Monday, November 29, 2021

The Overlooked Chanukah Miracle

I just read a footnote in a book that left me gasping with awe.

We know what Chanukah is about, right? There's the incredible, extraordinary victory of a small group of Jews over the powerful Greek-Syrian army. There's the recovery and rededication of the Beis HaMikdash over eight days, as described in the Book of Maccabees (and quoted by ArtScroll!). There's the recovery of political independence. There's the Bavli's account of the miracle of the oil.

But all this, amazing as it is, perhaps misses the greatest miracle of all. Because all of the above, while it has inspired us for two thousand years, was only really directly relevant to certain Jews back then. But there's something else which is directly relevant to all of us today.

Over forty years ago, there was a series of books on the Festivals published by the Jewish Publication Society of America, called the Anthology series. These were a fascinating, high eclectic mix of history, laws, insights, poetry, and even recipes and children's stories. (The entire set has been recently republished). In The Hanukkah Anthology, the opening chapter about the history of Chanukah is written by historian Solomon Grayzel, and that's where I found something fascinating.

In all the discussion about Chanukah, we normally only think about the Jews who were living in the Land of Israel. After all, that's where the action was! Yet there were, of course, also Jews living in other places. Still, these were truly not part of the Chanukah story. Grayzel points out that Antiochus's original decrees against Judaism were only ever directed at the province of Judea. They did not apply to Jews living in nearby Egypt, or even to Jews in the Syrian Diaspora.

So far, this makes Chanukah sound less significant. But then comes the footnote which changes everything:

"It is easy to see, however, that had Judea been hellenized, the Diaspora Jews would not have long survived as Jews."

If you didn't catch the monumental significance of that line, let me explain it. While there were Jewish communities outside of the Land of Israel, they drew much of their identity from their brethren in the Holy Land. Had Mattisyahu of Modi'in acceded to orders to bring a pagan sacrifice, rather than fleeing with his family to the hills and launching a rebellion, the non-Hellenist Jews would all have eventually either given in or been killed. With the loss of morale that would have caused, and without the Jews of the Holy Land to lead by example, there would have been little drive for the already partially-Hellenized Jews elsewhere to hang on to their Judaism. They would have lost their identity, like so many ancient peoples of that time. Judaism and the Jewish nation would have ceased to exist.

We only exist today as a nation, with an extraordinary history to look back upon, because a man from Modi'in decided not to compromise and take the easy way out, and some others decided to follow him. It was that decision which meant everything - not just for the Beis HaMikdash, not just for Jews in the Holy Land, but for Jews everywhere and for all time. (UPDATE: It was further pointed out to me that this preserved monotheism, and thus Christianity and Islam would never have come into being without the events of Chanukah!)

Is that not awe-inspiring?

Happy Chanukah!

 




63 comments:

  1. Note regarding book of Maccabees, besides the sources you mention in your linked article, Tosafos Rid in Sukkah mentions that some had the custom to read it on Chanukah. Aruch Hashulchan also quotes it to answer the Beis Yosef's question, that they celebrated eight days because of Sukkos.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They're probably referring to Megilat Antiochus, a Gaonic work still read by Yemenites on Chanukah.

      Delete
  2. RDBH has been saying this for years.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I've seen this point raised also in relation to the Senachariv miracle; and other's say had Ezra's yishuv not been able to build Bayit Sheni.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Was there a big diaspora during the time Chizkiyahu?

      Delete
  4. But wait--from the time after the completion of the Talmud, and the disbandment of the Sanhedrin, until the 1200s, there wasn't very much of a Jewish community in the land of Israel. It certainly wasn't the focal point for Torah learning either. The Ramban visited in 1267, and only found a handful of Jews in Jerusalem.

    Nonetheless, Judaism survived through the centuries, until the present day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is correct. Chazal performed a monumental task during the post-Churban period: transforming Judaism from a sacrifice and Temple focused religion to a learning and prayer based religion. Sure, Bayis Sheni had some of this already, and Ezra himself is linked with increasing the teaching of Torah, but I do not think that it can be argued that there was a massive shift.

      That "learning based" infrastructure did not exist during the time of Chanukah.

      Delete
    2. Historians love to make that claim of Yosef R, based on the lack of an available record of the Torah learning in the days of the Beis Hamikdash.
      Of course, anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of Chazal knows that this proof is claptrap. Until the Torah was written down, traditions were oral. An accurate oral tradition for hundreds of years is an amazing feat, yet it happened. They were forbidden from writing Torah, and that is why people had to learn with much more dedication than later generations.

      The idea that Chazal changed things to a learning based religion is not borne by the facts. If anything, it was the opposite. There was no choice, the Galus and lack of autonomy meant that people could no longer devote their lives to learning, and the traditions would be lost. Daf Yomi etc is insufficient, we needed an entire nation to be Lomdim be'iyun, people who take full responsibility to not forget a word, and to understand things to their fullest depths. Of course, not everyone would be successful at it, but if everyone tries, we had a running chance. We lost that ability and the Torah had to be written down.

      The medication shows us how sick the patient was. And the years in which the medication was not needed show us how healthy the 'patient' was in those days. Not the opposite.

      Delete
    3. Zichron,

      True, but there is a massive misunderstanding here. People say things like 'shas is torah sh'pal peh'. That is not correct. Most of shas concerns dinei d'rabbobon. Be they gezeiros, takonos, whatever. Most machlokas between tan'oim, anaroi'im and rishonim is in d'rabbononons. That is NOT torah sh'pal peh. Many of those d'rabbonos were formed during the bayis sheini period. We simply don't know when some were created. For example we have no idea when the gezeiros of uncooked bosor b'cholov were introduced. And

      Delete
    4. 1) You claim to be guided by the facts. What happens if the facts don't accord with the traditional view? Will you still be guided by facts, or by tradition?

      2) Which specific facts are you adducing in support of the traditional view?

      Delete
    5. I suppose, ZD, that for many it is a matter of degree. I am not saying that there was no Torah or tefillah during Bayis Sheni times. Just that the focus shifted from Mikdash service. Obviously, there was learning and teaching during the time of the Anshei Knesses HaGedola. The Chanuka story itself testifies to the fact that learning Torah was A Thing, both in the generalities of the story and in the specific issue of a psak being given that soldiers were allowed to fight on Shabbos. (Now someone is going to tell me that this detail is not historically accurate...)

      But I think that it has to be acknowledged that an agricultural society, where JUST TO EAT you have to work literally all day, and that has an amazing center of religion is vastly different from a society that has a larger contingent of tradespeople and no major center. Something had to become the "new" Mikdash, and that was Talmud Torah. I say this not to denigrate anything Ch"V. Just to recognize the power of Chazal in keeping Yahadus alive after the Churban - they did more than "just" publish a book (a giant multivolume all-encompassing book); they rebooted the nation.

      Delete
    6. These are old 19th century Reform and SR Hirsch battles (even though the blog host below somehow thinks "Rabbi Scott King" is the first to say this.) They claim the oral law was basically an invention of the rabbis to preserve Judaism through the exile. Once this was realized however, it was no longer necessary to be kept. The argument was refined a little later by the Zionists, who said once we had Israel it no longer needed to be kept. Alteh Toireh.

      Delete
    7. Yosef - The only way that a large corpus of teachings can be accurately transmitted through hundreds of years is through a tremendous focus. We could not have had an ivory tower of a few hundred scholars, the masses had to be focused on Torah study. In that way, the leaders had to make sure to stay on their toes and understand the Halachos perfectly, from the basic words to their deepest understanding. (Remember, Torah Sheba'al Peh is mainly Kelalim, the practical ramifications include the job of דימוי מילתא למילתא, which requires clear understanding of the underlying concepts) This is a lifetime endeavor, and precious few end up with a full Kinyan of this Torah.
      This was true during the first and second Beis Hamikdash, as well as afterwards.
      The Mikdash service needed to be a distant second in focus. I don't see why a re-boot was necessary, they were always focused primarily on Torah study.

      Your proof from an agricultural society does not help you. The move from agriculture to business is a product of anti-semitic laws in Christian countries, not the Churban. In the times that the Mishna and Shas were 'codified', they were still living in an agricultural society. Yet the winters were filled with Torah study, and society knew that it's Torah scholars should be cherished.

      Delete
    8. Zichron Devorim,

      There wasn't a large corpus of teachings. 99% of what we study today is due to machlokasim. They didn't have rishonim, they didn't have acharonim, they didn't have stiros in Rambams. 99% of today's torah study would be alien to them.

      Delete
    9. ******* - many Mitzvos Derbanan pre-date the Maccabim. Muktzah comes to mind. When we learn the Sugyos of Muktzeh, we should be overwhelmed by the level of detail the Chachamim placed in their takanos. There were underlying conceptual understandings behind their takanos, it wasn't just 'what's best for society'. They did things with depth and clarity, and unpacking that was no easier for them than it is for us. The entire Choshen Mishpat was necessary then like now, and it takes years of in depth focused study to actually know it. There was a nation of college researchers, perhaps not the majority, but a significant minority. Talmidei Chachamim were an entire class onto their own, who kept away from am haaratzim. The Rambam writes that the concept of אוכלי חולין בטהרה was a method of differentiating between Talmidei Chachamim and Amei Ha'aretz.
      The Beis Hamikdosh did not require this level of dedication.

      Delete
    10. The Machlokesn and stiros in Rambam are the methodology we use to reach the conceptual underpinnings of the Halacha. Those underlying Sevaros existed during Talmudic times, and that is how they clarified their Halachos. And they needed to remember each and every one, with its underlying logic. This isn't about chazering Mishnayos off by heart, this is about really remembering what you learn. This requires super-human dedication and complete focus.

      Delete
  5. Whoa. You read one footnote by one not-particularly authoritative writer, and you immediately accept it and proceed to draw conclusions from it?? "Be slow and deliberate in judgment"!

    The Jews already survived nearly 2000 years without a Temple and without a significant Jewish presence in Israel. Some say we are still surviving in essentially the same situation. And even the second temple period was already missing many institutions of the first. And as you admitted, there were already established diaspora communities during the Chanukah period. They almost certainly would have thrived just as much had the Hasmoneans never lived. The evolution would have different, of course, much different. But to say they would have just blindly followed the alleged "lead" of the Jews in Israel? That's an assumption, and quite an unconvincing one at that.

    You are right, though, in noting the significance of the Chanukah story. You had a few good men in Matisyahu and followers, who had enough backbone to push back against the government and the many Jewish quislings who urged them just to be quiet and do what the govt said. There is no doubt at all that mosters of the people also thought the Hasmonean types probably weren't getting a good education, and were happy the Greeks finally were standing up to the Har- to the Hasmoneans. The "many" referred to in Al Ha-Nisim that we thankfully overcome were not the Greeks, but other Jews. Isn't it a shame that so many never learn from the lessons of the past?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "You read one footnote by one not-particularly authoritative writer, and you immediately accept it and proceed to draw conclusions from it?? " -- You read a comment by R' Slifkin that agrees with a footnote, and you immediately believe that he immediately accepted what it said? (It's OK; I'm immediately believing that you're immediately believing something about R' Slifkin immediately believing something.)

      Delete
    2. "They almost certainly would have thrived just as much had the Hasmoneans never lived."
      So why then did they accept and observe חנוכה? If the far away victory had no lasting positive impact, why bother? Make it a פורים שני only observed locally in central Eretz Israel and that's it.
      Tell me, what in your opinion was the lasting significance of חנוכה for far-away diaspora communities?

      Delete
    3. Do we know how big those diaspora communities were? Do we know if they had any talmidei chachamim, or enough to continue the Torah? Maybe they were amei ha'aretz? Without the Jews in EY, they might very well have disappeared/assimilated, like the ten tribes.

      Delete
    4. Ephraim - I already answered your question above and below. The lasting significance of Chanukah was the willingness of the Hasmonean patriots to lay down their lives in defiance of tyranny. The whole holiday is lost on one who fails to appreciate this.

      Delete
    5. Happy, this is explicit in תוס, גיטין ו. ד"ה מכי אתא רב.
      Others show that only 4200? (it's a passuk that I forhot right now) came with Ezra. Also Bavel has better yichus then E"Y cause Ezra brought the Psulim w him & left Bavel like סולת נקיה.(קידושין פרק ד')
      Hillel came from there. They had a Nasi in the time of Rebi with greater yichus that Rebi סנהדרין ז. Their acceptance of the Mishna despite not being under Rebi's jurasdiction is used to silence some conspiracy theories about its validity

      Delete
    6. Anon, thanks for the sources. The one from Tosafos in Gittin is a good proof. But I'm not sure if everyone agrees with him, he's arguing with Rashi there.

      The other proofs, I'm not so sure about. Yes, it's clear that around the time of the Churban Bayis Rishon, the main "Torah center" was Bavel, there was hardly anybody left in EY. It's also clear that after the Churban Bayis Sheni, Bavel became a major Torah center, thus our Talmud Bavli.

      But on the other hand, the Chachmei Hamishna, the Tannaim that we know of, were almost all from EY. Even Hillel only became famous when he came to EY. So the question is, how was Bavel in terms of its Torah in the period of the Bayis Sheni? I guess you could prove from the fact that they kept their yichus, they were at least not amei ha'aretz?

      See Rashi in Kiddushin 69b d"h m'sya lei l'Rebi Elazar that all the "Chachmei hador" went up with Ezra. See also Shir Hashirim Raba 5:5 that Baruch ben Neriah would have gone with Ezra had he not been too old, and Ezra waited to go until he died.

      Delete
    7. I found R Isaac Halevi in Doros Harishonim that he devotes many TENS of pages in different volumes to this. Try a hard copy or Otzar Hachochma or (for starters only, cause this isn't the main place) https://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=20128&st=&pgnum=99&hilite=

      In general, and this isn't specific to you, if the flood account is ahistorical, why should absence of mention of a large Jewish Babylonian presence during the second BHM in the Talmud etc. be considered historical evidence?

      See also https://www.sefaria.org/Kuzari.3.63?lang=bi

      Your citation of Rashi in Kidushin isn't completely precise. Cf. Tos BB 3b SV Katlinhoo.

      I'm forced to be brief. :)

      Delete
    8. Anon, thanks again for the sources. I agree with what seems to be your main point, that the fact that we don't know of many Chachmei Bavel from the Bayis Sheni doesn't mean they didn't exist. And these Chachamim may very well have existed in great numbers.

      And R' Isaac Halevi certainly goes to great lengths to prove this. But he himself seems to admit that he's saying chiddushim, page after page he argues with Rishonim, it's not at all clear that everybody agrees with him. Which is his right of course, I am not a bar hachi to argue.

      Getting back to the original discussion, the question stands. According to R' Issac Halevi, there was a sizable population of shomrei Torah Jews and Chachamim in Bavel at the time of the Bayis Sheni, and they were (ostensibly) under no threat from Antiochus's decrees. And even without the Jews in EY, the population in Bavel would have thrived. So why was Chanukah special to them, why did they accept it? I can think of a few possible answers:

      1. We retrieved the Bais Hamikdash. על כן קרא שמו חנוכה. Needless to say, that itself is a tremendous victory for all Jews.
      2. Even though there was a large population of Chachamim in Bavel, nevertheless EY was the main Torah center, כי מציון תצא תורה. See Rambam Sefer Hamitzvos by Kiddush Hachodesh.
      3. Most Jews lived in EY at the time (maybe? do we know?) and Bavel should follow the rov.
      4. The Zionist answer, that the existence of autonomous Jewish rulership is itself something to celebrate. Even for people who don't live there! Even if the rulers are secular!
      5. Who says they accepted Chanukah immediately? The fact that all Jews keep Chanukah now doesn't mean it was always that way.

      Delete
    9. Regarding 5, "לשנה אחרת קבעום". I imagine with the authority of Sanhedrin Hagadol. Shluchim would inform the Gola when is Rosh Chodesh. I imagine that the Gola/Bavel was well aware of the Greek situation in EY & were informed almost immediately of the new YT & accepted it, i.e., were obligated to accept Sanhedrin Hagadol's Takana.

      Delete
    10. Another relevant source, food for thought is the Ramban https://www.sefaria.org/Ramban_on_Genesis.49.10.1?lang=he
      וזה היה עונש החשמונאים, שמלכו בבית שני, כי היו חסידי עליון, ואלמלא הם נשתכחו התורה והמצות מישראל
      This confirms the core claim of the post but not the details.

      Interestingly, & less well known, Ramban says that the 10 tribes did the same sin as the Chashmonaim by not eventually relinquishing the throne back to the Davidians.

      Delete
    11. Good point, you're right, I hadn't even considered they were bound by the Sanhedrin.

      Delete
    12. You might have read him more thoroughly, but I had thought he is looking to follow RShG against the objections of RShYR who is followed by RZF, Weiss, & Graetz. I didn't have time to look for the long term goals (agendas) or even finish reading it properly.

      "4. The Zionist answer..."
      Non-zionists deny this. I picked up the following on line.

      "When the Jews were prohibited from practicing Judaism and their Temple was desecrated as part of an effort to impose Greek-oriented culture and customs on the entire population, the Jews rose in revolt (166 BCE). First led by Mattathias of the priestly Hasmonean family and then by his son Judah the Maccabee, the Jews subsequently entered Jerusalem and purified the Temple (164 BCE), events commemorated each year by the festival of Hanukkah.

      "Following further Hasmonean victories (147 BCE), the Seleucids restored autonomy to Judea, as the Land of Israel was now called, and, with the collapse of the Seleucid kingdom (129 BCE), Jewish independence was again achieved."

      So Chanuka celebrates the miracle that happened 7 years before autonomy & 35 years before independencץe. I think that ALREADY לשנה אחרת it was celebrated בכל מקום אשר דבר הסנהדרין ודתם מגיע , in EY & the entire Gola including Bavel, despite that they were in thick of non-autonomy & non-independence.

      Delete
    13. It seems R' Isaac Halevi would definitely disagree with the claim of the Ramban "ואלמלא הם נשתכחו התורה והמצות מישראל", which is not surprising, given he has no problem arguing with Rishonim in that piece you quoted and elsewhere.

      Alternatively, maybe the Ramban is exaggerating, al derech Succah 20a אמר ריש לקיש הריני כפרת ר' חייא ובניו בתחלה כשנשתכחה תורה מישראל ועלה עזרא ויסדה חזרה ונשתכחה ועלה הלל הבבלי ויסדה חזרה ונשתכחה ועלו רבי חייא ובניו ויסדוה. See the Rashba Ma'amar al Yishmael who explains this at length.

      Delete
    14. "Rashba Ma'amar al Yishmael"

      What's this? Where is it?

      Delete
    15. Here's the piece I was talking about. I don't really know if this is a reliable sefer, would have to look more into it.

      https://www.sefaria.org/Ma'amar_al_Yishmael.11?lang=bi

      Delete
    16. Very good. Thank you.

      Delete
  6. The footnote says:
    "It is easy to see..."
    However, it's actually not at all easy to see that as history has shown otherwise.
    Strange to have a footnote saying something is obvious without saying why it is obvious.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Chanukah as a Rorschach test. Is anything more tedious?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Spot on!
      Overheard: "The hellenizers were the first Zionists"
      That was preceded by Ben Yehudah who wrote an article encouraging the youth to take upon themselves the spirit of the Macabim. He was immediately denounced to the authorities by the kano'im as fomenting rebellion!

      Delete
    2. Are you the real Ephraim? I hate having conversations with my fake hat.

      Delete
  8. But this is sheer speculation. No backing from any authorities?

    ReplyDelete
  9. To quote my friend Rabbi Scott Kahn: During those times, the Torah Shebaal Peh was far less developed, and Judaism as a religion was much more Temple based. Diaspora Judaism was predicated upon an Israel-based Judaism. But after Chanukah, the Oral Law began to flourish as never before, and with it (knowingly or otherwise) the groundwork was laid for diaspora Judaism to survive without a Land.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Didn't Babylonian Jewry do just fine without the temple?

      Delete
    2. Accepting your two implicit premises arguendo - Yes, the oral law was not as developed at the time of Chanukah as it was afterwards. So? It was also not as developed at the time of the Mishna as it was in the Gemara. By your logic, accordingly, it should never have been able to survive.

      אלא מחוורתא כדשנינן מעיקרא. Chanuka was certainly an inspirational event, but not for the new theory you are currently enamored with. It celebrates rebellion against authority, and man, we can all use some more of that today.

      Delete
    3. "It celebrates rebellion against authority, and man, we can all use some more of that today."

      Rebellion is forbidden by The Three Oaths.

      Delete
    4. I don't know who Rabbi Scott Kahn is, but can he prove his point? Can he prove that the oral tradition played second fiddle to the Beis Hamikdosh during the times of the Second Beis Hamikdosh?
      I don't believe so, and I cannot fathom that he can prove his point. The tradition was oral, the only thing that was written down was מגילת תענית. How could he know what people were doing in those days? Does he have a time machine? A recording device left in those days. There would not be a written record, because writing it was forbidden.
      It is akin to claiming that the Leviim did not sing in the Beis Hamikdosh, because we have no CDs or records of their concerts.

      Delete
    5. Rav Hutner, based on Rav Zaddok Hakohen of Lublin, makes the same point.

      https://www.tabletmag.com/sections/arts-letters/articles/rav-yitzchok-hutner

      Delete
    6. "Rebellion is forbidden by The Three Oaths."

      Really, Ephraim? Really?

      Delete
  10. Perhaps that explains why in the fairly short exile of only aprox 70 years, the Jews in Bavel fell so far. Since the Chazal led transformation of Judaism from a sacrifice and Temple focused religion to a learning and prayer based religion, had not yet been undertaken.

    ReplyDelete
  11. This is just clickbait! I thought you were going to incite real yidden into joining your children's boys and girls teenage youth groups over Chanuka, or "partially" take the side of your unintellectual and unspiritual forebears, the misyavnim.

    doktor nate slifkin forgot the point of trashionalist
    Judaism: IS THIS sort o thing really why online Orthodox closet-atheists all have you on their blogrolls?!

    To actually praise the One above and Tzadikim and Rabbanan? To mention "miracles" - while denying them most everywhere else like Hume?! [to be fair, though, you do hint this is only the bavli's story. right...]

    Stay in your lane.

    Here's an idea though, why don't you brazenly taunt a
    wholesome video song (with pictures of those whose sicha kala is beyond your ken): Thank You Rebbi by Benny Friedman

    Yehuda -

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @Yehuda, mazel tov on the new word you learned from The Hat.

      Delete
  12. Surely as Esther was told by Mordechai, salvation would have come from another source? To their credit, the Maccabees took up the challenge, but other scenarios are possible.

    ReplyDelete
  13. As Herman Wouk points out, it's not only Judaism: No Matityahu, no Christianity (or Islam) either. I think his line is something like "All human history rests on the blow Matthias struck."

    ReplyDelete
  14. And as uncomfortable as it seems to make many on this very thread, the same may well hold true today. (Rav Soloveitchik already mentioned this in Kol Dodi Dofek.) You start losing that connection to Israel, and the rest of Judaism will soon follow.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Since it's only a maywell, we don't necessarily have to get uncomfortable.

      Satmar (which I'm not) is "exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies" (Mark Twain) despite the opposite attitude.

      Delete
    2. Maybe, but one's "connection" to Israel is subject to definition. All those 1900 years prior to 1948, did the diaspora Jews lose their Judaism? Rav Solveitchik, whom you mention, had merely a distant, intellectual relationship with Israel, via books and prayer, not much different than the 1900 years or so that preceded him. Worse - unlike all those forebears, he could have flown first class to Israel any time he wanted, yet he never did. Did he lose his Judaism? If this constitutes a "connection" to Israel, you may be assured Judaism will always remain in great shape.

      Delete
    3. (I hasten to add, out of respect for commenter Nachum, that I do not recommend not having a connection to Israel. I was a Zionist myself before seeing what Israel did with Covid and now the Vaccines. I'm just saying that with or without a Jewish majority in Israel, Judaism itself is immortal.)

      Delete
    4. I think I'm agreeing with Mr. Schreiber's comment!

      What do we mean by a "connection to Israel"? For religious Jews today and for the past 2000 years, it's a focus for tefila and focus for hopes for the future. Im Eshkacheich is a reality.

      For unaffiliated, secular Jews, Israel is THE focus, as a political entity and possibly an ethnic thing. It is not a religious focus. And it may be the only thing that keeps that particular population from disappearing from Judaism altogether.

      Of course, I'd venture to say that the Rav indeed meant the former...

      Delete
    5. "I was a Zionist myself before seeing what Israel did with Covid and now the Vaccines."

      Since when does gov't vaccine policy have to do with Zionism? Austria has stronger vaccine mandates, but they're not Zionist. On the other hand, Florida despite its lax vaccine policy is not the promised land for Jews either. (Unless you consider retired territorialists.)


      "I'm just saying that with or without a Jewish majority in Israel, Judaism itself is immortal."
      Belief in Moshiach is fundamental to Judaism. By extension, that implies the in-gathering of the exiles & a Jewish majority in Israel. Anything else, is heresy.

      Delete
    6. "Anything else, is heresy."

      Don't drink my wine.

      Delete
  15. The Jews in the diaspora during the second temple definitely kept many Jewish laws however the majority was ignorant about a lot of the details and a lot of other Halachos. We know they had an alternative temple in Egypt!!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Excellent post Natan but you should have gone much further.
    Melvyn Bragg had a episode of his In Our Times series a few years ago devoted to the Judas Maccabeus https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b017cjm8.
    At the end of the episode one of the professors made a comment that sent shivers down my spine.
    Judea was the only bastion of monotheism left in a pagan world. Christianity & Islam, both offshoots of Judaism, were way in the future. If the Maccabees had not taken a stand civilisation & the world as we know it would be unrecognisable.
    Daniel

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you have your view inverted.
      The world exists as a background to the Avodas Hashem of Yidden. The benefit the world has from the monotheism of the Goyim is that it serves as a backdrop to the true monotheism of the ovdei Hashem.
      For more see Rambam at the end of הלכות מלכים, the uncensored version.

      Delete
  17. When even some of What's-His-Name's objections make sense, you know that a post was written in a rush.

    ReplyDelete

Comments for this blog are moderated. Please see this post about the comments policy for details. ANONYMOUS COMMENTS WILL NOT BE POSTED - please use either your real name or a pseudonym.

Tzedakah: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

How do you tell apart a good charity from a bad one? It can be very difficult to know who is actually honest. But the first step is to be aw...