Tag Archives: Hanukah

Let The Sun Shine

Let The Sunshine

Recorded live in front of a bonfire with Elise, Orna and Henry in Westport CT – an exploration of Hanukah as a universal celebration of hope and optimism from out of the depths of the darkness of the winter solstice.

Listen to the madlik podcast:

Link to Sefaria Source Sheet: www.sefaria.org/sheets/285497

 

 

Bereishit Rabbah 11

(2) “And Elokim blessed the seventh day and sanctified it”- ….

R’ Elazar says: “He blessed it” with a candle and this occurred to me, one time I lit a candle on the eve of Shabbat and I came and I found it [still] lit at the end of Shabbat and it wasn’t diminished at all. “He blessed it” with the light of the face of man, “He sanctified it” with the light of of the face of man. The light of man’s face throughout the week isn’t comparable to [his face] on Shabbat. “He blessed it” with luminaries, R’ Shimon son of Yehuda the man of Acco says in the name of R’ Shimon: even though the luminaries were cursed from the Shabbat eve they were not smitten until the termination of the Sabbath.

This agrees with the Rabbis but not with R. Assi who maintained: Adam’s glory did not abide the night with him. What is the proof? But Adam passeth not the night in glory (Ps XLIX, 13). The Rabbis maintain: His glory abode with him, but at the termination of Sabbath He deprived him of his splendor and expelled him from the Garden of Eden, as it is written, Thou changest his countenance, and sendest him away (Job XIV, 20)

As soon as the sun set on the night of the Sabbath, the Holy One Blessed be He wished to hide the light, but He showed honor to the Sabbath; hence it is written, AND GOD BLESSED THE SEVETNTH DAY: whereupon did He bless it? With light. When the sun set on the night of the Sabbath, the light continued to function [the primeval light] whereupon all began praising, as it is written Under the whole heaven they sing praises to Him (ibid XXXVII, 3); wherefore? Because His light [reaches] unto the ends of the earth (ibid). …

Rabbi Levi said in the name of Rabbi Z’eira: That light served for thirty-six hours – twelve hours on the eve of Shabbat, twelve hours of the night of Shabbat, and the twelve hours of Shabbat [day]. Once the sun set on Saturday night, the darkness began to settle in. Adam was terrified, [thinking] Surely indeed the darkness shall bruise [E.V. ‘envelop’] me (Ps, CXXXIX, 11): shall he of whom it is written, He shall bruise they head (Gen. III, 15), now come to attack me! [under the cover of darkness] What did the Lord do for him? He made him find two flints which he struck against each other; light came forth and he uttered a blessing over it; hence it is written, But the night was light unto me – ba’adeni ( PS. loc. cit.), i.e. the night was light in my Eden (be’edni’). This agree with Samuel, for Samuel said: Why do we recite a blessing over a lamp [fire] at the termination of the Sabbath? Because it was then created for the first time [artificial light]. ….

בראשית רבה י״א

(ב) וַיְבָרֶךְ אֱלֹהִים אֶת יוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי וגו’,…

רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר אוֹמֵר בֵּרְכוֹ בְּנֵר, וּבִי הָיָה הַמַּעֲשֶׂה, פַּעַם אַחַת הִדְלַקְתִּי אֶת הַנֵּר בְּלֵילֵי שַׁבָּת וּבָאתִי וּמָצָאתִי אוֹתוֹ בְּמוֹצָאֵי שַׁבָּת דָּלוּק וְלֹא חָסַר כְּלוּם. בֵּרְכוֹ בְּאוֹר פָּנָיו שֶׁל אָדָם, קִדְּשׁוֹ בְּאוֹר פָּנָיו שֶׁל אָדָם. לֹא דוֹמֶה אוֹר פָּנָיו שֶׁל אָדָם כָּל יְמוֹת הַשַּׁבָּת, כְּמוֹ שֶׁהוּא דּוֹמֶה בְּשַׁבָּת. בֵּרְכוֹ בַּמְּאוֹרוֹת, רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן בַּר יְהוּדָה אִישׁ כְּפַר עַכּוֹ אוֹמֵר מִשּׁוּם רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן, אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁנִּתְקַלְּלוּ הַמְּאוֹרוֹת מֵעֶרֶב שַׁבָּת, אֲבָל לֹא לָקוּ עַד מוֹצָאֵי שַׁבָּת,

אַתְיָא כְּרַבָּנָן וְלָא אַתְיָא כִּדְרַבִּי אַמֵּי, דְּאָמַר רַבִּי אַמֵּי אָדָם הָרִאשׁוֹן לֹא לָן כְּבוֹדוֹ עִמּוֹ, מַה טַּעַם (תהלים מט, יג): וְאָדָם בִּיקָר בַּל יָלִין נִמְשַׁל כַּבְּהֵמוֹת נִדְּמוּ. וְרַבָּנָן אָמְרֵי, לָן כְּבוֹדוֹ עִמּוֹ, וּמוֹצָאֵי שַׁבָּת נִטַּל מִמֶּנּוּ זִיווֹ וּטְרָדוֹ מִגַּן עֵדֶן, הֲדָא הוּא דִכְתִיב (איוב יד, כ): מְשַׁנֶּה פָנָיו וַתְּשַׁלְּחֵהוּ. כֵּיוָן שֶׁשָּׁקְעָה חַמָּה בְּלֵילֵי שַׁבָּת, בִּקֵּשׁ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לִגְנֹז אֶת הָאוֹרָה, וְחָלַק כָּבוֹד לַשַּׁבָּת. הֲדָא הוּא דִכְתִיב: וַיְבָרֶךְ אֱלֹהִים אֶת יוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי וַיְקַדֵּשׁ אוֹתוֹ, בֵּרְכוֹ בְּאוֹרָה, כֵּיוָן שֶׁשָּׁקְעָה הַחַמָּה בְּלֵילֵי הַשַּׁבָּת הִתְחִילָה הָאוֹרָה וְהָיְתָה מְשַׁמֶּשֶׁת, הִתְחִילוּ הַכֹּל מְקַלְּסִין, הֲדָא הוּא דִכְתִיב (איוב לז, ג): תַּחַת כָּל הַשָּׁמַיִם יִשְׁרֵהוּ וְאוֹרוֹ עַל כַּנְפוֹת הָאָרֶץ,…

בִּי לֵוִי בְּשֵׁם רַבִּי זְעֵירָא אָמַר, ל”ו שָׁעוֹת שִׁמְשָׁה אוֹתָהּ הָאוֹרָה, שְׁנֵים עָשָׂר שֶׁל עֶרֶב שַׁבָּת, וּשְׁנֵים עָשָׂר שֶׁל לֵילֵי שַׁבָּת, וּשְׁנֵים עָשָׂר שֶׁל שַׁבָּת. כֵּיוָן שֶׁשָּׁקְעָה הַחַמָּה בְּמוֹצָאֵי שַׁבָּת הִתְחִיל הַחשֶׁךְ מְמַשְׁמֵשׁ וּבָא וְנִתְיָרֵא אָדָם הָרִאשׁוֹן, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (תהלים קלט, יא): וָאֹמַר אַךְ חשֶׁךְ יְשׁוּפֵנִי וְלַיְלָה אוֹר בַּעֲדֵנִי, אוֹתוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בּוֹ (בראשית ג, טו): הוּא יְשׁוּפְךָ רֹאשׁ וְאַתָּה תְּשׁוּפֶנּוּ עָקֵב, בָּא לְהִזְדַּוֵּג לִי, מֶה עָשָׂה הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא, זִמֵּן לוֹ שְׁנֵי רְעָפִים וְהֵקִישָׁן זֶה לָזֶה וְיָצָא מֵהֶן אוֹר וּבֵרַךְ עָלֶיהָ, הֲדָא הוּא דִכְתִיב: וְלַיְלָה אוֹר בַּעֲדֵנִי. מַה בֵּרַךְ עָלֶיהָ, בּוֹרֵא מְאוֹרֵי הָאֵשׁ.

אַתְיָא כִּשְׁמוּאֵל, דְּאָמַר שְׁמוּאֵל מִפְּנֵי מָה מְבָרְכִין עַל הָאוֹר בְּמוֹצָאֵי שַׁבָּת, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהִיא תְּחִלַּת בְּרִיָּתָהּ.

See also Bereshit Rabba 12:6 and here.

Avodah Zarah 8a

The Sages taught: On the day that Adam the first man was created, when the sun set upon him he said: Woe is me, as because I sinned, the world is becoming dark around me, and the world will return to the primordial state of chaos and disorder. And this is the death that was sentenced upon me from Heaven. He spent all night fasting and crying, and Eve was crying opposite him. Once dawn broke, he said: Evidently, the sun sets and night arrives, and this is the order of the world.

 

עבודה זרה ח׳ א

ת”ר יום שנברא בו אדם הראשון כיון ששקעה עליו חמה אמר אוי לי שבשביל שסרחתי עולם חשוך בעדי ויחזור עולם לתוהו ובוהו וזו היא מיתה שנקנסה עלי מן השמים היה יושב בתענית ובוכה כל הלילה וחוה בוכה כנגדו כיון שעלה עמוד השחר אמר מנהגו של עולם הוא

Avodah Zarah 8a

the Sages taught: When Adam the first man saw that the day was progressively diminishing, as the days become shorter from the autumnal equinox until the winter solstice, he did not yet know that this is a normal phenomenon, and therefore he said: Woe is me; perhaps because I sinned the world is becoming dark around me and will ultimately return to the primordial state of chaos and disorder. And this is the death that was sentenced upon me from Heaven, as it is written: “And to dust shall you return” (Genesis 3:19). He arose and spent eight days in fasting and in prayer. Once he saw that the season of Tevet, i.e., the winter solstice, had arrived, and saw that the day was progressively lengthening after the solstice, he said: Clearly, the days become shorter and then longer, and this is the order of the world. He went and observed a festival for eight days. Upon the next year, he observed both these eight days on which he had fasted on the previous year, and these eight days of his celebration, as days of festivities. He, Adam, established these festivals for the sake of Heaven, but they, the gentiles of later generations, established them for the sake of idol worship.

 

עבודה זרה ח׳ א

ת”ר לפי שראה אדם הראשון יום שמתמעט והולך אמר אוי לי שמא בשביל שסרחתי עולם חשוך בעדי וחוזר לתוהו ובוהו וזו היא מיתה שנקנסה עלי מן השמים עמד וישב ח’ ימים בתענית [ובתפלה] כיון שראה תקופת טבת וראה יום שמאריך והולך אמר מנהגו של עולם הוא הלך ועשה שמונה ימים טובים לשנה האחרת עשאן לאלו ולאלו ימים טובים הוא קבעם לשם שמים והם קבעום לשם עבודת כוכבים

Shabbat 21b

The Gemara asks: What is Hanukkah, and why are lights kindled on Hanukkah? The Gemara answers: The Sages taught in Megillat Taanit: On the twenty-fifth of Kislev, the days of Hanukkah are eight. One may not eulogize on them and one may not fast on them. What is the reason? When the Greeks entered the Sanctuary, they defiled all the oils that were in the Sanctuary by touching them. And when the Hasmonean monarchy overcame them and emerged victorious over them, they searched and found only one cruse of oil that was placed with the seal of the High Priest, undisturbed by the Greeks. And there was sufficient oil there to light the candelabrum for only one day. A miracle occurred and they lit the candelabrum from it eight days. The next year the Sages instituted those days and made them holidays with recitation of hallel and special thanksgiving in prayer and blessings.

שבת כ״א ב

מַאי חֲנוּכָּה? דְּתָנוּ רַבָּנַן: בְּכ״ה בְּכִסְלֵיו יוֹמֵי דַחֲנוּכָּה תְּמָנְיָא אִינּוּן דְּלָא לְמִסְפַּד בְּהוֹן וּדְלָא לְהִתְעַנּוֹת בְּהוֹן. שֶׁכְּשֶׁנִּכְנְסוּ יְווֹנִים לַהֵיכָל טִמְּאוּ כׇּל הַשְּׁמָנִים שֶׁבַּהֵיכָל. וּכְשֶׁגָּבְרָה מַלְכוּת בֵּית חַשְׁמוֹנַאי וְנִצְּחוּם, בָּדְקוּ וְלֹא מָצְאוּ אֶלָּא פַּךְ אֶחָד שֶׁל שֶׁמֶן שֶׁהָיָה מוּנָּח בְּחוֹתָמוֹ שֶׁל כֹּהֵן גָּדוֹל, וְלֹא הָיָה בּוֹ אֶלָּא לְהַדְלִיק יוֹם אֶחָד. נַעֲשָׂה בּוֹ נֵס וְהִדְלִיקוּ מִמֶּנּוּ שְׁמוֹנָה יָמִים. לְשָׁנָה אַחֶרֶת קְבָעוּם וַעֲשָׂאוּם יָמִים טוֹבִים בְּהַלֵּל וְהוֹדָאָה.

Shabbat 21b

Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel disagree as to the nature of that adjustment. Beit Shammai say: On the first day one kindles eight lights and, from there on, gradually decreases the number of lights until, on the last day of Hanukkah, he kindles one light. And Beit Hillel say: On the first day one kindles one light, and from there on, gradually increases the number of lights until, on the last day, he kindles eight lights.

שבת כ״א ב

בֵּית שַׁמַּאי אוֹמְרִים: יוֹם רִאשׁוֹן מַדְלִיק שְׁמֹנָה, מִכָּאן וְאֵילָךְ פּוֹחֵת וְהוֹלֵךְ. וּבֵית הִלֵּל אוֹמְרִים: יוֹם רִאשׁוֹן מַדְלִיק אַחַת, מִכָּאן וְאֵילָךְ מוֹסִיף וְהוֹלֵךְ.

 

 

Ner Mitzvah, Volume II

(14) And it was appropriate that it would be on the twenty-fifth of Kislev, since the light emerges at that time. Because it was on the twenty-fifth of Elul that the light was created in the world, since the world was created on the first of Tishrei, and on it was created the Man that was created in the six days of creation; and the light that was created on the first day, it was on this twenty-fifth day of Elul that the light was created. And light has four boundaries: One boundary, [which is] that the light is at the end of its increasing and the darkness is at the end of its contraction, and from there the light begins to contract and the darkness to increase, and this is Tamuz [i.e., summer solstice]. And there is a [second] boundary where the light and the darkness are equal, and from there on the light begins to contract and the darkness to increase, and this is the month of Tishrei, since at that time the light and the darkness are equal and from there on the darkness increases and overcomes the light [i.e., autumnal equinox]. And there is a [third] boundary where the darkness overcomes the light completely, and this is in the Month of Tevet, and from then on the light begins to increase [i.e., winter solstice]. And there is a [fourth] boundary where the light and the darkness are equal and afterward the light proceeds to increase, and this is in the month of Nisan [i.e., vernal equinox], since at that time the light and the darkness are equal and afterward the light increasingly strengthens until the month of Tamuz, and thus it repeats. And behold, the beginning of the light that emerges from the darkness is on the twenty-fifth of Kislev, since the creation of the light of the world was at a time in which the day and night were equal, and this was on the twenty-fifth of Elul – or on the twenty-fifth of Adar according to the opinion (Rosh HaShanah 11a) that the world was created in Nisan – in which case the beginning of the light was on the twenty-fifth of Kislev since at that time the light began to increase. And therefore the miracle with the oil was made, and the light on the twenty-fifth was even if there was no oil to light, and the miracle was for all eight [days] when it was at that time which is singled out for the beginning of the light.

 

נר מצוה, חלק ב

(יד) וראוי היה זה שיהיה בכ”ה בכסליו, שאז האור יוצא. כי בכ”ה באלול נברא האור בעולם, כי העולם נברא באחד בתשרי, ובו נברא האדם, שנברא בששי [של] ימי בראשית. והאור שנברא ביום ראשון (בראשית א, ג) היה זה בכ”ה באלול, שנברא האור. ויש לאור ד’ גבולים; הגבול האחד, שהאור הוא בתכלית התגברות שלו, והחושך בתכלית המיעוט, ומשם ואילך מתחיל האור להתמעט, והחושך להתגבר, וזהו בתמוז. ויש גבול, שהאור והחשך הם שוים, ומכאן ואילך מתחיל האור להתמעט והחושך להתגבר, וזה בחודש תשרי, שאז האור והחושך שוים ומכאן ואילך החושך מוסיף ומתגבר על האור. ויש גבול, שהחושך גובר על האור לגמרי, וזהו בחודש טבת, ומכאן ואילך מתחיל האור להתגבר. ויש גבול, שהאור והחושך הם שוים, ואחר כך הולך האור ומוסיף, וזהו בחודש ניסן, שאז האור וחושך שוים, ואחר כך מתגבר האור יותר עד חדש תמוז, וכן הוא חוזר חלילה. והנה התחלת האור שיוצא מן החשיכה הוא בכ”ה כסליו, כי בריאת אור עולם בזמן שהוא שוה היום עם הלילה, וזה היה בכ”ה באלול, או בכ”ה באדר למאן דאמר (ר”ה יא.) בניסן נברא העולם. אם כן התחלת האור הוא בכ”ה בכסליו, שאז מתחיל האור להתגבר. ולפיכך נעשה הנס בשמן, והיה האור בכ”ה [בכסליו], אף שלא היה שמן להדליק. והיה הנס כל שמונה, כאשר אותו זמן הוא מיוחד להתחלת האור.

(טו) והתחלת האור ראוי לבית המקדש, כמו שאמרו במדרש (ב”ר ג, ד) אמר* רבי ברכיה בשם רבי יצחק, ממקום בית המקדש נבראת האורה, שנאמר* (יחזקאל מג, ב) “והנה כבוד אלקי ישראל בא מדרך הקדם”, ואין כבוד אלא בית המקדש, היך מה דאת אמרת (ירמיה יז, יב) “כסא כבוד מרום מראשון מקום מקדשנו”, עד כאן. ומה שאמר כי מן בית המקדש נברא האורה, דבר זה ידוע לנבונים, כי כל שהוא מסולק מן הגשמי הוא אור בהיר, כאשר תבחין בנמצאים הגשמיים, שכל שהוא גשמי יותר, הוא עכור וחושך. וזה, כי הארץ היא גשמית, ולכך הארץ היא חשוכה לגמרי. והמים אינם כל כך גשמיים כמו הארץ, שיש לארץ גסות ועבות החמרי יותר, לכך המים הם זכים יותר. והרוח עוד יותר מסולק מן הגשמי, ולכך הרוח הוא יותר זך ויותר דק. והאש של מעלה, שהוא יסוד האש, הוא עוד יותר מסולק מן הגשמי, ולפיכך הוא יותר זך ויותר דק, עד שהכוכבים נראים מתוכה, כאילו אין כאן דבר חוצץ כלל. ומפני כי מקום בית המקדש הוא נבדל מן הגשמי, כאשר ידוע מענין בית המקדש שהוא נבדל ומסולק מן הגשמי. ובשביל זה אמרו בפרק קמא דבתרא (בבא בתרא ד.) על הורדוס כבה אורו של עולם, שהרג את החכמים, שהם אורו של עולם, לכך יעסוק בבית המקדש, שהוא אורו של עולם. ולכך אמרו שהאור שאינו גשמי, רק מסולק מן הגשמי, נברא ממקום בית המקדש. והדברים ידועים למשכילים ולנבונים. ולכך היה הנס בבית המקדש, בנרות, ביום כ”ה בכסליו, שהוא מיוחד להתגברות האור ואל התחלת האור, כמו שהתבאר.

 

 

Source Sheet created on Sefaria by Geoffrey Stern

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The Hanukah Dilemma – The Birth of Judaism

How the Rabbis stole Hanukah and gave Judaism a new life…….

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Notes

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They celebrated it for eight days with gladness like Sukkot and recalled how a little while before, during Sukkot they had been wandering in the mountains and caverns like wild animals. So carrying lulavs [palm branches waved on Sukkot]…they offered hymns of praise (perhaps, the Hallel prayer) to God who had brought to pass the purification of his own place. (II Maccabees 10:9-10)
Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 21b What is the reason for Hanukkah? For our rabbis taught: On the twentyfifth of Kislev begin the days of Hanukkah [which are eight] on which a lamentation for the dead and fasting are forbidden. For when the Greeks entered the Temple, they defiled all the oils therein, and when the Hasmonean dynasty prevailed against and defeated them, they searched and found only one jug of oil which lay with the seal of the kohen gadol, but which contained enough for one day’s lighting only; yet a miracle occurred and they lit the lamp for eight days. The following year these days were appointed a festival with the recitation of hallel and thanksgiving.

מאי חנוכה דתנו רבנן בכ”ה בכסליו יומי דחנוכה תמניא אינון דלא למספד בהון ודלא להתענות בהון שכשנכנסו יוונים להיכל טמאו כל השמנים שבהיכל וכשגברה מלכות בית חשמונאי ונצחום בדקו ולא מצאו אלא פך אחד של שמן שהיה מונח בחותמו של כהן גדול ולא היה בו אלא להדליק יום אחד נעשה בו נס והדליקו ממנו שמונה ימים לשנה אחרת קבעום ועשאום ימים טובים בהלל והודאה

Who were the Maccabees and/or the Hasmoneans?

  • The revolt begins, in fact, when the patriarch of the Maccabees (as the family that led the campaign came to be known) kills a fellow Jew who was in the act of obeying the king’s decree to perform a sacrifice forbidden in the Torah. The Maccabean hero also kills the king’s officer and tears down the illicit altar. These were blows struck for Jewish traditionalism, and arguably for Jewish survival and authenticity, but not for religious freedom.

The Meaning of Hanukkah – A celebration of religious freedom, the holiday fits well with the American political tradition. By JON D. LEVENSON December 16, 2011

  • In a fascinating book written by Harvard scholar Shaye J.D. CohenFrom the Maccabees to the Mishnah, the author follows the emergence of Jewish sects starting from the Maccabees and culminating with the emergence of the Pharisees (Rabbinic Judaism), Essenes, Samaritans, Christians, Sicarii and zealots .  He writes:

The Maccabean period lasted a century, from the victory of 164 B.C.E. to the entrance of the Romans into Jerusalem in 63 B.C.E. During their tenure, the Maccabees gradually increased their power and prestige, They began as rebels against the Seleucid empire, but less than ten years after Judah’s death his brother was appointed high priest by a relation of Antiochus Epiphanes!  By the 140s and 130s B.C.E. the Seleucids had little choice but to accept the independence of the Maccabean state. The rise of the Maccabees within the Jewish polity was just as phenomenal. They began as insignificant country priests and became high priests and kings, the rulers of an independent state. They pursued an aggressive foreign policy, seeking alliance with Rome against the Seleucids and carving out for themselves a kingdom larger than that of David and Solomon. Their fall from power was caused by both internal and external enemies….

Their fall from power was caused by both internal and external enemies. During the reigns of John Hyrcanus (135-104 B.C.E.) and Alexander Jannaeus (103-76 B.C.E.), many Jews opposed Maccabean rule. These opponents were not “Hellenizers” and “law- less” Jews who supported Antiochus’ attempt to destroy Judaism, but loyal Jews who had had enough of the Maccabees’ autocratic ways.  [p15]

The Hasmonean dynasty was not itself a sect; it was the corrupt ruling power under whose rule it became clear that the Jewish Commonwealth and Temple were doomed. The sects were a natural response… the emergence of a plan for a new age.  The Hasmoneans left little more than a trail of blood.  They took power, land and made treaties with foreigners when it served their purpose.  Their dynasty ended when the wicked Herod was appointed Governor.. they had prepared the way.

Of interest: “The opponents of Herod the Great called him a “half-Jew” because he was a decedent of the Idumeans, who had been forcibly converted to Judaism by the Maccabees.” [p.54]

  • In the Talmud (Kiddushin 66a) there is an account of a Hasmonean King named Yannai:

It happened that King Yannai went to Kochalis in the desert and conquered 60 cities.  Upon his return he was exceedingly happy and so he invited all the sages of Israel to a celebration…they served delicacies on gold tables and they feasted. ….  There was there a certain elder named Yehudah ben Gedidyah.  He said to Yannai: “King Yannai!  Be satisifed with the crown of kingship; leave the crown of Kehunah for the descendants of Aaron.”  Yannai removed the sages from the feast. Eliezer ben Poira said to King Yannai: “King Yannai! If an ordinary Jew were treated in this way it would be his lot, but you are a King AND Kohen Gadol, is this your lot?”   … immediately Yannai executed all the sages of Israel and the world was bereft of Torah knowledge until Shimon ben Shetach came and returned the Torah to its former standing.

מעשה בינאי המלך שהלך לכוחלית שבמדבר וכיבש שם ששים כרכים ובחזרתו היה שמח שמחה גדולה וקרא לכל חכמי ישראל אמר להם אבותינו היו אוכלים מלוחים בזמן שהיו עסוקים בבנין בית המקדש אף אנו נאכל מלוחים זכר לאבותינו והעלו מלוחים על שולחנות של זהב ואכלו והיה שם אחד איש לץ לב רע ובליעל ואלעזר בן פועירה שמו ויאמר אלעזר בן פועירה לינאי המלך ינאי המלך לבם של פרושים עליך ומה אעשה הקם להם בציץ שבין עיניך הקים להם בציץ שבין עיניו היה שם זקן אחד ויהודה בן גדידיה שמו ויאמר יהודה בן גדידיה לינאי המלך ינאי המלך רב לך כתר מלכות הנח כתר כהונה לזרעו של אהרן שהיו אומרים אמו נשבית במודיעים ויבוקש הדבר ולא נמצא ויבדלו חכמי ישראל בזעם ויאמר אלעזר בן פועירה לינאי המלך ינאי המלך הדיוט שבישראל כך הוא דינו ואתה מלך וכהן גדול כך הוא דינך ומה אעשה אם אתה שומע לעצתי רומסם ותורה מה תהא עליה הרי כרוכה ומונחת בקרן זוית כל הרוצה ללמוד יבוא וילמוד אמר רב נחמן בר יצחק מיד נזרקה בו אפיקורסות דהוה ליה למימר תינח תורה שבכתב תורה שבעל פה מאי מיד ותוצץ הרעה על ידי אלעזר בן פועירה ויהרגו כל חכמי ישראל והיה העולם משתומם עד שבא שמעון בן שטח והחזיר את התורה ליושנה

The Hasmanoim destroyed the historical division of power between the king and the priest, Temple and State.

King Yannai

Alexander Yannai was a son of Yochanan Hyrkanos, son of Simeon, a son of Mattathias (Matisyohu), the son of Yochanan the High Priest. Thus, Alexander Yannai was a great-grandson of the first Hasmonean, who, together with his heroic sons, fought against the Greek King Antiochus. Their self sacrifice for the Torah and for the Jewish people, resulted in the truly delightful and inspiring holiday of Chanukah.

Yannai inherited the royal crown at the age of 23, after the early death of his older brother Yehudah Aristobulus. Yehudah Aristabulus was the first of the Hasmoneans who was not satisfied merely with the title “Nasi” (Prince) and had himself crowned as “king.”

  • The Talmud (Babylonian Talmud Rosh Hashanah 18b) recounts:

Once in the city of Lod they decreed a fast on the holiday of Hanukah.  In response, Rabbi Eliezer went to a bathhouse and took a bath and Rabbi Yehoshua went to a barber in Lod and had his haircut.  These two rabbis said to the people of Lod who had fasted: “Go out and make another fast on account of the fact that you fasted on Chanukah.”

We learn from this that the Holiday of Hanukah was controversial, even then… clearly some Jews did not believe that the re-packaging of Hanukah as a festival of lights had done the job.  Their hatred for the Hasmanoim was so great that they actually fasted on Hanukah.

  • The Talmud in Rosh HaShana continues:

“On the Third of Tishrei, the superfluous mention of God’s name was removed from secular documents.  For the Greek kingdom had decreed that God’s name not be mentioned, and when the Hasmoneans took power they decreed that people should mention God’s name EVEN in secular documents.  And so they would write, ‘In the year so and so to Yochanan who is the Kohen Gadol to the Supreme God (kohen gadol le-el elyon).’  When the sages heard about this matter they were displeased, for they said: ‘Tomorrow this person will repay his debt and the unneeded document will be found lying in a garbage heap.’  And so they nullified the Hasmonean decree.  That day they made into a festival.”

What makes this story remarkable is that the Third of Tishrei is also a fast day… it is the Fast of Gedaliah… the first instance of Jew-on-Jew assassination that occurred in the time of Jeremiah where the governor that Jeremiah supported was killed as a Babylonian collaborator by a zeolot.

It would seem that even though the 3rd of Tishrei was a fast day (Tzom Gedlaiah) which is observed by Orthodox Jews till today on the day after Rosh HaShanah, the Rabbis saw no contradiction in celebrating the nullification of a Hasmonean decree.  It would appear that the Rabbis made a connection between the Jew-on-Jew violence of the zealots in Jeremiah’s generation with the similar action of the Hasmoneans in their own.  Nullifying a Hasmonean decree was an act in the spirit of the fast of Gedalya.

  • The Al HaNisim:And [we thank You] for the miracles, for the redemption, for the mighty deeds, for the saving acts, and for the wonders which You have wrought for our ancestors in those days, at this time—

In the days of Matityahu, the son of Yochanan the High Priest, the Hasmonean and his sons, when the wicked Hellenic government rose up against Your people Israel to make them forget Your Torah and violate the decrees of Your will. But You, in Your abounding mercies, stood by them in the time of their distress. You waged their battles, defended their rights, and avenged the wrong done to them. You delivered the mighty into the hands of the weak, the many into the hands of the few, the impure into the hands of the pure, the wicked into the hands of the righteous, and the wanton sinners into the hands of those who occupy themselves with Your Torah. You made a great and holy name for Yourself in Your world, and effected a great deliverance and redemption for Your people Israel to this very day. Then Your children entered the shrine of Your House, cleansed Your Temple, purified Your Sanctuary, kindled lights in Your holy courtyards, and instituted these eight days of Hanukah to give thanks and praise to Your great Name.

עַל הַנִּסִּים וְעַל הַפֻּרְקָן וְעַל הַגְּבוּרוֹת וְעַל הַתְּשׁוּעוֹת וְעַל הַנִּפְלָאוֹת וְעַל הַנֶּחָמוֹת שֶׁעָשִׂיתָ לַאֲבוֹתֵינוּ בַּיָּמִים הָהֵם בַּזְּמַן הַזֶּה.

בִּימֵי מַתִּתְיָהו בֶן יוֹחָנָן כֹּהֵן גָּדוֹל חַשְׁמוֹנָאִי  וּבָנָיו כְּשֶׁעָמְדָה מַלְכוּת יָוָן הָרְשָׁעָה עַל עַמְּךָ יִשְׂרָאֵל לְהשַׁכִּיחָם תּוֹרָתָךְ  וּלְהַעֲבִירָם מֵחֻקֵּי רְצוֹנָךְ וְאַתָּה, בְּרַחֲמֶיךָ הָרַבִּים, עָמַדְתָּ לָהֶם בְּעֵת צָרָתָם: רַבְתָּ אֶת רִיבָם דַּנְתָּ אֶת דִּינָם נָקַמְתָּ אֶת נִקְמָתָם מָסַרְתָּ גִבּוֹרִים בְּיַד חַלָּשִׁים וְרַבִּים בְּיַד מְעַטִּים וּטְמֵאִים בְּיַד טְהוֹרִים וּרְשָׁעִים בְּיַד צַדִּיקִים וְזֵדִים בְּיַד עוֹסְקֵי תוֹרָתֶךָ וּלְךָ עָשִׂיתָ שֵׁם גָּדוֹל וְקָדוֹשׁ בְּעוֹלָמָךְ וּלְעַמְּךָ יִשְׂרָאֵל עָשִׂיתָ תְּשׁוּעָה גְדוֹלָה וּפֻרְקָן כְּהַיּוֹם הַזֶּה וְאַחַר כֵּן, בָּאוּ בָנֶיךָ לִדְבִיר בֵּיתֶךָ וּפִנּוּ אֶת הֵיכָלֶךָ וְטִהֲרוּ אֶת-מִקְדָּשֶׁךָ וְהִדְלִיקוּ נֵרוֹת בְּחַצְרוֹת קָדְשֶׁךָ וְקָבְעוּ שְׁמוֹנַת יְמֵי חֲנֻכָּה  אֵלּוּ לְהוֹדוֹת וּלְהַלֵּל לְשִׁמְךָ הַגָּדוֹל.

The schoolmen propounded a question: Should the ‘Hanukah incident be mentioned in the benediction after meals? Shall we assume that because it is rabbinical it is unnecessary? or, for the sake of the proclamation of the miracle, it should? Said Rabba in the name of R. S’haura, quoting R. Huna: “It is not necessary; however, if one wishes to do it, he should incorporate it in the thanksgiving part. R. Huna b. Judah chanced to visit Raba’s academy [and] thought to mention it [Hanukkah] in [the benediction] ‘he will rebuild Jerusalem.’ Said R. Shesheth to them [the scholars], It is as the Prayer: (the Amidah – 18 Benedictions]  just as [it is inserted in] the Prayer in the [benediction of] ‘Thanks,[Modi’im anachnu Lach and not Shma Kolaein – hear our prayer] so [is it inserted in] grace after meals in the [benediction of] ‘Thanks’ .” Babylonian Talmud Sabbath 24a

איבעיא להו מהו להזכיר של חנוכה בברכת המזון כיון דמדרבנן הוא לא מדכרינן או דילמא משום פרסומי ניסא מדכרינן אמר רבא אמר רב סחורה אמר רב הונא אינו מזכיר ואם בא להזכיר מזכיר בהודאה רב הונא בר יהודה איקלע לבי רבא סבר לאדכורי בבונה ירושלים אמר להו רב ששת כתפלה מה תפלה בהודאה אף ברכת המזון בהודאה

  • The purified temple – a failed model

But the newfound importance of the temple could not hide several difficult problems. Built by a Davidic king, authorized by a prophet, and authenticated through the miraculous manifestation of God (a cloud of smoke and, according to Chronicles, fire from heaven), the first temple was the splendid achievement of a splendid reign. The second temple, by contrast, although authorized by the prophets Haggai and Zechariah, was built by a gentile king and was never authenticated by an overt sign of divine favor. Second Isaiah, in his prophecy announcing God’s selection of Cyrus the Great to be his “anointed one” to free the Jews from the Babylonian captivity and to build the temple, is aware that some Jews do not approve of God’s plan …. The old men who had seen the first temple in its glory cried at the dedication of the second (Ezra 3:12) – apparently tears of sadness, as they contemplated the puny temple that was before them. In the second century B.C.E., the temple’s problematic status was revealed to all. The high priests were corrupted and the temple was profaned by a gentile monarch. Even after it was regained and purified by pious Jews, there was no prophet to approve their work and no miracle to assure them that the temple was once again the abode of God. The Maccabees installed themselves as high priests although they were not of the high priestly line. When the Romans conquered Jerusalem in 63 B.C.E. they entered the sacred precincts, polluting them with their presence. Herod the Great rebuilt the temple magnificently, but his detractors Viewed him as a “half-Jew.” He completely debased the high priesthood, appointing men who had even less claim than the Maccabees to be the legitimate successors of Aaron. [pp131-2]

The desecration of the temple and the persecution of Judaism by Epiphanes, the overt corruption of the high priesthood, the Maccabean revolt and the reclamation of the temple through force of arms, and the usurpation of the high priesthood by jonathan the Hasmonean, all these highlighted the problematic status of the temple. Was it legitimate? Was it the real house of God? Even if the temple had been legitimate before, how could one be sure that its purification was efficacious in the eyes of God? The dissonance between the real and the perceived was greater now than before. Through vigorous propaganda the Maccabees sought to legitimate both themselves and the temple they had regained, but many Jews were not convinced. Those who were least convinced formed sects. [161]

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