Chanuka - Between Seattle and Jerusalem!


Jerusalem, Israel
HaRav Yehuda Kroizer SHLIT"A, Rosh Yeshiva

25 Kislev 5767/15-16 December 2006


The ancient Greeks, in their quest to Hellenize the world, found very little resistance as they conquered nation after nation, bringing their "enlightment" to one and all. It was only by the Jewish nation, who sat in Zion at the time, that they met resistance. The Greeks decided to break the backbone of the Jews by decreeing three decrees against the Jewish people. In this way, the Greeks figured that within the next generation the Jewish people as they knew them would be no more.

With tremendous insight, the Greeks' three decrees were to forbid the observance of Shabbat, to forbid the calculation of the new months, and to forbid circumcision. What was it that the ancient Greeks saw by these three mitzvot, that they reasoned that by banning them, this would end the Jewish religion?

The common denominator that runs though these mitzvot are, of course, the “chosenness” of the Jewish people. Havdala - separation - this is the foundation upon which all rests. For without this concept, the Jewish people would be just like all the other nations of the world. Without the chosenness of the Jewish people - in which Hashem chose us to be a light unto the nations - there would be no need for our existence and mission in this world. We would be just like the other nations, and then, certainly there would be no need at all for Creation. Still, Hashem, at the revelation of Sinai, chose us from all the nations for His G-dly mission in this world.

The Greeks understood this well: Wipe out the chosenness of the Jewish people, make them like all the other nations - and you destroy them and the world with it. Unfortunately, many a Jew at the time fell victim to the Greeks' plan and openly accepted the new and dark Greek culture.

A quick look at the three decrees will readily show the chosenness of the Jewish people running throughout them. Shabbat, of course, is a sign between G-d and the Jewish people, so unique to the Jews that if a non- Jew keeps Shabbat, he is put to death. The same holds true for circumcision, a sign between the Jewish people and G-d, as Hashem tells Abraham to circumcize himself and his house for a sign between the Jewish people and G-d for all generations. Calculating the month ensures that the Jewish calendar with all of its holidays will be celebrated at their proper times, once again showing the uniqueness of the Jewish nation.

For this, the Jews revolted in a bloody war that lasted three years, at the cost of many thousands dead. But the end result was that the Jews who stayed faithful continued the chosenness of the Jewish people and their holy mission.

This past week we saw the unfolding drama of the Seattle airport’s right to publicly place x-mas trees there, and under the theat of a lawsuit by a Chabad Rabbi to place a large Menorah there, too, the trees were first removed and later replaced. America, in spite of the many minorities who live there with freedom for all, is still known as overwhelmingly an x-tian nation. They had no problem offending rights of minorities - in this case Jews - and there will be no Menorah in the airport, for unlike the Moslems, the Jews do not want to make waves.

And over here in the Holy Land, on my way home from work the other day, I was appalled to see in the showcase of the Jerusalem City Hall next to a Menorah, a display of the birth of baby Yeshky in Bethlehem, so as not to insult the x-tian community, which barely exists here in Israel. Not that I have a problem with giving other cultures their due, but in City Hall of the Holy City of Jerusalem, which is supposed to represent the return of the Jewish people after a 2000-year exile and Jewish sovereignty, it is a shame. Here, in the Land of Israel, the descendants of the mighty Maccabees who fought and gave their lives to keep alive the chosenness and separation from the nations, are trying to walk the fence on both sides. Jerusalem’s City Hall, representing the Jewish people, is not the place for it! Where is our pride, and why are we embarrassed to tell the world that we are the Chosen People. This is what Chanuka should be all about: Now is the time to move forward, with the flag of the Maccabees telling a world of sick culture that we reject it - and in its stead, we will bring Light to the world!

With love of Israel,
Levi Chazen

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