At the back of the hill

Warning: If you stay here long enough you will gain weight! Grazing here strongly suggests that you are either omnivorous, or a glutton. And you might like cheese-doodles.
BTW: I'm presently searching for another person who likes cheese-doodles.
Please form a caseophilic line to the right. Thank you.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006


Dov Bear writes:

By email, I've been hearing from good and thoughtful people who were deeply troubled by my Chanuka post. Though I purposely stopped short of saying the oil miracle never happened, and presented only aggadot, I was still accused of damaging the foundations of Judaism. A typical complaint.......

See here for remainder of article:

He wrote this in response to criticisms received about this posting:

I can understand why he received criticism - not only was his posting 'da bomb', one of his all time best (in my arrogant opinion), but the stuff he said musta made an impact kinda like tossing a turd into the punch-bowl.

In short, 'the Hhanuka miracle of the oil is contradicted by some very respectable sources, and the real meaning of the eight days may be a belated celebration of sukkos. The dreidel is merely a gambling device with Hhanukic significance backformed for the holiday, lights were associated with the time of year separate from that story about the oil, and it ain't about freedom, it's about stubborn resiliance - to quote from a different post by the same author, it " a way of saying we Jews will be forever distinct, forever separate, forever different." '

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Mar Gabriel posted this comment on Dov Bear's site today:

Oh, oh! I have a moirahdik solution: maybe it happened not in the first nor second year, but in the third year!
......Mar Gavriel Homepage 01.03.06 - 4:12 pm #

As I see MarGavriyel's idea, not only moirehdik, but positively riezig.


In the third year, as a sign that it should become a pattern, and thus a recurring celebration.
The ox that gores three times is considered to be an ox that will always gore.
The event that is marked three times is an event always to be marked.

Mark the progression: first year, whack the Syrio-Grecians and celebrate a belated sukkos. Second year, restore and re-sanctify the beis ha mikdash (without the murderous bunch what slaughtered the S-greks, because like Saul and Dovid their hands were stained etcetera). Third year, oil for eight days as an anointing, and in echo of peysach and sukkos.

The Chiddushei HaRim says that even in routine one can rise in one's avodah, and likens the candles to clarity and hischadshus (freshening).

The reason for the candles is pirsumei nisoh - ad she tikale ha regel min ha shuk (to advertise the miracle - (and) till the stilling of feet in the market place). But if the candles were part of the actual miracle, in what way would it be a celebration of the miracle? A literal enactment has a dryness that a symbolic, trans-factual celebration avoids. With both peysach and sukkos, the items and objects used in commemoration are symbolic mamesh. With purim, the entire story is symbolic (and may not have happened in a form even remotely like the mgillo).

So why should this celebration be different than all other celebrations? Why should lights only symbolize lights?
Seems counterintuitive.

And if the lights merely symbolize lights, why keep them lit only till the feet have ceased in the marketplace? For what or whose purpose where there lights in the beis ha mikdash?

Obviously the lights do not symbolize 'lights', but rather something else. Perhaps a breaking of habit -- until the 'regel' (foot, but from the same shoreish as 'hergeil' (routine), 'regilus' (treading of routine) in the market place ceases), perhaps a celebration of victory, perhaps a joyously rude gesture to the outside world.

Lights also stand in for sanctification - but the beis ha mikdash (Temple), after that first year, had already been re-sanctified, so what or who needed to be (re-) sanctified? Perhaps all those who light the candles.

I'm gonna work this over in my mind... It probably comes across as somewhat gibberant at present, but with a bit of luck I'll have whacked it into a more coherent whole by next chnukko.

In the meantime, dear readers, please blast holes in my thoughts. Dispute, contradict, profer alternatives and possible other explanations. I shall rely on y'all to be my critic and editor.

A groysn dank in foroys, und al dos djezz.

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Note: for your regular fix of shtarke denkers, check out the following bloggim:
Dov Bear:
Mar Gabriel:
The Lab Rabbi:
Mavin Yavin:
Steg (dos iz nit der šteg):
Habib (you're going to the moon - bring a toothbrush):
And last, but by no means least (think of him as the Shamesh to the eight lights presented above), the one, the only, the off-pisser of farkramptes, 'not the godol hador', now operating under the new improved monniker 'not my hashkafah blog':
They're all different, they're all good. And you'll be a better person for it.
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Oh, and also check out the medakdekishe Mis-Dakdek collective:
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  • At 5:15 PM, Blogger Mar Gavriel said…

    Great post!

    Obviously the lights do not symbolize 'lights', but rather something else.

    Doesn't Josephus say that the holiday is called "phota" (lights in Greek), but he is unaware of the practice of actually lighting lamps, so he has trouble explaining the meaning of the name? I think he concludes that the name "lights" is a symbol for God's salvation (in the Jewish sense), or the Torah, or sumfin' like that.

    Perhaps a breaking of habit -- until the 'regel' (foot, but from the same shoreish as 'hergeil' (routine), 'regilus' (treading of routine) in the market place ceases), perhaps a celebration of victory, perhaps a joyously rude gesture to the outside world.

    Interesting ideas!

  • At 9:13 AM, Blogger Datingmaster, Jerusalem said…

    thanks for all that-it is very entertaing
    please also come to me I talk about everything my rabbi ddint tell me about sex and now I am Married and have to learn from scratch my blogging friends are helping me

  • At 10:42 AM, Anonymous Moises said…

    So you're saying the lights and oil didn't come together till after the victory of the Maccabees?

    But isn't that the mesora already?

  • At 7:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Back of the hill is an absolute heretic and nobody should read his writings.

    Anybody that reads this will be reading apikorsish garbage.

    This is BITTUL TORAH.


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