Un-hijacking Hanukah

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7 Responses

  1. Avi says:

    Beautifully put! R’ Shamshon Rephael Hirsch had a similar point of
    view—see Collected Writings I or II, Kisleiv.

  2. dr. william gewirtz says:

    Very well said! I would only change: “The beauty of Yefes can and must live only within the tents of Shem.” to: The beauty of Yefes unconstrained by the tent of Shem can (perhaps even often) be distorted. There is certainly Chachmah BaGoyim, but there are even Tzaddikim in their midst.

    And I wonder if the syrian/greeks who were the protaganists in the chanukah story were to the idealized, authentic culture of greece somewhat like reform jews to orthodox, same family different values and practices, very much outside the tent of Shem.

    a freilichen chanukah!

  3. Phil says:

    I’ve heard it put this way: The Jews are compared to a dove, which is yonah, the same root as Yavan. Yavan is Tzion without the Tzaddik. (not just talking about the *letter*.)

  4. Danny Rubin says:

    Reb Harvey,

    Thank you for this beautiful post.It seems the height of irony that American society uses Chanuka as a vehicle for assimilation into the Christmas season ( I’m sure it is not the only thing Americans do that you find peculiar :-)). Are there any sources that discuss the unfortunate timing of Chanuka adjacent to what is proported to be the birth of Christianity?

    Danny Rubin

  5. Chaim Wolfson says:

    I haven’t had a chance to see how Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch makes his point, but based on my understanding of TIDE, I think that as the “beauty of Yefes” relates to Jews, he would have preferred Rabbi Belovski’s formulation. Non-Jews do not “dwell in the tent of Shem”, but history has shown that they, too, require some sort of moral compass to ensure that they do not distort “the beauty of Yefes”. Germany is a case in point. And for all the positive aspects of Greek culture, I’m not sure how comfortable any of us would have been living as Jews in ancient Athens.

  6. Noam says:

    Yefet in the tents of Shem was the topic of one of the inaugural lectures at the Berlin Theological Seminary, delivered, I think, by Rav David Tzvi Hoffman zatzal. It was reprinted in the last few years.


    Noam, IIRC, the article was translated into English by Dr. Marc Shapiro and appeared in either The Torah U-Madda Journal or Tradition.

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