The Tabernacle Times
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December 2015                             Kislev - Tevet 5776                         Volume 10 Issue 12

Hanukkah

Rabbi & Brenda
by
Rabbi Jeremy
and
Brenda Storch
  Hanukkah commemorates the historical victory of the Maccabees over the Greeks. The Jewish rebellion started in the year 167 B.C.E., after a century of Greek cultural assimilation. In the village of Modiin, Greek forces commanded the Jews to make offerings to a pagan god. One submissive Jew complied. This so enflamed the elderly priest Mattathias that he sprang up, killed the servile Jew, and led his five sons and handful of followers into the hills for a
During this time, let the Light of Messiah shine forth in a dark world. Chanukah is the holiday of standing up boldly for your beliefs, of not yielding an inch.

Happy Hanukkah
protracted guerilla war against the Greeks and their Hellenistic Jewish cohorts.

What was the Greek strategy for destroying Judaism?

Surprisingly, when the Greeks attacked the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, they didn't try to destroy it or burn it down. Rather, they defiled it. They offered pig sacrifices and brought a statue of Zeus into the Temple. The Greeks transformed the Temple into a house of idol worship. No longer did light stream from the Temple; the word of God was silenced.
 
The Greeks didn't want to totally destroy Judaism. Unlike Pharaoh in Egypt, Haman of the Purim story, or Hitler, the Greeks did not want to exterminate the Jews.
  
Rather, it was "Judaism as a way of life" that the Greeks opposed. They sought "li-Challel" -- literally, to make it empty. They wanted to defile Jewish holy objects. To tear the heart and meaning out of Judaism. To take away the depth and reduce it to symbolism. To sap its spiritual core and to render it impotent.
 
This explains why the Greeks carefully scoured the Temple grounds searching for pure flasks of oil (bearing the seal of the High Priest). They knew that defiling the oil would silence the light of the Menorah -- the light of Torah which reflects the depth and meaning of Jewish national and religious life. The Greeks knew that was the way to best "conquer" the Jewish nation.
 
Olive oil is symbolic of the Jewish people.  Do you know how you get the finest oil from an olive?  You've got to press it really hard.
 
Life creates a lot of pressure, and it is often precisely at those times when we are pushed to the breaking point that our finest moments shine through. To persevere and overcome enormous pressure is one of the defining challenges of life. It is also a defining theme in Jewish history.
 
With Messiah Yeshua,  we are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).  Can we experience victory every day.
 
The message of Chanukah is: Hold onto your religious convictions, never submit to the assimilated majority, no matter how numerous or sophisticated they are, and fight for your ideals. As Believers, our assurance is in Messiah. 

Psalm 121: My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.

There is a custom associated with the lighting of the Menorah, called Pirsumay Nisa -- "publicizing the miracle." The menorah must be kindled in a way that it can be seen outside, by the largest number of passers-by. This means at your doorstep, in your big picture window, etc. Chanukah takes place in the winter, the season when the least amount of light is physically present each day.

It's not enough to illuminate one's own home with the light and warmth of Torah and Messiah, but as Matthew 5:15-16 says,
 
"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
                (Continued Top Next Column)
 

The flames of the menorah are small and silent. Yet as the candles increase in number each night so does their brilliance shine throughout our homes. During this busy holiday season, it is easy to push aside the significance of the lights.  The same can be said for our spiritual growth.  It is easy to let everyday activities take time away for our Bible study and prayer life.
 
Let the light of the menorah refresh your soul.  Instead of rushing through lighting the candles and then busily returning to your evening duties, sit and ponder "deep-down" issues.
 
Ask yourself a question, and then sit quietly in front of the silent glow of your menorah, listening for the soft sound of the Rauch HaKodesh. It may take a few minutes or even longer, but be patient and the answer will come.
 
Chanukah celebrates the victory of the unlikely, the improbable, the virtually impossible. It is the antithesis of the still-prevailing Greek worldview which adulates logic and the laws of nature as absolute. Chanukah proves that in a world run by God, miracles can happen.
 
The message of the Maccabees recapturing the Temple and lighting the menorah, is because God determined to do so. According to the laws of nature there was enough oil to burn for only one day. But nature is nothing but the will of God repeated in a predictable ways. If God's will is for the unpredictable -- the "miraculous" -- then oil meant to burn for one day will last for eight.

In a deeper sense, this is what we are supposed to see when gazing into the hypnotic glare of the menorah lights. We see a world where the physical is really only the outer garb for an inner, spiritual essence -- the "will of God."

"For all the eight nights of Chanukah, these lights are holy. We are not permitted to use them; rather only to look at them." (Chanukah prayer)

The only thing you are allowed to do with the lights of the Chanukah menorah is to see them. On the surface, this doesn't seem very demanding. But really the idea is phenomenally deep.

How many times have you driven to work, and once you arrived realized you have no recollection of the trip?

"Highway hypnosis" happens to all of us - and not just in the car. The mind, it seems, has a mind of its own. Our thoughts and musings often put us somewhere other than where we are. We may appear to be working, cooking, watering the lawn, or listening to a friend, but our minds are elsewhere. Perhaps we've traveled into the past - reviewing some bygone event. Or we may be looking toward the future.

The result is we literally don't see, don't experience, what is right in front of us.

Our relationship to the menorah is one of looking and seeing. We see the flames and they are far more than they appear to be. They are not merely candles. They are beacons. They call out to us to turn aside from everything else and to see what is really there. Holiness, transcendence, spirituality and Godliness can be present even in a little flame.

Let us take time to see the illuminating light Messiah - the Light that shines in the darkness. 
 

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The Tabernacle in Branson The Tabernacle is an outreach of Tabernacle of Praise Ministries, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. The Tabernacle is led by Messianic Rabbi Jeremy Storch and is located in Branson, Missouri. If you have questions or comments, please email us at: info@TheTabernacleInBranson.com. Visit The Tabernacle Website at www.TheTabernacleInBranson.com