Photo Credit: wikimedia
The Maccabees receive their father's blessing to wage war against their Greek oppressors.

 Twitter Chanukah. Most of what you read online about Chanukah falls into the category of bad fiction, domains of the anti-Chanukah. To understand why this is so, we  need to understand how Torah ideals degenerated over the centuries. The story is as old as the original  story itself. We are merely reading the latest chapter. Each generation has its new Hellenists.  

 

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New Heresies 

The rise of the haskalah (enlightenment) movement (to the extent that it was ever really a movement at all) saw a modern manifestation of ancient heresies promulgated by new hellenists. These new invasions were disastrous for Ashkenazic Jewish societies that were previously insulated from external influences. Islam didn’t have an enlightenment to tempt or tease Jews living in the Middle East and North Africa. 

 

The bastard children of early ideological forays out of the European ghettos ate away at traditional judaism. The worst examples in Germany saw the advent of intermarriages and even conversions. Take a look at what happened to the children and grandchildren of Moses Mendelssohn. And he was fairly moderate by the standards of more militant Maskilim. 

 

Like the Hellenists of old,  militant reformers had to make difficult choices. Sanitize what they perceived to be extremist elements of Judaism or be forced to discard them. In the eyes of reformers, Judaism had to be put through the progressive meat grinder. Was a ritual or concept an archaic primitive relic, or could a contemporary message be forced upon it? Since Halacha was deemed man-made, it was seen as malleable. It could even be discarded. 

 

Chanukah and Purim were irksome, since they celebrate violent struggles against foes who sought the destruction of our bodies and souls. To remain an acceptable festival, Chanukah had to become universal and egalitarian. It could not remain a zealous  festival and be venerated by enlightened Jews. The history of violence against Greeks and hellenized Jew was too well documented. So swords had to become metaphors, and physical battles had to be minimized. The Maccabees had to become synonymous with the enlightenment, and they had to be portrayed as beacons of light illuminating an era of Greek intolerance. Contemporary secular expressions of Chanukah today bear this imprint. 

 

Yet only a fool would think the Maccabees were “woke”. The Wars of the Maccabees weren’t waged over “indigenous rights” or gay rights or the freedom to worship as they saw fit. They weren’t pro-choice, and they wouldn’t have understand or cared for political correctness. They didn’t share Iftar feasts with tokens on the platform of a patronizing “new-right” alternative peace. All  of this is true. But neither would they tolerate evangelical incursions into Israeli  vineyards and communities,  or partake in interfaith dialogue and prayer with missionaries. Quite the contrary. They would have made a scene, and had there been a Knesset they sure as hell would have opposed interfaith tanach study sessions with evangelical missionaries.  

 

The Maccabee wars for Torah weren’t metaphorical. They waged guerrilla warfare against rampant Hellenism to ensure that we remained a holy nation. They would have made Otzma Yehudit look like Girl Scouts. Chanukah is a perfect opportunity to defend Torah values and repudiate the kinds of ideas that are contrary to yahadut, in an age of wokenism run amuck where the inmates have discovered hundreds of new genders. We should remember the true story of the Maccabees beyond the sanitized versions of history. A  proper Chanukah message expresses proper Jewish identity. 

 

Throughout history, we battled  to preserve the soul and body. These wars took different forms. At times with physical ferocity and zealotry, other times using the intellect to articulate core principles. Yet always with a Torah mindset and with the proper measure of the moment. This is our secret. Torah! Yet so much of what we see today comes from  those least qualified to speak about Jewish identity Many of the foolish talking points are expressed by purportedly religious people who debase Jewish identity. In an age where fools distort Jewish identity, and multiple social media forums allow the easy dissemination of nonsense, fundamentals must be restated. What is a proper Jewish identity? Let us first state clearly what it is not. 

 

The Myth of A Jewish Race:  Contrary to what some believe, Judaism isn’t a race. There are no races. There is only the human race and all of mankind fits under that umbrella. Nothing in normative Judaism gives value to race or blood.  Today,  ignorant Jews allow buffoonish outsiders to define us and lecture us on identity and Torah. One even hears the absurd notion that Judaism has a blood component or racial aspect to it. One notorious non-Jewish intellectual dwarf (noted for constantly adjusting his ideas to suit a racist agenda), has made the asinine statements that “Jews are the closest thing to the Canaanites” and that “no one has more Canaanite blood than Jews.” One who appreciates and understands who the Canaanites were, can appreciate the perversity of such drivel. Neither Torah nor technology lend credence to such baseless claims.  

 

Blood? Where have we heard that before? In Judaism, blood represents life. We have an obligation to preserve innocent life and at times, the obligation requires shedding the blood of evil people. Blood as an identifying feature? As foreign to a Judaism as the consumption of blood. Our uniqueness as a nation has nothing to do with blood. 

 

The Myth of Jewish Ethnicity:  Jewish Ethnicity? Supposed notions of ethnicity have no bearing on one’s Judaism. Many people asserting ethnic Jewish identity aren’t Jewish. Many people we wish weren’t Jewish because of egregious behavior, sins, etc; remain so despite their actions. Halacha alone determines who is a Jew. One who doesn’t give a damn about Torah or believe it to be Divine may not like this, but with such views one should just discard Judaism rather than pervert it. One contemporary misfit on the scene today is even trying to claim Jesus as a Mizrachi! Where does one even begin to respond to such lunacy? 

 

There is no homogenous Jewish ethnicity and those who selectively cite excerpts of certain studies while-ignoring those which present a contrary position play a game of fools they don’t understand. Advanced genetics is well beyond the grasp of most of these folks, some of whom don’t even have an associates degree in needlework from a community college.Look around. Jews come in all flavors. Genuine converts are as Jewish as the next. Not only is a common ethnicity problematic and impossible to determine, its also irrelevant to Judaism. Whether I am the descendant of one who physically stood at Sinai or of one who abandoned idolatry and joined the people, we have the same Jewishness. And in the sense of nationhood we all recognize and bear witness to the mass revelation at Sinai. 

 

Our Sole Identity: From a classical perspective, our identity as Jews has always been Torah. We are bound by Torah as a nation. Not with some warped notion of Tikun Olam which destroys the world rather than repairing it. (How would advocating for killing babies inutero repair the world?) And not with fictitious notions of Indigenous rights which have nothing to do with Torah. I have written many articles taking apart this ludicrous theory which is as illogical as phrenology and palm reading.  

 

A increasingly heard sentiment is that we are an ethnotribal religion. Never before in history was this less correct. All people were tribal in ancient times. The question of the lost tribes includes one position which maintain that the lost tribes are lost forever. And a proper convert is as Jewish as the born Jew. To ponder as some do how converts can become indigenous to Eretz Yisrael is to build a foundation with rotten wood. The question is premised on a nonsensical term made up by liberal sociologists. Converts adopt Torah and their rights to Eretz Yisrael are  given to them as halachic Jews.  

 

Color? Blood? Ethnicity? These are the obsessions of liberal racists who have their own lingo. The insistence that “Jews aren’t white”. That “Jews are middle eastern”. These are often expressed by the kinds of people who denigrate Ashkenazic Jewry and culture as “colonized”. The kind of people who mock Yiddish which was the language of the Tosafists and so much Torah in a long and bloody diaspora. We even have an antisemitic gentile masquerading as our friend who has a history of denigrating chareidim. We have anti-Torah Jews mirroring some of the ugliest statements that certain segments of elitist ashkenazic Jewry placed upon Sephardic and Mizrachi Jews. The mirror image is no less ugly. 

In Judaism, blood based/ethnic identifications are absurd. One can be ethnically Jewish but not halachically Jewish. Halacha is all that matters today. Was one born from a Jewish mother or not? Did one convert properly?  

 

Jews come in all colors. A normal Jew  loves his fellow Jew based on an authentic connection which has nothing to do with skin color, but everything to do with  our shared  commitment to Hashem. We Jews are a beautiful tapestry comprised of many different cultural experiences. Color or the absence of it has no relevance to Jewish identification, nor should it be a filter for how we view anyone. We are the people of the book and our identity is solely based upon our commitment to it. The “Chosen People”? Chosen for what?  

 

Bigots who speak of blood quantum have nothing to say to Jews. It makes no difference if a Jew or gentile spouts such bile. A Jew who proudly identifies as a brown Jew is as ridiculous as one who celebrates his identity as a white Jew. An intelligent person doesn’t identify by color or the absence of it, anymore than one would celebrate height, hair color, or a pair of healthy arches. Torah is our identity. With Torah we transcend superficial differences and unite as a people of Gd. Without Torah we flounder about throughout history arguing for the absurd and the obscene. We pick up foreign ideas and we have no reason for remaining Jewish . A secular Jew who rejects Jewish particularism as defined by Torah is vulnerable to the worst forms of assimilation.   

 

We Jews are a religionation. Bound by Torah as a nation with a land designated to us by G-d. All other identifications are irrelevant to Torah. Ethnic obsessions and color ideations are for fools and bigots.  

Fellow Jews, embrace the true Chanukah A time to incorporate Torah into our lives and cast out heathenism and progressive profanity. “Indigenous rights” are for those with addled brains and identity confusion. The same can be said for those who identify by color, blood quantum, or some antiquated notion of race.  

 

Contemporary society contains  spiritual contaminants both secular and pagan. Both are toxic. And I want to make something clear: Those jews with kipot who form forbidden alliances with christian missionaries are as pagan as those who spit on Halacha as they advocate for degeneracy and the murder of the unborn. Both are the antithesis of Maccabees.  

 

We Jews have Divine Rights and Divine obligations to Torah and Eretz Yisrael, provided that we adhere to Torah and ensure that contaminants don’t profane our waters. And so we might want to introspect a bit and entertain what a modern Maccabee, Rabbi Meir Kahane (May Gd avenge his blood) referred to as “Uncomfortable Question for Comfortable Jews.” (This is a must read that should be on every Jewish bookshelf.) 

 

Take the following uncomfortable question: Considering how zealous and violent the Maccabees were to actualize their goals; if they were recruiting today, how many Jews would sign up? 

 

 

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Donny Fuchs made aliyah in 2006 from Long Island to the Negev, where he resides with his family. He has a keen passion for the flora and fauna of Israel and enjoys hiking the Negev desert. His religious perspective is deeply grounded in the Rambam's rational approach to Judaism.