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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Dec. 19, 2006 / 28 Kislev 5767

Is Chanukah a universal holiday?

By Rabbi Hillel Goldberg


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Clearing up misconceptions


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | People, writes Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, "are glad to associate themselves with the Maccabees . . . — be they half-Jews, whole Jews, assimilated Jews, atheists, agnostics and even those who are Jew-haters."


When he was in his twenties in Berlin, Rabbi Soloveitchik remembers chancing upon a copy of the Moscow newspaper Der Emes (Truth), "the newspaper of the Yevsektsiya, the Jewish department of the notorious Soviet NKVD [forerunner of the KGB]. This newspaper also had an article on Hanukkah and the Hasmoneans. With every means at its disposal, the article argued that Hanukkah was actually a Communist holiday, and the Jewish bourgeoisie and clerical world had no right to celebrate Hanukkah. Judah the Maccabee was the first Yevsektsiya member."


This is the gist of the beginning of an essay, "The Everlasting Hanukkah," which appears in the just published "Days of Deliverance: Essays on Purim and Hanukkah," by Rabbi Soloveitchik. His point is this: However twisted, the idea that Chanukah is a universal holiday has some basis.


Judah Maccabee (and his father and brothers) — a tiny band — rose up and defeated a mightier power with cunning and commitment.


"Such extraordinary, brave conduct always elicits enthusiasm and sympathy," writes Rabbi Soloveitchik. "George Washington and the American patriots who revolted against repressive British power amazed the entire world. Everyone sympathized with Garibaldi when he waged his fight for freedom against Austrian tyranny . . . " And, needless to say, when Israel was the underdog in 1948, everyone was inspired by Israel, too. So there is a basis to call Chanukah a universal holiday.


The problem is this: The victory that the Maccabees won was relatively short-lived. Some 200 years later the independent Jewish state was smashed by the Romans and the Jews were dispersed into exile, not to return to the land of Israel for some 1,800 years.


Imagine: If the US were destroyed (Heaven forbid), who would celebrate July 4? For a while, perhaps the first generation of American survivors would recall July 4 with nostalgia — perhaps even commitment to win the country back. But if decades and then centuries passed, with the US consigned to the dustbin of history, July 4 would lose its significance.


The true significance of Chanukah, therefore, lies not in its universal aspect, writes Rabbi Soloveitchik. Fundamentally, Chanukah survives not because of a military victory of the weak over the mighty.


That's history. So why is Chanukah celebrated today? What is its significance that transcends the political freedom, lost some 2,000 years ago?


First, we must clear up a misconception, namely, that the Maccabees revolted in order to win their political freedom. Since the Jews had returned from the Babylonian exile over 400 years earlier, they had not enjoyed political independence. "If the only issue had been political sovereignty, the revolt would never have broken out," writes Rabbi Soloveitchik.

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There was an added issue: the refusal of the ruling Greeks to accept the Jewish people's connection to G-d. The Greeks sought to break down the Jewish commitment to Sabbath observance, circumcision and Rosh Chodesh. The Greeks defiled the Holy Temple. The Greeks forbade the study of Torah. The Jewish political revolt against the Greeks was but a means to secure their religious freedom.


But observe: The Jews' religious freedom was also short-lived. The same destruction of the Holy Temple in the year 70 by the Romans that robbed ancient Jewry of political independence also robbed it of its religious freedom — its sacred center in Jerusalem. The question returns: Why celebrate Chanukah today? Every aspect of the ancient Maccabean victory was overturned.


Actually, there is one single aspect of the ancient Chanukah that, in fact, endured: the lighting of the menorah. Although the ancient Holy Temple was destroyed — and with it all of its religious rituals for which the Maccabees had fought so bravely — one ritual survived even the Temple's destruction. Our lighting of the Chanukah menorah today extends and celebrates the ancient purification of the Temple — the ancient dedication of the Jews to Jewish ritual, to living in G-d's presence.


Throughout the Diaspora, it was not the fleeting political success of the Maccabees that animated the Jewish people.


Jews endured under Crusade and pogrom, under discrimination and Holocaust.


All these hurt the Jews physically, but did not disturb the Jewish soul, did not weaken his vision of an inevitable Jewish future.


However, when the persecutors came after the Jewish soul, suddenly the passive Diaspora Jew, the "coward," the Jew who prayed three times a day —"And to such as curse me let my soul be dumb, and let my soul be unto all as the dust" — suddenly this passive Jew became a fighter, stubborn, un-bugeable, un-malleable.


Freedom for the body was not worried over. Freedom of the Jewish soul was sustained against all odds and pressures.


That is the message of Chanukah, the extension of the ancient Chanukah, the reason why it is celebrated today.


This, writes Rabbi Soloveitchik, is the everlasting Chanukah, symbolized by the lights that continue to be lit, even when the ancient Holy Temple no longer stands.

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JWR contributor Rabbi Hillel Goldberg is Executive Editor of Intermountain Jewish News. Comment by clicking here.


© 2006, Rabbi Hillel Goldberg