Sunday, December 09, 2007

Happy Hannukah - part 3

What is the meaning of Hannukah?

Some Jews view it as a celebration of military victory, or even revenge on the "goyim".

But the Talmudic Rabbis who chose the Haftarah portion for Shabbat Hannukah had other ideas. They chose verses from the prophet Zechariah, prophesying to the people and leadership of the generation who returned from Babylon to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple.

This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel [leader of the returning Jews], saying, Not by armies, nor by power, but by my spirit, says the Lord of hosts.
And later Zechariah makes his meaning more plain.

Thus says the Lord of hosts: Old men and old women shall again dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, and every man with his staff in his hand for the fullness of days. And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets. Thus says the Lord of hosts: ... Behold, I will save my people from the east country, and from the west country; And I will bring them, and they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem; and they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in truth and in righteousness. ... For there shall be the seed of peace; the vine shall give her fruit, and the ground shall give her produce, and the heavens shall give their dew; and I will cause the remnant of this people to possess all these things. And it shall come to pass, that as you were a curse among the nations, O house of Judah, and house of Israel; so will I save you, and you shall be a blessing. Do not fear, but let your hands be strong. ... and these are the things that you shall do; Speak every man the truth to his neighbor; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates; And let none of you plot evil in your hearts against his neighbor; do not love false oaths; for all these are things that I hate, said the Lord.
These are the lessons that our sages wished us to learn from Hannukah.


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