Gershon Hepner
Gershon Hepner

Hanukkah Will Never Melt 

Melting Trajan’s column gold down to build St. Peter’s
offended John Paul Getty. When a column teeters
so that a great Renaissance monument be built
the lilies of the field make way for gilded guilt.

The rabbis melted Trajan’s day just as they melted
Trajan’s Roman candles and the feast of Nicanor.
More exclusive, Hanukkah won’t be expelled. It
is of Maccabean memory a most immortal quickener,
and should not, unlike Trajan’s column or ones in the press, be rubbished,
because its very rationale is that it must be published.

Although many holidays described in Megillat Ta’anit were cancelled, Hanukkah (like Purim) was not, as  Rosh Hashanah 18b explains:

מתיב רב כהנא: מעשה וגזרו תענית בחנוכה בלוד, וירד רבי אליעזר ורחץ, ורבי יהושע וסיפר. ואמרו להם: צאו והתענו על מה שהתעניתם! – אמר רב יוסף: שאני חנוכה דאיכא מצוה. – אמר ליה אביי: ותיבטיל איהי, ותיבטל מצותה! אלא אמר רב יוסף: שאני חנוכה דמיפרסם ניסא. It happened in Lod that they declared a fast on Chanukah and Rabbi Eliezer bathed and Rabbi Yehoshua got his hair cut. They said to them: “Go and fast over the fact that you fasted!” Rav Yosef said: “Hanukkah is different since it is a commandment.” Abayye said: “Let it and the commandment be abolished!” but Rav Yosef said: “Hanukkah is different since its rationale is to publish the miracle.”

About the Author
Gershon Hepner is a poet who has written over 25,000 poems on subjects ranging from music to literature, politics to Torah. He grew up in England and moved to Los Angeles in 1976. Using his varied interests and experiences, he has authored dozens of papers in medical and academic journals, and authored "Legal Friction: Law, Narrative, and Identity Politics in Biblical Israel." He can be reached at
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