors since their seniors were not in the country – were ordered to show up at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Sunday, where they were severely reprimanded by the Israeli ministry heads of departments for their regions, spokesperson Emmanuel Nachson said.

The prime minister already recalled Israel’s ambassadors to Senegal and New Zealand for “consultations” – both nations were involved in sponsoring the resolution together with Venezuela and Malaysia, with whom Israel has no diplomatic ties.

He also canceled visits in Israel for the non-resident ambassadors from Senegal and New Zealand, an upcoming visit by the Senegalese foreign minister, and a state visit that was scheduled for this week by Ukraine’s Jewish prime minister, Volodymyr Groysman as well.

In addition, Netanyahu ordered the Foreign Ministry to cut all aid programs to Senegal, and canceled NIS 30 million in funding for five UN institutions which he said Saturday night are “particularly hostile to Israel.”

Hana Levi Julian

This Makes Up for Everything: Happy Hanukkah! Chag Sameach from the White House!

Sunday, December 25th, 2016

President Barack Obama issued a Hanukkah greeting on Friday – one day ahead of the start of the Jewish holiday, and at about the same time his UN envoy abstained at a Security Council, throwing the Jewish State to the dogs for the first time since his spiritual predecessor President Jimmy Carter had done in it 1980. Obama explained that “the meaning of this holiday has inspired an American tradition of religious freedom.”


Hanukkah commemorates the rededication of the Holy Temple in 165 BC by the Maccabees after it had been desecrated by Helenized Jews and their imperial patrons in Damascus. Obama, who hosted more than 1,000 people during two Hanukkah receptions at the White House last week, on Friday afternoon addressed how the values of the holiday apply to everyone, regardless of their faith.

He did not mention that, had the Maccabees redeemed the Holy Temple today, they would surely have been condemned by the UN Security Council, with the US abstaining, because said Holy Temple stood in “Occupied East Jerusalem.”

“For more than two millennia, the story of Hanukkah has reminded the world of the Jewish people’s perseverance and the persistence of faith, even against daunting odds,” the president said. “For more than two centuries, the meaning of this holiday has inspired an American tradition of religious freedom – one codified in the Bill of Rights and chronicled in the enduring promise President George Washington made in his letter to the Jews of Newport, Rhode Island: that the United States ‘gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.’

“May the flicker of each flame in every Menorah remind us all of the profound miracles in our own lives. And may the light of hope we shed continue to drive out darkness and brighten the futures we build for our families, our neighbors, our communities, and our world.

“On behalf of Michelle and my family, Chanukah Sameach. Happy Hanukkah!”

It can be safely said, to paraphrase the late Winston Churchill, a man who never pretended to like Jews but nevertheless sacrificed tens of thousands of his countrymen’s lives to end their mass murder, Never has a smaller man said so much and meant so little.


Chanukah Guide for the Perplexed, 2016

Saturday, December 24th, 2016

1. Chanukah and Jewish immortality. In 1899, Mark Twain wrote: “Jews constitute but one percent of the human race…, [but] their contributions to literature, science, art, music, finance, medicine and abstruse learning are away out of proportion to the weakness of their numbers. They have made a marvelous fight in all the ages, and had done it with their hands tied behind them…. The Egyptians, Babylonians and Persians rose and then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greeks and Romans followed, made vast noise and they are gone…. The Jew saw them all, beat them all and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies…. All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?”

2. The Chanukah Menorah (a nine-branched-candelabra) commemorates the legacy of the Maccabees, which has been a pillar of fire for the Jewish people, highlighting the prerequisites of spiritual and physical liberty, in defiance of formidable odds: faith, optimism, patriotism, memory and adherence to value and principle-driven culture.  The Maccabees have become a universal role-model of national and religious liberation struggle against all odds, the victory of long-term, principle-driven faith over short-term, convenience-driven cynicism and opportunism; the victory of tenacious optimism over pessimism and political-correctness.

3. Israel’s Founding Father, David Ben Gurion: “The struggle of the Maccabees was one of the most dramatic clashes of civilizations in human history…. The Maccabees overcame one of the most magnificent spiritual, political and military challenges in Jewish history due to the spirit of the people, rather than the failed spirit of the establishment ….” (Uniqueness and Destiny, pp 20-22, Ben Gurion, IDF Publishing, 1953)

4. The US connection:

* On December 2, 1993, in Billings, Montana, white supremacists tossed a brick through a window of a Jewish home that displayed the Chanukah Menorah. On the following morning, the Billings Gazette – reflecting sentiments of local churches and civic leaders – printed a full-page Menorah, which was pasted on the windows of over 10,000 non-Jewish residents in a show of solidarity. Some Billings’ residents displayed their Not in Our Town spirit, displaying Chanukah Menorahs on Billings’ main street. The Billings’ Chanukah gesture has been commemorated annually. A Chanukah candle-lighting was recently held at the State Capitol in Helena, MT.

*A bust of Judah the Maccabee is displayed at West Point Military Academy, along with those of Joshua, David, Alexander the Great, Hector, Julius Caesar, King Arthur, Charlemagne and Godfrey of Bouillon – “the Nine Worthies.”

*John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Patrick Henry, Paul Revere, Thomas Paine and the organizers of the Boston Tea Party were referred to as “the modern day Maccabees.”

* According to the Diary of Michael and Louisa Hart, George Washington was introduced to Chanukah in December 1777 at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. He was challenging the much superior British military. A Jewish solider lit a Chanukah candle, explaining its significance: a conviction-driven, tactical victory against immense odds. Washington replied: “I rejoice in the Maccabees’ success, though it is long past…It pleases me to think that miracles still happen.” On June 19, 1778, Washington implemented the battle tactics of Judah the Maccabee, defeating the British troops.

*”In God We Trust” is a derivative of the Maccabees’ battle cry, an adaptation of Moses’ battle cry against the builders of the Golden Calf: “Whoever trusts God; join me!”

*In 1921, Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis stated: “As part of the eternal worldwide struggle for democracy, the struggle of the Maccabees is of eternal worldwide interest….”

*The US Postal Service has issued Chanukah stamps, annually, since 1996.

5. Chanukah’s historical context according to the Books of the Maccabees, The Scroll of Antiochus and The War of the Jews by Joseph Ben Mattityahu (Josephus Plavius): In 175 BCE, the Seleucid Emperor Antiochus (IV) Epiphanies of Syria (one third of the disintegrated Greek Empire) wished to exterminate Judaism and forcibly convert Jews to Hellenic values, suspecting that the Jews were allies of his chief rival, Egypt. In 169 BCE, upon his return to Syria from a war against Egypt, Antiochus (IV) devastated Jerusalem, massacred Jews, forbade the practice of Judaism and desecrated the Temple. The 167 BCE Jewish rebellion featured the Hasmonean (Maccabee) family: Mattityahu, a priest from the town of Modi’in, and his five sons, Yochanan, Judah, Shimon, Yonatan and Elazar. The heroic, creative battle tactics of the Maccabees, were consistent with the reputation of Jews as superb warriors, who were frequently hired as mercenaries by Egypt, Syria, Rome and other global and regional powers. The battles of the Maccabees inspired the Jewish rebellion against the Roman Empire from the battle against Pompey in 63 BCE through the end of the Bar Kokhba Rebellion in 135 CE.

6. The name Maccabee (מכבי  or מקבי) is a derivative of the Hebrew word Makevet (מקבת), power hammer in Hebrew. It is also a derivative of the Hebrew verb Cabeh (כבה), to extinguish. Maccabee, מכבי, is also the Hebrew acronym of “Who could resemble you among gods, O Jehovah” מי כמוך באלים יי)). In Latin, the C is sometimes pronounced like a TZ, and Maccabee could be the Latin spelling of the Hebrew word Matzbee, the commander.

7. Chanukah – the longest Jewish holiday – is the only Jewish holiday that commemorates a Land of Israel national liberation struggle, unlike Passover (Egypt), Sukkot/Tabernacles and Shavuot/Pentecost (the Sinai Desert) and Purim (Persia).

8. The mountain ridges of Judea and Southern Samaria were the platform of the critical Maccabees’ battles: Mitzpah (the burial site of the Prophet Samuel), Beth El (Judah’s first headquarters), Beth Horon (Judah’s victory over Seron), Hadashah (Judah’s victory over Nicanor), Beth Zur (Judah’s victory over Lysias), Ma’aleh Levona (Judah’s victory over Apolonius), Adora’yim (a Maccabean fortress), Elazar and Beit Zachariya (Judah’s first defeat), Ba’al Hatzor (where Judah was defeated and killed) and the Judean Desert. When ordered by Antiochus (Book of Maccabees A: 15:33) to end the “occupation” of Jerusalem, Jaffa, Gaza, Gezer and Akron, Shimon the Maccabee responded: “We have not occupied a foreign land; we have not ruled a foreign land; we have liberated the land of our forefathers from foreign occupation.” Shimon’s statement is still relevant in 2016.

9. Chanukah (חנוכה in Hebrew) celebrates the initiation/inauguration (חנוכ) of the reconstructed Temple. Chanukah (חנוכה) is education (חינוכ)-oriented. According to the First Book of Maccabees, Judah instituted an eight-day holiday on the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev 165 BCE (just like King Solomon’s eight-day celebration of the inauguration of the First Temple), in order to commemorate Jewish history, in general, and the inauguration and deliverance of the holy altar and the Temple, in particular. A key feature of Chanukah is the education/mentoring of family members. The Hebrew word, Chanukah, חנוכה, consists of two words, Chanu-Kah ( חנו-כהin Hebrew) which means “they camped/rested” (חנו) and 25 (כ=20, ה=5), referring to the Maccabees’ re-consecration of the Temple on the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev.

For more information on Chanukah and other Jewish holidays, including the Sabbath, annual fast days and the Jubilee, please see: http://bit.ly/137Er6J  and

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/499393 (pdf)

Yoram Ettinger

Q & A: Forgetting Al Hanissim On Chanukah

Friday, December 23rd, 2016

Editor’s note: We will continue our discussion on “A Missed Torah Reading” next week.


Question: If someone forgot to recite Al Hanissim in Shemoneh Esreh or Birkat Hamazon on Chanukah, does he have to go back and repeat them?

Moshe Jakobowitz
Brooklyn, NY


Answer: No. To properly understand why, though, it is necessary to review the origin of Al Hanissim. The Talmud (Shabbos 21b) is the source for our celebration of Chanukah. It asks:

“What is [the reason for celebrating] Chanukah? Our Rabbis taught: On the 25th day of the month of Kislev, the eight-day festival of Chanukah commences. We do not eulogize or fast on these days. For when the Syrian-Greeks entered the Sanctuary, they defiled all the oil therein, and when the Hasmoneans proved victorious, they searched [the entire Sanctuary] and were only able to find one [undefiled] cruse of oil bearing the seal of the High Priest.

“Miraculously, even though the cruse contained only enough oil to burn for one day, they were able to light with it for eight days. The following year they established and celebrated the festival with [the recital of] Hallel and thanksgiving [Al Hanissim].”

Rashi (ad loc. s.v. “Ve’asa’um yamim tovim”) explains that we say Al Hanissim in the 18th blessing of Shemoneh EsrehModim – and in the second blessing of Birkat HamazonAl ha’aretz ve’al hamazon. R. Sheshet (infra 24a) states clearly, “Just as in regard to tefillah [Al Hanissim is inserted] in hoda’ah [the Benediction of Thanks, Modim] so too [is it inserted] in the Grace after Meals in [the Benediction of] Thanks [Al ha’aretz ve’al hamazon].”

Based on this passage in the Gemara, the Mechaber (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 682, Hilchot Chanukah) rules that “for all eight days of Chanukah we say Al Hanissim in Birkat Hamazon in the second blessing, Birkat Ha’aretz, and in Shemoneh Esreh in the 18th blessing, Modim; if a person [accidentally] did not say it, we do not require him to repeat.”

The Mechaber then qualifies this statement: “However, if he remembers while he is still within the blessing but has not pronounced the Holy Name, [which means that] even if he remembers as he began concluding the blessing itself – Baruch Ata… – but did not as yet say ‘Hashem,’ he repeats.”

The Mordechai (end of Perek Tefillat Hashachar, siman 98) quotes the Ri (the Tosafist R. Isaac b. Samuel of Dampierre) who notes the following: Whenever it states that we do not require a person to repeat Shemoneh Esreh – e.g., for Al Hanissim on Chanukah and Purim, Ya’aleh Ve’yavo on Rosh Chodesh at Ma’ariv and Anenu [on fast days] – it refers not only to someone who already stepped back (akar raglav), but even to someone completed the berachah.

The Ri states that he saw the Tosafist Rabbenu Tam go back even though he had already finished the berachah and commenced the next one. Rabbenu Tam maintained that “We do not require him to repeat” only refers to someone who stepped back at the end of Shemoneh Esreh. We, however, follow the ruling of the Ri as per the Mechaber.

As for Birkat Hamazon, the Rema (ad loc.) writes that if someone forgot to say Al Hanissim after concluding the berachah of Al ha’aretz ve’al hamazon, he can make up for it by saying a shorter version of Al Hanissim later in the “HaRachaman” section (near the conclusion of Birkat Hamazon) as found in most siddurim.

In the merit of this discussion, may we all have a happy Chanukah and may Hashem perform for us great miracles as He wrought for our fathers.

Rabbi Yaakov Klass

Conversations with Heroes – Chanukkah & “Ancient Greek” Body Worship TODAY [audio]

Friday, December 23rd, 2016

Ready for Festival of Lights!? You will feel like you’re in the Ancient Greek-occupied Land of Israel as historian Rabbi Ken Spiro comes by the studio to tell over the Chanukah story, and why the miracles the Almighty gave the Jewish people back then matter to us today.

Later in the show, writer and businesswoman Andrea Simantov compares the ancient Greeks’ obsession with the body, youth, and beauty to today’s cultural obsession with Hollywood’s goddesses from Marilyn Monroe to Michelle Pfeiffer to the Kardashians and many more.

Tune in and find out the surprising answer to whether having a fine-looking body and beautiful face is important in Judaism!

+ + +

Visit KenSpiro.com for more information about Rabbi Ken Spiro’s popular video + audio classes, Israel tours, and books.

Contact Andrea Simantov by email: AndreaSimanTov@gmail.com

Conversations with Heroes 21Dec2016 – PODCAST

Israel News Talk Radio

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/multimedia/israel-news-talk-radio/conversations-with-heroes/conversations-with-heroes-chanukkah-ancient-greek-body-worship-today-audio/2016/12/23/

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