Friday, December 11, 2009

In, but not of

Jonathan Tobin explains why Chanukah, which begins at sundown this evening, should remind each of us of the importance of remaining faithful:
.... Far from being a Jewish version of “goodwill toward men” or some trendy contemporary cause, the original story of Chanukah is about something very different: the refusal of a people to bow down to the idols of the popular culture of their day — their resolve to remain separate and faithful to their own traditions. Even more to the point, Chanukah is the story of a particularly bloody Jewish civil war whose outcome has stood ever since as a warning against the perils of discarding faith and freedom to fit it with more popular ideological movements. This is a lesson that applied to the Maccabees, who sought to resist the pull of Hellenism more than 2,000 years ago, as well as to those fighting back against the siren song of totalitarian ideas in the last century.

As such, and as much as the specific religious message of the holiday ought to resonate with Jews, this element of faithfulness and resistance against the pull of both fashion and conventional wisdom is one that can inspire everyone, no matter what their faith or origin. Happy Chanukah!
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