Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Women and Chanukah

Women and Chanukah. Ma Hakesher??

We, the female representatives, sometimes get a little bit lost when it comes to great historical nissim. Like where were the women? How did things affect the women?? We want to be connected to the past, we yearn to commemorate just like the men, yet sometimes we fail to relate to historical events and we don't actually feel the extent of the neis of freedom that occurred. So, Chanukah, what can we relate to and thereby feel a slight connection to a war that happened many years ago? In our heads we think, men fought against men, probably the women stayed home and had no clue what was even going on. What does this have to do with me?

And then we learn this:
The Gemara Shabbos 23a states that a woman is obligated in the mitzva of ner chanukah because we too were involved. A lot of commentaries say the way we were involved was Yehudis using her beauty to get into the general and kill him, severing his head and when the enemy saw his head they fled. But most people also say that event with Yehudis happened way before Chanukah, and actually had nothing to do with the mitzvah of ner chanukah. So how do we relate to the mitzvah?

Rashi, plain and simple holy holy Rashi, says the following: 
In the days when the Greeks restricted the Jews from learning Torah, from Bris Milah, from Rosh Chodesh, from keeping Shabbos... they had one more law we rarely hear about. When a young girl would get engaged during those times, beautiful young brides who looked similar to us, thought similar to us... got excited, emotional, scared, vulnerable happy... They'd count down the days to their wedding, the day of hope, the day they'd become whole. Before their chupah, the Greeks would come snatch the bride and seclude her in a room with the Greek general. No Jewish bride was allowed to her chupah without being first secluded with the evil nasty sadistic cruel Greek general. 

We all know what went on in there, and we all can relate to the pain, the tremors, the anger, and the ultimate redemption from these pure cruel ways. We can imagine the tears, the confusion, and the joy when Hashem made the neis of freedom from the Greeks. We can feel the bars being lifted, the ecstasy women must have felt back then, when this was no longer what they had to endure on the way to their chuppahs. With this in mind, let us women connect to the miracle of Chanukah and how Hashem sets everyone free from their own personal slaveries. From their own wars, their individual pain.
Let us light the menorah, play dreidel, sing Hallel, and eat latkes with the greatest thanks to Hashem. 
Happy Chanukah!

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