- Posted by Elaine Zecher
- On December 27, 2019
- 0 Comments
Welcome to Shabbat Awakenings, our weekly reflection as we make our way toward Shabbat and this week Hanukkah.
Below are eight different and interconnected ways to tell the story of Hanukkah. Enjoy with latkes and donuts!
1. The story of Hanukkah focuses on a small band of fighters led by Judah Maccabee who refused to be controlled by the governmental powers in their land. The Greco-Syrians, for their part, demanded full obedience and prevented the Jews from worshiping in their Temple, from observing dietary restrictions, and other Jewish practices such as covenantal circumcision. The Maccabees were zealots in their adherence to their Judaism and fought to protect their religious practice.
2. The story of Hanukkah revolves around the presence of the attractive culture of the Hellenists in the Judean world. Many Jews adopted and assimilated these foreign customs into their life in ways. These behaviors angered others in the Jewish community such as the Maccabees who demanded strict fidelity to Judaism and created an intra-Jewish conflict.
3. Hanukkah recalls the military strength by the Jewish people in ancient times. They were not afraid to engage in battle. They were nimble and adept warriors, heroic in their ability to combat the enemy.
4. Hanukkah is really Sukkot delayed. The conflict with the Greco-Syrians prevented the Jews from entering the Temple to observe the pilgrimage holiday of Sukkot. Fighting ensued and lasted for months. When the Jews finally prevailed, they celebrated Sukkot, our eight day festival.
5. The focus on military might was transformed in a spiritual focus, which worked much better for Jews living as a minority group in the diaspora. Maybe the triumph was really that the Jews could rededicate themselves and relight the fire that miraculously lasted eight days instead of one. As the prophet Zechariah said: “Not by might nor by power, but by my spirit, says the Eternal.”
6. The symbol of light took on its own significance for the meaning of Hanukkah. In the darkness of life and perhaps the time of year, the light brought hope with the Talmudic instruction to increase light by adding a candle each night of the eight-day festival, which begins on the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev.
7. In the ritual telling of Hanukkah, we start with the first candle on the right side of the Hanukkiyah and keep adding, right to left. When we light the candle, we light the newly added candle first and keep going left to right. We place the Hanukkiyah in the window to publicize the miracle.
8. The festival of Hanukkah represents the triumph of a minority group living in a world with many more powers than itself. Despite being different from the larger community, we have managed to maintain our Judaism, to celebrate it and to ensure that we thrive through the rich traditions and practices we engage in. Perhaps, this is the greatest miracle we have to tell about Hanukkah. It continues to bring us together and to remind us of our ability to remain strong regardless of whatever forces may challenge us.
Happy Hanukkah and Shabbat Shalom (Light the Hanukkiyah first, then the Shabbat candles!)
Join together for Qabbalat Shabbat at 6:00 p.m. Live stream HERE. A Hanukkah oneg with celebratory latkes and donuts and a Community Dinner will follow.
Torah study starts at 9:00 a.m. with a short service followed by a lively discussion.
The Village Prayground Hanukkah will be held at 3:30 p.m.
Hanukkah Havdalah with the Center for Adult Jewish Learning will be held on Saturday at 5:00 p.m. Please RSVP HERE
I look forward to learning of your reactions and reflections HERE.