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Dr. Eitan Shamir and Dr. Eado Hecht
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This is a re-post of a blog I wrote last year, however, it is still appropriate for this Chanukah.
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 a '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!
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:
(Taken from http://www.madrichim.org/contents.aspx?id=229 )
The Marriage of Chana, Daughter of Mattathias (Mattityahu)
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?' She added, "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 story 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.
Who would you like to throw your shoes at? One reporter in Iraq answered THAT question. Since then, the video tape has been seen around the world. His name was Muntadhar al-Zeidi. He was tackeled at the scene and is now being held under close guard. An Iraqi official said that Iraqi security were interrogating al-Zeidi about whether anybody paid him to throw his shoes at Bush. Rumors are that Laura Bush may be the culprit. "He gets me so angry sometimes, but my aim is bad and I always miss." However, other sources say that McCain, Palin, or even Dick Cheney may have been behind it. Scratch that, Cheney was just heard saying that if he had aimed, he wouldn't have missed his target. His wounded hunting-buddy concurred. "Even when Dick isn't aiming, he always get's his target."
Now it's your turn. Have fun, add your own remarks about the Bush-shoe incident.
Bibi is looking an awful like Arik Sharon this last week as he steamrolled 'democracy' in favor of his own desires. The Likud primaries held last week were supposed to be a show of democracy and respect for the voters of the Likud. It was instead, a repeat of the Sharon fiasco that took place prior to the expulsion of almost 10,000 Israelis from their homes in Gush Katif and the northern Shomron back in 2005.
Like Sharon, Binyamin Netanyahu, in the framework of the Likud, set forth a type of 'referendum' of who would take what number on the Likud party list. The Likud member's votes, after all the work and expenses and campaigning, were tossed to the wind. They were not respected.
To those who remember back a few years, Ariel Sharon, was elected on the platform against unilateral withdrawal, and then turned around and embraced it wholeheartedly and implemented it. He won the national elections in a landslide because he was AGAINST his opponent, Amram Mitznah's unlilateral withdrawal plan. But then, after Sharon won, he took on the same platform he ran against, to the horror of those who voted for him. After this betrayal of democracy, he then agreed to let the Likud party members decide about the fate of Gush Katif since he did a 180 degree turn on his own party's platform. He agreed to a referendum and said he would honor what the Likud voters decided. Well, the referendum was an overwhelming success in support for holding on to Gush Katif and northern Shomron. However, when the results came in, and Sharon realized he lost, he decided that he would not honor the referendum that he agreed to. He dissed the voters of his own party that he was supposed to serve. He was going to have it HIS way. Democracy shemocracy.
How do we know he will respect ANY democratic vote the people of Israel or his own party make?
A similar scenario took place last week, as Moshe Feiglin, a right wing Likud candidate was voted into slot number #20 on the list. The Likud is expected to take at least 30 seats in this next election, so it looked like a sure thing that Feiglin would get in and his Likud supporters were celebrating. Unfortunately, Netanyahu, acting similar to Sharon, flew in and nixed the votes of the party he is supposed to serve and arranged a re-shuffling of the seats, citing some lame reason as to bring up the 'district reps' on the ticket. This invasive act plunged Feiglin all the way down, more than ten seats, to a slot somewhere in the 30's, which may be unrealistic in getting him a seat in the next Knesset.
Netanyahu disrespected the voters, AND the democratic process he seems to hold so high. Is this democracy? Is this Netanyahu, or Sharon? Is this what we can expect in the next government when he gets elected and is suspected to want to cede the Golan Heights, Judea & Samaria and possibly Jerusalem? - What if Likud voters say no?
If he runs on a platform for keeping Jerusalem united, and then after being elected says that 'things have changed' and he now believes we need to cede parts of our capital to our enemy, or some other part of the Land of Israel, and then we yell 'No!", and remind him of his campaign promises and/or that of the Likud party's principles, how can we know he will respect them? How do we know he will respect ANY democratic vote the people of Israel or his own party make?
Are we seeing another tyrant-acting and un-democratic Sharon, in Netanyahu? "Hey, it worked for Arik, so why not me?" he might think.
Does Netanyahu strut wearing democracy on his chest, but discard it as easily as taking off one's coat. Does this steamrolling of democracy show that Bibi will be just another Arik? I don't want to see mudslinging and dirty remarks about Bib in the talk-backs here. I just want to bring this to your attention, so that if anyone does decide to vote for the Likud, they understand who they are getting. ...Just another Sharon.
Two general announcements:
1) Message from Daniel Pinner re: Noam Federman
2) New Show Segment
1) Message from Daniel Pinner re: Noam Federman
ARE YOU SEETHING WITH FRUSTRATION AT THE POGROM AGAINST NOAM FEDERMAN AND HIS FAMILY?
At least if it is a good lie, I know you had enough respect for me to make the effort to make the lie believable.
It never ceases to amaze me how politicians can blow us off. It befuddles me how much contempt they have for us all with their pathetic speeches stuffed with all-out lies. My mother always used to say to people, "If you are going to lie to me, make it a good lie. I take insult at being lied to if the lie is so lame, that you didn't even bother to put any effort into it. At least if it is a good lie, I know you had enough respect for me to make the effort to make the lie believable."
Politicians seem to have less and less respect for the citizens they are supposed to serve. Just today, the Governor of Illinois was arrested for trying to sell to the highest bidder, Obama's senatorial seat. THE GOVERNOR OF ILLINIOS WAS ARRESTED!!! Amazing. He should have tried to be more clever, be a better liar. Well, I am glad he got caught, at least.
And today's news story in the Israeli media "showed Prime Minister Olmert hugging a small child during a visit to Sderot and saying he was "very touched" by a letter from a sixth grader that life under rocket attacks is not normal. He said he shares the feelings and fears of western Negev residents and added, "We do not for one moment tolerate such a lifestyle in which we have to run to shelters to hide from our enemies." "
Is your jaw hanging down agog? He actually had the nerve to say, "We do not for one moment tolerate such a lifestyle in which we have to run to shelters to hide from our enemies." ? Mr. Prime Minister, we've been suffering enemy fire on our country for at least the last 7 years!!!!! Mr. Prime Minister, if you are going to lie to us, at least make it a good one.
Last week, we saw the repulsive build up of Israeli security forces, police, army, etc… swell around Hebron's Peace House where Israeli citizens were living. The Israeli residents of Peace House have a contract showing the sale, and a video of the former Arab owner counting out his money from the sale. Our southern region is under enemy P.A. Arab rocket fire, but the government doesn't have the means to stop the enemy. But they DO have the forces to throw Israeli families out of their homes in Hebron.
Israel can't get enough police to evict the Arab squatters in Yitzchak Herskovitz's legally owned home but yet they have enough forces to send to Hebron to pull out Israeli families and supporters from their homes.
Israel can't get enough police to evict the Arab squatters in Yitzchak Herskovitz's legally owned home
(see this amazing story: "Exclusive: Squatters Ordered Off Stolen Jewish Land in Jerusalem because they are afraid of violence," and "Jerusalem Land-Owner to Sue Police ")
yet they have enough forces to send to Hebron, to expel Israeli families and their freinds and supporters from there.
We have our beautiful young soldier Gilad Shalit languishing somewhere in Gaza, a couple of miles from Sderot, yet our leaders say we can't free him. We can't make an incursion into a place we know the enemy resides and launches missiles from??? Hmf! -Another lousy lie.
Our politicians say that we cannot make peace without giving up land. -Another very old, tired lie.
Our politicians and media label Moshe Feiglin, after yesterday's win in the Likud primaries, an 'extremist', yet call PLO leader Mahmoud Abbas (a terrorist and Holocaust denier) a moderate. - What a lie.
Western politicians say we are fighting terrorists, and then press our (willing) Prime Minister to release 230 more convicted terrorists being held behind bars here in Israel. -They lie to us about really fighting the 'axis of evil'.
Western politicians tell us that we are fighting a war on 'terror'. Yet in reality, we are in fact being forced to fight a religious war waged by Islam against all 'non believers'. 'Terror' is not an enemy, terror is a 'tactic', at the moment perpetrated by Infidel hating Muslims. We are not fighting terrorists, we are fighting Islamic conquerors. -sigh- -Yet another lie we are fed.
Binyamin Netanyahu will shake PLO terrorist Yassar Arafat's blood stained hand, but will not shake G-d fearing Jew- Moshe Feiglin's hand ---who he shares the same political party with by the way. What a world full of lies we live in.
Just gimme some truth! - or, at the very least, make it a GOOD lie.