December 30, 2020 | View PDF
During this season of Hanukkah and Christmas, friends and acquaintances have asked me to explain Hanukkah to them.
I’m happy to help them understand the holiday. A recent, highly publicized interview with U. S. Senator Kamala Harris raised questions and negative comments about her understanding of and explanation for the significance of Hanukkah. The Hebrew word Hanukkah means “rededication”. Rededicating the Temple through purification acts and oneself to practice traditional Judaism. It has absolutely nothing to do with spreading joy or Tikkun Olam, which literally means “repairing the world” as each person fulfills the required daily Jewish actions.
The Festival of Lights is a celebration of Tikkun Olam - fighting for justice and the dignity of all people, Harris said.
“It’s about rededication”
“And it’s about joy,” Emhoff added. “And it’s about spreading joy around the world with your family, and sharing it with your family and your friends and your neighbors and your community. And that’s important right now.”
The real importance of Hanukkah pertains its remembrance as a fight for national liberation and the right of the Jews to practice their own religion. Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the Macedonian king of the Seleucid Empire, decreed that the Jews could not worship their God as they required. Within his empire Antiochus wanted to create uniformity of religious belief and practice, of social customs and practices, uniformity of dress and music, and of social groups. He wanted the Jews to become totally Hellenized. Many of the Jewish ruling and upper classes were quite willing and eager and did adhere to Antiochus’s demands. The war was a civil war and a war against a foreign invader. The emperor sent his troops to enforce his orders.
A small band of Jews, observant in their practice of Judaism, rebelled against the emperor and his Greek armies and the acquiescent Jewish ruling classes. Judah the Maccabee, a word meaning “ hammer,” led this army. Judah and his army defeated the Greek army and the obsequious Jewish upperclass members, cleansed the Temple of Hellenic worship idols, re-established the faithful practice of Judaism within the Temple, and ended any challenge to the Hellenization of the Jewish people’s religion. They celebrated this success by burning olive oil. If these Jews had failed, Judaism would have died, and consequently Christianity would never have arisen, the Renaissance and the Enlightenment would never have occurred, Western Civilization would never have emerged, and the U. S. would never have been borne as the fulfillment of all the preceding marvelous events.
Senator Harris’ juvenile and erroneous understanding and importance of Hanukkah candles reveals her complete ignorance about this Jewish holiday. Perhaps, she should concentrate on practicing the law.