Friday, December 14, 2012

Judah Maccabee - Chanukah Blog Crawl

This is my day for the Chanukah Blog Crawl.  We share the day with Catself: and we encourage you to surf there when you've finished reading this post.

You’ve already read that Chanukah is celebrated because oil that was meant to last for one day, lasted for eight.  The backstory is rooted in one family, The Maccabees, and specifically one Maccabee son, Judah.

The story goes back to the 2nd Century BCE, when the Syrian-Greek army came to conquer the Jewish people. They didn’t just want their land, they wanted to destroy their very culture. They ordered Jewish people to eat pork, to sacrifice pigs to Greek gods. If a Jewish mother wanted her infant son to be circumcised both she and her baby were killed. The Syrian-Greeks wanted the Jewish people to think like them, worship like them, to become exactly like them. Jewish brides were forced to sleep with Syrian-Greek officers before they could sleep with their husbands. And teaching the Torah, the very heart of the Jewish religion, became a capital crime. The Greeks wanted total assimilation of Jews. And there were “Hellenic Jews” who aligned themselves with them.

Sages and their students went into hiding to preserve the Torah. The religious Jewish people did everything they could to remain Jewish, including holding weddings in secret. Many Jewish people were tortured and then murdered when they were discovered. There was tremendous suffering for the Jewish people of Israel.

The religious Jews would not give up their religion and their culture, realizing that while Jewish people love peace, there comes a time when one must fight and that time had come.

One Hasmonean family of five sons stood up to the Syrian-Greeks. The Maccabees, led by the patriarch Mattisyahu, started a rebellion but Mattisyahu died before he could see the rebellion become a full out war.

Leadership passed to his son, Judah, who changed the course of Jewish history. Brilliant as a leader on the battlefield, as well as inspiring thousands of Jewish people to take up arms and fight. Judah devised ways for the much smaller band of Jews to outwit and out maneuver the much larger and better equipped Syrian-Greek Army. One Jewish family is at the heart of saving the Jewish religion and culture.

When the Jewish people captured Jerusalem they had to rededicate the Temple, which had been fouled.  It was then that they lit a wooden Menorah with the one small amount of untainted oil they could find. It was enough oil to last for one day but it lasted for eight days. It was a great miracle that happened in Jerusalem.  The name, Chanukah, comes from the Hebrew word for Education.  The Jews who fought for their religion were Torah scholars and to preserve the religion one must educate themselves and the children.

Interestingly, there would be no Christianity or Islam if this war hadn’t happened because both Religions came into being in the post-Greek period.

Today, as we light our menorahs in our homes, we are not only united with Jewish people around the world but with the seven branched golden menorah in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.  

My Chanukah wish is that every dog and cat finds a loving home where he or she lives as a true member of the family.

Happy Chanukah!

Please remember to surf over to Cat Wisdom 101 tomorrow for the final Chanukah Crawl Blog Post:


Rescuegal said...

Informative and well written. Always nice to learn something new about Jewish (Biblical) history and customs.

Nadbugs said...

Wow, Darlene, I had no idea of the Chanukah - education connection! Which makes my mentioning it, over at my place, even more amazing! You have really added to my life here! Thank you!!

GizmoGeodog said...

You have told the story of one of the great Jewish historical figures in such a great way. I've always appreciated that the Maccabee's courage lives on in the modern day Maccabee Games and it's a source of family pride that we've had a cousin both compete and coach in those games. Thank you and Happy Chanukah!

Maxwell, Faraday and Allie said...

Thank you so much for writing about this! It's a great story (and we mean great in the sense of greatness, not the pop culture slang).
When you think of the sacrifices of such people as Judah Maccabee and of Hannah and her sons, it's humbling to realize that we have what we have today in large part because of them.

One of our rabbis mentioned to us years ago the same connection you brought up, "without a Chanukah you'd never have a Christmas," he said. That certainly stuck with us!

Chanukah Sameach friends!

spike_cat said...

Bewtiful post and very eloquent to explain why Hanukkah is a spechial time fur us. purrrrrrrrrs

Darlene Arden said...

Thank you so much, everyone. It has been such a pleasure participating in the first Chanukah Blog Crawl and meeting so many wonderful people and their cats and dogs. :-)

Darlene & The Amazing Aimee

Layla ( Cat Wisdom 101) said...

This was very interesting and timely. Thanks and purrs.

The Musings Of A Crazy Cat Lady said...

You told the story of Judah so well. It's a story everybody needs to know.