LTTN med xp logoThe Ides of Chanukah and the Twilight Zone of Time

by Steve Mathe

1995 Light to the Nations, Rabbi Chaim Richman - All Rights Reserved
Reprinted from The Restoration newsletter, November, 1995 (Kislev/Tevet, 5756)

About the author: Steve Mathe has been lead in the search for Hebraic Roots for several years. He has made several stops along the way in various organizations. On Dec. 4th, 1990, G-d called him on “the carpet of repentance and personal correction”, and he was told that “he did not know anything.” Subsequently he was led (according to the promise in Isaiah 54:13), to search out and study from the Hebraic perspective answers in the Scriptures concerning Ephraim’s return. He and his wife Charlene have studied for and made their personal return to the Covenant by going through an Orthodox conversion in 1994. They have taken the Hebrew names Sh’mayah Nachman and Yerusha Leah, son and daughter of Abraham.

Steve/Sh’mayah is a licensed marriage and family counselor and has a psychotherapy/counseling practice: Harbor Therapeutic Services / Yachad Levavenu (Unite Our Hearts) in Fullerton, California. The purpose of Yachad Levavenu is to provide counseling, teaching, research and referrals for those drawn to the teshuva movement, to those seeking inner healing, discipleship and growth, and to those who wish to know more about the restoration of the remnant of Joseph and the prophecies of the regathering of the whole House of Israel. Yachad Levavenu emphasizes faithfulness in traditional daily prayers as the way to unite our hearts for inner healing, to turn the hearts of the children to the hearts of the fathers, and to advance the fulfillment of the United Israel.

Steve’s specialty is dream interpretation along Biblical principles. He has seen the relevance of this in his own and clients’ lives according to Job 33:14-33. He reports that since his calling, his clientele has completely changed, though not by his doing; from regular psychotherapy clients, to those that G-d is drawing to seek help in their healing as well as personal and corporate repentance in the great regathering at the end of the age. His clients are most often told of this by dreams before their first visit. This seems to be in line with Joel 3:1-5.

Steve Mathe can be contacted by fax at (714) 528-3235, or at his office at (714) 879-9455.

email: smathe@soho.ios.com mailing address: P.O. Box 431 Placentia, CA 92670-0431

Office: Steve A. Mathe, MFCC Harbor Therapeutic Services

305 N. Harbor Blvd. Suite 317

Fullerton, CA 92632

The Ides of Chanukah and The Twilight Zone of Time

by Steve A. Mathe

“Chanukah opens a world of chinuch, of dedication, of new beginnings forever fresh. Chanukah provides a new way of looking at things, giving us the internalized tools to face every situation with tranquillity born of utter dedication, of belief in the value of the moment, wherever it may lead. In Chanukah we were bequeathed the survival tactics for facing Galut Edom, and have acquired the potential to take the inevitable step when the trauma of history forces it upon us, ending Galut Edom and the long night’s journey into the day.” So ends Rabbi Matis Weinberg his thorough research into the deep significance found in the legacy of the Feast of Dedication.(1) What are the meanings of these terms of dedication, new beginnings and Galut Edom? How is this “fresh look” relevant to those awakening now from the exiled House of Yosef, a

concept that a portion of our readership is aware of, and identifies with? To answer these questions for those drawn to hear the call, this article will give a glimpse into the spiritual legacy stored in the treasure house of Chanukah, the Feast of Lights.

But why do we need to know these seemingly obscure and esoteric things? Because the very meaning of the word Chanukah points us to learn more about it; for the name Chanukah comes from the word chinuch, denoting “education or training for a vocation.” At this appointed time in the yearly cycle of sacred holy days and in the present time of world history, knowing this etymological root carries the first implication for us to learn more about this spiritual legacy for all Israel. Like all Biblical principles, it has several levels of meanings and carries prophetic portent for all those drawn to the Hebraic understanding of G-d’s Word in the last days.

To begin to understand this heritage of Chanukah we need to know just what the term Galut Edom really is. The teaching about this term by the sages and rabbis for some 2000 years can be summed up in the conclusion that “the galut”, or exile, of Edom is the grip on the minds of those captivated by the legacy of Greek cultural, civic and religious ideals. Fundamentally, it is an exile into a mind-set that specifically keeps the children of Israel from living according the Torah’s standards. It is named after the spirit of Esau, also called Edom, grandfather of the evil Amalek, each of whom sought to destroy Israel (Gen. 36:8-12, Ex. 17:8-16). This hereditary hatred was to become the heritage of many generations of Esau’s physical descendants. Likewise, this spirit, i.e. attitude, disposition and motivation, was seen by the sages to posses various successive world empires that persecuted and held sway over the people of Israel. It reached a definitive lasting expression in the Hellenization of the Western world beginning with the conquests of Aristotle’s greatest pupil, Alexander the Great. This “spirit” known in our time as the “Greek spirit” gave the Western world founded upon Hellenistic models, its characteristic identity. The contributions of such intellectual giants as Aristotle and Plato reconfigured the entire mode of Western thought. Like Alexander’s conquests, Greek thought took the world by storm, holding that “human knowledge” could discover and fathom absolute truth. Its discoveries in the realm of

the rules of measurable nature” seemed to support this axiom and labeled it as “scientific, objective” and practically relevant. This “glory of Greece” challenged Israel with its enlightened philosophy, worship of given beauty, form, and the appeal of scientific critical examination of nature. With the allure of freedom for unshackled and unbounded iconoclastic thinking, it made many to doubt the “old” Torah’s rules for spiritual development. These intellectual achievements are not necessarily evil in themselves. They are the fruits of man’s efforts to fulfill the commandment to develop, improve and cultivate the world (Gen. 2:15). Yet these respected ideals of Greek philosophy carried a hidden agenda of antagonism toward the Torah’s commandments which the eternal G-d gave to build true ethical character along the “rules of the spirit” for all time.(2) After Greek political power had waned, this disposition of the Greek spirit was passed on and suffused into the Roman Empire whose power structure and organization imposed Greek culture and ideals even more effectively on its subjects. The rabbis have correctly perceived this “mission” of Rome to be essentially that of Esau / Edom masquerading in the civilization of a Greek toga, (which denotes intellectual advancement), yet relentlessly persecuting Ya’aqov (Jacob) and threatening him with destruction (Gen. 27:41).

Greek culture historically prided itself as a civilizing influence to barbarian non-Greeks. Their good will mission was to replace local cultures with their superior Hellenistic improvements. For the conquered this world view meant adoption of the “modern” philosophy of relying on human reason and logic and emphasis on developing the human body’s potential for beauty as the epitome of Hellenistic means and ends to perfection. For other nations this seemed as truly “enlightenment.” But for Israel this effect directly “replaced” the legacy of Abraham whose means to “perfection / wholeness,” [Heb. tam / tamim], was the exercising of free will to build the beauty of the soul, i.e. integrity of the heart and uprightness of being and doing (Gen. 17:1). The charge to Abraham was to “walk before Me and be you perfect.” This was to be done only through the keeping of G-d’s commandments, i.e. statutes, halacha [Heb. for rules of daily walk] to govern and shape all conduct and interaction with things living and inanimate. This Divine directive was the very essence of G-d’s covenant with Abraham. It was in this “spiritual” legacy of Abraham, i.e. the observance of G-d’s commandments for daily righteous living that all mankind is to be blessed (Gen. 26:4-5, Ps. 101). Instead it was Hellenistic culture that saw itself as the mediators of Divine virtue to mankind. Therefore it sought to eradicate this Torah (3)observance, the very foundation of Israel’s identity. Centuries ago the sages of Israel have correctly perceived the spirit of jealous, resentful Esau to possess it (Gen. 25:30, 27:41). This was their most effective weapon for the destruction of Israel, not necessarily militarily but by displacing the Torah with the deception of their intellectual prowess. Esau’s physical progeny followed their father’s vendetta toward Jacob throughout Biblical history, (Gen. 36:12, Num. 24:20, Deut. 25:12, I Sam. 15:2). His “spiritual children” formatted on the Greek model were to carry the same spirit till the last days. For this reason the rabbis refer to Greece’s successor Rome, the carrier of Greek culture, as Edom, and its grip on the minds of the dispersed of Israel as the latter’s exile in the captivity or Galut of Edom.

In the second century BCE under the Seleucid king Antiochus Epiphanes IV, the Greek oppression of Israel was at its heaviest. In their desire to assert “cultural dominance” the Seleucid Greeks tried to make Jews forget the Torah and admit to the superiority of Greek thought and worship that descended from Mt. Olympus. Not only did the Greeks enforce with armed might allegiance to their culture’s philosophy, but they also gained willing allies among substantial numbers of liberal Jews who willingly traded in their “old” Torah faith for the “modern philosophy” of their conquerors. Many from Judah joined forces with the people of Yavan [Greece], to eradicate the very foundations of Israel’s G-d-given identity.(4) For this reason says Rabbi Weinberg, “Galut Yavan (the exile of Greece) expands our concept of what galut is, for it was loss not of the land of Israel, but of the national expression of malchut [kingdom], of kingship over our land. Galut Yavan found us fatally divided, without the ability to be a whole people; it was a galut within. Yet despite its internal nature, this period is defined as Galut Edom.”(5)

Though its immediate political empire ceased in 140 BCE, the anti-Torah “spirit” of Hellenism, like the spirit of Esau / Edom still rules the Western world and holds the children of Ya’aqov captive. Rabbi Weinberg further points out that “the climax of [this] challenge is reached towards the end of the final galut, that of Edom. Never has there been such danger as with Edom, a civilization that views itself as ethical, moral and humane as never before, caring for knowledge, for peace, for life, for the very ecology.”(6) With this seemingly benign agenda, our Western civilization now further tempered and “improved” with Christianization, is held to be the beneficent heir to Greco-Roman ideals. Amazingly, it appropriates the name of Israel calling itself a “Judeo-Christian” civilization, and its religious members as the “new and true Israel.” It believes it has superseded Israel with a “new” set of ethics of its own creation and views Israel with its “Old” Testament Torah as an unsavory relic. The spirit of Edom is indeed ensconced at the core of Western society in the beauty of Greek form. Illusive and subtle as a muse’s inspiration, it insidiously permeates the secular and religious sectors with the beauty of its ideals of fairness, freedom, education and representative government. However, like the statutes of ancient Greece, these “ideal forms” lack character and soul. Instead they contaminate the soul of Israel with a fatal split of divorce from G-d and the two families of Israel from each other (Jer. 3:8). It also causes individuals to be internally split, holding on to two conflicting, diametrically opposed theological opinions. Some of these are derived from the Torah and some are deceptively mixed with those that the Torah warns against (Deut. 12:30, I Kings 18:21). Those caught in this split prevent themselves from learning more about Israel’s heritage, the Torah. The holding on to unclean theological precepts prevent them from learning more about the legacy of Abraham for all nations. These “concepts, dogmas and doctrines of men” act as blockages in the mind’s channels of receptivity to the flow of truth from G-d’s Torah. Like naive romantic teenage lovers, the adherents of the Greco-Roman legacy have been captivated by these forms of [intellectual] beauty for centuries. This captivity is not unlike those of Odysseus’ men, some of whom encounter the enchantress Circe who turns them into pigs. All the others sail to the siren’s island and are seduced by their song. This song is most “beautiful” for it promises “ripe wisdom, knowledge of the hereafter, and quickening of the spirit.” Yet it causes them to forget everything else. Their skeletons, [a metaphor for “internal psychological / intellectual structure”], join those of countless others piled high on the island of deception.(7)

Centuries ago, the rabbis of Israel saw a correlation between the four types of unclean animals in Lev. 11:4-7 and the four world powers in the Book of Daniel (Vayikra Rabbah 13:5). They especially noted the swine’s allusion to Edom, for the swine appears “clean” showing its split hoof on the outside, i.e. a “surface-deep” relationship to G-d. It flaunts its superficial sign of purity, while in reality it is grossly impure on the inside.(8) It does not chew the cud, which is symbolic of an internal process alluding to the praise of The Holy One. Adherents, i.e. partakers of this porcene philosophy lack G-d-given insight into their underlying human-centered character and are unaware of the lack of “soul” of Torah-centered revealed wisdom. The rabbis teach that the word Yavan comes from the word hona’a, i.e. deceit, for Greece endeavored to deceive Israel and dull their minds with the impurity of their philosophy. It is said that one’s name contains the secret of one’s mission in the world. Accordingly, “Greece was to become the root of illusion and falseness in the world.”(9)

The sages of Israel have understood this “kingdom of brass [copper]” to be spreading through intellectual prowess out to the four directions of the world, moving swiftly like its image of a leopard with four wings, and “bearing rule over all the earth” (Dan. 2:39,7:2-7).(10) They saw Yavan’s real intention to make the Torah inaccessible to Israel and thereby destroy the sanctity that is embodied by it in the world. Without attachment to G-d’s holiness via the commandments, Israel’s destruction would ensue. The spirit of blood-red Edom, transferred to and inherited from ancient Rome was to power the secular and religious institutions of the West till the last days. Its galut would be the last one before Israel’s redemption from it and would not end completely till the coming of the Messiah.

The effects of Galut Edom’s “spiritual” origins were made evident in the wake of the conquests of Alexander the Great who forced not just Hellenistic culture and philosophy but also itsgods on all conquered peoples. Beginning with Constantine, the spirit of Edom even more powerfully dominated the West with the added power of ecclesiastical authority. During the Middle Ages the lowest level of ignorance was reached when Aristotelian logic was given Divine status and placed on the same level as the Scriptures. It was used “to corroborate the veracity of the highest and most abstract matters of faith, including the existence of G-d.”(11) This is why Ephraim’s last days’ return is to be from the grip of the spirit of whoredoms in the west (Hos. 4:12, 11:10). This hold, or grip, is insidiously deceptive for it does not seem as a prison at all. It seems “natural” because it harnesses natural human psychological drives for its unholy purposes. Its overpowering effect is driven by the “spirit of Ishmael,” the drive for pleasure, and the “spirit of Esau,” the drive for power.(12) Though these human drives are not evil in themselves, these “spirits” i.e. unseen spiritual forces of the world which control them, are. Truly, the physical Galut Yavan of Antiochus was a precursor and an essential component of a deeper galut, the dark hatred of Edom that subtly but thoroughly colors and possesses the institutions of the West. This pervasive influence with its appeal of superior intellectual power seductively conquered the West with the civilized face and veneer of Greco-Roman civilization. Ever since, like a “spirit” in the mind, it held its host with an iron(13) grip from true enlightenment. Appearing to be advanced, fair, ideal and inclusive, in effect for millennia it has opposed the release of Israel to her G-d.

This illusion has been perpetuated to our very days by the often seemingly benevolent attitudes of those in power that promote anti-Torah measures. The Roman emperor Hadrian in his “kind-heartedness” wished to “save the Jews from injuring themselves” by forbidding circumcision, of which G-d said “it is my covenant between me and you;” a sign in the flesh that we are to keep the commandments with that flesh and the heart of the flesh (Gen. 17:10). Moreover, Hadrian outlawed the Shabbat, of which G-d also said, “it is a sign between me and you for ever” (Ex. 31:17). He also opposed the principle of family purity, whose statutes are the source of Jewish holiness in the home and before G-d. Rome specifically targeted for destruction and replacement the most fundamental declaration of Israel’s faith, the Sh’ma: “Hear O Israel, the L-RD our G-d the L-RD is One.” All these decrees could have but one aim and one result, to bring about the assimilation, or as the Romans later put it, the “civilization” of the Jewish people.(14) This Rome undertook with a fiery “missionary” zeal and after the destruction of the Second Temple began a systematic campaign to eliminate the observance of the commandments. Above all, the teaching of the Torah was eventually forbidden, for the Romans now realized that in this lay the hidden strength of this nation.(15) The influence of the spirit of Edom reached a height under the influential reign of Justinian I, 527-565 CE. He severely restricted economic and religious life [for Jews] in his empire, prohibited Torah study and many other Biblical statutes and commandments. Particularly singled out was the recitation of the Sh’ma, whose clear declaration of the Oneness of G-d, openly contradicted Christian doctrine. In his collection of Roman laws known as Corpus Juris, Justinian included all the anti-Jewish laws passed by his predecessors and by himself. Since this collection served as the textbook for the study of law throughout the Middle Ages, it contributed significantly to the anti-Semitic hatred in which subsequent generations were raised.(16)

Of What use is this “Strange Thing” Chanukah to Me? (see Hos. 8:12)

Of what significance to the readers of THE RESTORATION is the Feast of Restoration and Dedication of long ago? Rabbi Mattityahu Glazerson gives us some clues from the signs of Divine planning evident in history. “The Hasmonaim,(17) a name built on the letters of heh, shin and mem, indicates the three measures through which the Greeks tried to destroy the Jewish religion: legislation against chodesh (month), Shabbat, and milah (circumcision). These three commandments form the backbone of Jewish belief and are essential for the continuance of Israel in the eyes of the Holy One. Chodesh, the new moon, signifies Israel’s power to be sanctified by the forces within them. Shabbat cleanses man and elevates him from the forces of nature. Milah purifies and sanctifies man’s body and soul.”(18) These are special signs between G-d and Israel, that correlate to heart, intellect and body, the three elements of man; where Chodesh renews feelings of the heart, Shabbat heals the intellect and milah cures the ills of the body and conditions it for the acceptance of holiness (Ex. 31:13-17, Ez. 20:20, Gen. 17:10-11, Num. 10:10, 28:11). However, for the enlightened Greco-Roman culture they were primitive targets to improve upon and civilize. Of this civilizing mission, the sages say that Yavan tried to obstruct Israel’s eyes to the light of the Torah, by aiming to destroy these foundations of Israel’s holiness. They persuaded many to forget G-d’s laws and statutes for living holy lives.(19) In line with their unclean agenda they introduced “interfaith cooperation” by persuading Jews to sacrifice (which included eating) pigs to Zeus in the Holy Temple and their communities. Circumcision being the symbolic inauguration into one’s communal role in Israel, was especially singled out for obliteration through the lure of being modern, fashionable, civilized and more “spiritually advanced.” If that did not work, there was also the force of torture and death to use as instruments of the final solution of annihilation.

Many of our readers are awakening to a new identity, and just beginning to realize that we have been completely immersed and programmed into this dominating unclean mind-set for centuries. Yet the G-d of Israel has decreed that because of His grace and mercy, prodigal juvenile Ephraim will be helped to learn the lessons of his youth; to grow into the maturity that is expected of him (Isa. 46:4). His negative attributes will be transformed, i.e. redeemed, so that he can love G-d with his “whole heart.” The “day” of redemption from dispersion into the world that has been “Hellenized and Christianized” is to begin in the evening. The sages interpret the evening time in Zech. 14:7 to be the moed, [appointed time] of Klal (corporate) Israel’s return from Yavan’s Hellenistic civilization, its internal exile and assimilation to non-Torah values.(20)

Jewish tradition holds that Ya’aqov wrestled with Esau’s guardian spirit in the night.(21) Now, at the end of his captivity’s long night, the time has come for Ephraim to wrestle with the same “spirit of Esau” in the quest for the Hebraic perspective of the Covenant’s promises to the “children’s children” in the last days. Modern, (Hellenized), latter-day Ephraim has to prove from the Scriptures whether the promises to him descend from Mt. Sinai or Mt. Olympus. Therefore this present twilight zone of the evening time in world history, the time to study is of great importance to young Ephraim. His return from Galut Edom to G-d’s ways of being and doing will start with the research and study of the instructive messages written to him in the Scriptures. They are to be opened to his understanding only in the last days when his punishment of incarceration among the nations is up (Jer. 30:24, 29:13, 32:20, Isa. 30:8, Psalm 102:18). For the prodigal children of Ephraim this is the time of repentance from their own characteristic ways of Hellenistic superiority and triumphalism. It is their time for returning to their fathers’ “family values” given in the Torah (Deut. 6:25, Mal. 3:23-24). Only by taking on those values “towalk and thusly live by” within the community of observant Israel, will they abandon the spiritual death-producing attunement to the captivation of Yavan’s siren song of “deceit and lies.” Then they will be rejoined to their elder brother Yehuda, whose remnant is yet faithful and prevails with G-d (Hos. 12:1, Jer. 16:19).

The prophet Haggai informs us that the dedication of the Second Temple was in this season. On the twenty fourth of the ninth month Kislev, the Temple was founded, and on the next day it was dedicated with offerings and the relighting of the Great Menorah, the huge golden candelabrum that stood in the inner sanctuary. Only pure undefiled oil could be used for its lamps. The lighting and rededication could only occur in the evening for Tractate Menachos [Talmud], tells us that the Menorah may be consecrated only at twilight.(22) “It is because of this consecration [Chanukah] of the second Temple that the miracle of lights that happened on that same date generations later is called Chanukah.”(23) At the arrival of each holy day, we celebrate our special relationship with G-d which is made possible by the wondrous appointed markers in the recurring cycles of time. We thank G-d with special blessings for each successive arrival at these special stop points for their special effects on us.(24) The rabbis teach that “because the Torah is written in cyclic dimensions, when we ‘observe’ its holy days, [times] we are altered by them.”(25) In the upward spiraling cycle of time we encounter the same recurring coordinates as in the previous cycle. These markers denote Israel’s appointed holy days for all time, not to be superseded by any “new” and “better” religious philosophy’s metamorphosed “holiday” that fits the times’ demands and fashions and popular thought and tradition. The Hebrew term for time is z’man, meaning “appointed, prepared, set up,” implying that the holy days are a point of contact, Heb. moed, meaning an appointed meeting with time, where there is a simultaneous return and furtherance of change. This means we are not only to celebrate the past events of these markers but also shape their future by participating in their unfolding present. By observing these moedim at these appointed times we are given opportunities for renewed experience as well as participation in the process by which the G-d of Israel guides history. Therefore the more we understand via participation the purpose of these holy days for corporate Israel, the more we can discern G-d’s will for our lives and for our harmonious integration into His plan for Israel’s future. The astonishing part for us reading these lines is that by returning to observance we are actually speeding up the redemption for all Israel and the world. When the dispersed of Israel begin to turn to the Torah and take on its yoke, then they will be regathered. It is at this time that the great task of “witnessing” that Israel is yet to do will come into its ultimate manifestation. When the nations will witness how G-d has regathered his people, all those that denigrated the ways of the Torah as “legalism, earning salvation by works, etc.” will say: “let us also go up to Jerusalem and hear the Torah of G-d” (Isa. 2:3, 56:8, Zech. 8:20-23). The legacy of Abraham, the heritage of Ya’aqov, will prove to be the “grace” and salvation of the world from Yavan’s philosophy of license and lawlessness.

Chanukah is the feast that symbolizes the victory of G-d-led zealousness of those making a stand for the Torah’s “yoke of the kingdom”(26) over those arguing for the “freedom to do as you please” philosophy of Greece. According to Yavan’s “new improved” free-for-all pluralistic dictum every man has the right to define for himself what the divine message to mankind is (see also Judges 20:25). However, in our time the faithful of Israel on the recurring “appointed time” of the Feast of Chanukah still celebrate the re-dedication of the second Temple desecrated by that civilizing and modern philosophy. In the Temple the golden Menorah [candelabra] was kept continuously lit to signify the presence of G-d in the midst His people. The portion of the Greek empire ruled by Antiochus with the blasphemous title of Epiphanies [manifestation of G-d], extinguished the physical manifestation of that light. With that gesture he truly expressed the quintessence of “replacement theology,” of substituting himself as the Divinely appointed messenger to succeed Moses and override the Torah. But the few of Yehudah, led by the priestly family of the Maccabees who clung to the Torah traditions, threw off the yoke of “cultural oppression” of Hellenism which tried to extinguish the spiritual Light of the Torah. Because of their faithfulness in clinging to these “trees of life” Yehuda is alive and monotheism is preserved for all the world for all time. Thateternal Torah is still the core of Israel’s connection to their LIGHT shining its enlightenment toward home for all Israel and serves as a “light to the nations.”

The Maccabees’ first task was to cleanse the Temple of Greek “enlightened” defilement andrededicate it to G-d’s service. For over two thousand years Jews have celebrated the “great miracle that happened there,” which was not the military victory against all odds, or even the long life of the oil in the rekindled Menorah. Rather, the real miracle was the restoration of Israel via their reconnectedness to G-d by strengthening the observance of the commandments. They made a stand against Hellenism by rejuvenating the observance of the mitzvot [commandments] among the “Hellenized” of the people. Their victory’s Divine sanctification was evidenced by the extra long life of the oil for the Menorah. The single cruse of prepared oil that escaped Greek defilement, (which was normally sufficient only for one day), burned for eight days.(27) It signified G-d’s presence being present all through their struggle. Moreover, this miracle occurred specifically in the Temple, to signify G-d’s triumph over Yavan’s real intention to destroy Israel’s link with the Torah and its sanctity. In its Holy of Holies stood the ark of the Covenant, containing the tablets of the Ten Commandments and Moses’ original Torah. The next year beginning on the 25th of the month of Kislev, eight days of commemoration were inaugurated(28) for the lighting of lamps and for the giving of thanks and praise for G-d’s restoration and salvation of his people from spiritual destruction.

Orientation to Exodus from Edom / Yavan

Rabbi Weinberg asserts that “we must fathom why there is an ‘appointed time’ of Chanukah, and become part of the process begun millennia ago, a process which will continue within the minds and hearts of every Jew yet to live.”(29) A prophetic picture of the process of restoration/rededication for all Israel from Galut Yavan/Edom are embedded in the Torah and haftorah readings that were providentially guided to be read during our encounters with the moed of Chanukah. They unlock our understanding to the Chanukah-related past, present and future history. Many of the readings have to do directly with Yosef, who is to play a key role in the ending of Galut Yavan/ Edom. “According to the sages, Chanukah serves as an introduction and preparation for the future Redemption, i.e., the transformation of darkness into light. On Chanukah the victory over decadence, past sins and misdealings were set aright and the Light which appeared prevailed. Similarly with the future redemption, the sordid corruption which comes in the pre-Messianic era will be relieved by the means of the lights of repentance.”(30)

The rekindled lights of Chanukah truly draw us to the healing of the deep internal rift in the heart of Israel that is experienced on the collective and the individual level. This rift will be healed in the work of Elijah of the last days, when G-d will pour out the spirit of supplication upon Israel and the whole world. That process has already begun as individuals are experiencing the call to healing of their own souls from the affects of the spirit of Esau that pervades the world. This healing of the “hearts” is in effect our beginning restoration to the keeping of the precepts of the Covenant, for G-d said: “Behold I give you My covenant of peace” (Num. 25:12).

For this appointed time in the yearly sacred calendar the instructions for our orientation to this process are written on the markers of the weekly Torah portions set up along the way as we approach Chanukah.(31) Toldot, [Generations] Gen. 25:19-28:9, features the twins Esau and Ya’aqov who start the struggle for the birthright’s preeminence in spiritual leadership that was to last till our Messianic era. The spirit of Esau permeating our Greco-Roman Christian civilization is still contending with Ya’aqov for the birthright to be teachers of mankind. G-d says in the accompanying Haftorah reading that he hated Esau (Mal. 1:1-2:7), and proclaims Ya’aqov’s preeminence in spiritual leadership. These readings identify for all time the quintessential background of the forces at war; the spirit of Esau, an adventurer and man of the world and its spirit, versus the spirit of Ya’aqov, who is “a man of G-dand His spirit.”

The next Torah portion is V’yetze [‘And he went out’, Gen. 28:10-32:3]; it establishes the Covenant and its land reconfirmed to Ya’aqov’s seed, (not Ishmael’s or Esau’s). It’s Haftorah is Hosea 12:13-15, 13:1-114:10, where prideful teenager Ephraim is chastised for trusting in his abilities, the material blessings G-d gave him and “friends” of dubious allegiance which he made among the nations. In portion V’'yishlach [‘And he sent’], Gen. 32:4-36-43, the sages say Ya’aqov wrestles with spirit of Esavian civilization and he is confused by Esau’s advances. At first he does not know whether to welcome or fight his offers of “interfaith cooperation.”(32) They proved to be tricks to prevent him from reentering the Land of the Covenant.

Our father Ya’aqov set a pattern of behavior for his latter days’ children to follow after his heart, (Mal. 3:22-24). After we also have wrestled with the dark spirit of Esau as he did, we also shall receive a “new” identity, our rightful name of Israel restored (Hos. 1:9, Ez. 36:27). This portion also notes to us to remember the Amalekites, descendants of Esau/Edom, whose cruel and murderous spirit appearing in the guise of successive diverse world powers, governments, movements and religions, seeks to destroy Israel throughout the ages (see also Deut. 25:17).

In Genesis 35, the Torah gives the most important clue to the essence of the great repentance for all the sons of Ya’aqov. Before going up to Beth-El, i.e., coming near the House of G-d, Israel must de-idolize his camp. This means that at this station of Israel’s development, it is time for earnest repentance on the individual and corporate levels from 2700 years of conformity to the world of Yavan (Hos. 10:12). To be self-released from the insidious grip of Esau’s hold on our spirits, is difficult to do on the conscious level; for Ephraim is “joined to his idols;” and this seems like second nature to him (Hos. 4:17). It is impossible to do on the unconscious level for “Ephraim is bound to his idols and his sin is hid.” (Hos. 13:12). This implies that the legacy of Yavan’s thinking and logic are rooted in the substructures of our consciousness on individual and collective levels that cannot be perceived consciously and/or without outside help. This “remembering” in the sleep of death caused by Yavan’s sirens’ song is not something we can bring about on our own. This release from the “internal galut of the mind” is to be given only by G-d, for He is our Savior and Redeemer (Ez. 36:25-26).

What we are told by the prophets at this time is not to rely on our own strength to do this, whether it be our own willpower or the strength of 2700 years of “systematic theologies” of Yavan. Doing so only results in bringing idols into Beth El and setting statutes of Zeus among the people and in the Temple. These are the theological, dogma-supported, historical and archetypal idols of our hearts to which we have adhered for the last 2700 (!) years. For all of us who are being called out of Galut Yavan now, the imperative is to set our efforts to the task of cleansing the sanctuary of our hearts. We need to ask the G-d of Israel to bless our “doing” and enable us to be cleansed from “the idols of our hearts,” (Ez. 14:1-7). This means not just from our personal secret sins, but most importantly from the roots of tendencies toward corporate sins of Ephraim which we have inherited from our culture that holds us captive in Galut Edom (Hos. 4:17, 8:11). These Greek roots in the “soil” of the mind cause the people of Yosef to follow Esau’s “worldly way.” That “way” causes the people of Israel in general and the people of Yosef in particular to forget and despise their spiritual birthright (Gen. 24:34, Deut. 6:11-12, Hos. 13:6). To release our hearts from the stranglehold of Esau’s grip takes nothing less than an operation. Only G-d can perform this operation, the “circumcision of the heart” that removes the overlay or shell of Esau’s spirit that envelopes our hearts.(33) Only the El Shaddai enables us to come in touch with His guiding spirit, the Ruach HaKodesh, [the holy spirit] (Deut. 30:6). Only the strength of this “feminine” effect, i.e. “inspiration” of G-d’s holy spirit can displace Yavan’s enchanting, seducing spirit from our individual and corporate hearts. Amazingly and paradoxically, this occurs once we set out to do the commandments and statutes of the Covenant we have cast away (Hos. 4:6, 8:12). This “doing” is our response that summons G-d to reciprocate with His “help,” i.e. “fitting helpmate” to our efforts of repentance. This is actually the reconfirmation of the Covenant, where we do first and then we look forward to hearing more instructions for more doing to come (Ex. 24:7, Deut. 30:1-8). In this we are to emulate our father Abraham who was told by G-d to leave his fathers’ pagan, (worldly) influence and head for the Promised Land, which later became the “land of the Covenant.” He received instructions about that only when he was underway in “doing” G-d’s charge (Gen 12:1-7). We are to imitate his response when he was told by G-d to listen to his “helpmate” Sarah to promote and safeguard the outcome of G-d’s promises (Gen. 21:12). As Abraham acted on Sarah’s prompting and had cast out the influence of Ishmael from Isaac, likewise we are to listen to G-d’s inspiration that will guide us in our distancing ourselves from the influence of Western civilization’s Esavian arrogance, pride and other non-Torah based values and mores (Isa. 51:2). Presently our earnest response to the call of our fathers’ hearts needs to be: “we shall do and then we shall understand.” It is the prerequisite demonstration of our heart’s inner ear being tuned to hear the same message of our fathers (Mal. 3:23-24, Isa. 30). This response cannot be improved upon by any “replacement, new covenant” which under the license of “love” abrogates the eternal Torah and its Covenant The message of the fathers’ hearts to us is the same as what they heard from G-d. That eternal voice is still resonating, and can be heard if our ears are tuned to it. Rabbi Altman, [who perished in the holocaust] taught that this tuning comes only if we turn our hearts toward G-d’s voice with the proper intention:

That is the meaning of the Talmudic saying in relation to the Scriptural verse: “And He said, when you will listen to the voice of the Eternal, of your G-d...” (Lev. 15:26, Berakhot 40a, Sukkah 46b). “When you will hear” is often in the Torah, also expressed here with the double words shamoa tishma which mean: If you with finely tuned hearing of the heart turn to listen to that ancient voice, you will hear it again renewed, but if you turn your heart from it you will not hear it any more.”(34)

Truly, those who have started to hear this Voice, need to recognize it as speaking to their souls, and need to ask G-d to enable them to complete unencumbered with idols the journey home (Isa. 51:9)...

Acting now on G-d’s recommendation in Malachi starts our training and instruction in the “exodus” process [from the grip of Esau] on an individual level (Isa. 8:16, 54:13). This is necessary so we can further repentance on a corporate level for the children of Ephraim and all Israel (Hos. 14:8-9). One of the Chanukah Haftorah readings paired with V’yishlach is Hos. 11:7-12:12. Here G-d’s mercy is to go out with strength for Ephraim and he shall return from the west, the occidental world, the stronghold of Yavan. The additional Haftorah reading is the book of Obadiah. Here Esau is “divested of his mountain, the empire of his claim, where his philosophy and culture transcend the human condition.”(35) Instead of demanding Israel change her allegiance and “convert” to his “liberated” philosophy, he eventually surrenders to the LIGHT of the United House of Israel and then is himself redeemed.

On Chanukah, the portion V’yeshev [“And he dwelt”] Gen. 37:1-40:23 is read. It tells of Yosef’s life and hints that unlike Pharaoh’s butler, we are not to forget Yosef, but remember the reunification and redemption promised to the two families of Israel, the progeny of Ya’aqov and Yosef (Psalm 77:15). The Haftorah portion of Amos 2:6-3: reminds us that the prophetic warnings and instructions are given to “the whole family” of the children of Israel, not just Yehuda (Jer. 2:4, 33:24).

The Haftorah reading before Chanukah alerts us to repent of the all-pervasive characteristic pride of Ephraim, of relying on our own resources and going our own ways (Hos. 12:13-15, 13:1-14:10). This was also the pervasive sin of Sodom; which allowed them to degenerate into sexual depravity and prevented them from hearing G-d. Interestingly this pride to listen to instruction inevitably causes people to end up in all manner of sexual immorality and perversity, and opens us up to the same liability... It also prevents us from hearing G-d, (Isa. 28, Ez. 16:49, Jer. 13:15). For this reason the Torah and Haftorah readings during the season of Chanukah, Numbers 6:22-7:17, Zech. 2:14-4:7, Mal. 1:1-2:7), testify to all who challenge with and hold on to other opinions, that the mandate to supervise ritual, teach and guide the people in truth, justice and peace is made only with the tribe of Levi for all the tribes of Israel. Only the House of Aaron is to light the Menorah, the symbol of G-d’s presence. The Light that will bring the dispersed of Israel and all humanity back to G-d shines only from the Menorah, the symbol of Israel’s Eternal LIGHT.(36) (Isa. 2:3, Micah 4:2, Zech. 8:23).

The illumination of the Torah’s light is hinted by the fact that the word light occurs 36 times in the Torah. This is the number of candles lit during Chanukah. It also happens to be the number of tractates in the Talmud, encompassing the Oral Torah’s instruction on halacha, on how to walk, i. e., on how to fulfill technically the commandments of the written Torah. Rabbi Weinberg points out that “the ark is the symbol of the written Torah, which came from beyond man,” and “the menorah is symbol of the Oral Torah, the hidden light which is within the hands of man to light.”(37) This Oral Torah grew stronger after Israel’s Light enabled the Maccabees to triumph over Greek suppression of that Torah. “Chanukah brought victory to Torah she’beal peh [the Oral Torah] and began the process of absorption and definition required to break out of galut.”(38) It has withstood all attacks upon it and guided Israel in the renewed observance of the commandments generation after generation.(39) It is indeed a legacy left to us by the sages of Israel to whom the Torah, written and Oral was entrusted. Yehuda survived over two millennia of darkness to follow because of its provisions. It is this keeping the mitzvoth according to the Oral Torah’s instructions that has kept Yehudah intact in exile. Today it shines its same light on the paths of the Torah’s commandments, statutes and judgments for all of Israel to walk accordingly, (Psalm 119:105, Prov. 6:23). It provided the light of inspiration for Israel with which to resist the seduction of Yavan and hatred of Edom. In fact, Rabbi Weinberg says; “Chanukah begins the process of rebuilding the whole, mending the schism which led to the galut and the loss of the kingdom, resolving the relationship of conflicting world views.”(40) Chanukah is the triumph of the Oral Torah, the Divinely prescribed medicine for the infection of our souls by the influence of Yavan and Edom. It provides us with the instruction on how to walk out of the galut (Deut. 10:12, Micah 6:8).

Anthropologists have observed that when a people cease to keep their rituals they cease to be a people, often falling into decay, assimilation and oblivion. The time has come in our own days to reclaim the Torah-prescribed “rituals” of daily living according to the statutes of the written and Oral Torah. This is “the way of walking” commanded to Abraham and his seed for ever. This is the very “identity” we have abandoned. The time has come for all of us who hear this call to look earnestly to Abraham our father and keep the covenant as the “seed” of Abraham (Gen. 17:9, Isa. 51:1-2). Just identifying with Israel by name, i.e., “being” and not in “doing,” is still being under the influence of the spirit of Esau. The lights of Chanukah in a sense initiated therestoration process for the kingdom of Israel, for they shine on the eternal path that both Yehudah and Ephraim can walk and agree on because G-d commands them (Amos 3:3, Deut. 5:33). Walking accordingly is the key to more mercy of the Covenant being extended to us (Deut. 7:12). The lights of Chanukah point to the future when Yosef and Yehuda will be completely reconciled and united. For this reason Ezekiel 37:15-22 is always read at Chanukah season:

“...Thus says the L-RD G-D; behold I will take the stick [branch]of Yosef,

which is in the hand of Ephraim and the tribes of Israel his companions

and will put them and it together with the stick [branch] of Yehudah to form one

stick [branch] and they shall be one in my hand...”

Chanukah calls to us, the House of Yosef, the dispersed children of Ya’aqov, the people held captive in Galut Edom. It instructs us before we come home to Beth El, the House of G-d, we are to bury our idols of pride and separatist “better” ways [adopted from the replacement theology] of the gentiles. It tells us to “come clean” and remember the Rock that begat and formed us (Hos. 5:3, Deut. 32:18). It points us to seek David as our general to lead the progeny of young Ephraim to cleanse their ways by taking heed of the statutes of the Torah (Psalm 119:8-9). It inspires us to give thank-offering prayers with Yehuda for the deliverance of Israel in the days of the Maccabees and for the promised restoration to observance of His sanctifying commandments.(41) It points those who may be reading these pages, waking up to their Israelite identities, to wrestle and struggle to be set free from the spirit of Esau rooted in their own minds; for the name Yisrael implies struggle (Gen. 32:28). (It points those who are not of Israel, either to join them or come under the Noachite laws which are delineated and supervised according to rabbinic authority). It shows us the example of the Hasmonaim whose commitment to battle was the commitment to the Oral Torah’s observance. Finally, it draws us into its final prophetic unfolding of the final deliverance from the final galut. This was foreshadowed by the 25th wilderness encampment of Israel called Hasmona, meaning fruitful (Num. 33:29). It portends to draw upon the sons of Zion, swelled by the fruitful sons Yosef/Ephraim(42) (Gen. 41:52, 48:16,19, 49:22). Chanukah wakes us up to the fact of Yosef’s crucial role not just in, but also deliverance from the final galut for all Israel. In the Talmud the sages basing their hopes on the Scriptures, predict that “Esau will fall only by the hands of Yosef’s descendants.”(43) Regathered and standing together with Yehuda and equipped with the Hasmonaim’s legacy of zeal for the Torah, they will make a stand against the sons of Yavan “and the kingdom shall be the L-RD’s.” In the Haftorah reading of Mikketz, (Zech 2:14-4:7), we read of the prophet Zechariah, one of the exiles who returned from Babylon. Writing about the year 520 BCE he rouses the discouraged exiles to new zeal to rebuild the Temple. He assures them of Divine assistance in their restoration and national rehabilitation.. G-d called to them through the prophet: “...not by might or strength, but by my spirit says the L-rd of Hosts,” (Zech. 4:6).(44) Likewise he is also calling to us, latter day returnees from the Babylon of ideas and doctrines of Yavan’s intoxicating deceit, to the absolute truth of G-d’s revealed Torah to Israel. We are also to rely on His assistance to be set free from the vexing oppositions within and without that keep us from returning to the Torah’s instructions on how to walk with G-d. Zechariah tells us also of our role in the Redemption for all Israel.

“For I have bent Yehudah for me, I have filled the bow with Ephraim and raised up my sons, O Zion, against thy sons, O Yavan, and made thee as the sword of a mighty man...” (Zech. 9:13).

“The saviors will go up on Mt. Zion to judge the mount of Esau and the Kingdom will be the L-RD’s...” (Obadiah 1:21).

“Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you and you shall be clean from all your uncleanness and from all your idols will I cleanse you. A new heart will I also give you, and take away the stony heart out of your flesh and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My spirit into you and cause you to follow my statutes and you shall keep my judgments and do them. And you shall dwell in the land that I gave your fathers; and you shall be My people and I will be your G-d” (Ez. 36:25-29).

“...And I will give them one heart and one way that they may fear me for ever...” (Jer. 32:39).

“And it shall come to pass in the last days that the mountain of the L-RD’S House shall be established.... for out Zion shall go forth the Torah and the word of the L-RD from Jerusalem... O House of Ya’aqov, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the L-RD” (Isa. 2: 2-5).

Chanukah’s earlier name was the Feast of Lights. This name denotes its ultimate spiritual significance. Though at this season we remember times of valor in the past and in times to come, the key factor that brings salvation and redemption to Israel are not its military victories over tyrants. Rather by lighting the lights of the Menorah we celebrate the supreme constituent of G-d’s presence that brings salvation to Israel. G-d has commanded Israel to build a sanctuary for that presence that He might dwell in our midst (Ex. 25:8). That presence, [Shekhina] was to dwell not only in the Temple but in each individual member of collective Israel. That sanctuary can be found again in the heart and soul [lamps] of each one called to hear the voice beckoning to return to G-d’s Covenant with the fathers of Israel, which was also made with us (!) (Deut 29:15) When we light the menorah at Chanukah, we ignite the flame of our souls with the Light that cannot be extinguished. It will quicken our souls with the heritage of Jacob. Those of us who are called to return to the Covenant of the LIGHT of Israel now, are pioneer returnees of the Northern House of Israel. As such, when we walk according to the mitzvoth, we kindle the spirits of our fellow humans by example. Our Israelite soul’s light rekindled by returning to the Covenant will light the path for others to follow.

This is why the light of the menorah is holy. It is not to be used for mundane purposes, but for seeing into the soul. When we ask G-d (with no reservations and conditions) to guide us into His truth, He will illuminate our consciences that we may truly see that truth where it is most relevant to us (Prov. 20:27). We can do this reconnecting to G-d, the Primordial LIGHT, with the searching of the “lamps” of our souls which motivates us to Torah-deeds as Abraham and Sarah’s children. The lamps thusly made and lighted are also the observance of the commandments, which bring out the deepest potential of the soul (Psalm 119:5, Prov. 6:23). Of this sanctified lamp Freema Gottlieb appropriately says: “The Lamp forged by the observance of the Mitzvoth [commandments] guides the search through the inner parts of the human being to the central ‘point’ where the Sanctuary is hidden in the Jerusalem of the heart.”(45)

May the Guardian of Israel, who never slumbers and never sleeps, shine His light on your study of the Scriptures in your quest for understanding. May He show you where you need healing and cleansing in the sanctuary of your heart. May His spirit inspire you in your struggle with the deceit of Edom. May He guide and empower you in your own personal part in the Return of the whole house of Israel to wholeness. Write us about your needs and discoveries on that journey to freedom. Pray with us for the deliverance and redemption of all Israel.

“Stronghold of Israel, arise to the help of Israel; deliver Yehuda and Israel, as Thou has promised. Our Redeemer, thou art the L-rd of hosts, the Holy One of Israel. Blessed art thou, O L-rd, who hast redeemed Israel.”