Shabbat Hannukah (5760)

Drash Cards for Shabbat Hannukah (ca. 5760)

by Marc Mangel

• I want to discuss religious detail of Hannukah, part of its history, and then ask how do we view it now?

• We say Hallel on Hannukah but not on Purim. Why is this?

• One reason:  Hannukah happened in the land of Israel, Purim did not.

• Another reason: Hannukah is a bona fide miracle, but Purim is not.

• Some history: When Alexander when bursts on the scene in 334 BCE we have the mixing of Hellenism and Hebraism.  He founded cities, peopled them with Greek colonists, and beautified them with Greek art.  He died in 323 BCE and the empire fell apart.

• By 198 BCE  the politics was stabilized but the question arose:  Could Judaism survive if Hellenism became the dominant culture?

• Matthew Arnold noted that  Hebrew culture asks “What must I do” and sees beauty in holiness, but Hellenistic culture asks “Why must I do it?” and sees holiness in beauty.

• One cannot accept a revealed law as ultimate and honestly question its foundations.  The question is to submit to a moral law vs. exploit without restraint.

• Now my own interpretation, and personal growth.  I once saw Hannukah as an imitation of Christmas.

• I now see it as a celebration of diversity and one of the first revolts of an Eastern people over a western oppressor