Judaism Inward Or Outward? The Great Debate #1
Yosef, Yehuda and the Chanukah Story
Class Summary:
The Midrash describes an odd detail in Greek persecution of the Jews during the time of the Chanukah story: The Jew’s were forced to write a renunciation of their faith on the ‘horn of an ox.’ What on earth did the poor ox have to do with this sorry chapter in Jewish history? Kabbalistic and Chassidic thought offers a fascinating answer to this question, by tying the story of Chanukah directly in the story of Joseph’s fierce dispute with his brothers. It is a dispute that has lasted for thousands of years, with important implications today. The children of Jacob were divided into two factions: on one side were ten of the twelve brothers, led by Judah; on the other, Joseph, whose differences with his brothers were the cause of much pain and strife in Jacob’s family. The conflict between Joseph and his brothers ran deeper than a multicolored coat or a favorite son’s share of his father’s affections. It was a conflict between two world-views, between two approaches to life as a Jew in a pagan world. We learn of the Greeks’ perversion of Joseph’s perspective on Judaism, the importance of oil this holiday, and how we set things right each Chanukah by sharing the light and the oil with the world around us.