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Holidays are given to us to in order to remind us who we are. We remember the history and the importance of the day and use it to develop and mold us into better people so we can serve G-d better.
Note: This post is a re-post from 2007. I want to remind everyone that this piece is not meant to hurt anyone's feelings or put anyone down. This is merely to enable people to make an educated decision as to what they want to teach their children and bring into their home.
Growing up in the West, where people are steeped in a xmas atmosphere with trees, lights, mistletoe, santas and manger scene decorations, I decided to do some research to find out more about the symbols of Christmas. Don’t get me wrong, some of the holiday decorations are very beautiful to the eye, but I believe that one should know the truth behind these symbols in order for them to be true to themselves and serve G-d the best they can. We should not be deceived by 'cosmetics' or decorations, if behind these symbols lies darkness and leads people away from truth.
And so, below are some questions posted on the internet asked by people wanting to know more about their own holiday, and some of the answers posted by their own fellow holiday celebrators.
Why do we celebrate Christmas in December when Jesus was born in March or even around the feast Of Tabernacles (sukkot) in the Fall? Why did the Catholic Church choose December 25 for the birth date of jesus?
"It was chosen in order to compete with the pagan winter solstice festivals. It was not chosen because it is the correct historical date…"
Is this in your house?
"The idea to celebrate Christmas on December 25 apparently originated in the 4th century. The Catholic Church wanted to eclipse the festivities of a rival pagan religion that threatened Christianity's existence. The Romans celebrated the birthday of their sun god, Mithras during this time of year. Although it was not popular, or even proper, to celebrate people's birthdays in those times, church leaders decided that in order to compete with the pagan celebration they would themselves order a festival in celebration of the birth of (their god)….
Xmas was slow to catch on in America. The early colonists considered it a pagan ritual. The celebration of xmas was even banned by law in Massachusetts in colonial days."
Question: Why do "Christians" use a Pagan symbol, like the Christmas tree, in their celebration of the birth of Jesus?
Answer: "Because way back in the day, the Catholic church started to absorb Pagan symbols in order to make conversion less of a drastic step for Pagans."
"Pagan and Christian families would bring a live tree into the home so the wood spirits would have a place to keep warm during the cold winter months. Bells were hung in the limbs so you could tell when a spirit was present. Food and treats were hung on the branches for the spirits to eat and a five-pointed star, the pentagram, symbol of the five elements, was placed atop the tree. The colors of the season, red and green, also are of Pagan origin, as is the custom of exchanging gifts."
Christians, you believe in the Tanach, the Bible. G-d specifically commands:
Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. 3 For the customs of the people [are] vain: for [one] cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. 4 They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.
Cutting down a tree to place in the house.
This is what the Pagans did, and you are carrying this on.
Question: Why do they allow a plethora of other Pagan symbols?
"Mistletoe and Holly: Two hundred years before the birth of Jesus, the Druids used mistletoe to celebrate the coming of winter. They believed the plant had special healing powers. Scandinavians also thought of mistletoe as a plant of peace and harmony. They associated mistletoe with their goddess of love, Frigga. The custom of kissing under the mistletoe probably derived from this belief. The early church banned the use of mistletoe in Christmascelebrations because of its pagan origins."
Elves are a pagan idea from Scandinavian countries.
Santa never existed. He is based on the original St. Nicklaus who lived in what is now modern-day Turkey back in the 3rd or 4th century.
Answer from another Christian site:
"Christmas is a Pagan holiday - "Christmas" is not in the Bible, and we are not commanded to celebrate the Messiah's birth in all of Scripture. The Messiah was not born on or near December 25. He was born sometime in late September (most likely Sept. 29) or early October during the Feast of Tabernacles, but no one can be sure of the exact day. If the Almighty Sovereign Creator wanted us to celebrate the day He would have told us in Lev. 23.
"December 25th was celebrated by the Pagan sun-worshippers of Mithraism as the "birthday of the invincible sun," because on that day the sun began its return to the northern skies "the winter solstice." And so, the sun and the Son, have become a deliberate Pagan mix. Tammuz, the Babylonian Pagan sun deity, was also the first counterfeit savior… December 25th was also the date of the Pagan Brumalia (winter) festival in Rome. It was preceded by the Saturnalia festival Dec. 17-24 - in honor of the Roman god Saturn, as a period of unrestrained merriment in celebration of the winter solstice. The Saturnalia and Brumalia festivals were so popular among the heathen and so deeply entrenched in their customs, that rather than attempt to reform the Pagan populous the Roman Church, the Emperor Constantine, chose instead to absorb their festivities into the Constantine Roman Catholic Church."
Friends, is this what you wish to perpetuate? Do you wish to continue pagan ways in today's world?
Paganism: It's the fastest-growing religion in Australia, according to the 2001 census. Sydney pagan worshippers learns about spells, covens and the importance of being "skyclad"( being clad/covered only by the sky, Ritual nakedness performing their rituals naked).
Moonstruck: high priest David Garland celebrates the summer solstice with other pagans on Rotaract Hill. Photo: Tamara Dean
So, to my brothers and sisters on this planet who celebrate xmas, this is not an attack, but an honest query to you: What’s the deal here? What are you bringing into your homes? What rituals are you really observing? Will you embrace a holiday that brings paganism into your homes? Should you not go back to the word of G-d as given to Moses on Mt. Sinai? Should you not embrace instead the 7 laws of Noah as commanded by G-d to all Gentiles, whom He created and loves and wants to be closer to Him? To read about what your obligations are as a Gentile, you must RETURN to the source.
Wishing you truth and a closer relationship with the One Creator of the Universe. May you remove darkness from the world and let in the light!
Hear my show "The Surprising Origins of Christmas".
It's like you are there. A cool video that brings you inside the Holy Temple making you feel wonderful, and embraced by G-d.
But first - I have a confession to make. Let me tell you about it. Well, you know that it is Chanukah vacation, and it's a slower pace now. And with this mindset, I thought that I would make some pop corn and sit and watch a movie that one of my guests had checked out from the video store. It was called Benjamin Button, about a man who was born old and aged backwards. I thought, great, no prob, the idea of someone going through life backwards sounded intriguing and they needed to return the video soon. And so I sat and watched, and watched, and watched... The movie was un-ending! But I wanted to see how it would wind up, if he would be a baby in the end, or die with the mind of a baby but be 6 feet tall, or whatever, and what he learned from life, etc. Well, I finally got to the end of watching, and zzzzzzzzzz. What a waste of my precious time! It's winter, and night time comes early. I had started watching in the mid afternoon, and now, it was all dark outside, and I hadn't accomplished anything that day. Not even learned anything or come away with anything after watching that looooooong movie. Thumbs down on that one. ...But it won't be thumbs down on this one.
Watch this move below (thanks to Judith who sent this to me) it really is uplifting and a wonderful holiday experience. May we merit the Third Temple soon in our time, amen!
When I think of Moldavia/Moldova, I think of the television show 'Dynasty' and the wedding massacre they made where everyone was shot and you didn't know who would survive for next season. The script writer thought it would boost their ratings. What I don't think of, is church led anti-semitic pograms against the Jews. But sadly, this is exactly what I have to report on.
I woke up this morning to the news in Hebrew, reporting about a Moldovan church priest who led his congregants
on an anti-semitic mission in Kishinev, to destroy a menorah in the town's square for the 8 day Chanukah holiday, and replace it with the wooden cross. (see also our updated story)
The priest, marching with his congregants following behind, is reported to have been spouting anti-Jewish
and racial slurs.
"The Jews can try to kill us, to traumatize our children," but Moldovan Orthodox believers will resist, the priest said, speaking into a sound system. Moldova, he said, was an Orthodox country, and the Jewish people are trying to "dominate people." Allowing the menorah to be set up had been "a sacrilege, an indulgence of state power today,"
Marching towards Europe Square where the Chanukah menorah stood, he and his church-goers, in what looked like a 'religious cleansing' type ceremony, stole the Jewish menorah. They then marched with the ripped off Jewish symbol of religious freedom, to Stefan cel Mare Square, where they dismembered the menorah and placed it's pieces 'upside down', in a sign, not unlike the satanic custom of contempt.
They did this in broad daylight.
They were not even violent or scary looking, as old women were part of their ilk.
Yet no one, no one watching this, did anything.
"Never again" you say?
It's at least 60 years after Hitler and the Holocaust, and 500+ years after the Inquisition where they burned Jews at the stake. The world has learned nothing.
Lest you forgot, the whole Chanukah holiday story is commemorating the fight for religious freedom. It was the first time that a war had ever been fought - not for water, natural resources, wealth or borders, - but for religious freedom. Under the Greek-Syrian rule, Jews were not allowed to be Jews. They were forbidden from reading the Torah, from keeping the commandment of circumcision, and were totally religiously oppressed. They were commanded to 'Hellenize' ('globalize' [sic]).
Seems like today we are seeing a repeat of the intolerance and hatred of the nations once again to anything Jewish. This time in Moldova.
The Dynasty cast had a script writer that in the end didn't improve their ratings, however, we too have a script-writer. His name is G-d Almighty. He calls us His first born, His 'Chosen People'. He writes in His script, the book of Numbers 24:9 "Those that bless you are blessed, and those who curse you are accursed." The cast of characters we saw act in this video above, also didn't improve their ratings, and THEY will have to answer to G-d!
Why do we take it? How is it that a society chooses to sleep, rather than wake up from their bad dream and fix things? Sometimes it takes 'the shock factor' to do what 'rationalization' smothers. The little known Chanukah story of how the Hasmonean revolt started, was actually because of a very brave woman!
(This blog is a re-post from 2007)
The background of the Chanukah story recalls the struggle for religious freedom from the Hellenistic Syrian-Greeks in the year, 165 B.C.E. Antiochus, who was the occupying King at those times, sought to crush our Jewish identity and passed decrees against the practice of Judaism. We were forbidden from studying the Torah, we were forbidden to keep the Shabbat (Sabbath) and we were forbidden from making a brit milah (circumcision). To do so meant the death penalty.
"Hellenistic rituals and sacrifices were instituted in the Bet HaMikdash (the holy Temple in Jerusalem), thus desecrating the sacred center of Jewish ritual life. Many Jews were impressed by the culture and power of their Greek conquerors and adopted their customs and practices. These Jews came to be known as "Hellenists". –Sound familiar to our situation today?
“Other Jews were infuriated by the oppressive decrees aimed at destroying their religion, and vowed revenge. They were led by Mattityahu, a Chashmona'i (Hasmonean) who lived in Modiin with his five sons, who came to be known as the Maccabim. This name is derived from the first letter of each word in the phrase "Mi kamocha ba'elim Hashem?" ("Who is like You, O L-rd, among the mighty?". After three years of guerrilla warfare in the hills and forests against the strong and powerful armies of the Syrian-Greek King Antiochus, the relatively small and poorly armed Maccabim won, and recaptured Jerusalem. But WHAT started this revolt? What shocked the Maccabim into action?
One of my favorite stories of Chanukah is the story about Chana (Hannah). Not the extremely powerful story of Hannah and her 7 sons, but a different ‘Chana’.
This 'Chana' used what I think is an important strategy to wake people up from their stupor. Shock.
Too many of us do not want to change our daily routine. We are comfortable in our lives and we don’t want disruption, and so it easier to bear burdens if they come in servings that we are able to swallow. If an evil regime passed all their terrible laws at once, people would be convinced they must fight. But if the laws are ushered in one by one, in bite sized pieces, we learn to adapt. We act this way because it is easier to be a little uncomfortable than have to go to battle and face having to risk it all, to lose everything we have worked for and even possibly risk our lives and that of our children. No one likes disruption, and so we swallow the evil.
Sometimes we need someone to slap us, to wake us from our stupor and fight the evil that has embedded itself in our midst. A young woman who lived many years ago did just that. And we should all thank her.
The story from the Midrash goes like this:
The Marriage of Chana, Daughter of Mattathias (Mattityahu) - Read below or see story here.
"As part of their campaign to break the spirit of the Jews, the Greeks decreed that every maiden must spend her wedding night in the bed of the regional governor, and that only afterward would she be permitted to her husband. They wanted to destroy Jewish sanctity and degrade the Jews. As a result of this decree, the Jews stopped marrying. For three years and three months, no wedding was held in Judea. Then it came time for Hannah, daughter of Mattityahu the Hasmonean to marry. In spite of the decree, Mattityahu held a great celebration, inviting the leaders of the nation, for Mattathias' family was extremely prominent. The bride sat, as was customary, at the head table, but suddenly stood up, clapped her hands together, and tore her expensive wedding dress, exposing herself.
Everyone looked away in embarrassment, and her brothers ran to fall upon her and kill her for shaming herself and her family.
But Hannah exclaimed to them all, 'now you are so zealous as to shield your eyes? For THIS you are zealous, yet you are willing to have a Greek see me naked and have his way with me?' "
The story continues, "Why, when I shame myself before my relatives and friends are you so filled with embarrassment and anger that you wish to kill me, but you agree to surrender me this night so the heathen governor can lie with me? Why do you not learn from Simon and Levy, sons of our forefather Jacob, who avenged the rape of their sister Dinah (in Genesis, chapter 34)? They were only two brothers who fought and took a whole city to free her, I have FIVE brothers - and where are you?"
This, my friends, is what spurred the revolt of the Maccabees on the Syrian-Greeks and led to the first holiday commemorating religious freedom and the lift of the yoke of Hellenism and Greek occupation.
The story of Hannah goes on:
"Everyone realized that Hannah was right; her brothers discussed the matter and came to a decision. They dressed their sister in the finest garments and brought her with great ceremony, at the head of a large procession, to the King. Hannah's brother's declared, "We are the sons of the High Priest, and it is not fitting that our sister be given to the governor. Our sister is fit only for the King himself!" The brothers' words found favor in the King's eyes.
The brothers accompanied Hannah to the royal bed chamber, and thereupon, seized the King and killed him. Afterward, they stormed out killing ministers, guards, and servants, who were in the palace. So began the Hasmonean revolt. "
A sequel to this event is the story of yet ANOTHER Jewish Heorine named Yehudit (Judith). "Yehudit was a beautiful woman who single-handedly saved the Jewish town of Bethulia during the Hasmonean revolt.
When her city was surrounded and besieged by the Syrian army of General Holofernes, she made a plan to save her people. She left the city walls of Bethulia with her maid in what looked like her fleeing to Holofernes' camp. She told the cruel General Holofernes that she wanted to save herself and told him that the defeat of the Jews of the city was near. Impressed with Yehudit's beauty and her prediction of his defeat of the Jews, he invites her to celebrate with him 'alone'. Yehudit tells him she must eat her own food which she made, and shows him the cheese delicies she has brought with her. She feeds him this salty cheese, which induces the general to wash it down with wine and he falls into a deep sleep. She then approaches his bed and says a prayer:
"Answer me, O L-rd, as You answered Yael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, when you delivered the wicked general Sissera into her hands. Strengthen me this once that I may bring Your deliverance to my people whom this cruel man vowed to destroy, and let the nations know that You have not forsaken us..."
Yehudit then unsheathed Holofernes' heavy sword which was hanging near his bed and brought it down upon his neck with all her might.
She leaves his bloody corpse soaking his mattress and takes the head and her maid away from the slumbering enemy camp to Bethulia. She tells the Jews of Bethulia that victory will soon be theirs. She takes the head of Holofernes and puts it on a stake in public view to strengthen the will of the people. She then tells the Jewish men to wait for dawn to make a surprise attack. The enemy's camp is not prepared for a Jewish onslaught on them. When the morning comes with the charge of the Jews towards their camp, Holofernes's men run to their commander's tent where they find his headless body on the blood soaked mattress. In their shock, fear and confusion, they flee for their lives. The Jews won the revolt and Yehudit was their hero."
This Chanukah, we must remember the valor and strength of the Jewish women who risked their lives, to keep Israel Jewish. To Chana and her 7 sons, to Yehudit, and to Chana the daughter of the high priest who shocked the Jews into action, thank you from the bottom of our hearts.