Hanukah and Christmas

  • Christianity was born from the Jewish home
  • Judaism emphasizes family purity and child education
  • Christianity emphasizes becoming priests that are celibate before marriage and family

The Jewish people are now ending the celebration of Hanukah.  Christmas will begin next week. On the holiday of Hanukah the Jewish people light a candelabra called a Menorah of eight candles. The first night they light one candle and add a candle each night until the eighth day. Two blessings are recited when lighting the candles. The first blessing is proclaiming that the holiday of Hanukah is a commandment from God to the Jewish people. The second blessing is proclaiming that God did a great miracle to our forefathers at the time of the second temple in Jerusalem.

Most important on Hanukah is emphasized the importance of the survival of the Jewish nation.  The Jewish people became a nation at Mount Sinai when they received the Ten Commandments. They succeeded to conquer the land of Israel and build their holy temple in Jerusalem. The land of Israel was portioned to the twelve tribes of Israel each one connected to their father Jacob who had twelve sons. Judaism emphasizes family and child education.

The word Hanukah means dedication related to the holy temple; the root of the word Hanukah means education. Jewish education was threatened by the Greeks who conquered the land of Israel in Biblical times. The Jews stood strong and fought to give their children the proper Jewish education. The Greeks wanted the Jews to accept their secular ways and educate Jewish children according to the Greek culture. The Jews held on strong and fought valiantly for Jewish education and were victorious. Hanukah celebrates the victory of a small number of Jews called the Maccabees over the Greeks. Even today the ultra-orthodox Jews feel threatened by the demand of America and Israel for them to teach secular subjects.

Netanyahu lighting a Hanukah menoral at the Western Wall.

Christmas is similar to the Jewish holiday of Passover, On Christmas is celebrated the birth of Jesus. Jesus was a Jew who lived in the same times when was the miracle of Hanukah. In the merit of the valiance of the Maccabees Jesus as a child was able to receive strict religious Jewish education. Jesus began his life in Jewish schools where was emphasized the learning of Jewish law.

In Jewish schools through learning Jewish law is acquired fear of God. Jewish law teaches reward and punishment for sins the fear of God which is called the beginning of wisdom. There is another aspect of spirituality in Judaism which is often suppressed which is unity of God. Unity of God is universal while Jewish law teaches Jews to separate from the ways of the world and to be a separate nation in the world. These are two aspects of the Torah given by Moses to the Jewish people on Mount Sinai.

The Torah is divided into practical teachings necessary for education of children and deeper secrets for those who have already reached a ripe age, above forty years old. About these secrets in the Torah it says, the secrets of God are for those that fear him. These secrets in the Jewish tradition were reserved for special righteous saints. Jesus may have been one of these special righteous saints that merited to the deeper wisdoms of the Torah. He taught his followers these deep secrets. Amongst the sages of the Jewish people only a small number of them were learned in the deep secrets. These deep secrets were forbidden to teach publicly.

Jewish education and family life is not the whole Torah. Judaism considers it to be more important than the study of the deep secrets. Jesus and his students rebelled against those who prohibited the teaching of the secrets of the Torah. They separated themselves from formal Judaism and made their own congregations. The Jewish traditional scribes refused to change their tradition. They rejected the teachings of Jesus. When Jesus and his followers separated themselves from the Jewish community they were considered a threat to the traditional way of Judaism. Jesus said that to connect to God as a celibate can be more important than to marry. He based his teachings on the secrets of the Torah.

Judaism and Christianity share the Torah given by Moses to the Jewish people. In Judaism child education and family purity comes first even before esoteric Jewish teachings. Many Rabbis and Jews never study the Kabballah. Hanukah is a national Jewish holiday praising the Torah scholars of the Jewish people for maintaining the Orthodox Jewish tradition throughout the ages. Christianity wrote a new law and gospel to provide Christian families with the proper religious education emphasizing fear of God. Judaism does not separate the nation into two parts like Christianity married couples and priests who are celibate. In Judaism even a priest must be married to work in the temple. The Jewish people are one nation a holy family on earth. Each Jew accepts the commandment to be fruitful and multiply. Esoteric subjects of the Bible are reserved for those that have already raised a family.

President Rivlin meets with the Pope at the Vatican.

There is competition between religions. Islam is a religion which also emphasizes family life.  Esoteric teachings were given secondary importance in Islam to the study of the law. During the Ottoman empire in Acre today Akko, Israel there was a sage who preached esoteric teachings to Muslims and his was imprisoned. His Muslim followers became Baha”i faith similar to the way Christianity broke off from Judaism.

Complete suppression of esoteric teachings of the bible is impossible. Eventually the people will rebel and break off from their tradition. Similarly today in Judaism the Chassidic movement broke off from traditional Judaism to allow the study of Jewish mysticism.  There is truth that child education and family purity are essential for all human beings. There is an argument if children come first before esoteric teachings Unity of God. This is forever a spiritual conflict.

Christianity became the religion of Jesus the Messiah who started a new path of spirituality. Christians are also concerned about child education and family purity. Pope Francis connected Corona Pandemic to a problem in the family structure of mankind. More people today are becoming atheists which makes it more important the study of esoteric spirituality as part of adult education. Chassidic Jewish leaders especially Lubavitch teach publicly esoteric teachings of Judaism with the goal of returning Jewish souls to accept the religious family structure in Judaism.

The highest level of spirituality is freedom. Jesus is called the Messiah of freedom through his resurrection. Moses brought freedom to the Jewish people at Mount Sinai. Before a child can learn to run he has to learn to walk. Children have to be educated in the dangers of life, the fear of God . Spiritual freedom is the highest goals to achieve in life but first you have to be children before you can become adults.

Judaism and Christianity are in competition. Islam, Judaism and Christianity are in competition. Competition can sometimes become dirty, but not if each side recognizes and respects the other side. Judaism came before these other religions. The goal of Judaism from the beginning was to produce special souls born from their holy family. The leader of the company producing Pfizer vaccine is Jewish the son of a holocaust survivor. On this video he lights the Hanukah candles which should bring light and healing to the whole world.

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David Wexelman

Rabbi David Wexelman is the  author of five books on the topics of World Unity and Peace, and Progressive Jewish Spirituality. Rabbi Wexelman is a member of the American Friends of Maccabee, a charitable organization helping the poor in the United States and in Israel.  Donations are tax deductible in the USA.
http://www.worldunitypeace.org

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