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What voice would you give to the Chanukah story?

12/16/14

By Rabbi Jennifer Goldsmith

This week many of our consultants were given the chance to read verses from Shabbat on Chanukah and create their own modern midrash, giving voice to either a person or object whose point of view we do not otherwise hear. See some of our creations below and add your own!

MenorahFrom the point of view of the Lamp: The Greeks knocked us over and broke so many things in the Great Hall of the Temple. They left me on the ground, thinking me dead and useless. When Judah Maccabee entered, I was lovingly sat upright and the small cruse of oil was placed in my oil holder. Brighter, brighter – hope it lasts.

From the point of view of the Calendar: On the 25th day of Kislev commence the days of Hanukkah. The calendar asks: Why am I mentioned first? The Torah responds, because just as the calendar was the first commandment God gave the Israelites when they left Egypt, so, too, the rabbis start with the calendar as the first command.

Where did they find the oil? For the Greeks found all the other oil. This cruse of oil was hidden among the Greek statues, for no one would think to look there. A soldier among the Greeks had seen one priest with the oil and taking it for his own had hidden it and was then reassigned. The miracle was in the hiding, in the finding and in the light.

dreidelFrom the point of view of Hallel: Halleluyah! Sing out praises to God for the miracle of Chanukah—for the Hassidim who stood up for Jewish culture and tradition in the face of assimilation. Praise God! For all the individual acts of courage of women and men who dared to be different. May their spirit of courage keep the flame of those who support diversity in our day alive. Amen! Selah.

From the point of view of the High Priest: When I looked at the devastation surrounding me in the Bet HaMikdash I wondered- how can I fail forward? How can we memorialize all the death and destruction to make this moment feel triumphant for posterity? We can light the menorah. the light will bring inspiration and help take away the darkness and bad memories. We can institute the saying of Hallel in gratitude to the Almighty and our brave fighters. Lastly, we need to record and memorialize our triumphs- like The Battle of Emmaus, in which our few men used guerilla warfare to triumph over the mighty Syrian Greek army. (That Battle is still studied at West Point as a perfect example of guerilla warfare!!)

From the point of view of the lamp:
“Hey…it is so dark in here. Oh wait…I think I am about to be lit…”
“…really? That is all you have? This isn’t going to last the night!”
“Hey you…over there…did you get any oil?”
“No!”
“Wait…so it is all my problem? I have to light up this whole place? We better get use to the dark…”

Shabbat 21b
What is [the reason of] Hanukkah? For our Rabbis taught: On the twenty-fifth of Kislev [commence] the days of Hanukkah, which are eight on which a lamentation for the dead and fasting are forbidden. For when the Greeks entered the Temple, they defiled all the oils therein, and when the Hasmonean dynasty prevailed against and defeated them, they made search and found only one cruse of oil which lay with the seal of the High Priest, but which contained sufficient for one day’s lighting only; yet a miracle was wrought therein and they lit [the lamp] therewith for eight days. The following year these [days] were appointed a Festival with [the recital of] Hallel and thanksgiving.

Activity: Take a minute to read through the text. Then create, a short (2-5) sentence modern midrash from the point of view of someone or something unexpected in the text. (For example: the point of view of the oil.)
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