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Rabbi Arthur Segal’s love of people, humanity, and Judaism has him sharing with others “The Wisdom of the Ages” that has been passed on to him. His writings for modern Jews offer Spiritual, Ethical, and eco-Judaic lessons in plain English and with relevance to contemporary lifestyles. He is the author of countless articles, editorials, letters, and blog posts, and he has recently published two books:

The Handbook to Jewish Spiritual Renewal: A Path of Transformation for the Modern Jew

and

A Spiritual and Ethical Compendium to the Torah and Talmud

You can learn more about these books at:

www.JewishSpiritualRenewal.org
ALL ENTRIES ARE (C) AND PUBLISHED BY RABBI ARTHUR SEGAL JEWISH SPIRITUAL RENEWAL, INC, AND NOT BY ANY INDIVIDUAL EMPLOYEE OF SAID CORPORATION. THIS APPLIES TO 3 OTHER BLOGS (CHUMASH, ECO, SPIRITUALITY) AND WEB SITES PUBLISHED BY SAID CORPORATION.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

JEWISH SPIRITUAL RENEWAL: RABBI ARTHUR SEGAL: CHARLESTON JEWISH WEDDINGS

JEWISH SPIRITUAL RENEWAL: RABBI ARTHUR SEGAL: CHARLESTON JEWISH WEDDINGS
 
 [scroll down for wedding information. RabbiASegal@aol.com]
 
RABBI ARTHUR SEGAL: HANUKAH'S HISTORICAL+SPIRITUAL LESSONS: UNITY OF HILTON HEAD

 

SPIRITUAL AND HISTORICAL  LESSONS

OF CHANUKAH :

FOR UNITY CHURCH OF

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SC:

RABBI DR ARTHUR SEGAL

SUNDAY 10:00 AM DECEMBER 6, 2015

 

SHALOM AND GREETINGS: THANK YOU MINISTER JULIA JOHNSON, THEDA PARKS, JIM TAYLOR AND CONGREGANTS FOR INVITING ME HERE TODAY.

 

BEFORE I SPEAK TO YOU ABOUT THE TRUE HISTORY OF CHANUKAH AND ITS SPIRITUAL LESSONS, LET US SPEND A FEW MOMENTS WITH SOME SPIRITUALITY AND MEDITATION.

 

A MOTHER SENDS HER LITTLE SON TO SCHOOL EACH DAY.  ONE DAY IT WAS RAINING, THUNDERING AND LIGHTENING. THE MOTHER WAS AFRAID TO ALLOW HER LITTLE BOY TO WALK HOME FROM SCHOOL.  NOT ONLY WOULD HE BECOME   SOAKING WET, BUT THE THUNDER MIGHT SCARE HIM, AND THE LIGHTENING COULD BE DANGEROUS. SHE   GETS INTO HER CAR TO DRIVE A FEW BLOCKS TO THE SCHOOL TO PICK UP HER CHILD, BUT AS SHE IS DRIVING, SHE SEES THAT HER SON IS ALREADY WALKING HOME ON HIS OWN. 

 

SHE SEES THAT EVERY TIME THERE IS LIGHTENING, THIS LITTLE BOY LOOKS UP AND SMILES. SHE STOPS THE CAR, SHE LOWERS THE WINDOW, AND SHE SAYS TO HER SON ''COME INTO THE CAR'', AND HE RESPONDS 'NO. NO. NO. I WANNA WALK HOME'!

 'MY DEAR SON, WHY IS IT THAT EVERY TIME THERE IS LIGHTENING, YOU LOOK UP, AND YOU SMILE?' AND HE SAYS: ''I AM SMILING TO GOD, BECAUSE HE KEEPS ON TAKING PICTURES OF ME.''

 

SO I WANT TO BLESS ALL OF YOU, SO THAT YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO EXPERIENCE LIFE, THE WAY THAT LITTLE CHILD EXPERIENCES IT; FEELING AND BELIEVING THAT GOD IS ABSOLUTELY IN LOVE WITH YOU, AND ALWAYS TRYING TO TAKE PICTURES OF YOU, AND WATCHING OVER YOU,  SO THAT YOU CAN SMILE BACK, IN A CONTINUOUS VIDEO OF LIFE, LIVING LIFE HAPPY, JOYOUS AND FREE.

 

IF PRAYER IS TALKING TO GOD, MEDITATION IS LISTENING TO GOD. MEDITATION IS THE MEANS TO BLOCK OUT INSTRUCTIONS FROM THE EGO AND THE SELFISH WILL IN ORDER TO HEAR DIVINE GUIDANCE. THE ZOHAR ,THE BOOK OF RADIANCE OF THE KABBALAH, TEACHES THAT THE SOURCE OF ALL OF OUR STRESS IS RESISTANCE. RESISTANCE IS JUDGMENT, WHILE RELAXATION IS ACCEPTANCE AND KNOWING GOD'S WILL FOR US.

 

 CLOSE YOUR EYES AND IMAGINE THAT YOUR MIND IS A FERTILE FIELD, BUT FIRST ITS SOIL MUST BE SOFTENED AND FURROWED. OPEN YOUR MIND'S FIELD TO THE WISDOM THAT RAINS DOWN FROM THE HEAVENS, LET THE DEW OF DIVINE INSTRUCTION SINK INTO YOUR SOUL, LET THE SEEDS LAID BY THE WISE PEOPLE BEFORE US ENTER YOUR HEART. KEEP YOUR EYES CLOSED AND BE STILL AS THESE SEEDS AWAKEN AND TAKE ROOT. QUIETLY AWAIT THE SPRING. IN THE PLACE OF THORNS AND A TANGLE OF WEEDS,   GROWS A BOUNTIFUL GARDEN. WHERE ONCE WILD AND BRAZEN DELUSIONS SPRANG FORTH, IMAGINE A TIGHTLY FOCUSED BEAM OF LIGHT   SHINING.

 

KEEPING YOUR EYES CLOSED, TAKE A BREATH THROUGH YOUR NOSE AND HOLD IT FOR A COUNT OF TEN…… THEN LET IT OUT SLOWLY THROUGH YOUR MOUTH FOR ANOTHER COUNT OF TEN. ……REPEAT THIS UNTIL YOU TO HEAR NOTHING IN YOUR HEAD BUT YOUR BREATHING. MAKE FRIENDS WITH YOUR BREATH, MAKE FRIENDS WITH YOUR BODY. LITTLE BY LITTLE BY LITTLE, MAKE FRIENDS WITH BEING AWARE OF THE UNAWARE. KEEP THE AWARENESS OF THE UNAWARE INTENSE AND A LITTLE MORE INTENSE. KEEP ON BREATHING IN THRU YOUR NOSE FOR A COUNT OF TEN. SLOWLY LET IT OUT OF YOUR MOUTH FOR ANOTHER COUNT OF TEN. BREATHE IN THRU YOUR NOSE FOR A COUNT OF TEN. SLOWLY LET IT OUT OF YOUR MOUTH FOR ANOTHER COUNT OF TEN.

 

KEEPING YOUR EYES CLOSED; FOLLOW YOUR BREATH AS IT COMES IN THROUGH YOUR NOSTRILS. HEAR IT AS IT PASSES THE THROAT AND INTO YOUR LUNGS, FILLING THEM WITH LIFE THAT GOD HAS GIVEN YOU. HEAR THE BREATH GO INTO YOUR BELLY. WHEN THE COUNT OF TEN HAS PASSED, HEAR THE AIR IN THE REVERSE PROCESS: BELLY, LUNGS, THROAT AND OUT OF YOUR MOUTH. EACH BREATH IS CLEANSING.  AS YOU PRACTICE BREATHING, BE STILL. IF DISTRACTING THOUGHTS COME TO MIND, GENTLY ASK THEM TO BE QUIET AND CONTINUE. BREATHE IN WITH SHAH, BREATH OUT WITH LOM. SHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM.

NOW THAT YOU ARE COMFORTABLE WITH YOUR BREATHING AND STILLNESS, LET US CONCENTRATE ON THIS: "THE WORLD RESTS UPON THREE PILLARS,   WISDOM,   AND SERVICE OF THE HEART, AND DEEDS OF LOVING KINDNESS." JUST SAY THE WORDS, "WISDOM, SERVICE, KINDNESS" OVER AND OVER, EITHER SOFTLY OR SILENTLY. DON'T JUST SAY THE WORDS, THOUGH, CONCENTRATE ON THEM.

 

ASK TO RID YOURSELF OF ALL FEARS, WORRIES, JEALOUSY AND RESENTMENTS; TO LEARN TO MEET DETRACTORS, AND EVEN HATE, WITH LOVE. YOU WILL NOT BE AFRAID OF EARTHLY POWERS. NOTHING WILL FRIGHTEN YOU. GOD IS THE ONLY ONE BEFORE WHOM YOU WILL STAND WITH AWE, LOVE AND REVERENCE. ATTAIN GENUINE HUMILITY. LEARN TO PLACE YOUR SOUL INTO SPIRITUALITY AND INTO ALL THAT YOU DO. SELF AND EGO WILL BE NEGATED, AND YOU WILL BE ABLE TO LIVE WITHOUT ANY THOUGHT OF PERSONAL GAIN. YOU CAN DO YOUR BEST, TRUSTING GOD, WITHOUT BEING ATTACHED TO OUTCOMES. YOU WILL NO LONGER SEE YOUR FELLOWS AS COMPETITORS, EVEN IF THEY DO.

 

FEEL YOUR SENSE OF SELF AND BODY DISAPPEAR, AS IF YOU ARE FLOATING IN GOD'S ALL-CAPABLE LOVING HANDS.   HAVE VERY CLEAR GUIDANCE FROM GOD AND DISCOVER HIS INSTRUCTION. THIS JOY YOU FEEL IS NOTHING LIKE THE HAPPINESS YOU HAVE EXPERIENCED BEFORE. YOU ARE SPIRITUALLY AWAKENED AND AT ONE WITH GOD AND HIS UNIVERSE.

LET US TAKE ONE LAST DEEP BREATH THRU OUR NOSES, COUNT TO TEN, AND BREATH OUT SLOWLY THRU OUR MOUTHS. LET US NOW OPEN UP OUR EYES.

_____

 OK. AWAKE? GOOD. SO WHAT ABOUT THE JEWISH HOLIDAY OF CHANUKAH, WHICH STARTS TONIGHT AT SUNDOWN AND LASTS FOR 8 NIGHTS?  CHANUKAH MEANS "DEDICATION.'' JUST AS THE MACCABEES REDEDICATED THE SYRIAN-GREEK DESECRATED TEMPLE BACK TO GOD, WE ARE TO REDEDICATE OUR LIVES TO GOD. THE CHANUKAH MENORAH IS LIT ONE CANDLE THE FIRST NIGHT, TWO ON THE SECOND AND SO FORTH UP TO EIGHT, TO REMIND US THAT OUR SPIRITUALITY SHOULD ALWAYS BE INCREASING AND NEVER DECREASING OR STAGNATING.  THE RABBINIC SAGES, NOT WANTING CHANUKAH TO BE A WAR VICTORY HOLIDAY, PLACED ZECHARIAH 4:6-8:  "NOT BY MIGHT, AND NOT BY ARMIES, BUT BY MY SPIRIT, SAYS THE LORD OF HOSTS," INTO CHANUKAH'S SABBATH SERVICE.

 

NOW THIS IS THE STORY TOLD POST -HOLOCAUST AND DURING THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE STATE OF ISRAEL AND AFTER. THIS IS WHAT 99% OF JEWS WILL TELL YOU THE HOLIDAY IS ABOUT. AND IT IS PROPAGANDA. THE SYRIAN-GREEKS, WHO WERE ANTI- SEMITIC AND ANTI- HEBREW ATTACKED JUDEA AND DEFILED THE HEBREW'S HOLY TEMPLE IN JERUSALEM. A BAND OF BRAVE SOLDIERS, LET BY JUDAH MACCABEE, WITH MACCABEE MEANING 'THE HAMMER', WAGED WAR AGAINST THE SYRIAN-GREEKS, BEAT THEM, TOOK BACK THEIR COUNTRY AND THE TEMPLE. THEY REDEDICATED THE TEMPLE WITH THE ONLY ONE JUG OF HOLY OIL FOUND, WHICH WOULD NORMALLY BE ENOUGH TO KEEP THE MENORAH LAMP LIT FOR ONLY ONE DAY.  BUT MIRACULOUSLY THE OIL LASTED 8 DAYS. AND SO WE CELEBRATE BY LIGHTING A CHANUKAH MENORAH ONE CANDLE THE FIRST NIGHT, TWO THE SECOND NIGHT, UP TO 8 NIGHTS, AND THANK GOD FOR THE MIRACLE. AND TO REMEMBER THIS OIL, WE EAT FRIED FOODS LIKE POTATO PANCAKES OR JELLY FILLED DOUGHNUTS. 

 

NOW THE RABBIS HAVE NO PROOF THIS MIRACLE TOOK PLACE. THE ONLY WITNESSES WERE A HANDFUL OF MACCABEAN SOLDIERS. AND IT WASN'T PUBLIC. IT WAS IN A SMALL ROOM IN THE TEMPLE. WHEN WE THINK ABOUT IT, ALL OTHER JEWISH HOLIDAYS, HAVE WITNESSES AND ARE PUBLIC. PASSOVER WAS WITNESSED BY THE EGYPTIANS AND HEBREWS AND WAS PUBLIC. PURIM WAS WITNESSED BY JEWS AND PERSIANS AND WAS PUBLIC. ROSH HA SHANA, THE CELEBRATION OF THE BIRTH OF HUMANKIND WAS WITNESSED PUBLICLY BY ADAM AND EVE.  SUKKOTH THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES REMEMBERING THE JOURNEY IN THE WILDERNESS, WAS WITNESSED PUBLICLY BY HEBREWS AND DESERT TRIBES FOR 40 YEARS. SHAVUOT, CELEBRATING THE GIVING OF TORAH AT MT SINAI, WAS WITNESSED BY 600,000 ABLE BODIED HEBREWS AND THEIR WIVES, KIDS, AND ELDERLY PARENTS. SO THE RABBIS DECREED THAT JEWS SHOULD LIGHT AND PLACE THE MENORAH IN A WINDOW OR DOORWAY TO ANNOUNCE THE MIRACLE. AND AS MENTIONED ABOVE, THE RABBIS DOWN PLAYED THE BATTLE VICTORY, AND PLAYED UP THE SPIRITUAL ASPECTS.

 

NOW THE TRUTH: WHEN ALEXANDER THE GREAT DIED, CIRCA 323 BCE, HIS CONQUERED LAND WAS DIVIDED AMONG HIS GENERALS. FOR THE FIRST GENERATION OR TWO, THEY LIVED IN PEACE, AS PART OF ALEXANDER'S WORLD VIEW OF PEACE. BUT AS TIME PASSED, THESE GENERALS' GRANDCHILDREN BECAME COMPETITORS AND ENEMIES. JUDEA FIRST BELONGED TO THE EGYPTIAN-PTOLEMAIC KINGDOM UNTIL 200 BCE WHEN SELEUCID-GREEK-SYRIAN KING ANTIOCHUS III DEFEATED KING PTOLEMY V.  JUDEA WAS THEN ANNEXED TO SYRIA. ANTIOCHUS GUARANTEED THE HEBREWS TO "LIVE ACCORDING TO THEIR ANCESTRAL CUSTOMS" AT THE JERUSALEM TEMPLE. THIS WAS THE CUSTOM OF ALEXANDER. HE DIDN'T FORCE OR EVEN ASK FOR CONVERSIONS. IN FACT, WHEN ALEXANDER CAME TO JERUSALEM, AFTER WINNING SOME HORRID BATTLES IN WHAT IS NOW LEBANON, AND WANTED A STATUE ERECTED OF HIMSELF IN THE HEBRAIC TEMPLE, THE RABBIS MET WITH HIM, AND SAID THEY WOULD GRANT HIM IMMORTALITY, IF HE DIDN'T PLACE THE STATUE. ALEXANDER AGREED, AND THIS IS HOW HIS NAME, BECAME AN ACCEPTED JEWISH NAME, EVEN TILL TODAY.

 

 IN 175 BCE, AT THE REQUEST OF JEWISH TOBIAS CLAN, ANTIOCHUS IV INVADED JUDEA.  THE JEWISH TOBIAS CLAN, LED THE HELLENIZED [REFORM, MODERN, TOLERANT] FACTION OF JEWS, AND WERE EXPELLED TO SYRIA, BY THE PRO-EGYPTIAN TRADITIONAL HEBRAIC, INTOLERANT, REACTIONARY, HASHMONIAN FAMILY. THE EXILED TOBIADS JEWS LOBBIED ANTIOCHUS IV TO RECAPTURE JERUSALEM AND JUDEA, SO THAT THESE JEWS COULD LIVE IN THEIR LAND.  THE KING WAS INTERVENING IN AN INTERNAL CIVIL WAR BETWEEN THE CONSERVATIVE TRADITIONAL HASHMONIAN MACCABEAN HEBREWS AND THE LIBERAL HELLENIZED JEWS IN JERUSALEM.

NOW, LET ME BACK UP A BIT. PRIOR TO 586 BCE, THE PEOPLE LIVING IN JUDEA AND ISRAEL WERE HEBREWS. HEBRAISM WAS A RELIGION WITH A CULT GOD CALLED YAHWAY, WITH A CULT OF PRIESTS WHO WERE THE INTERCESSORS BETWEEN THE HEBREW PEOPLE AND THIS GOD, VIA ANIMAL SACRIFICES. THERE WERE NO PRAYERS, NO BELIEF IN AFTERLIFE, NO BELIEF IN A DAY OF DIVINE JUDGMENT, AND NO BELIEF IN A MESSIAH. SABBATH WAS SPENT INSIDE ONE'S HOME, AND PASSOVER WAS CELEBRATED BY SACRIFICING A LAMB, AND PAINTING ITS BLOOD ON ONE'S DOOR POSTS. YOM KIPPUR WAS CELEBRATED BY TAKING A GOAT, HAVING THE PRIEST LAY HANDS ON ITS HEAD, PLACING ALL THE SINS OF THE ENTIRE HEBREW PEOPLE ONTO IT, AND SENDING IT OUT IN THE WILDERNESS TO DIE. THIS WAS THE FIRST SCAPE GOAT. THEIR ONLY TEXT WAS THE FIVE BOOKS OF MOSES. THERE WERE 36 WAYS TO INCUR THE DEATH PENALTY. THEY HAD A KING, BY DIVINE AUTHORITY, THE FIRST BEING SAUL, THE SECOND BEING DAVID WHO UNITED THE 12 TRIBES INTO ONE KINGDOM, AND THEN KING SOLOMON WHO EXPANDED ISRAEL INTO WHAT WE CALL TODAY LEBANON, JORDAN, SYRIA, EGYPT, AND IRAQ.  AFTER SOLOMON, THERE WAS  A CIVIL WAR AMONG HIS SONS, AND TWO COUNTRIES DEVELOPED, ISRAEL IN THE NORTH, AND JUDEA IN THE SOUTH, WHICH INCLUDED JERUSALEM.

 

IN 586 BCE, BABYLON CONQUERED JUDEA, SOME YEARS AFTER THE ASSYRIANS CONQUERED THE NORTHERN KINGDOM OF ISRAEL, AND SENT THE TEN TRIBES SCATTERED INTO EXILE. THE JUDEANS, CONSISTING OF JUST TWO TRIBES, JUDAH AND BENJAMIN WERE SENT INTO EXILE TO BABYLON. BENJAMIN FOLDED INTO JUDAH, AND ASIDE FROM THE TWO PRIESTLY TRIBES OF COHAN AND LEVI, THE TRIBE OF JUDAH WAS THE LAST OF THE HEBREWS. WHILE IN BABYLON, UNABLE TO WORSHIP AS HEBREWS AS THEY HAD NO TEMPLE, OVER TIME A NEW RELIGION WAS DEVELOPED WITH RABBIS AS THEIR SPIRITUAL LEADERS. RABBI MEANS 'MY MASTER' IN ARAMAIC, THE LANGUAGE OF THE STREET OF BABYLON. PRAYER THREE TIMES A DAY REPLACED ANIMAL SACRIFICES THREE TIMES A DAY. JEWISH RABBINIC TEXTS NOT ONLY INCLUDED THE FIVE BOOKS OF MOSES, BUT ALL OF THE WRITINGS AND HISTORIES, SUCH AS THE PSALMS, AND THE PROPHETS, AND MOST IMPORTANTLY RABBINIC JUDAISM HAD THE TALMUD, MISHNAH, GOMORRAH AND MIDRASH, AS THEIR MAIN TEXTS.

 

THEY BELIEVED IN AN AFTERLIFE, DIVINE DAY OF JUDGMENT AND A MESSIAH. SABBATH WAS A JOYOUS DAY AND ONE COULD LEAVE THEIR HOMES AND ENJOY IT WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY. PASSOVER WAS CELEBRATED WITH STUDYING THE EXODUS FROM EGYPT AND WHAT FREEDOM MEANS, WITH A CELEBRATORY MEAL. YOM KIPPUR WAS OBSERVED WITH FASTING AND FINDING PEOPLE, WHO WE HAVE HURT ,TO MAKE DIRECT AMENDS TO THEM. THE DEATH SENTENCE WAS DONE AWAY WITH. THEY BECAME A RELIGION NOT TIED TO A SPECIFIC LAND, AND THEIR GOD, WAS A UNIVERSAL GOD. JUDAISM BELIEVES THAT WHILE GOD GAVE THE JEWS, AS THEY WERE NOW CALLED, THE CORRECT PATH TO HIM   VIA MOSES AND OTHER JEWISH PROPHETS, GOD ALSO GAVE EVERY NATION AND RELIGION   EQUAL PROPHETS, AND EQUAL BUT DIFFERENT PATHS, TO GOD, BY WHATEVER NAMES THESE NATIONS AND RELIGIONS CALLED GOD. JUDAISM WAS NOT ONLY TOLERANT, BUT PLURALISTIC. AND WAR, WHICH THE HEBRAIC BOOKS OF MOSES ARE FILLED WITH, WAS NOT A JEWISH VIRTUE, MAKING PEACE, THE GREATEST OF RABBINIC JUDAIC IDEALS.

 

AND JEWS WORSHIPED IN HOMES OR SYNAGOGUES, WITH NO INTERCESSORS, AND HAD NEITHER NEED NOR WANT OF THE JERUSALEM TEMPLE, ITS PRIESTS OR ITS ANIMAL SACRIFICES. IN FACT, 70 YEARS AFTER THESE JUDEANS WERE CAPTURED AND TAKEN TO BABYLON, WHEN CYRUS THE GREAT OF PERSIA, CONQUERED BABYLON, AND ALLOWED THE JEWS TO LEAVE AND RETURN TO JUDEA AND REBUILD THEIR TEMPLE, ONLY 20% DID FOLLOWING EZRA.  PERSIA AND ALL OF ITS LANDS, INCLUDING INDIA, AND BABYLON, BECAME THE HOME OF THE JEWS. THEY HAD FREEDOM OF WORSHIP THERE, AND DEVELOPED TALMUDIC RABBINIC JUDAISM, UNDER PERSIAN, GREEK ALEXANDER, AND ROMAN RULE.

 

SO NOW WE ARE BACK TO THE TRUE CHANUKAH STORY. THESE TWO GROUPS VIOLENTLY FOUGHT OVER WHO WOULD RULE WITH THE HEBRAIC RIGHT WING TRADITIONALISTS CONTESTING WITH HELLENIZED LEFT WING JEWS. JEWS WANTED TO LIVE IN PEACE. THE HEBREWS WERE KILLING THEM OR EXILING THEM. THE CIVIL WAR ESCALATED WHEN GREEK-SYRIAN ANTIOCHUS SIDED WITH THE HELLENIZED JEWS AGAINST THE HEBRAIC TRADITIONALISTS WHO WERE PRO-EGYPT, AND SYRIA'S ENEMY. ANTIOCHUS COULD NOT HAVE HIS BORDER WITH HIS ENEMY PTOLEMY OF EGYPT, FILLED WITH PRO EGYPTIAN HEBREWS.  ANTIOCHUS ALLOWED THE HELLENIZED JEWS TO PRACTICE JUDAISM, BUT PROHIBITED THE RELIGIOUS PRACTICES OF THE HEBRAIC TEMPLE AND   MADE IT INTO A GREEK TEMPLE. ANTIOCHUS ABANDONED THE SELEUCID PRACTICE, GOING BACK TO ALEXANDER THE GREAT, OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM, AS PUNISHMENT TO HIS HEBREW ENEMIES.

 

HERE IS ANOTHER BIT OF INFORMATION TO MAKE UNDERSTANDING EASIER TODAY: THE HEBREW MACCABEES REAL LAST NAME WAS HASHMON. EVENTUALLY THE HEBRAIC HASHMONIAN MACCABEES WON. THE HELLENIZED JEWS ESCAPED AND HELP FOUND HIERAPOLIS [NOW TURKEY] WHICH WAS BUILT NEXT TO THE THERMAL SPRINGS OF PAMUKKALE. BY 62 BCE 50,000 JEWS LIVED THERE, MORE THAN 50% OF THE POPULATION, AND HAD MANY JEWISH SYNAGOGUES THERE, AND THROUGHOUT ANCIENT GREECE. IF YOU GO TO THE ISLAND OF MYKONOS, GREECE, AND VISIT THE LITTLE ISLAND OF DELOS A MILE OFF ITS SHORES, YOU CAN SEE THE RUINS OF A SYNAGOGUE DATING BACK TO JEWS WHO ESCAPED THE MACCABEAN HEBREWS.

 

 THE HASHMONIANS BECAME CRUEL RULERS, AND TOOK OVER THE HEBRAIC MONARCHY AND PRIESTHOOD, EVEN THOUGH THEY WERE NOT FROM THE DAVIDIC LINE, NOR FROM THE COHANIC LINE.  THE PEOPLE HATED THEM.   CIRCA 85 BCE BACK IN JERUSALEM, HASHMONIAN HEBRAIC KING YANNAI, STOLE THE PRIESTHOOD, AND HAD A PUBLIC DISAGREEMENT OVER JEWISH RITUALS VERSUS HEBREW RITUALS FOR THE HOLIDAY OF SUKKOT, THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES. THE JEWS PELTED HIM WITH CITRONS, A LEMON LIKE FRUIT THAT JEWS USE DURING THIS HOLIDAY. HIS SOLDIERS KILLED 6000 JEWISH WORSHIPERS THAT DAY.   IN A MOVE THAT WOULD MAKE MACHIAVELLI LOOK LIKE A TRUST WORTHY POLITICIAN, HEBREW HASHMONIAN KING YANNAI HAD A LAVISH FEAST TO MAKE AMENDS FOR THE SLAUGHTER. HE INVITED 800 RABBIS AND THEIR FAMILIES TO A FEAST, AND THEN HAD THEM CRUCIFIED, AND HAD THE THROATS OF THE RABBI'S WIVES AND CHILDREN CUT BEFORE THEIR EYES AS THE RABBIS WERE DYING ON THE POSTS, AS KING YANNAI ATE WITH HIS CONCUBINES.

 

YANNAI'S EVENTUAL DEATH IN 76 BCE WAS A RABBINIC -JUDAIC CELEBRATION FOR CENTURIES, (ON THE 2ND OF SHEVAT, WHICH WOULD BE THE 12TH OF JANUARY 2016). THERE WAS GREAT CIVIL STRIFE UNDER THE HASHMONIANS WHO ALLIED THEMSELVES WITH ROME. THEIR LAST INDEPENDENT KING, WHO ALSO MADE HIMSELF THE HIGH PRIEST OF THE HEBREWS, WAS YANNAI'S SON ARISTOBOLUS. HE WAS OBVIOUSLY HAVING A TOUGH TIME OF GOVERNING AND ALLOWED ROMAN GENERAL POMPEY INTO JUDEA TO HELP HIM RULE IN 63 BCE. AND THE RABBIS RIGHTLY BELIEVED THAT THIS ACT, ALONG WITH ALL OF THE CRUEL ACTS OF THE HASHMONIANS, EVENTUALLY LED TO ROME'S DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM'S TEMPLE IN 70 CE AND ROME'S COMPLETE RULE OF JUDEA IN 165 CE, AND THE START OF THE ROMAN-JEWISH DIASPORA.  THESE ARE SOME OF THE MAIN REASONS THE BOOKS OF MACCABEES ARE NOT IN THE JEWISH BIBLE.

 

NOW THE ABOVE IS A THUMB NAIL SKETCH OF THE CIRCA 102 YEAR HISTORY FROM 165 BCE TO 63 BCE UNDER THE HASHMONIANS. THERE WAS MUCH MORE INTRIGUE, BROTHERS AGAINST BROTHERS, WIVES AGAINST HUSBANDS, MOTHERS AGAINST SONS, AND CIVIL WAR, AND WAR WITH NEIGHBORING COUNTRIES, THEN I HAVE TIME TO RECOUNT TO YOU TODAY.

AS MENTIONED THE BOOKS OF THE MACCABEES ARE NOT IN THE JEWISH BIBLE. THIS WAS DECIDED IN A RABBINIC CONVENTION CIRCA 300 CE IN THE JUDEAN TOWN OF YAVNEH. THE RABBIS DIDN'T EVEN WANT THE HOLIDAY OF CHANUKAH TO BE A JEWISH HOLIDAY. BUT FOR POLITICAL REASONS, THEY AGREED TO A COMPROMISE. SOME OF THE FAMILIES OF THE DESCENDANTS OF THE HASHMONIANS, NOW JEWISH, STILL CELEBRATED A VICTORY BATTLE CALLED NICANOR DAY. NICANOR WAS A SYRIAN GREEK GENERAL WHO THE MACCABEES CAPTURED AND PLACED HIS SEVERED HEAD ON A TALL PIKE. THE HOLIDAY OCCURRED AT THE SAME TIME ON THE JEWISH CALENDAR OF THE BABYLONIAN JEWISH HOLIDAY OF PURIM, WHICH IS DESCRIBED IN THE BOOK OF ESTHER. THE RABBIS WANTED PURIM CELEBRATED, AS IT WAS ABOUT GOD INTERVENING TO SAVE PERSIAN JEWS, AND NOT WAR-LIKE BATTLES. SO, NICANOR DAY WAS REMOVED, PURIM INCLUDED, AND THIS HOLIDAY OF CHANUKAH, WITH ITS LIGHTS, PLACED IN THE MIDDLE OF WINTER, AND CALLED 'THE FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS' ALONG WITH BEING CALLED 'DEDICATION DAY', WHEN JEWS SHOULD TURN THEIR ATTENTION TO REDEDICATING THEMSELVES TO GOD'S WILL AND SPIRITUAL ENLIGHTENMENT.

 

IT WAS ONLY AFTER THE HOLOCAUST AND THE FOUNDATION OF ISRAEL, THAT CHANUKAH BEGAN TO BE CELEBRATED HEBRAICALLY, WITH MACCABEES AS WAR HEROES, AND THE CONCEPT OF THE NEED FOR JEWISH ARMIES AND WEAPONS. WHILE I AND OTHER RABBIS IN THE JEWISH SPIRITUAL RENEWAL MOVEMENT TEACH THE SPIRITUAL RABBINIC JUDAIC ASPECTS OF THE HOLIDAY, MOST JEWISH KIDS TODAY AND THEIR PARENTS ARE TAUGHT ABOUT THE BRAVE MACCABEES KILLING OFF THE ANTI-SEMITIC SYRIAN INVADERS.

 

SO WHAT SHOULD CHANUKAH TEACH US?

1) WE NEED TO ALWAYS INCREASE SPIRITUALLY. IF WE DON'T, WE DON'T JUST STAY STAGNANT, BUT WE ACTUALLY MOVE BACKWARDS AWAY FROM SPIRITUALITY. WE CAN'T REST ON OUR LAURELS;

2) RELIGIOUS RIGHT WING FANATICS ARE NOT JUST FOLKS TO LAUGH AT. WHEN ARMED THEY CAN DO MASS KILLINGS AND IF THEY TAKE OVER CONTROL OF A COUNTRY, CAN WREAK HAVOC, AND CAUSE THAT ENTIRE COUNTRY'S DEMISE;

 

3) THAT CELEBRATING WAR VICTORIES IS NOT GOOD FOR A NATION'S SOUL,

 

4) THAT COMBINING RELIGION, AND USING GOD'S SUPPOSED WILL TO MANAGE A COUNTRY, AND WAGE WAR, DOES NOT WORK;

 

5) THAT RELIGIONS SHOULD NOT BE PLACE BOUND, AND THAT ONE OF THE JEWISH NAMES FOR GOD IS MAKOM, THE PLACE. WHERE EVER WE DO A HOLY ACT, THAT IS WHERE GOD IS, AND FURTHER, GOD REALLY LIVES INSIDE EACH AND EVERY ONE OF US. WHEN WE SAY THAT GOD LIVES IN A SPECIFIC PLACE AND THAT SPOT IS 'HOLY', AS WE SEE IN ANCIENT HEBRAISM, AND THAT IDEA CREEPING BACK INTO MODERN JUDAISM, WE END UP DEFILING THAT PLACE, AND EVEN MORE PLACES, WITH BLOODSHED; 

 

6) THAT NOT EVERY ATTACK AGAINST ISRAEL, ANCIENT OR PRESENT, IS MOTIVATED BY ANTI-SEMITISM. IN THE CASE OF ANTIOCHUS, THE HEBREWS HAD ALIGNED WITH HIS ENEMY THE EGYPTIANS, AND HIS DESECRATION OF THEIR TEMPLE WAS AN ACT OF WAR, AND NOT AGAINST THEIR RELIGION;

 

AND LASTLY 6) THAT PEACE AND TOLERANCE ALWAYS WINS IN THE END.

 

THANK YOU AGAIN. I BID YOU SALAAM, SHALOM, PAX, AND PEACE.

 

RABBI DR ARTHUR SEGAL
www.JewishSpiritualRenewal.com/books www.FaceBook.com/Arthur.L.Segal www.FaceBook.com/RabbiArthurSegalJewishSpiritualRenewal www.RabbiArthurSegal.blogspot.com
Jewish Spiritual Renewal
Jewish Renewal
Jewish Spirituality
Hilton Head Island, SC; Bluffton, SC; Savannah, GA
 
RABBI DR ARTHUR SEGAL www.JewishSpiritualRenewal.com/bookswww.FaceBook.com/Arthur.L.Segalwww.FaceBook.com/RabbiArthurSegalJewishSpiritualRenewalwww.RabbiArthurSegal.blogspot.com 
Jewish Spiritual Renewal
Jewish Renewal
Jewish Spirituality
Hilton Head Island, SC; Bluffton, SC; Savannah, GA
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-uvHhGDx2pJM/Vl9wOexIOlI/AAAAAAACF1c/7gaEQ6oGIzY/s1600/rabbi%2520and%2520ellen-722810.jpg
 
RABBI DR ARTHUR SEGAL
www.JewishSpiritualRenewal.com/books www.FaceBook.com/Arthur.L.Segal www.FaceBook.com/RabbiArthurSegalJewishSpiritualRenewal www.RabbiArthurSegal.blogspot.com
Jewish Spiritual Renewal
Jewish Renewal
Jewish Spirituality
Hilton Head Island, SC; Bluffton, SC; Savannah, GA
 
RABBI DR ARTHUR SEGAL
www.JewishSpiritualRenewal.com/books www.FaceBook.com/Arthur.L.Segal www.FaceBook.com/RabbiArthurSegalJewishSpiritualRenewal www.RabbiArthurSegal.blogspot.com
Jewish Spiritual Renewal
Jewish Renewal
Jewish Spirituality
Hilton Head Island, SC; Bluffton, SC; Savannah, GA