Filed under: Chanukah | Tags: Chanukah, Chuchmah, Cohen Gadol (High Priest), hadar mitzvah, Hasmonean, Hellenism, Macabee, rabbi Moshe Chym Lazatto, sefira, Torah government
Chanukah is about revolution. It is a reminder to stand up against the oppression. Especially when the nations values and politics have overcome the government of the
Jewish people living in the land of Isreal. It is a time to establish a truly Torah government.
The victory of Chanuka requires pride, sacrifice and resolve. You must live its virtues not just talk about them in prayer. They are not a thing of the past they are powers of Chanukah. Compromise is a weakness that victors cannot afford. Freedom is reserved for those who fight for it. Standing up against all the odds is the Macabee way. Standing up for the Divine truth. Chanuka is a time to remember the price of victory. It is not cheap!
We can light all the Chanuka lights that we want but we must remember that the purpose of light is to cancel out darkness. We will never cancel out darkness or defeat evil all the while that we lack the commitment and resolve and the sacrifice necessary to win the day. All our Chanuka lights will be nothing but hollow and empty shells if we fail to remember what it is that they are supposed to really be.
Chanukah is a time of ever increasing light. This is seen and accomplished through the service of Chanukah which includes lighting of the “Menorah”. The main service of Chanukah is the illumination of the darkness of night with the manorah in increasing intensity from 1 to 9 lights including the ”shamash”. It was on the first night of Chanukah the 25th of kislev that Antiocos made the temple into a shrine for idolatry. This was the darkest
moment when the house of GOD became a place unfit for his dwelling .This was the climax of the decent of the Jewish people led by their ”high society” as they slid down to the depth of spiritual depravity being absorbed in the ”upper class” (Greek) values of their day, which was called HELLenism. The enemy may have stimulated the decline of Yisrael from outside yet the real enemy was within, it was ourselves. We allowed non-Torah values to
infect us to the point that a Cohen Gadol (High Priest) was placed in the temple who had values opposite that of the Torah.
The enemy was within but salvation came from without and within as only a small
group of Cohaniem who were living in the hills were able to bring about the
spiritual redemption of our people. Reclaiming the Holy Temple, with the miracle of
the oil, and the physical miraculous victory where our enemies were concurred. On
Chanukah we went from the darkest darkness of our souls, spiritually and physically
captured under the dominion of strangers, yet we came to witness miracles and
salvation. The Greeks deliberately and methodically defiled all the oil in the Temple. They purposefully wanted to stamp out the means for Yisrael to serve God. The existence and discovery of one undefiled cruse – despite the aggressive efforts of the Greeks – was a miracle in and of itself. The Megillat Antiochus tells us that the Hasmonean Kohanim “They found only one cruse of oil which was sealed with the insignia of the Holy Kohen from the time of Samuel the prophet.”
We came to witness oil that burned miraculously. That which had the
physical potential to burn for one day burned for eight. This infinite quality of oil represents the permutation of the
spiritual quality of oil, which from kabalah we learn is ” chuchmah ” (creative inspiration), right into this physical world.
It is known that ”chuchmah” (Divine wisdom-creative power) is above space and time. Thus we see its revelation in this physical world “mamash”. The oil from the Manora allows us to Contemplate the surrounding lights and עליוןרצון (supernal will). We know rabbi Moshe Chym Lazatto says this light comes around every year for those who are there to receive it, blessed are those who reach this time. Now the ”Chuchmah” (Divine Wisdom-creativity) dresses itself in our dedication as Chanukah means dedication. Chanukah being the celebration of our dedication to Holiness, which is during the time of ”chanuc” (dedication) of the alter as described in the Torah in the book of ”Bamidbar” (Numbers), the dedication of the temple by King Salomon, the dedication of the temple by Yehuda Macabbe, and today our personal dedication to the Holy Blessed One NOW.
Our personal dedication to the Torah is the absolute fixing of the present exile of
Edom (the west ), which is rooted in Yavan (greek culture ), which is the
source of the hellinism that Yehuda Macabee rebelled against. Yavon is the same
spelling as Zion, except for missing the letter צ ’sawde”. A sawdeek is represented by
Yosef ha Sadeek. He represents the sefira yesod. As taught by rabbi Shimon bar Yochi yesod is 9th of the sefirot, it is as the 8 Chanukah lights and the ”shamash”. They are paralleled by
the 7 lights of the manorah in the temple, and the bulb where the branches meet. Thus it is said by kindling the
Chanukah manorah the manorah in the Holy Temple is lit. On Chanukah there shines the lights of ס”ג
(light of Divine understanding) to Z’a (source of the Ruach, emotional soul). ס”ג =חנה and יהו”ה (is Z’a)=וכ
together is חנוכה . Every aspect can be lit up by נר (lamps) of chanucah. Thus נר
is gematria of the Yichudim (unifications) of אהי”ה אלהי”ם אדנ”י each with יהו”ה = נר.
Rabbi Ashlag teaches that all 25 Parzufim (divine faces of revelation) come down to
Prophets, they being attached to the highest powers.
This all shines on Chanukah. חן (favor) from the revelation of the 8 days of Chanukah is as a Temple offering or ”Brit Mealah” (circucision) which both must wait till the 8th day. We receive זאת (SHECHINAH) Chanukah by the revelation of the oil (Chuhmah) that illuminates making one’s face to Shine. This Shining is חן. This is what one must find in their wife (Shechinah) as said in the end of Gemora Gitten. The כלה (bride) being the Shechinah. This being revealed as the perfection of man. This is the ”Gadlut” (greatness) of Yaakov which is called Yisrael. This is the סלום (ladder) from heaven. This is the ו . In this time of Chanukah ”dedication”, this is accomplished by doing what Yehuda Ha Makaabe stood for rebelling against what Yavan represents which is striving for beauty alone without the discretion or recognition of GOD which, thus the pursuit of beauty becomes completely a reflection of the love of the body, and self love. Thus we see reason for their obsession with sports, the human body the main theme of their visual arts, and there obsession with abstract intellectual thought. All the things have only one end the glorification of one self, this is the ultimate product of the philosophy of the Greeks, but when the letter צ ’sawde’ is added to the word’ Yavan’ (Greek) it becomes Zion. Thus when one adds ’sawde’ representing yesod, the power of making the most complete revelation of GOD out of all things and places. Perfect uprightness ,acting as a sadeek. Then true perfect beauty is realized. So, on Chanukah we need to dedicate to GOD the beauty that which is unique to ourselves as we each have a different face. So our relationship to GOD is a personal thing . It is our personal expression of beauty in Divine service. We see in the writing of our sages so many things called “hadar mitzvahsefira”, which is performing the mitzvah in a way which is more than is required by the letter of the law. This is why Chanukah is called holiday of the Oral Torah. All Yisrael are required to fulfill the 613 commandments of the Torah. Since we don’t have a temple now, may it be rebuilt soon some mitzvot involving temple service and other mitzvot due to our lackings can only be fulfilled by learning about them. All the mitzvot that we do bind us together. This is the fulfillment of the letter of the law but this is not enough, as it says in the Talmud “ if only the letter of the law was fulfilled, no one could exist ”. If one only does the least that is required what kind of love does this express ?.
A mitzvah is a vessel for the love of GOD. A pitcher holds water so has an intrinsic beauty to its form, yet with ornate engravings it becomes something to behold. If this thing is a mitzvah that has become beautified it is truly something to love. Each person needs to express themselves with in the mitzvot with the uniqueness of their Nashama, this is to discover ourselves, and GOD’s great source of light within each of us.
It is a time to manifest עזותהקושה (brazenness of Holiness) against the “sitra achra” (other side). By this is the perfection of the mitzvot. It is by this that we become Holy, which means separate. Each of us establishing our own personal relationship with GOD. As it say in Leviticus ”sanctify yourselves and be holy ”. This being sanctification in the permitted or separation. Such as cutting the bread slightly before blessing or doing a ”Tynet debor” (fast of speech). Not speaking is equal to many fasts of food. It is the uniqueness of the individual that makes the ultimate fixing for the creation. It is this individuality that is the complete fixing against the exile of Edom. As they want conformity, a lack of individuality , every one to conform to a certain standardization. As taught by Rabbi Kahana in Pesicta Edom the offspring of Yavan (Greek values) tries to push Yisrael off the Torah path to conform to its values ” be like every one else ”. The perfection of the commandments defeats the darkness of exile. It is this dedication that is required. Now lets look specifically at how the klipa (evil) of Yavan Edom attacks.
In the era of Chanukah the Greeks made laws forbidding observance the Rosh Chodesh (new moon), Shabot ,and circumcision . Chodesh being sanctification in time, Shabot being sanctification in spirituality through action, and circumcision sanctification in the most physical our bodies. It is these institutions that Yavan chose to strike at as they are at the root of our service to GOD. by observance of rosh chodesh we make known our time belongs to GOD. With shabbot we realize the spiritual impact of our actions which we might have thought were in consequential, such as turning on a light. While the circumcision Yavan fought against actually represents the sanctification of GOD with our bodies. That the most physical things we are involved in should be dedicated to divine will.
It’s said by Rashi that Yaakov went back across the river to pick up the small bottles that were filled with oil for Chanukah that he had left there. This oil was oil made from the olives of the olive branch brought back to Noah by the dove after the flood. It was when doing this that Yaakov came across the supernal angel of Edom (the west ), and he wrestled with him and won at Bait Ael which illudes to the place of the Holy temple. This shows us by the power of Chanukah we can concur the exile of Edom. As yaakov did fulfilling the verse “ I will punish the Hosts on high “. The threat of Yaakov getting the Chanukah oil was enough to arouse the angel of Asev, Edom to attack him.
Sni luchot ha brit teaches that on Chanukah if one lights the Manorah outside His door and a spark flies to the street burning hay on a wagon. The owner of the Manorah is not liable to damages. It is the function of the Jewish people to destroy the decendents of Asev. The sparks flying out into the public domain do this. But such is only permitted in its proper time, sparks flying into the street and damaging not on “chanukah” is a crime and one must then pay damages. Hastening the redemption led to the premature death of 20,000 of the tribe of Efriam, when they left Egypt early.
Another matter we need to look at is what it means to us that on Chanukah that Asev can only be defeated when Yosef is with Yehuda. Yehuda alone cannot defeat Asev. This brings us to explain Masiach ben Yosef and David. Yuhudah is the fulfillment of the letter of the law. Yosef is service of a personal nature, above that which is required. The god of the Greeks was a impersonal unreachable god. To them god was the unapproachable authority. By the service of Yosef one fulfills the words of the Torah ”I shall dwell in your midst ” . This is how Yavan the exile of Edom is defeated. One must fulfill the mitzvot regularly this is Yehuda, but not only this but in a beautiful way by this we will overcome the present exile. We see the blending of these two aspects in the mitzvah of the Chanukah manora. As almost every one in Isreal fulfills the letter of the law of this mitzvah, being the aspect of Yehuda, yet in many homes even of those who claim to not be religious we find more than one manora lit this being the ”hadar” above the letter of the law being the aspect of Yosef.
In the Chanukah story the enemy of the Jews were not only the Greeks – but the ”reform” Jews who betrayed the Torah, abandoned the Commandments and accepted Greek ways. This was an internal national struggle for the soul of the Jew – the two sides were the ”Sages” and “Hellenists.”. The true story of the Festival of Light is one of a particularly bloody Jewish civil war.As a matter of fact, civil war continued in Judea for twenty years after the first Chanukah. Hanukkah is a festival built upon a mound of suppressed memories and censored texts, a putative celebration of light that in fact commemorates a Jewish civil war.
The true fight on Chanukah is about. Between Jews and Greeks? No, it was a civil war between Jews and Jews! So that’s the primary thing. Mattatiyahu Maccabe started the war by killing a Jewish traitor and a Greek official present. What was his sin? He made a sacrifice according to Greek customs. Then Mattatyahu turned to the crowd and announces: “Follow me, all of you who are for God’s law and stand by the covenant.” (1 Maccabees 2:27)
The Hanukkah story is really about a revolt against the Hellenized Jews who had fallen madly in love with the sophisticated, globalizing superculture of their day. The Apocrypha’s texts make it clear that the battle against Hellenization was in fact a civil war among the Jews themselves. Here is how the first Book of the Maccabees describes Jerusalem on the eve of civil war and revolt in the time of Antiochus :
At that time there were some evil-doers in Israel who tried to win popularity for a policy of integration with the surrounding nations. It was because the Jews had kept themselves aloof for so long, they claimed, that so many hardships had befallen them. They acquired a following and applied to Antiochus, who authorized them to introduce the Greek way of life. They built a Greek gymnasium in Jerusalem and even had themselves uncircumcised.
Uncircumcision was the price of admission to the Jerusalem gym ! Josephus, tells us, in “History of the Jews”, that one of the most popular plastic surgery operations, in Jerusalem, at that time was replacing the foreskin because Jewish men were embarrassed not to have a foreskin for the race. So, Josephus says that a lot of doctors got rich putting back the foreskins. It was a Jewish problem at Chanukah. Not Jews and non-Jews. The problem was Jews who wanted to adopt a Greek way of life. We don’t have a problem with Greeks adopting a Greek way of life.
Only when the Greeks saw that many Jews were prepared to betray their way of life, did Antiochus find the courage to prohibit ”on pain of death,” the study of Torah, the practice of Circumcision, the observance of Shabbat and Divine worship,and the rest of his injunctions against Torah observance. Then he put a statue of Zeus in the Temple and sacrificed pig on the altar.
Jason’s time as High Priest was brought to an abrupt end in 172 BCE when he sent Menelaus, the brother of Simon the Benjaminite, to deliver money to Antiochus. Menelaus took this opportunity to ”outbid” Jason for the priesthood, resulting in Antiochus confirming Menelaus as the High Priest. Although during the three years As High Priest Jason had given many proofs of his attachment to the Hellenistic party (by building a gymnasium in Jerusalem and by introducing many Greek customs) the zealous Hellenists of the stamp of the Tobiads plotted his overthrow, suspecting him of partiality to traditional Judaism. At their head stood Menelaus.
Hasmonean Dynasty ruled from 142-63 BCE During that time, there was a great deal of tension between the Hasmoneans and the sages. As a result, the sages were not particularly interested in maintaining a holiday that commemorated the dedication declared by the Hasmonean family. There is not 1 Mishna on Chanukah.
Sadducees represented the aristocratic group of the Hasmonean High Priests, who replaced the previous High Priestly lineage. The earlier Priestly lineage had been blamed for allowing the Syrian Emperor Antiochus IV Epiphanes to desecrate the Temple of Jerusalem with idolatrous sacrifices and to martyr monotheistic Jews.
Jewish priest Mattatiyahu led the Maccabean revolt against the Seleucid Empire (167 BC-160 BC) and is acclaimed as one of the greatest warriors in Jewish history alongside Joshua, Gideon and David. Led by Mattatiyahu Jews entered Jerusalem and purified the Temple (164 BCE), these events are commemorated each year by the festival of Hannuka.
Jose ben Joezer was a rabbi of the early Maccabean period 191 BCE, a disciple of Antigonus of Soko and member of the ascetic group known as the Chasidim. Yose belonged to the party of the Ḥasidim, and was a decided adversary of Hellenism. One of Yosi’s ideas was: Let your house be a meeting place for the wise; sit in the dust of their feet; and drink in their words with thirst (Avot 1:4). He belonged to a priestly family. Jose ben Johanan of Jerusalem was his colleague. ) was Nasi (president) of the Sanhedrin in the second century BCE. He was a native of Jerusalem. He and Jose ben Joezer were the successors and, it is said, the disciples of Antigonus of Sokho and the two together formed the first of a series of pairs that transmitted the traditional law; in each pair one, according to tradition, was a prince and a president (“nasi”), and the other vice-president, of the Sanhedrin (Av Beth Din)begins the period known in Jewish history as that of the zugot (pairs), which ended with Hillel and Shammai. According to an old tradition, the member of the “zugot” mentioned first occupied the office of Nasi (president) of the Sanhedrin, while the one mentioned second served in the capacity of vice-president.
The Syrian general Bacchides had Yosi ben Joezer placed on a horse to be hanged. His nephew, an important Hellenist, came to taunt his uncle.
The first pair consisted of Yose ben Yo’ezer as Nasi, and Yose ben Yochanan as the Av Beis Din. They received the Oral Law from Antigonos, as did their contemporary Yochanan, whose son Mattisyahu started the Hasmonean revolt. The famous “Yehudah HaMaccabee” (Judah the Maccabee) from the story of Chanukah was Mattisyahu’s son.
Jonathan Apphus, High priest 153-143 BCE. Yonathan Maccabee was leader of the Hasmonean Dynasty of Judea from 161 to 143 BCE. He is called also Apphus
Mattisyahu called for a revolt against the Greeks and Jews who had placed idols in the Temple.
Yuhudah Maccabee removed the idols from the Temple. In 140 B.C. The Hasmonean Dynasty began under the leadership of Simon Maccabee, who served as ruler, high priest, and commander in chief. Simon, who was assassinated a few years later, formalized what Yudah had begun, the establishment of a theocracy ruled by a Kohen Gadol, something not found in the Torah
After the Hellenists killed Yosi ben Joezer the new Nasi became Yehoshua ben Perachyah and the Av Beis Din Nittai haArbeli they were the next of the pairs. According to Rambam, one of the other great Sages who transmitted the Oral Law during this generation was Yochanan, son of Shimon—who was one of the four brothers of Yehudah , known as the Maccabee. Judah and his brothers led the military revolt against the Greeks and Hellenized Jews that led to the miracles of Chanukah.
The third generation of “pairs” consisted of the Nasi Yehudah ben Tabbai and the Av Beis Din Shimon ben Shetach. Shimon ben Shetach defied the evil King Alexander Yannai, ensuring the survival of Torah.
Alexander Yannai was a King from the Hasmonean line. One of the sad postscripts of the Chanukah story is that although the sons of Mattisyahu were Kohanim (Priests, from the tribe of Levi), they took it upon themselves to rule over Israel following their successful revolt. This was a tragic error, because the right to be King of Israel was granted by God to the descendants of King David, who is from the tribe of Yehudah, for eternity.
During the following generations, the Hasmonean leaders were corrupted by their power, both taking upon themselves the title of “King” and also acting with increasing hostility toward the Torah Sages. Alexander Yannai was influenced by an evil advisor to have the Sages killed—but his wife, Shlomis Alexandra, ensured that her brother Shimon ben Shetach was spared.
Hasmonean dynasty ruled Between c. 140 and c. 116 BCE,
Yehoshua ben Perachyah and his colleague Nittai of Arbela were the second of the five pairs (Zugot) of scholars who received and transmitted Jewish tradition (Avot i.6; Haggigah 16a).
After the Hellenists killed Yosi ben Yoeser, Yehoshua b. Perachya became the Nasi in the year 140 At the time of the persecution of the Pharisees by John Hyrcanus (c. 134-104 BC), Joshua was deposed — a disgrace to which his words in Men. 109b apparently allude. However in Sanhedrin 107b and Sotah 47a it was during the persecutions of Pharisees 88-76 BCE by Alexander Jannaeus, not John Hyrcanus whose persecution he fled. He fled to Alexandria, Egypt, but was recalled to Jerusalem when the persecutions ceased and the Pharisees again triumphed over the Sadducees (Sotah 47a).
The Pharisees opposed the wars of expansion of the Hasmoneans and the forced conversions of the Idumeans. The political rift between them became wider when Pharisees demanded that the Hasmonean king Alexander Jannaeus choose between being king and being High Priest. In response, the king openly sided with the Sadducees by adopting their rites in the Temple. His actions caused a riot in the Temple and led to a brief civil war that ended with a bloody repression of the Pharisees. The split came through a tragic event in the Beth Hamikdosh during Succoth.
Yannai, as Kohen Gadol (High Priest), conducted the Service in the Beth Hamikdosh. One of the special services on Succoth was the “Nisuch Hamayim” (Pouring of the Water) on the Altar. According to tradition, together with the pouring of wine which took place during the whole year, a pitcher of water, which had been joyfully drawn from the Spring of Shiloah, was additionally poured over the Altar on each day of Succoth.
This service was, connected with the ceremony of the Drawing of the Water, known as ”Simchath Beth Hashoevah,” and was an annual event during Succoth, which was carried out with great celebration.
When the High Priest was handed the pitcher of water to pour over the Altar, he poured it out on the ground instead, as the Sadducees bad refused to accept this tradition.
Seeing what he had done, the assembled worshippers in the Beth Hamikdosh were infuriated, and began showering him with their Ethrogim.
King Yannai became so frightened at such open rebellion, that he ordered his non-Jewish soldiers to attack the people. This they did, killing six thousand Jews in the court of the Beth Hamikdosh.
After this happening, the people began to hate King Yannai more than ever. There were many uprisings against the King, and he mercilessly crushed the rebels with the help of his paid army. This, in turn, led to further rebellion and bitterness among the people, resulting in six years of bloody civil warfare.
At his deathbed, King Yannai called for a reconciliation between the two parties. Alexander was succeeded by his widow, Salome Alexandra, whose brother was Shimon ben Shetach, a leading Pharisee. Upon her death her elder son, Hyrcanus, sought Pharisee support, and her younger son, Aristobulus, sought the support of the Sadducees. The conflict between Hyrcanus and Aristobulus culminated in a civil war that ended when the Roman general Pompey captured Jerusalem in 63 BCE and inaugurated the Roman period of Jewish history.
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