Chanukah Leadership Rambam and Jewish Pride

Take a moment to introduce yourself.

Share one tradition you do on Chanukah.

Then read the texts and answer the questions below them together.

(א) בְבַיִת שֵׁנִי כְּשֶׁמַּלְכֵי יָוָן גָּזְרוּ גְּזֵרוֹת עַל יִשְׂרָאֵל וּבִטְּלוּ דָּתָם וְלֹא הֵנִיחוּ אוֹתָם לַעֲסֹק בְּתוֹרָה וּבְמִצְוֹת. וּפָשְׁטוּ יָדָם בְּמָמוֹנָם וּבִבְנוֹתֵיהֶם וְנִכְנְסוּ לַהֵיכָל וּפָרְצוּ בּוֹ פְּרָצוֹת וְטִמְּאוּ הַטָּהֳרוֹת. וְצָר לָהֶם לְיִשְׂרָאֵל מְאֹד מִפְּנֵיהֶם וּלְחָצוּם לַחַץ גָּדוֹל עַד שֶׁרִחֵם עֲלֵיהֶם אֱלֹהֵי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ וְהוֹשִׁיעָם מִיָּדָם וְהִצִּילָם וְגָבְרוּ בְּנֵי חַשְׁמוֹנַאי הַכֹּהֲנִים הַגְּדוֹלִים וַהֲרָגוּם וְהוֹשִׁיעוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל מִיָּדָם וְהֶעֱמִידוּ מֶלֶךְ מִן הַכֹּהֲנִים וְחָזְרָה מַלְכוּת לְיִשְׂרָאֵל יֶתֶר עַל מָאתַיִם שָׁנָה עַד הַחֻרְבָּן הַשֵּׁנִי:

(1) During the period of the second Temple, when the Greek kings were in power, they proclaimed decrees against the Jewish people, abrogating their religion and forbidding them to study the Torah or to perform the divine precepts. They laid their hands on their wealth and their daughters; they entered the Temple and broke through it, defiling the things that were pure. The people of Israel were sorely distressed by their enemies, who oppressed them ruthlessly until the God of our fathers took pity, saved and rescued them from the hands of the tyrants. The Hasmonean great priests won victories, defeating the Syrian Greeks and saving Israel from their power. They set up a king from among the priests and Israel's kingdom was restored for a period of more than two centuries, until the destruction of the second Temple.

What, according to Rambam, was the issue with Greek leadership?

Why was it important for the Hasmoneans to fight to gain control?

(ז) נֵר חֲנֻכָּה מִצְוָה לְהַנִּיחוֹ עַל פֶּתַח בֵּיתוֹ מִבַּחוּץ בַּטֶּפַח הַסָּמוּךְ לַפֶּתַח עַל שְׂמֹאל הַנִּכְנָס לַבַּיִת כְּדֵי שֶׁתִּהְיֶה מְזוּזָה מִיָּמִין וְנֵר חֲנֻכָּה מִשְּׂמֹאל. וְאִם הָיָה דָּר בַּעֲלִיָּה מַנִּיחוֹ בַּחַלּוֹן הַסְּמוּכָה לִרְשׁוּת הָרַבִּים. וְנֵר חֲנֻכָּה שֶׁהִנִּיחוֹ לְמַעְלָה מֵעֶשְׂרִים אַמָּה לֹא עָשָׂה כְּלוּם לְפִי שֶׁאֵינוֹ נִכָּר:

(ח) בִּימֵי הַסַּכָּנָה מַנִּיחַ אָדָם נֵר חֲנֻכָּה בְּתוֹךְ בֵּיתוֹ מִבִּפְנִים וַאֲפִלּוּ הִנִּיחוֹ עַל שֻׁלְחָנוֹ דַּיּוֹ.

(7) It is a commandment to place the Chanukah lamp at the entrance of one's house from the outside within the handbreadth adjacent to [the edge of] the entrance, so that the mezuzah will be to the right and the Chanukah lamp to the left. And if he was living in an attic, he places it in the window that is adjacent to the public domain. One who has placed the Chanukah lamp above twenty ells (cubits) has not done anything, because it is not recognizable.

(8) In times of danger, one places the Chanukah light within his house inside. And even if he places it on his table, it is enough for it.

Why do you think Rambam asks us to place the menorah in public view?

Rambam is also concerned about danger when lighting a menorah.

In your life, when have you made your Jewish identity and practices a public display?

When have you kept your identity hidden?

What factors into your choices? When and why do you think it would be important to be publicly Jewish?

About our source:

Mishnah Torah - Author: Rambam

נוצר/נערך במצרים של ימי הביניים (1176 - 1178 לספירה בקירוב)

Composed in Middle-Age Egypt (c.1176 - c.1178 CE).

The third book is Zemanim (Times). Hanukah u-Megillah; laws of Hanukkah and Purim.

Merged from Sefaria Edition. Translated by R. Francis Nataf, 2019, Maimonides' Mishneh Torah, edited by Philip Birnbaum, New York, 1967