Adrian A. Durlester

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Vayeishev/Hanukah 5767

I Believe in Miracles

I'm sorry. I apologize. I didn't mean to spoil it for you.

That's to the hundreds of students and adults for whom I have talked about the "real story" of Hanukah. How there was all this infighting between the various Jewish factions before the actual Maccabean revolt. (It's possible more Jews were hurt in internecine strife that in the actual Maccabean revolt.) How the end result of the victory of the Maccabees was rule by the house of Hashmon, some of the worst rulers that the Jewish people ever had, and those ultimately responsible for allowing the Romans in.

And most of all, for saying that the story of the miracle of the oil wasn't true. We've all heard the various arguments. The oil isn't even mentioned for the first time until hundreds of years later. Some scholars suspect it was to help us keep a low profile during the period of Roman rule and in the subsequent diaspora, not flaunting this victory of a small band of guerilla fighters over the mighty Persian-Greek forces. And there's that whole Hanukah-Sukkot connection, with the original Hanukah being a belated celebration of Sukkot, on of the pilgrimage holidays, in a (somewhat) restored and cleansed Holy Temple. There's correspondence between the Jews of Alexandria and Jerusalem that appears to attest to this viewpoint. And, of course, as Sukkot was the holiday of the water libation, the cleansing of the holy altar in the Temple, there's an obvious connection between this festival of rededication, of Hanukah.

I don't take it all back. You need to know the truth (at least, as best as we can construct it.) However, we all need to learn to wear our truth hats and our faith hats. Neither one by itself is sufficient.

So what I want to give back to you is that sense of innocence, that faith. The "tooth fairy" faith, dare I even say the "Santa Claus" faith. That childlike sense of awe and wonder and belief in things miraculous. So forget, for a moment, all the truths I told you. Think of the story of the miracle of that cruse of oil that should have only lasted for one day but lasted for eight. The miracle of a small band who dared to stand up to a larger, more powerful force when their right to practice their religion was denied, and who were victorious.

As you light the candles tonight, and the following 7 nights, focus on the miracles. For we live in a time when we need to believe in miracles - even if we ourselves must have a strong hand in helping those miracles come to pass. After all, we can't always just wait around for G"d to fix things. When we believe in the miracles, we can help make them come true.


Shabbat Shalom and Hag Urim Sameakh,


©2006 by Adrian A. Durlester 


Some other musings on the same parasha:

Vayeishev 5766-Who Was That Guy?
Vayeshev 5765-Mikol HaMishpakhot HaAdamah
Vayeshev 5758-What's Worth Looking After
Vayeshev 5761 - In Gd's Time

Miketz 5763/5764/5765-Assimilating Assimilation

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