I hope that all of you are enjoying Chanukah. This week I’ve been reviewing the story of Chanukah. I am not talking about the tale of the oil that lasted for eight days instead of one. This year I’ve been revisiting the story as recorded in the Books I and Book II of Macabees. It may be that you have never heard of those books. There is a good reason for that. The longer and different version of the events that led up to the defeat of the Greeks and the rededication of the Temple did not make it into the Jewish version of the Bible. The Catholic version of the Bible, called the Vulgate, does include the unexpurgated version of the rebellion of the Macabees.
The expurgated version – about the oil - originated with the rabbis of the Talmud. The Book of Maccabees version was composed at a time closer to the actual rebellion. It records a long and difficult military campaign against the Greeks and the rededication of the Temple – with no mention of oil.
What I find most interesting about all this is that the campaign took a long time. There was no immediate return of the Temple. The Maccabees and their allies fought the Greeks for twenty-five years. Finally, at the end of that time, they were able to make a new beginning as a sovereign people. Some changes happen overnight. Others require patience.
At Temple Emanu-El we are making our way through both kinds of change. The rabbi changes are and will take place in a relatively short span of time. The search committee is working on that! We are also walking the path of long term change. Along with your new rabbi you will build and dedicate a center of Jewish Life for the Merrimack Valley of the 21st and 22nd century. Build in good health. And – for the moment – celebrate this Feast of Lights in good health!
Shabbat Shalom and Happy Channukah!
Rabbi Ilene Bogosian
Note: In this space, after I return from vacation (next week) I will begin to let you know when I’ll be in my office each week. See you then!
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Haverhill, MA 01830