Torah on Tap - Chanukah 5778/2017 The Use (And Misuse) of Power: How the Chanukah Story Can Guide us Toward Inspired Leadership
1 א

Alan Dershowitz, The Genesis of Justice (2000), p. 205

In the beginning, all "law" is ad hoc. It involves random orders and threats from the powerful to the powerless.

2 ב

Antiochus' oppression against the Jews was unusual. He did not do the same for other non-Jewish populations under his authority. There were some who changed his royal name Epiphanes by one letter to 'Epimanes'.

3 ג

"By 167 the enforced Hellenization of the Jews reached its peak; the Jews were compelled, under penalty of death "to depart from the laws of their fathers, and to cease living by the laws of God. Further, the sanctuary in Jerusalem was to be polluted and called after Zeus Olympius" (II Macc. 6:1, 2). The nature of these decrees has puzzled most scholars and students of the Hellenistic period. Ancient polytheism for the most part was tolerant, and this particular brand of Hellenization was not applied by Antiochus to any segment of the non-Jewish population under his rule. It would seem, therefore, that religious oppression appeared to Antiochus to be the only means of achieving political stability in Palestine, since it was that country's religion, if anything, that was out of place in a predominantly Hellenized empire. It would be wrong, however, completely to disregard the nature of the king himself. His strange behavior, causing contemporaries to refer to him as Epimanes ("madman") instead of Epiphanes, obviously played a major part in the formation of such violent policies." (Encyclopedia Judaica)

4 ד

(י) שְׁמַעְיָה וְאַבְטַלְיוֹן קִבְּלוּ מֵהֶם. שְׁמַעְיָה אוֹמֵר, אֱהֹב אֶת הַמְּלָאכָה, וּשְׂנָא אֶת הָרַבָּנוּת, וְאַל תִּתְוַדַּע לָרָשׁוּת:

(10) Shemayah and Avtalyon received from them. Shemayah says, "Love work, hate lordship and do not become familiar with the government."

5 ה

(ג) הֱווּ זְהִירִין בָּרָשׁוּת, שֶׁאֵין מְקָרְבִין לוֹ לָאָדָם אֶלָּא לְצֹרֶךְ עַצְמָן. נִרְאִין כְּאוֹהֲבִין בִּשְׁעַת הֲנָאָתָן, וְאֵין עוֹמְדִין לוֹ לָאָדָם בִּשְׁעַת דָּחְקוֹ:

(3) Be careful about the government, as they approach a man only when they need him. They seem like good friends in good times, but they don't stay for him in time of his trouble.

6 ו

Lord Acton, "Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely."

7 ז

(יד) הוּא הָיָה אוֹמֵר, אִם אֵין אֲנִי לִי, מִי לִי. וּכְשֶׁאֲנִי לְעַצְמִי, מָה אֲנִי. וְאִם לֹא עַכְשָׁיו, אֵימָתָי:

(14) He [Rabbi Hillel] used to say: If I am not for me, who will be for me? And when I am for myself alone, what am I? And if not now, then when?

8 ח

(י) אַרְבַּע מִדּוֹת בָּאָדָם. הָאוֹמֵר שֶׁלִּי שֶׁלִּי וְשֶׁלְּךָ שֶׁלָּךְ, זוֹ מִדָּה בֵינוֹנִית. וְיֵשׁ אוֹמְרִים, זוֹ מִדַּת סְדוֹם. שֶׁלִּי שֶׁלְּךָ וְשֶׁלְּךָ שֶׁלִּי, עַם הָאָרֶץ. שֶׁלִּי שֶׁלְּךָ וְשֶׁלְּךָ שֶׁלָּךְ, חָסִיד. שֶׁלִּי שֶׁלִּי וְשֶׁלְּךָ שֶׁלִּי, רָשָׁע:

(10) There are four temperaments among people: the one who says "what is mine is mine, and what is yours is yours" -- that's an [average] temperament. And there are some who say that is the temperament of Sodom. [A second type is one who says] "what is mine is yours, and what is yours is mine" -- [that's an] am ha'arets (uneducated person). [A third type is one who says] "what is mine is yours, and what is yours is yours" -- [that's a] pious person. [A final type is one who says] "what is yours is mine, and what is mine is mine" -- [that's a] wicked person.

9 ט

Will Herberg Judaism and Modern Man (1951), pp. 93-95 (Selected quotations)

"In the Jewish view, there is no situation in which man finds himself that is without some margin of freedom of decision and responsibility. Man possesses a will which, however conditioned by external factors of nature and society, however distorted by sin, is yet, in the final analysis, free and self-determining."

"Idolatry is the absolutization of the relative; it is absolute devotion paid to anything short of the Absolute."

"But the dominant idolatries of our time are...the cults of collective man and objectified ideas. Race, nation, empire, class, state or party, even church and humanity, these are among the gods who claim the allegiance of modern man; so are science, culture, social reform, progress. Each of these things represents a significant and valuable aspect of human life; each of them, however, becomes delusive and demonic once it is absolutized and exalted into the god of our existence."

"When 'scientific truth' - which is, after all, no more than the accurate reporting of what happens under specified conditions - is held to be the only or the ultimate truth, and its acquisition is exalted into the be-all and end-all of existence, what is there to inhibit anyone from treating the rest of mankind as so much material to be manipulated or expended as science may dictate?"

10 י

אין זקוק לה ומותר להשתמש לאורה א"ר זירא אמר רב מתנה ואמרי לה א"ר זירא אמר רב פתילות ושמנים שאמרו חכמים אין מדליקין בהן בשבת מדליקין בהן בחנוכה בין בחול בין בשבת א"ר ירמיה מאי טעמא דרב קסבר כבתה אין זקוק לה ואסור להשתמש לאורה אמרוה רבנן קמיה דאביי משמיה דר' ירמיה ולא קיבלה כי אתא רבין אמרוה רבנן קמיה דאביי משמיה דר' יוחנן וקיבלה אמר אי זכאי גמירתיה לשמעתיה מעיקרא והא גמרה נפקא מינה לגירסא דינקותא וכבתה אין זקוק לה ורמינהו מצותה משתשקע החמה עד שתכלה רגל מן השוק מאי לאו דאי כבתה הדר מדליק לה לא דאי לא אדליק מדליק וא"נ לשיעורה: עד שתכלה רגל מן השוק ועד כמה אמר רבה בר בר חנה אמר ר' יוחנן עד דכליא ריגלא דתרמודאי: ת"ר מצות חנוכה נר איש וביתו והמהדרין נר לכל אחד ואחד והמהדרין מן המהדרין ב"ש אומרים יום ראשון מדליק שמנה מכאן ואילך פוחת והולך וב"ה אומרים יום ראשון מדליק אחת מכאן ואילך מוסיף והולך אמר עולא פליגי בה תרי אמוראי במערבא ר' יוסי בר אבין ור' יוסי בר זבידא חד אמר טעמא דב"ש כנגד ימים הנכנסין וטעמא דב"ה כנגד ימים היוצאין וחד אמר טעמא דב"ש כנגד פרי החג וטעמא דבית הלל דמעלין בקדש ואין מורידין אמר רבה בר בר חנה א"ר יוחנן שני זקנים היו בצידן אחד עשה כב"ש ואחד עשה כדברי ב"ה זה נותן טעם לדבריו כנגד פרי החג וזה נותן טעם לדבריו דמעלין בקדש ואין מורידין

Beit Shammai say: On the first day one kindles eight lights and, from there on, gradually decreases the number of lights until, on the last day of Hanukkah, he kindles one light. And Beit Hillel say: On the first day one kindles one light, and from there on, gradually increases the number of lights until, on the last day, he kindles eight lights. Ulla said: There were two amoraim in the West, Eretz Yisrael, who disagreed with regard to this dispute, Rabbi Yosei bar Avin and Rabbi Yosei bar Zevida. One said that the reason for Beit Shammai’s opinion is that the number of lights corresponds to the incoming days, i.e., the future. On the first day, eight days remain in Hanukkah, one kindles eight lights, and on the second day seven days remain, one kindles seven, etc. The reason for Beit Hillel’s opinion is that the number of lights corresponds to the outgoing days. Each day, the number of lights corresponds to the number of the days of Hanukkah that were already observed. And one said that the reason for Beit Shammai’s opinion is that the number of lights corresponds to the bulls of the festival of Sukkot: Thirteen were sacrificed on the first day and each succeeding day one fewer was sacrificed (Numbers 29:12–31). The reason for Beit Hillel’s opinion is that the number of lights is based on the principle: One elevates to a higher level in matters of sanctity and one does not downgrade. Therefore, if the objective is to have the number of lights correspond to the number of days, there is no alternative to increasing their number with the passing of each day. Rabba bar bar Ḥana said that Rabbi Yoḥanan said: There were two Elders in Sidon, and one of them acted in accordance with the opinion of Beit Shammai, and one of them acted in accordance with the opinion of Beit Hillel. Each provided a reason for his actions: One gave a reason for his actions: The number of lights corresponds to the bulls of the Festival. And one gave a reason for his actions: The number of lights is based on the principle: One elevates to a higher level in matters of sanctity and one does not downgrade.

11 יא

*Power for/Power over/Power to...The difference makes a difference?

*What are examples of negative use of power?

*What are examples of a positive use of power?