Chanukah 5777: Contrasting Chanukah and Purim, Spiritual and Physical — Then and Now

Shalom Friends;

This week, our Chanukah vort is being sponsored by Avraham and Miriam Deutsch and family of Efrat lilui nishmas for the yarhtzeit of Avraham’s Mother Sarah Reitza bat Tzion bat Avram Yaakov and to wish Kol Am Yisrael Chanukah Same’ach! To the Deutsch family, many thanks for your sponsorship and your continued kindnesses.

Friends, you can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate a Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring a Parshat HaShevua.

Please forward to your relatives and friends and encourage them to sponsor a Parshat HaShevua. And please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
skype: mark.burt3

Chanukah 5777: Contrasting Chanukah and Purim, Spiritual and Physical — Then and Now

by Moshe Burt

Shem Mishmuel (Sefer Shem Mishmuel, Rabbi Shmuel Bornstein, translated to English by Rabbi Zvi Belovski, page 78) provides this description of the Greeks in the historical context of the miracles of Chanukah:

The Greeks were known for their outstanding wisdom; their philosophers and their ideas have been tremendously influential. Thus, when they oppressed Yisrael, they were even able to reach the wisdom of Torah and enslave it to their own ends.

The Manchester Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Yehuda Zev Segal, Sh’lita, z”l brings further commentary regarding the contrast between Chanukah and Purim in his sefer, “Inspiration and Insight,” Discourses on the Holidays (pages 104-105):

Tur (Hilchos Chanukah, ch. 670) citing Maharam of Rothenburg, states: “The customary indulging in feasts on Chanukah is not obligatory, for they [Chazal] established these as a time of praise and thanksgiving and not feasting and joy.”

In commenting on the above, Bach differentiates between Chanukah and Purim, when there is a specific obligation of feasting and joy. The miracle of Purim centered around the decree to annihilate the entire Jewish nation. Hashem brought about the issuance of this decree as a punishment for the Jews having indulged in the feast of King Achashveirosh. In celebration of the miracle which granted them new life, the Jewish people celebrate each year with a seudat mitzvah. The miracle of Chanukah, however, centered around the decrees of King Antiochus against Jewish observance.

The Greeks wanted the Jewish people to forsake their Torah way of life in favor of their [the Greek] own culture which glorified the physical and extolled indulgence in temporal pleasures. The Greeks were quite content to allow the Jews to remain alive — as long as they abandon those mitzvot which are at the core of Jewish belief. This decree, writes Bach, (based on a Baraisa) was, in fact, a Divine retribution for the Jews having become lax in their mitzvah observance. The mesiras nefesh, self- sacrifice of the Chashmonaim to preserve Torah life and restore the service to the Beit Hamikdash brought about the great miracle of their victory over the Greeks and the discovery of the flask of oil which miraculously burned for eight days. Thus, Chanukah is a celebration of the spirit, a yom tov which commemorates a victory of the spirit led by warriors of the spirit, the Chashmonaim.

Bach concludes, “Thus was the festival established to offer Hallel and Hoda’ah, a service of the heart.”

But we see today, the seeming emulation of the Greeks in the perennial battle for the Jewish soul taking place both in Chutz L’Aretz and in Eretz Yisrael. We observe the Bibi/Bennett shenanigans re: “The Regulation Law” which now would supposedly legalize the towns and hilltops of Yehuda and Shomron, but NOT the town of Amona

We also watch as Israel’s military appears to intensify its efforts against religious soldiers, including initiation of co-ed tank corps, etc., as the government continues to try to impose their way upon religious young men to force them to serve in a military which seems to be gradually evolving — devoid or losing all vestiges anything resembling Jewish spirituality. How very much forces among the powers-to-be in the IDF, with the seemingly willing complicity of Likud, and the so-called “Jewish Home”, along with Lapid and his “Yesh Atid” seem to ever be emulating the historical Greeks; “quite content to allow the Jews to remain alive — as long as they abandon those mitzvot which are at the core of Jewish belief.”

This author wonders and ponders how it is possible for this prime minister, his governing coalition, and all of Israel’s flim-flam politicians, media and so-called “enlightened college professors,” as well as this IDF Chief of Staff to truly understand the message and lessons of Chanukah.

It seems obvious that we are past due a time of governmental, institutional change bringing back real Jewish leadership and spirituality to the fore of Israel’s governance and governing institutions. It may or may not be religiously “correct” to use this particular connotation with regard to current Israeli governance, but here goes, in the now immortal words of a certain president-elect: “It’s time to drain the swamp.”

May we, the B’nei Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them at leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized gunpoint, that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard be liberated and truly free — only upon his return home to Israel, and that Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of two and a half years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and prevent Chas V’Challila the handing of any piece of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Chanukah Same’ach and Chodesh Tov!
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.

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