Chanuka: Celebration of...what?! Why do we huddle round our menorahs every year? Lighting candles for what exactly? So...most of us probably think because we won a war against the Greeks, and then when we went back to the temple to relight the menorah, there was a miracle and the last jug of oil (holding only enough for 1 day), lasted for a whole 8 days!!! Wow!!!! So what a nice reason for us to commemorate this 'happy ending story' every year round our only little mini-menorah! That might do it for 5-year olds but we (and our developed adult minds) need to ask a few questions and get this whole story straight!!! 1) There is a principle in Jewish thinking that we don't commemorate historical events unless there is a strong relevance to our lives today! How in the world is this story related to my life now? I mean...I don't even

believe in miracles! I never saw one!!! 2) We won more impressive battles - so why only celebrate this one?! What the war was really about... To begin to answer the above questions and to begin a journey of understanding our tradition from a more complex and mature perspective, we must first undestand the nature of the war: Nature vs Supernatural The Greeks worshipped nature. They worshipped the natural world and its beauty. They worshipped man and his body. The original Olympics featured naked participants! The Greeks worshipped the human mind. They believed that G-d had created this wonderful world and then left it for us to run. He was now a non-executive director with no voting rights! The study of Science, arts & philosophy proliferated within the Greek empire. The Greeks conquered most of the known world and after much success, came up against the Jews! Now, while the rest of the world was quite pleased to adopt Greek culture with its advanced and 'enlightened' way of thinking, the Jews were...well...stubborn!!! Why? Shema Yisrael Hashem Elokeinu Hashem Echad Not just cos we like to be awkward! But rather because we are the propenents of the idea that G-d is still very much involved with the world! When we say the Shema, we don't mean "Hashem is our G-d and Hashem is one" i.e. there are no other gods just ours!!! We mean something much deeper - we mean that there is only G-d - i.e. in reality - there is nothing else!!! G-d is one as in G-d is everything and nothing else really exists - it's all an illusion!!!!!!!!!! Now the Greeks found this way of thinking very offensive - they wanted us to acknowledge that Nature (note the capital N) is to be worshipped in its own right! In biblical hebrew, there isn't even a word for nature because we don't believe that it even exists! The Greeks were not impressed and so made various decrees that we were not aloud to practise our religion eg. we were forbiddento learn Torah, to carry out Bris Milah(thinking we could perfect what nature already 'dictated') etc. The may have won the Battle, but the war goes on We celebrate Chanukah now because we believe that this war is still very much going on! This is a war going on inside the heart of every one of us! Ancient Greek culture infiltrated the world - or as our Sages said - the Greeks brought darkness to the world! They have made us believe that only that which can be measured and only that which can be sensed directly by our physical senses can be true - everything else must be disregarded.

Any chance of spirituality or G-dliness in the world is called nonsense. But is nature so self-explanatory? Are we just evolved apes? Is that all we are? Are we just more inteligent and evolved versions of an ape - or is there a voice deep inside us telling us the truth - that we are uniquely human - we do have souls and that our lives have meaning and purpose? Maybe? Maybe not? The sceptical Greek within each of us works tirelessly to make sure we remain sceptical! Every Chanuka we light the small candles in our private home and we send a cosmically powerful message out to the world and more importantly to ourselves - the flame is representative of the neshama (soul) - we are making a statment - There is something behind the scenes! The world is not random and by chance!

We have a light inside of us and it burns on through the darkness! And one day, it will burn brightly for all to see!!!

This is the message that the Jew brings to the world!