Last night was the sixth night of Chanukah, a holiday celebrating the re-dedication of the Second Temple after the Maccabees defeated the Assyrian-Greek army and reclaimed Jerusalem around 160 BCE.
I LOVE Chanukah — the improbable victory of the under-dog over an emperor’s army reminds us what can be accomplished if a small group of like-minded individuals believe in their cause; the eight nights of light and celebration dispel some of the darkness during the long nights around the winter solstice; I love being on the floor, playing dreidel and doing crafts with my kids; and, let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a holiday that is a “free pass” to eat donuts, chocolate coins, and fried potatoes!!
Nevertheless, I do find it a bit odd that we celebrate the re-dedication of a Temple. After all, it has been nearly 2000 years since the Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans, and very, very few Jews have any interest in returning to the form of Judaism that existed when a Temple stood (i.e., animal sacrifices offered by priests). Even if we wanted to return to “Temple worship,” the reality is that we no longer live in agricultural societies; our work-products are unlikely to create a “pleasing odor” when burned on an alter!!
Recently, Zach noticed that I had an unbuilt model of the Second Temple that I brought home from Israel a few years ago, and we discussed how it might be about time for us to put that model together. As I read the booklet that came with the model, I found this quote:
The Third Temple will bring peace and prosperity to the world, but before it can be built, we must learn to be aware of others and to love unconditionally.
I must admit that, while I have NO interest in returning to animal sacrifices, peace and prosperity for everyone sure sounds nice!
. . . Maybe when we finish celebrating the rededication of the Second Temple, we should dedicate ourselves to becoming aware of others and loving unconditionally, so our children might one day celebrate in a world that provides peace and prosperity for everyone . . . no Temple required!