Chanukah: Inside G-d’s Radiant Shadow
What does the Festival of Lights have to do with defending the Holy Temple and warring against the major civilization of the Western world?
The Greeks didn’t necessarily want to kill Jewish people; they wanted to kill Jewish practice. While the Purim story tells of an attempt to commit genocide against our people, the Chanukah story represents a brave stand for our firmest beliefs. The Greeks claimed humankind to be the central force of its own existence, whereas Judaism poses a radical redefinition of life’s essence, centering upon G-d.
The first thing G-d called for as Creator was for Heaven’s light to fill the void of earth’s. G-d’s light becomes our life force when G-d breathes it into Adam’s nostril, infusing the world with a spiritual wind that keeps eternal time within us. Hence the eternal people—we Jews simply impose G-d’s infinity upon our finite lives. Judaism avers the Divine Presence in this world and recognizes our holy partnership, while the gods of Ancient Greece had little use for human beings and their puny activities. G-d wills deity upon us. The Greeks hide in the dark from their gods, and we dance within the shadow of G-d, forming a nexus where we kindle daily and nightly our little lights to commingle with G-d’s.
And so this Festival of Lights is very much a war for the meaning that we Jews insist upon to guide our lives.
Chag Urim Sameach,
Rabbi Ronnie Cahana