Hellenism is alive and well - in the Diaspora!

When Yehuda Maccabee shouted, “Follow me,” in the battle for the Hebrew sovereignty in the Land of Israel, the Jewish Hellenists stayed home.

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Tzvi Fishman

Judaism לבן ריק
לבן ריק
INN: TF


While many people consider the Israeli left the Hellenists of today, the term more fittingly describes the Jews of the Diaspora who have the ability to move to Israel, but prefer to identify with the foreign country and foreign culture where they live. This is exactly what a Hellenist is – as Webster’s Dictionary states: “A person living in Hellenist times who was Greek in language, outlook, and way of life, but was not Greek in ancestry, like a Hellenist Jew.”

This description fits the American Jew, or English Jew, or Australian Jew of today. They prefer a foreign language over Hebrew; they prefer to live in a foreign land; and they chase after foreign cultures, outlooks, and ways of living, to be just like the Americans, loving football, the movies, the New York Times, fashions, cars, and American ambitions, just like the Hellenists did in the time of the Greeks.

The Jewish Hellenists shaved off their beards, dressed in the latest style of tunics from Athens, and flocked to Greek theaters, concerts, brothels and pubs. They cheered alongside the Greeks at sporting events held in the nude, even extending their foreskins to hide the holy mark of their circumcisions so they would look like everyone else at the baths.

When Yehuda Maccabee shouted, “Follow me,” in the battle for the Hebrew sovereignty in the Land of Israel, the Jewish Hellenists stayed home. 

Why is your run-of-the-mill secular Leftist in Israel less of Hellenist than a Diaspora Jew? Ask any Leftist in Israel what his identity is, and he will answer, an Israeli, or a Jew. Ask your average American Jew what his identity is, and he will answer, an American. This is true Hellenism. Today it’s called Americanism, that’s all.


In their love affair with Gentile cultures and lands, Diasporians have abandoned their real identity. 
In their love affair with Gentile cultures and lands, Diasporians have abandoned their real identity. 

The Hanukkah dreidel makes this distinction most clear.  In the Diaspora, a kid spinning the dreidel understands that “A great miracle happened THERE.” The miracle of Jewish bravery occurred in Israel - not in Paris, Melbourne, or New York.  The child instinctively realizes that the real Jewish place is Israel. That’s where Jewish history happened, and that’s where it is unfolding today. The Jewish child naturally understands that Israel is his true home, until his parents and Hebrew School teachers and Rabbis and Jewish Federations brainwash him into becoming a Hellenist like they are. 

Hanukkah and Purim are both holidays established by the Sages, but we only recite the joyous Hallel prayer on Hanukkah. Why? Because, even though the Jews were saved on Purim, it was only a partial salvation since they were still living under the Persians in a foreign land. At the end of the dramatic victory, Ester was still living in the palace with Achashverus, the goy.

In contrast, the salvation of Hanukah and its joy were complete, for the victory led to renewed Hebrew sovereignty in the Land of Israel and to the eradication of Hellenism. True Jewish joy can only come when we are in the Land of Israel being our true selves, as the Psalmist states, “How can we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?”

There is no true Jewish happiness in Brooklyn or Beverly Hills. Thus, the Sages established that it be written on all Diaspora dreidels: “A great miracle happened THERE,” so that every child would know (before being told different) that true Jewish happiness, heroism, and life happens THERE, in the Land of Israel, not in foreign lands among the Greeks and their modern-day counterparts, who, instead of wearing sandals and tunics, wear Florsheims, designer sport jackets, and ties.           



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