CHANUKAH IS COMING: Check out our new & improved Chanukah section, with

basic information on the holiday, laws & customs, Divrei Torah, even

recipes -- not to mention our famous On-Line Menorah!


----------------------------------------------------------------------- LifeLine - "It is a tree of life to all who cling to it."

D'var Torah and News from -

Volume XI, Number 9 - Chanukah



ON THE WEB THIS WEEK @ <a href=""> TORAH.ORG </a>:



GRATEFULLY YOURS: Why do we find it difficult sometimes to appreciate




This week's class is dedicated to the speedy healing of

Azriel Yitzchak ben Chaya Gitel.



The holiday of Chanukah is often misunderstood. First of all, great as it

is, Chanukah is a minor, Rabbinic holiday on the Jewish calendar. An

excessive emphasis upon this holiday, accompanied by a near-total neglect

of major festivals like Shavuos and Sukkos, sends our children the message

that we're just trying to keep up with the non-Jewish world, and Jewish

holidays are but a pale facsimile of what they have. Chalila! [Heaven



But there is more to say.


Chanukah celebrates a redemption from destruction. Although there was a

military conflict, it did not become a holiday simply because we won a

physical war -- in fact, the war wasn't even over when the miracle of

Chanukah occurred. The true victory, and celebration, is spiritual.


Under the rule of Antiochus, the Greeks did not want to kill the Jewish

people. Rather, they wanted us to share their ideology. Our Sages explain

that they focused upon three mitzvos, commanding the Jews not to perform



The first of these was the mitzvah of Shabbos, the Sabbath. The Greeks

believed that the earth and the universe had existed for all eternity.

They believed that there was no moment of Creation, no big bang. Yet the

Sabbath "is an eternal sign between Me and the Nation of Israel, that in

six days G-d made the Heaven and the Earth, and on the seventh day, He

rested." The Sabbath delivers the message that G-d Created the world -- so

the Greeks tried to kill the messenger.


The second was Milah, circumcision, which is the sign of the unique

covenant between G-d and the Jewish People, made with our forefather

Avraham. The Greeks wanted the Jews to be like them, rather than clinging

to antiquated notions of a special mission, purpose, and relationship. So

the Greeks needed to remove this sign as well.


And the third of these was Rosh Chodesh, the Sanctification of the New

Moon. The Sanhedrin, the Supreme Jewish Court in Jerusalem, would accept

testimony each month if people spotted the crescent of the new moon

appearing 30 days after the beginning of the previous month -- if this

happened, the new month would begin on that day, while if it did not, then

the month would begin on the morrow. This, too, signified a unique

relationship which the Greeks could not conscience -- because it indicated

the belief that we can control and change what happens in Spiritual



The Greeks also believed in a spiritual world; most of us have learned

small bits of Greek mythology. But they believed that what humans did had

no direct impact upon the spiritual plane.


The fact that human beings decide when the month begins means that human

beings control when the holidays arrive. Judaism regards the holidays not

merely as commemorations of past events, but as times when unique

"spiritual energies" return to the world each year. So this, too,

contradicted the fundamentals of Greek beliefs, and once again, the Greeks

needed to stop performance of this Mitzvah.


But finally, and above all, the Greeks also commanded us to stop studying

Torah. For as Rav Shlomo Brevda points out in his work on Chanukah,

"L'hodos U'l'hallel," the Greeks recognized that the Jewish religion was

fundamentally different than all the others, which were built upon certain

actions which were required or prohibited. Although the Torah contains

hundreds of different mitzvos, the very fundamental of Jewish life is

Torah study itself. Therefore the Greeks felt the need to issue a unique

decree, independent of their prohibition against the three particular

mitzvos mentioned above, to cut off Jewish life at its very root.


This is what we were fighting, this is the war which we won. And, of

course, it is so similar to the battle we are fighting today. People have

joked that the 614th Commandment is the one against assimilation, phrased

as "Thou Shalt Not Give Hitler (ysv"z, may his name and memory be blotted

out) a posthumous victory." Yet the truth is that the victory would not go

to him, but to Antiochus -- thousands of years after his own credo

disappeared into the dustbin of history.


The Code of Jewish Law notes that the Sages did not decree special meals

on Chanukah or anything of that nature -- for unlike Purim, which is

celebrated with food and drink, Chanukah is celebrated with special

praises and thanks to G-d. We respond to a threat of physical destruction

with a physical celebration; we respond to a threat of spiritual

destruction with a spiritual celebration.


Let us permit not only the image of the candles, but the message of

Chanukah, to burn its way into our hearts -- let us revitalize ourselves

and renew our study of Torah, for it is indeed the fundamental of all we

have. This is something we can and should do, right now -- for this is the

energy which Chanukah brings to us every year.


Good Shabbos, and a Happy Chanukah,


Rabbi Yaakov Menken


LifeLine, Copyright 2003 by


Join the Jewish Learning Revolution! The Judaism Site brings

this and a host of other classes to you every week. Visit

or email to get your own free copy of this mailing.


Project Genesis - is a recognized charity and depends upon your

support. Please help us by visiting for

information on class dedications, memorials, annual giving and more.


To submit a prayer request for the sick, please email .


Need to change or stop your subscription? Please visit our subscription

center, -- see the links on that page.


Permission is granted to redistribute, but please give proper attribution

and copyright to the author and Both the author and

reserve certain rights. Email for full information.

------------------------------------------------------------------------- The Judaism Site

Project Genesis, Inc.

122 Slade Avenue, Suite 203 (410) 602-1350

Baltimore, MD 21208 FAX: (410) 510-1053



Codex Sinaiticus

New Testament:

from the famed discovery


The earliest, oldest New Testament text has finally been released to the public.  You may read the Codex Sinaiticus online - but only if you know Greek!  To read it inCodex Sinaiticus New Testament H T Anderson English English, you need the only English translation we know.  The H. T. Anderson English Translation of the Codex Sinaiticus, with the three extra early New Testament books and the Sonnini Manuscript of Acts 29 included, and the original absences of certain verses (put in there later by the 'church') is now available only at here.  

THIS IS NOT A CHEAP, SCANNED-IN FACSIMILE. This is a first edition of the text published in easy-to-read Georgia font with plenty of room between verses for your notes.2 points between verses, hard or soft cover.


The Nazarene Acts
of the Apostles

Also known as
The Recognitions of Clement

Ever wonder why PAUL and not PETER received the mission to the lost tribes?  Wasn't Peter the stone upon which the "church" was to be built?  In this new translation of the Nazarene Acts, we follow Kefa (Peter) as he itinerates from Jerusalem and up the Mediterranean coast up to Tripoli, as recorded in the journals of his successor, Clement of Rome (Phi 4:3).  Every message Kefa preached, the company he kept, and the great works of faith the the Almighty accomplished through him are herein recorded.  This 300 page volume has been 'hidden' in the back of an obscure volume of the "Church Fathers" all this time.  Could it be that, in establishing the Gentile 'church' by pushing away from Judaism, this history was purposely hidden?