Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A Dangerous Holiday

Holidays are a calendar. They mark points in emotional and physical time. They remind of us who we are.

Many of those celebrating Chanukah celebrate a holiday that does nothing more than celebrate 'celebration', the rituals and rites of entertainment, a special food, a symbol whose meaning they don't remember and a little family fun.

Chanukah is many things but it is not a safe holiday. It is a victory celebration in a guerrilla war. It is a reminder that Obama's war on Jerusalem was preceded long before him by Antiochus's war on Jerusalem. It is a brief light in a period of great darkness.

The great irony of Chanukah is that those likeliest to strip away its historical and religious meaning would have been fighting against the Macabees. The battle to preserve the meaning of Chanukah is part of the struggle to preserve the Jewish traditions and culture that the left attacks.

Today's struggle for Jerusalem, for Judaism, for freedom of religion and a meaningful life continues that same old struggle of Chanukah.

The overt militarism of the Chanukah story has made it an uncomfortable fit for liberal Jews who found it easier to strip away its dangerous underlying message that a time comes when you must choose between the destruction of your culture and a war you can't win. In those dark days a war must be fought if the soul of the nation is to survive.

There are worse things than death and slavery, the fate that waited for the Maccabees and their allies had they failed, the fates that came anyway when the last of the Maccabees were betrayed and murdered by Caesar's Edomite minister, whose sons went on to rule over Israel as the Herodian dynasty.

Nations can survive the mass murder of their bodies, but not the death of their spirit. A nation does not die, until its soul dies, and the soul of a nation is in its culture and its faith, not in the bodies of its citizens.

Tonight that first candle, that first glimmer of flame over oil, marks the night that the Maccabee forces entered Jerusalem, driving out the enemy armies and their Jewish collaborators, and reclaiming their people's culture and religion.

The light of the flame was a powerful message sent across time that even in the darkest hour, hope was not lost. And Divine Providence would not abandon the people. Time passed the Maccabees fell, Jerusalem was occupied and ethnically cleansed over and over again, and still the menorah burned on. A covert message that still all hope was not lost. That Israel would rise again. 

Israel had used signal fires and torches held up on mountain tops to pass along important news. The lighting of the menorah was a miniature signal fire, a perpetuation of the temple light, its eight-day light a reminder that even the smallest light can burn beyond expectation and light beyond belief and that those who trust in G-d and fight for the freedom to believe in Him, should never abandon hope.

That divine signal fire first lit in the deserts by freed slaves has been passed on for thousands of years. Today the menorah is on the seal of the State of Israel, the product of a modern day Chanukah. The mark of a Jerusalem liberated in a miracle of six days, not eight. Six as in the number of the original temple Menorah. And the one on the seal as well.

For those liberals who believe that Jewish identity should be limited to donating to help Haiti, agitating for illegal aliens and promoting the environment; Chanukah is a threatening holiday. They have secularized it, dressed it up with teddy bears and toys, trimmed it with the ecology and civil rights of their new faith. Occasionally a Jewish liberal learns the history of it and writes an outraged essay about nationalism and militarism, but mostly they are content to bury it in the same dark cellar that they store the rest of the history of their people and the culture that they left behind.

Holidays aren't mere parties, they are messages. Knots of time that we tie around the fingers of our lives so that we remember what our ancestors meant us to never forget. That they lived and died for a reason. The party is a celebration, but if we forget what it celebrates, then it becomes a celebration of celebration. A hollow and soulless festival of the self. The Maccabees fought because they believed they had something worth fighting for. Not for their possessions, but for their traditions, their families and their G-d. The celebration of Chanukah is not just how we remember them, but how we remember that we are called upon to keep their watch. To take up their banner and carry their sword.

History is a wheel and as it turns, we see the old continents of time rising again, events revisiting themselves as the patterns of the past become new again. Ancient battles become new wars. And old struggles have to be re-fought again until we finally get them right.

Modiin, the rural center of the old Maccabee resistance, is a revived city today, larger than it ever was. Modiin-Maccabim has some 80,000 people living there. In the ancient days, this was where the Maccabee clan rose against the Seleucid conquerors over religious freedom. Today it is a place that the European Union labels an illegal settlement. A place that Jews have no right to live even though it is within sight of the Maccabees who lived and died there. Over two thousand years after Chanukah, Jews are still not allowed to live in peace in Modiin.

The new Maccabees are farmers and teachers, men and women who build families and homes in the lands of their ancestors, who brave the threats of terrorists and international tyrants to live their lives and raise their children. Knowing that they will not be allowed to live in peace, that everything they stand for is hated by the UN, in the capitals of great empires and even by their own government, they still put flame to wick and mark the first day of many days of the miracle that revived the spirit of a nation and inspires it to this day.

Not only may Jews not live in Modiin, but they may not live in Jerusalem either. And yet they do. They persist, to the eternal frustration of empires, in this quiet resistance of building a future with their buildings, their bodies and their lives. They persist in living where so many would like them to die. And they persist in lighting the menorah when so many would rather that it be forgotten.

The Jew today is called on to forget. To turn his children into bricks in order to construct the utopia of their new world order. To bend to the progressive wheel and wear the social justice chain, and cast his own offspring into the sea of zero population growth. To give up his  nation, his land, his faith and his future to toil in the shadow of the pyramids of socialism. To go down to labor in Egypt once more, in South America and Haitian slums, in barrios and villages, in ghettos and madinas, to give up who he is in order to serve others in the new slavery of social justice.

It takes courage to resist physical oppression, but it takes even greater courage to resist cultural oppression. The terms of physical resistance are easy to understand. Force is used against force. Cultural resistance is far more difficult, and by the time the necessity for it is apparent, it can often be too late.The Maccabees had to resist not only physical oppression and armed force, but the cultural oppression of a system that regarded their monotheism, their nationalism, their traditions and rituals as barbaric. A system that much of their own fellow Jews had already accepted as right and proper.

The Maccabees rose up not only against physical oppression, Israel had and would face that over and over again, they rose up against an assault on their religious and cultural  identity.  The lighting of the Menorah is the perpetuation of that cultural resistance and when it is performed properly then it reminds us that cultural oppression, like physical oppression, is ubiquitous, and that just as the forms of cultural oppression can often go unnoticed, so too the resistance to it can go unnoticed as well.

Every year that we celebrate Chanukah, the left makes another attempt to "desecrate the temple" by destroying its meaning and replacing it with the usual grab bag of social justice issues under the union label of "Tikkun Olam". And each time we push back against their ruthless assault on Jewish history and tradition the same way that the Maccabees did, by reclaiming our sacred places, cleaning away the filth left behind by the occupiers, and lighting the Menorah to remind us of who we are.

Chanukah marks the culmination of the Maccabee campaign for the liberation of Jerusalem. It is the time when we remember the men and women who refused to submit to the perversion of their values and the theft of their land. It reminds us that we must not allow our land to be stolen under any guise or allow our religion, history and culture to be perverted on any pretext. The light of the Menorah reminds us that the sacredness of a nation is in its spirit and that preserving that spirit is an eternal struggle against the conquerors of land and the tyrants of souls.

Chanukah is a Holiday of Resistance. It commemorates the physical and spiritual resistance that is required of us sooner or later in all times. Chanukah takes us back to the armed resistance and the moral awakening that liberated Jerusalem and connected the Jewish people with their G-d once again. And that reminds us to never give up, not in the face of an assault on our bodies or on our culture. The lights go out, but they are lit again, each day, for thousands of years, reminding us to hold on to our traditions and our faith, rather than trade them in for the trendy trinkets and cheap jewelery of progressive liberalism.

To light the menorah on Chanukah is to pass on a signal fire that has been kept lit for thousands of years. From the first holiday of Passover, after which the freed slaves kindled the first Menorah, to the final holiday of Chanukah, that light burns on. The historical cycle of Jewish holidays begins with Moshe confronting Pharaoh and demanding the freedom of the Jewish people. It ends with the Maccabees standing up to the tyranny of Antiochus and fighting for the right of the Jewish people to live under their own rule on their own land.

The lights of the menorah embody the spirit of the Jewish people. A spirit that has outlived the atrocities of every tyrant. In the heart of the flame that has burned for a thousand years lives the soul of a people.


Ex-Dissident said...

Bravo. This is another essay that will remain with me for days to come, and I will reflect on your words, and draw connections between our past and our current troubles. Brilliant.

lemon lime moon said...

Beautiful, as always.

Bruce said...

I'm about as Kosher as a pork chop and even I get it!

Anonymous said...


Ray said...

It seems to me (Gentile) that Jewish holidays have a three part structure:
1. They tried to kill us.
2. We won.
3. Let's eat!

mindRider said...

You could be and should be the Tom Paine of an ever more necessary new revolution.

Anonymous said...

Wouldn´t it be even more powerful if the author knew that the Menorah has nothing to do with Chanukkah (being a branch too short), while the candelabra that actually does is called Chanukkiah?

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

The menorah of Chanukah is also a menorah.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful! Your writing ability is a tremendous gift. May you go on writing for many years to come.

jdf said...

Daniel, it wasn't just 'some of their fellow Jews' who embraced Hellenism. It was the majority. It was the majority of Jews who wished to remain in slavery in Egypt (According to Midrash they were killed by Hashem during the plague of darkness).
It was the majority of Jews who sat out the first and second Jewish rebellions against the Romans. It was the majority of Lithuanian Jews who stabbed their fellow Boerjode in the back and joined the British as handsoppers. And it is, in point of fact, the majority of American Jews who have deified progressivism and thrown Israel to the wolves.

Anonymous said...

I feel emboldened. Powerful article!

Anonymous said...

The rebellion started as an internal issue (milhemet ahim) against the hellenic Jews (mitiavnim) and later become a liberation war.
Liberals and reformists jews are today's mitiavnim, the defeat of whom we remember in this holiday.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on the instapundit link. You have put a figurative menorah in the window for all to see.

Would you have a Russian translation for this? The Russian Jews deserve to be congratulated for how they lived in the Soviet Union but embraced Torah in Israel and America. They have succeeded where so many European Jews have failed. The many who have attended Yeshiva already know your words but there are still many fumbling towards Judaism and can use the clarity.

Anonymous said...

I was born and raised a Southern Missionary Baptist. It is readings like this that make me proud of our Jewish friends, proud of Israel, and depressingly sad at what the world is now and for centuries past has tried to do to the Jewish people and to Israel. Please keep up the good work. We need you.

Anonymous said...

Cannot be said too often. Some 42 years earlier, another wonderful article was written that bears constant re-reading. Google "Down with Chanukah" Kahane for more perspective on this most politically incorrect holiday, to learn why Barak Obama's recent blather about Chanukah and freedom is just one more demonstration of his ignorance.

Doug Mayfield said...

Thanks so much for the article and for being a warrior in the intellectual battle for freedom. Happy holidays

werewife said...

OMG this was absolutely beautiful, & I needed it. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

An articulate antidote to the drivel that we celebrate the miracle of the oil lasting for 8 days.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

We do celebrate the oil lasting for 8 days, but the miracle was made possible because Jews stood up and fought for it.

The miracle of the victory and the oil are one and the same.

A small number of outnumbered people for their freedom to live and worship. They lasted impossibly against larger and better trained forces. The Jews who fought were the oil that lasted for 8 days. So are the Jewish people.

Greg RN said...

Eloquent and Pertinent as usual, I found myself wondering what Americans can look to with reverence that would embolden them to fight for the issues You have brought forth. A culture with dignity, Faith and resolve for their beliefs. Liberalism is a microbe that devours the host, I have no answers, only My belief in G-D.

whitney said...

That was lovely and illuminating. And this line gave me something to think about.
"the new slavery of social justice" Hmm.

Anonymous said...

Giant kvell!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this important and inspirational piece.

Anonymous said...

As always truthful and inspiring. Your courage is my courage.


Anonymous said...

'The new slavery of social justice". A perfect description of the world in which we live in. And, "the trendy trinkets and cheap jewelry of progressive liberalism" is another brilliant description of what one gets when they discard the light and truth of God.


Anonymous said...

The question is have any of the tranny bacon eating secular Soros Jews ever been told the real history?

Anonymous said...

"A small number of outnumbered people for their freedom to live and worship. They lasted impossibly against larger and better trained forces. The Jews who fought were the oil that lasted for 8 days. So are the Jewish people."

Beautiful. Simply beautiful!



Anonymous said...

Not trying to be clever but I don't understand why folks here use the G-d instead of

Great article by the way!

Anonymous said...

On November 28, 2013 President Obama marked the beginning of Hanukkah with a reception at the White House and noted the holiday's convergence with Thanksgiving saying, “For the first time since the late 1800s – and for the last time until some 70,000 years from now – the first day of Hanukkah falls on Thanksgiving.

Rita said...

To all my Jewish friends, past, present and future: Happy Chanukah. (My spelling probably outs me as a goy immediately)

Anonymous said...

As Christians urge their coreligionists to "put Christ back in Christmas," we need to urge our fellow Jews to put the "Hannah" back in Hanukkah, because some things are worth fighting and even dying for. This article does a beautiful job.

Anonymous said...

Despite the fact that most Jews today are not observant, many of the majority still "feel" Jewish. Unfortunately, those who intermarry will be lost forever. The Greek, Roman, etc. empires are to be experienced only in museums. The Jewish nation, only "a drop in a vast ocean" is still here. That is because the Almighty promised us that despite the efforts of the world nations to always desire to eradicate us, we will prevail. Today, as in previous generations, it is the TRUTH that sustains us.That is one of the messages of Chanukah.

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