Sorry, my internet wasn't working for a few days, though there were a few things I wanted up here..another time perhaps. ...what was it I was supposed to write about? ..Oh yes, Hannukah.
One thing about Hanukkah which I think is clearly agreed upon across the spectrum of ways of understanding it, is that Hanukkah is ‘commemorating’ two things, and the amount of import one places on either reason classifies their understanding of it (in a way), though even within these two reasons for commemoration there is much disagreement as what exactly about these events is worth commemorating.
These two commemorations are obviously for either the great victories the Judeans wrought on the Seleucid Greek armies, and the subsequent liberation of Judea and of Judaic ethical monotheism from their hands, as well as the ritual and political purification of the Temple from foreign control, or the miracle of the oil for the Temple’s perpetual lamp (lighting more than physically possible) which ensued (huge run-on, I know). The Baraith’a, which primarily quotes the "oil miracle" is somewhat representative of the more Religious spectrum , while the Book of Maccabees, the "The Scroll of Antiochus" as well as the more well known prayer (“A’l Hanisim”) which all commemorate the military victory are usually the aspect more commemorated by the more ‘Nationalistic’ elements among us.
To me it is unquestionable that both extremes are somewhat erroneous; the significance of the ‘miracle of the oil’ aspect, and what it should mean to us should not be under-emphasized, yet the military/political victory should certainly not be understated.
If so, a very brief restatement:
‘Oil miracle’- I do not feel that stating something like “the menorah was nothing more than the Jewish nationalistic symbol” is unfounded, but for what reason was it our symbol if not for the elements of light and ritual purity inherent in it? I do not feel that anybody is of the opinion that the Priests felt it so overbearingly important to reconstruct and rekindle the Menorah with specifically ritually pure oil (which was not a halakhic necessity) only to replace some symbol of National unity. There is no question that to them the speedy relighting of the Menorah was representative of the ethical and cultural victory they had won against the Greeks. That could and should be a lesson to us today- for even those among us with the longest and blackest of coats, and the furriest of hats has the most despicable of Western/American ideals in their hearts (myself, obviously, very much among them). The lesson of the purpose of the Divine radiance shown to our ancestors at the Temple should serve to bring well needed ‘mind over matter’ ideals to our spiritually-starved souls.
The ‘War miracle’ as well, though, cannot be overlooked; yet for what did those agrarian Judean ancestors of ours fight, if not to cleanse our land –G-d’s land— from the most objectionable of Greek ideologies and practices being shipped into Judea. This victory created a situation the Judeans had not known in their recent past, and have not known since—full autonomy in their own land.
This is going on too long, is it not? ..not my style…it is not without need of editing though..