DOWN WITH CHANUKAH!
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DOWN WITH CHANUKAH! This is a piece written by Rabbi Meir Kahane z"l back on December 15, 1972. I think it is a very important piece to dwell on and internalize, especially since this holiday is one of the holidays that most diaspora jews choose to celebrate. The problem is that the meaning of Chanukah gets lost in the Diaspora, seeming to compete with Christmas, losing its most important message, that of the fight for religious freedom to be a Jew. A video follows below that I think is important to watch, though I am not suggesting who to vote for, as I myself have not decided where to cast a vote and to my knowledge, this United Torah Block does not yet exist. If someone knows otherwise, please post about it below.
Rabbi Meir Kahane Writings (5732-33) (1971-73)
If I were a Reform rabbi; if I were a leader of the Establishment whose money and prestige have succeeded in capturing for him the leadership and voice of American Jewry; if I were one of the members of the Israeli Government's ruling group; if I were an
enlightened sophisticated, modern Jewish intellectual, I would climb the barricades and join in battle against the most dangerous of all Jewish holidays Chanukah.
It is a measure of the total ignorance of the world Jewish
community that there is no holiday that is more universally celebrated
than the "Feast of Lights", and it is an equal measure of the
intellectual dishonesty and of Jewish leadership that it plays along
with the lie. For if ever there was a holiday that stands for
everything that the mass of world Jewry and their leadership has
rejected it is this one. If one would find an event that is truly
rooted in everything that Jews of our times and their leaders have
rejected and, indeed, attacked it is this one. If there is any
holiday that is more "unJewish" in the sense of our modern beliefs and
practices I do not know of it.
The Chanukah that has erupted unto the world Jewish scene
in all its childishness, asininity, shallowness, ignorance and fraud
is not the Chanukah of reality. The Chanukah that came into vogue
because of Jewish parents in their vapidness needed something to
counteract Christmas; that exploded in a show of
"we-can-have-lights-just-as-our-goyish-neighbors" and in an effort to
reward our spoiled children with eight gifts instead of the poor
Christian one; the Chanukah that the Temple, under its captive rabbi,
turned into a school pageant so that the beaming parents might think
that the Religious School is really successful instead of the tragic
joke and waste that it really is; the Chanukah that speaks of Jewish
Patrick Henrys giving-me-liberty-or death and the pictures of
Maccabees as great liberal saviors who fought so that the kibbutzim
might continue to be free to preach their Marx and eat their ham, that
the split-level dwellers of suburbia might be allowed to violate their
Sabbath in perfect freedom and the Reform and Conservative Temples
continue the fight for civil rights for Blacks, Puerto Ricans and Jane
Fonda, is not remotely connected with reality.
This is NOT the Chanukah of our ancestors, of the
generations of Jews of Eastern Europe and Yemen and Morocco and the
crusades and Spain and Babylon. It is surely not the Chanukah for
which the Maccabees themselves died. Truly, could those whom we honor
so munificently, return and see what Chanukah has become, they might
very well begin a second Maccabean revolt. For the life that we Jews
lead today was the very cause, the REAL reason for the revolt of the
Jews "in those days in our times."
What happened in that era more than 2000 years ago? What
led a handful of Jews to rise up in violence against the enemy? And
precisely who WAS the enemy? What were they fighting FOR and who were
they fighting AGAINST?
For years, the people of Judea had been the vassals of
Greece. True independence as a state had been unknown for all those
decades and, yet, the Jews did not rise up in revolt. It was only
when the Greek policy shifted from mere political control to one that
attempted to suppress the Jewish religion that the revolt erupted in
all its bloodiness. It was not mere liberty that led to the Maccabean
uprising that we so passionately applaud. What we are really cheering
is a brave group of Jews who fought and plunged Judea into a bloodbath
for the right to observe the Sabbath, to follow the laws of kashruth,
to obey the laws of the Torah. IN A WORD EVERYTHING ABOUT CHANUKAH
THAT WE COMMEMORATE AND TEACH OUR CHILDREN TO COMMEMORATE ARE THINGS
WE CONSIDER TO BE OUTMODED, MEDIEVAL AND CHILDISH!
At best, then, those who fought and died for Chanukah were
naïve and obscurantist. Had we lived in those days we would certainly
not have done what they did for everyone knows that the laws of the
Torah are not really Divine but only the products of evolution and men
(do not the Reform, Reconstructionist and large parts of the
Conservative movements write this daily?) Surely we would not have
fought for that which we violate every day of our lives! No, at best
Chanukah emerges as a needless holiday if not a foolish one. Poor
Hannah and her seven children; poor Mattathias and Judah; poor well
meaning chaps all but hopelessly backward and utterly unnecessary
But there is more. Not only is Chanukah really a foolish
and unnecessary holiday, it is also one that is dangerously fanatical
and illiberal. The first act of rebellion, the first enemy who fell at
the hands of the brave Jewish heroes whom our delightful children
portray so cleverly in their Sunday and religious school pageants, was
NOT a Greek. He was a Jew.
When the enemy sent its troops into the town of Modin to
set up an idol and demand its worship, it was a Jew who decided to
exercise his freedom of pagan worship and who approached the altar to
worship Zeus (after all, what business was it of anyone what this
fellow worshipped?) And it was this Jew, this apostate, this
religious traitor who was struck down by the brave, glorious,
courageous (are these not the words all our Sunday schools use to
describe him?) Mattathias, as he shouted: "Whoever is for G-d, follow
What have we here? What kind of religious intolerance and
bigotry? What kind of a man is this for the anti-religious of
Hashomer Hatzair, the graceful temples of suburbia, the sophisticated
intellectuals, the liberal open-minded Jews and all the drones who
have wearied us unto death with the concept of Judaism as a
humanistic, open-minded, undogmatic, liberal, universalistic (if not
Marxist) religion, to honor? What kind of nationalism is this for
David-Ben-Gurion (he who rejects the Galut and speaks of the proud,
free Jew of ancient Judea and Israel)?
And to crush us even more (we who know that Judaism is a
faith of peace which deplores violence), what kind of Jews were these
who reacted to oppression with FORCE? Surely we who so properly have
deplored Jewish violence as fascistic, immoral and (above all!)
UN-JEWISH, stand in horror as we contemplate Jews who declined to
picket the Syrian Greeks to death and who rejected quiet diplomacy for
the sword, spear and arrow (had there been bombs in those days, who
can tell what they might have done?) and "descended to the level of
evil," thus rejecting the ethical and moral concepts of Judaism.
Is this the kind of a holiday we wish to propagate? Are
these the kinds of men we want our moral and humanistic children to
honor? Is this the kind of Judaism that we wish to observe and pass
on to our children?
Where shall we find the man of courage the one voice, in
the wilderness to cry out against Chanukah and the Judaism that it
represents-the Judaism of our grandparents and ancestors? Where shall
we find the man of honesty and integrity to attack the Judaism of
Medievalism and outdated foolishness; the Judaism of bigotry that
strikes down Jews who refuse to observe the law; the Judaism of
violence that calls for Jewish force and might against the enemy?
When shall we find the courage to proudly eat our Chinese food and
violate our Sabbaths and reject all the separateness, nationalism and
religious maximalism that Chanukah so ignobly represents? …Down with
Chanukah! It is a regressive holiday that merely symbolizes the
Judaism that always was; the Judaism that was handed down to us from
Sinai; the Judaism that made our ancestors ready to give their lives
for the L-rd; the Judaism that young people instinctively know is true
and great and real. Such Judaism is dangerous for us and our leaders.
We must do all in our power to bury it.