The word “Channuka” means “dedication”. It refers, of course, to the dedication of the Temple that took place when the Hasmoneans recaptured the Temple from the Syrian-Greeks, purified it and rededicated it for the service of God.
The fact is that this was not the only Temple-dedication that our nation witnessed. We dedicated the Tabernacle in the wilderness, we dedicated the Tabernacle at Shiloh, the First Temple under Solomon and the original dedication of the Second Temple. The Hasmonean dedication that we commemorate on Channuka was only a rededication of the Second Temple that had been defiled by the Syrian-Greeks. So why is this dedication singled out to be celebrated with a national holiday?
We must understand the historical context of this particular dedication. All the other dedications took place while God still spoke to us through the prophets. The spirit of God that had come to dwell with us through the dedication of the Temple allowed the prophets amongst us to hear God’s voice. We lost that gift.
When prophecy ceased, the Jewish people were devastated. Their heavenly Father was no longer talking with them. They felt that God was no longer with them. Then the persecutions began. Now God was not even allowing them to keep His Law! But under the leadership of Matisyahu, the remained loyal. They fought back and God crowned their efforts with victory.
Now they entered the Temple. How they wanted to light the Menorah! But they encountered an obstacle. They only had one little bit of pure oil. They did not give up, they did what they could. And God reached out and miraculously made the oil last. How their hearts were filled with joy! Their Father was with them! The gift their Father had given them was the ability and the opportunity to serve Him. They then realized that every time we fulfill one of God’s commandments – it is an embrace from God! Our Father is giving us the opportunity of serving Him! We saw that God could remove that ability from us in an instant. The fact that we can observe His commandments is the greatest gift He could give us.
Although we lost the Temple, we still have the gift of being able to fulfill God’s commandments. That gift still shows us that wherever we are God is our miniature sanctuary in exile (Ezekiel 11:16).
The lights of the Menorah testify that He is always with us.
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal
When missionaries cynically hijack the Jewish oral tradition to wish you a “happy Hanuka” as part of their evangelical dialog script, be mindful they are drawing on the very tradition that they reject as heretical (to their Christian sensibilities) because it, among other “sins”, explicitly delineates that the messiah will be descended from King David on his father’s side–remember, they believe that Jesus lacked a human paternal ancestry and yet was the messiah anyway.
Hanuka is the Jewish holiday that is not mentioned in the Jewish Bible; its source is rabbinic, and its observance is a statement by the Jews that their oral tradition is the key to understanding their scriptures.
Thus, celebration of Hanuka (which requires accepting the oral tradition) and Christianity (which requires rejecting the oral tradition) are theologically, philosophically and intellectually mutually exclusive.
I am confused about how prior to the celebration of Chanukah or the re-dedication of the Second Temple, the people felt like God was no longer talking to them nor allowing them to keep His Law. Since the destruction of the Second Temple, wouldn’t this still be the case?
After being used to prophecy – God talking to us – when that gift was removed – we felt that we were in the dark. But after Channuka – where God taught us to appreciate His allowing us to fulfill His commandments – we realize that we are always in the light – even after the destruction.
But wasn’t the point that the miracle occurred while trying to restore the Temple in order to fulfill His commandments? I know Orthodox Jews who mourn regularly the fact that they can not fulfill the commandments because there is no temple. I am trying to educate myself on this, but I am getting lost on why it is ok that there is no longer a temple.
The fact that we have no Temple is a clear sign that God is upset with us as a nation – this is true (that the destruction serves as a sign of God’s displeasure) for several reasons – not least of which is the fact that with the lack of the Temple – there are many commandments that we cannot fulfill. But the lesson of Chanukka is that the fact that we can fulfill even one of God’s commandments is a sign of God’s love and something to cherish and appreciate. The sancticty that God blesses us with when He allows us to fulfill His commandments gives us hope that the Temple will one day be restored as He promised.
That makes sense then.
Who (of those who believe the prophets of Israel or the Jews) believes that “it is ok that there no longer is a temple”? It is those prophets (in the Hebrew bible, who were there when the 1st Temple was standing or destroyed or rebuilt) who promised us the ‘who’ and the ‘what’ of the “End of Days”. Agree with those prophets or don’t, but don’t select a few of their words and call those words “the prophecies” and ignore the rest.
Centuries later (1st & 2nd century c.e.) there were ‘messiahs’ who claimed they would cleanse the Temple. But they all failed. Some may have claimed they would establish the “kingdom of God” on Earth soon and in their time. But not only did they fail to do that, the Temple that was there was mostly brought to the ground. Some people gave up on Mankind and on God, and said the temple would exist only in their own bodies (our body is “a” temple) or only in their hearts (or mind). Or a temple is one man-god. Or only in the assemblage of a select group of believers. And one writer believed all of God’s universe was so hopelessly corrupted that the moon, sun, stars, and earth must all be destroyed and a new earth, a new Jerusalem, and a new “temple” must be created or built.
It is ideal for there to be a temple, physically in this world. But we do not live in an ideal world. That is the whole point about a Messiah and a future Messianic age. Only those ignorant of Tanach, or those who are self-deluded, believe “The Messiah” as promised by prophets within the Tanach, has already arrived. The world has “grown” quite a bit since its primitive, pagan days, but most of the world is not yet ready for the Messianic age. If there were a physical temple today, many people would want to destroy or at least defile it, or else undeservedly call it theirs. We see many who do not want an Israel to exist, no matter how small that Israel would be. Some do not want Jews to exist. Or they do not want Jews to be Jews. They want Jews to give up their God and replace their beliefs with (or at least incorporate in) other belief systems. Include other “sacred” writings of “the nations” within the Torah. Edom is alive and well (well I don’t know how “well” it is) today. Edom says “resistance is futile”; give it up and join us in our pagan temple.