Originally published 12/9/07, 12:48 PM, Eastern Daylight Time
In the Nishma Spark of the Week 5754-11, I wrote:
"...It, therefore, is most bizarre that of all the holidays of the Jewish calendar, the one that has been most influenced by the forces of the galut that surrounds us is Chanukah..."
(See http://www.nishma.org/articles/insight/spark5754-11.htm for the full article)
Chanukah celebrates the victory of the Maccabees over the Hellenists, the victory of Torah over the forces of assimilation. Is it not ironic, therefore, that the most assimilated of the Jewish holidays is Chanukah? Ever think about it? People who don't celebrate many of the major Torah holidays seem to get into the "Chanukah spirit." Do you think that has something to do with the external influences that suround this time? What about the way in which Chanukah is celebrated, a bit of external influence there as well would you not say? Let's go beyond the holiday. Is there anything more ironic than the fact that the "Jewish Olympics" are called the Maccabiah?
The Spark concerns these issues, but in a larger way opens a whole new discussion on assimilation. That is what Chanukah is about. Your comments?
Rabbi Ben Hecht