Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Light One Candle

Adam Sander, in his series of Hannukah Songs, muses that while we Christians have one day for presents, Jewish people have "Eight Crazy Nights." But it is a serious religious festival. (Minor compared to Passover and the High Holy Days, but still serious because it marks a historical event.)

Briefly, 165 years before the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, Judas Maccabeus and his posse successfully lead a revolt against the Seleucids who had taken over the Second Temple and erected an altar to Zeus. The "Awful Horror" was purged and the Temple rededicated to the LORD. Tradition holds there was only enough oil left to burn for one day but by a miracle it burned for eight. With the unfortunate commercialization of Christmas has also come a similar turn of events with a celebration that happens around the same time each year. But at its core is a holiday many Christians actually admire at a distance; one that speaks to the constant faithfulness of millions to the Covenant, a faithfulness that has not dissapated even in times of the greatest testing -- including the Holocaust.

Even the dreidel, which has often been parodied, has meaning. The four letters are taken from the initial letters of the Hebrew phrase which translates as "A miracle happened there" -- or if in Israel, "A miracle happened here."

The festival is marked for eight days beginning on the 25th day of Chislev, which this year begins tonight. So, for my Jewish friends and colleagues, here's my personal favourite Hannukah song -- from Peter, Paul and Mary.



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2 comments:

s.b. said...

Hate to burst your bubble, but its not a high holy day or even close. It is certainly not "serious". It's a cheese eating minor historical festival that has gained in prominence only because of Christmas. The high holy days, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are analogous to Christmas and New Years and are usually in October.

BlastFurnace said...

I do know compared to Passover or the "High Holy Days" Hannukah is pretty minor, s.b. In terms of serious, I meant that behind the commercialization is a historical event and a true meaning. I should have made that clearer.