Each night of Hanukkah I am posing a question for discussion, Each of these questions is included in an original Hanukkah Seder I composed in collaboration with the chef, Emily Moore .
We will be doing the Hanukkah Seder on Friday night, December 7, 2018 at the WeWork Center in Lincoln Square, Downtown Bellevue starting at 7:00pm. To preregister for this unique Hanukkah event, click, HERE.
Question for the 2nd Night of Hanukkah
How was Hannukah a Culture War?
As we read and discuss the text below, we will dip Greek Pita into Sweet Almond Oil.
Mishnah: These are the festivities of the idolaters: Kalenda, Saturnalia, Kratesis. The anniversary of accession to the throne as well as [royal] birthdays and anniversaries of deaths.
Gemara (commentary on the Mishnah): Said Rav Hanan bar Raba: Kalenda is kept on the 8 days following the [winter] equinox.
Our Rabbis taught: When primitive Adam saw the day getting gradually shorter, he said, 'Woe is me, perhaps I have sinned, the world around me is being darkened and returning to its state of chaos and confusion; this then is the kind of death to which I have been sentenced from Heaven!' So he began keeping an 8 day fast. But as he observed the winter equinox and noted the day getting increasingly longer, he said, 'This is the world's course.',and he set forth to keep an 8 day festival. In the following year he appointed both as festivals. Now , he fixed them for the sake of Heaven, but the [heathens] appointed them for the sake of idolatry. (Source: Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Avodah Zarah 8a
The Talmud reveals an ancient template to the 8 day festivals of the early winter. How does Hanukkah get into the mix? Why is the Talmud seem to suggest that the idolaters corrupted the "primitive festivals"? Is Hanukkah a reclamation of a primitive awareness? What do you think?
Rabbi Dov Gartenberg
Convener and Director of Panim Hadashot-New Faces
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