Monday, December 22, 2008

#14 - CHANUKA: Jewish Activism - Part 1

Happy Chanuka!

On a personal note, this is my very first Chanuka since I gave myself my second Hebrew name - Matisyahu, the original hero of Chanuka. I already wrote up about him last month in my 8th post, so I won't be going into details about him per se. However, we have had fortunately quite a few other Jewish heroes which I will be mentioning shortly.

But first, I want to point out that this is my 14th post; and interestingly, as I wrote about in my 7th post - "Countdown to Bircat HaChama", the Mishna Tractate Pesachim starts off with "Ohr L'Arba'ah Asar" - "The night of the 14th" referring to the beginning of 14 Nissan, the night before Passover, when we search for the Chametz. Literally, the phrase can be translated as "The Light of the 14th". And indeed, Chanuka - the Holiday of Light - is what will be discussed in our 14th post. Indeed, the very first time that the word Ohr/Light is mentioned in the Torah "G-d said "Let there be light" is its 25th word - which corresponds to 25 Kislev - when we light the Menorah at the beginning of the night.


Last week, I came across an absolutely amazing thing. A 2,000 year old computer built by the Greeks! Basically, it's a astronomical time clock which includes a dial for the 19 year lunar cycle with a corresponding dial for 235 lunar months, allowing for the solar & lunar calendar to correspond to the same date, as reflected in our present calendars - Hebrew & secular. It's interesting to note that the Rambam/Maimonidies in his magnum opus Mishna Torah, has a whole section entitled Hilchot Kiddush HaChodesh - Laws of Month Sanctification, which consists of 19 chapters and 235 paragraphs (corresponding to the number of solar years & lunar months!), brings some information from the Greek astronomers about this subject which at times may have seemed even more correct in their calculations than figured out by the rabbis! This is nothing of such surprise since our sages have said that if one says that the non-Jews have wisdom, believe him, but that the non-Jews have Torah, do not believe him. By the way, you can check up on more information on this computer that is in working condition once again at

While the Greeks may have had great wisdom, it didn't do much good in terms of being humane or racism. They liked our Bible all right - they called it biblos, meaning book, just another nice book of wisdom on the shelf. But they viciously attempted to wipe out our religion. The three main categories they concentrated on attempting to prevent us Jews from practising was circumcision, Shabbat, and Chodesh-Sancification of the Month. The first two is quite understandable - at that time, virtually only Jews were circumcised, and Shabbat was no less of our marking as Jews. But what was the deal on sactifying the moon - when the Jewish court declared a new month based on the sighting of the moon? Certainly, Jews as any other culture have to have some system of determining time for their calendar? But this is the key - KIDDUSH HaChodesh - SANCTIFICATION of the month. The Hebrew word is based on the word KADOSH - Holy. The Greeks didn't care about us eating potato latkes or Sufganiyot (I forgot - they didn't exist before Chanuka - our holiday of defeat over the Greeks). Even Hitler had a Jewish cook whom he spared from the Holocaust. But what bothered them was that we are KADOSH - Holy People, installing Kedusha - Holiness into our daily lives, installing real Jewish meaning in our mundane practices, including our calendars. Hashem gave us - with the Jewish Court in charge - the great responsibility of having control over time for the purpose of serving Him. The Jerusalem Talmud tells us that a girl under three years old who somehow lost her virginity could regain it up to three years old; and if in the interim, the Jewish Court declared an extra month of Adar (as it done every two or three years), it could sometimes make the difference as to whether or not such a girl will regain her virginity. Such is the power of Jewish time - and the secret ingredient is KEDUSHA/HOLINESS!


Now that we have mentioned something about our Bible/T'Nach, let's turn to the very LAST verse in our HOLY Bible. While in our own Bible as finalized by the Sages does not include the period of history which led to Chanuka - the LAST holiday as mandated by the Sages, everything has its way of being hinted at. This is the verse:
"So says Coresh, King of Persia: Hashem the G-d of heaven has given me all the kingdoms of the world, and he commanded me to build a house for him in Jerusalem in Judea/Judah; whoever among you among His people - Hashem his G-d is with him - can go up (make Aliya to Israel)." (Chronicles II 36:23)

Yes, the final message of our Bible is to move to Israel for the ultimate purpose of Jewish spirituality with is centered in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Indeed, it was Judah/Yehudah the Maccabbee with his army who entered the Holy Temple to light the Menorah once again following their conquest of the Greek army, which took place on the night of 25 Kislev. It was the following year when the Rabbis instituted Chanuka as a new Jewish holiday.

What (Hebrew) year was this? Look at the chapter number and verse number of the very last verse in the Bible (mind you, the Christians have a different order in their Bible), and you will have the answer - 3623! So, the LAST holiday mandated by the Rabbis - Chanuka, was instituted in the year that is hinted by the numbering of the LAST verse in our Jewish Bible.
Amazing! Additionally, this final verse in the T'nach has 30 words, and the name of Yehudah the Maccabbee is the Gematria of 30, as this name Yehudah is also one of the words in this final verse of 30 words. An additional connection of the number 30 to Chanuka is that the Psalm recited at the end of our morning prayers during Chanuka is Psalm 30.

It is actually ironic that the numbering system of the chapters and verses in our Bible has nothing to do with Jewish origin. This was actually done by Christians to make it easier to refer to a particular place in the Bible. However, Hashem definitely played a hand in this, as I have seen numerous examples of this. It's also interesting to note that this very last verse mentions the name of a non-Jewish king who granted the Jewish nation their religious rights once again following their exile and destruction of the first Temple some 52 years earlier. However, this verse also mentions Jerusalem & Judah. Perhaps the mention of Judah hints to none other than the time period of Judah the Maccabbee who returned to the rebuilt Second Temple in Jerusalem with renewed Jewish rights once more over two centuries after King Coresh's declaration. Mind you, the Temple/Beit HaMidash, has the Gematria of Matisyahu (861), the father of Judah the Maccabbe. It could very well be that Judah the Maccabbee came to the Temple to light the Menorah in the Temple, light it also in memory of his father Matisyahu- who inspired his son - who passed away before this took place. Perhaps this is where the concept of lighting a Yahrzeit candle in memory of a deceased relative comes from!


Now on today's special Torah reading for Chanuka (Numbers Chapter 7): We begin reading about the leaders of the tribes of Israel bringing Korbanot - animal sacrifices in the Mishkan/Tabernacle, the forerunner of the Beit HaMikdash/Temple. On all eight days of Chanuka, we read the breakdown of the sacrifices that different leaders brought. They all brought the exact same things - just with the particular intentions as related to their particular tribe. Today's reading for the 1st day of Chanuka includes the Korbanot of Nachshon Ben Aminadav, the leader of the tribe of Yehuda/Judah. Nachshon is no stranger to Jewish history. We are told in the Midrash that when the Jews came to the Reed Sea (not the Red Sea, a mistranslation from Christians), in hot pursuit of the Egyptians, they were afraid to get into their swimming trunks and dunk in. It was none other than Nachshon - also the brother-in-law of Aaron who married Nachshon's sister - who took the plunge. Thus, it made most sense that Nachshon who was the 1st to jump in - in self-sacrifice of the chances of being drowned, should be the 1st of the leaders of the tribes to bring his SACRIFICES. Indeed, he brought his sacrifices on the very day that his brother in law Aaron, began his function as the 1st Cohen Gadol/High Priest, the ancestor of the Hashmonaim/Maccabbees! Moreover, Judah the Maccabbee, a Jewish hero,bore the same name as the tribe of Judah, whose 1st leader was Nachshon, another Jewish hero. Morever, Nachshon was an ancestor of King David, whose name David has the Gematria of 14, which is the number of this post. On every day of Chanuka, we recite Psalm 30, which begins with Mizmor Shir Chanukat HaBayit L'David - The Song of the Dedication of the Temple by David. His tribe of origin Yehudah/Judah, as well as the name of Judah the Maccabbee, is the Gematria of 30, the number of this Psalm. King David himself was another Jewish hero - scholar and warrior. And our modern day Nachshon/Matisyahu/King David is none other than Rabbi Meir Kahane (as well as his son Rabbi Binyamin Kahane) ZTVK'L HY'D, whose middle name is David; and also a Cohen like Matisyahu and his sons were.

Speaking of which, Rabbi Kahane's name hints especially to the first day of Chanuka. You see, the Gematria of his first name Meir is 251, for which the Hebrew letters spelling this number is Reish, Noon, Aleph. Now, using these letters, the Noon & Reish spells the word Ner/candle and Aleph has a numerical value of one, so Ner Aleph in the context of Chanuka refers to the first night of Chanuka when we light one candle/light, marking the very evening that Judah the Maccabbee entered the Temple and lit the Menorah. And then, the first two letters of Kahane's family name - Kaf, Hei - is the number 25, hinting to the 25th of Kislev when we light the first candle, and the last two letters of the name - Noon, Aleph - begin the words Ner Echad, which means "one candle". Coincidence? Indeed, Rabbi Kahane, like the Maccabbees, was not just another Cohen, but a Jewish hero of the highest order.


The number 14, as per this post, is also the Gematria of Yad - Hand. This is the symbolism for two things - 1)The Cohanim who use their hands to bless the Jewish people, as you will see on tombstones of some Cohanim. 2) Jewish activism, which was the symbol chosen for the JDL, which was founded by Rabbi Meir Kahane.

Speaking of Rabbi Kahane, this is where Jewish activism comes into play. I was just at a Shabbaton in Beit El where we had an activists' meeting pertaining to the state of affairs going on in Israel and what we can do about it, especially in terms of voting. The voting is the easy part, what we discussed doing is contacting the party we want to vote for and doing something on their behalf to make it easier to get their foot in the Knesset door to help reverse the crazy, evil decisions of the Knesset, among which was the recent expulsion of the rightful, legal Jewish owners/tenants from the Peace House; immediately after which, the Hamas was talking about resuming suicide bombings.

Well my friends, there is ONLY ONE party to vote for - the Jewish Front, headed by Baruch Marzel, now in corroboration with Rabbi Sholom Dov Wolpe, a Chabad rabbi who has been quite outspoken with his pro-Israel stance putting his reputation and security on the line. Three years ago before last elections in Israel, a group of rabbis went around to potential Knesset candidates asking them to sign to a statement that should there be a coalition in the Knesset which will allow concessions to the Arabs that they will not join; meaning, that they will resign from being a Knesset member (without continuing receiving a fat pay check, honor, and fame). My friends, there was ONLY ONE who signed this - Baruch Marzel. There were other "religious" people or parties that had excuses, or said that they will have to have a meeting. And yes, I voted for Baruch Marzel. Unfortunately, he didn't have enough votes to have even one seat in the Knesset. Too many wanted to vote for a more moderate "nationalistic party" under a "religious" control; but without getting into all kinds of details, there was a new party just the other week starting to form called HaBayit HaYehudit - Jewish Home who had good intentioned people on their list, but when Marzel applied to be a member - the ones in charge rejected him. Now, it seems like this potential party is falling apart as I am writing this.

The citizens in Israel are starting to get fed up once and for all with these games. NOW is the time to take action, and vote for someone who if will not be the next Prime Minister, will be able to make a difference WITHOUT COMPROMISE - what Kahane stood for. Enough for one blog, but you can contact the Jewish Front by E-mail at, and check on more information on this only real right-wing party at (you can press on the English button). For those who are living outside of Israel who want to vote if eligible, I will attempt to find out information on this, hopefully in time for my next blog. And especially for those who have relatives and friends in Israel, don't be afraid to tell them the truth as to who to vote for. Israel's security, and the security of Jews worldwide (not even a month since the Mumbai attack) is dependent on our Hishtadlut - our efforts to fight for our rights of the Land of Israel once more - and then Hashem will do the rest.

Stay tuned for part 2 of Chanuka: Jewish Activism. Expect to be posting on Thursday evening Israel time.

1st day of Chanuka - 25 Kislev 5769

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