My Chanukah (part 2 of 8)

Talmud

In the Talmud Bavli (Shabbos) we learn about the miracle of Chanukah. All that is mentioned is the miracle of the oil. However, we need to refer to another source, in Apocrypha, to learn about the battles. These details are described in the Greek book of the Hasmoneans or Megillas Chanukah.

            תלמוד בבלי שבת כא עמוד ב

מאי חנוכה דתנו רבנן בכ”ה בכסליו יומי דחנוכה תמניא אינון דלא למספד בהון ודלא להתענות בהון שכשנכנסו יוונים להיכל טמאו כל השמנים שבהיכל וכשגברה מלכות בית חשמונאי ונצחום בדקו ולא מצאו אלא פך אחד של שמן שהיה מונח בחותמו של כהן גדול ולא היה בו אלא להדליק יום אחד נעשה בו נס והדליקו ממנו שמונה ימים לשנה אחרת קבעום ועשאום ימים טובים בהלל והודאה.

What is the reason for the Rabbinic Yom Tov of Chanukah? It is as the Rabbis taught in a Baraisa in Megillas Taanis: In the 25th day of Kislev the days of Chanuka begin. They are eight days in all, on which it is not permitted to eulogize or fast. For when the Syrian Greeks entered the sanctuary of the Temple in Yerushalayim, they contaminated all the flasks of oil that were in the sanctuary and when they Royal Hasmonean house gained the upper hand and vanquished them, they searched and found only one flask of oil that was lying with the Kohen Gadol’s seal intact, and it contained only enough oil to kindle the Menorah for only one day. However, a miracle was performed with this oil and they kindled the lights of the Menorah with it for eight days. In the following year the Hasmoneans and the Sanhedrin established and rendered these eight days permanent festival days with respect to the recital of the Halle and Thanksgiving. (Talmud Bavli Shabbos 21b)

Day 2

Daily Torah Reading

Princes brought donations to the Mishkan, this is the daily Torah readings for Chanukah. They all brought the same gifts:

1 silver bowl: weight 130 shekels, filled with fine flour mixed with oil.

1 silver basin: weight 70 shekel, filled with fine flour mixed with oil.

1 ladle of gold: weight 10 shekel, filled with incense.

1 young bull.

1 sheep one year old.

1 male goat.

2 cows.

5 rams.

5 male goats.

5 one year old sheep.

First day sacrifices brought on Nachshon son of Aminadav from the tribe Yehuda.

On the second day sacrafices were brought by Nesanel son of Zuar from the Tribe Yissachar.

Sefirah – חכמה שבהוד

The number seven represents this physical world עולם הזה, represented as the seven days of the week. Whereas, Chanukah is eight days long, since it represents the spiritual world above nature, עולא הבא , the world of miracles.

The holiday of Chanukah represents the Kabalistic Sefirah of Hod .הוד Just as Chanukah is eight days, this parallels the 8th Sefirah (out of a total of ten), which is Hod. Similarly, the miracles of Chanukah were brought about via the Cohanim, the decedents of Aharon HaCohen who also represent Hod.

Day one of Chanukah represents the Sefirah of Keser – .כתר שבהוד Keser is the real will and desire that serves our supreme inspirational and motivational guiding force.

Day two represents Chochma חכמה, which is the first kernel of an idea that enters into the psyche. Once allowed in, a living process begins. It can develop into a tool for growth or a destructive force.

Killing Jews Who Kept the Torah Laws

Antiochus heard of the Jews defiance. He ordered the Jews of Israel to follow Greek laws, build idols for worship. In Yerushalayim, pigs were offered as sacrifices to the Greek gods. He banned three Jewish laws, which ironically most Jews willingly refuse to keep in our times: 1) Bris milah, 2) Torah study 3) Observance of Shabbos and holidays (Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Succos, Pesach, and Shevuos). The penalty for observing these Jewish laws was death. Most Jews today are content not to observe these Jewish Holidays.

On the 15th of Kislev in the Greek year 145, Antiochus, Yason, and Menelaus placed an idol of the Greek god Zeus on top of the Holy Mizbe’ach in the Beis Hamikdash. On the 25th of Kislev (Chanukah) they instituted sacrifices for idol worship. On the same day they burned all the Torah scrolls that they found.

Many Jews abandoned observance of the Torah. However, many holy Jews chose death rather than to defile themselves. Jews hid in secret places and continued to study Torah, keep Shabbos, and circumcise their sons. The Greeks and their Jewish collaborators did not allow this to persist. This concept repeated itself later in Jewish history during the Spanish Inquisition and the Holocaust with the German Nazi Kapos.   They searched out all of the Jews in their hiding places. Two women were found in a cave with circumcised sons. They were dragged through the streets and then their bodies were placed on the walls of Yerushalayim, with their babies hung at their breasts. The king’s officers threw them with their babies off the wall, where their bones scattered about.

The king’s soldiers followed the Jews who were hiding in the Judean desert. The king’s soldiers subsequently killed them, their wives, and their children totaling at least a thousand men and women.

One of the leading scribes was named Elazar. One day he was encouraged to eat pig meat by the Greeks. He chose to rather to sanctify G-d’s name and accept the punishment of death.

They turned to a distinguished family with seven sons. All of them were asked to eat pig meat. All of the sons with their elderly mother [Chana] refused. The seven sons were tortured and then were killed followed by their mother. Many righteous Jews died in this manner, with their only sin being their desire to remain loyal to the Torah and    G-d. The entire land of Israel was enwrapped in mourning.

According to the Otzar HaMidrashim on Chanukah, the Greeks established a severe decree on the Jews: that every new bride on her wedding night would be forced to sleep with the local Governor. Once the decree went into effect many Jews stopped getting married. This was in place for three years and eight months, until the event with the daughter of Matisyahu the Kohen Gadol, occurred. Chana bas matisyahu married Elazar of the Chashmonai family. After the chuppa wedding ceremony all the great leaders of the Jewish nation were sitting down at the wedding feast. Chana then came into the wedding hall completely naked, in front of all the guests her parents and her groom. Her family was prepared to actually kill her on the spot! She rebuked them, stating they were ready to take action against her for appearing naked without performing a sinful act. But tonight you have no problem handing her over to be raped by a gentile! She reminded them to learn from the example of Shimon and Levi , brothers of Dina, who avenged their sister and killed the inhabitants of the city of Shechem. They were two people, whereas you are five brothers Yehuda, Yochanan, Yonasan, Shimon and Elazar and two-hundred other young kohanim. Put your trust in G-d and he will help you. She then prayed to G-d crying if you not have mercy on us at least have pity on Your Great Name שמך הגדול and take our revenge נקום נקמתנו.

At that moment her brothers decided to act. They would take their sister to the king and tell him that our sister is the daughter of a Kohen Gadol and there is no one among the Jewish nation greater than our father. The plan will be to then kill him and then kill his servants and his officers. G-d will help us. G-d gave them a great salvation.

About the Author
Arie E. Pelta, M.D., a Board Certified General and Colorectal Surgeon from the USA , made aliyah with his wife and 7 children in 2013. He is also a active Medical Corps Officer holding the rank of Captain in the IDF Reserves. Currently practicing in Laniado Hospital in Netanya and at Assuta Medical Center in Tel Aviv, part of the Assia Medical group; speciaizing in the surgical care of all problems of the colon, rectum and anus.
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