Thursday, December 6, 2007

GUEST POST: Explanation on Chanukah's Eight Day Celebration Instead of Seven

DK writes:
POLJ asked me why I thought if I agreed with the erudite (and not just for a Reform Jew) BZ as to why Chanukah is celebrated for eight days instead of seven by the Reform Jews. I found BZ's reasoning generally sound, except for his claim that,

"The question isn't why Reform Jews observe 8 days; the question is why non-Israeli non-Reform Jews (who ordinarily add an extra day) don't observe *9* days! And the answer is probably that the events of the Chanukah story took place in Israel (where Sukkot+SA is 8 days), so it makes sense that a commemoration of those events would also be 8 days.""source"


I don't think this is accurate, as no differentiation would be made for those holidays that took place in Israel or outside of Israel, because fast days don't count, the rabbis don't double those, and that's what most of our celebrations are for those events "that took place in Israel." The temple walls were breached, the temple was destroyed, a king took one to put the brakes on loshan hora, So that isn't the reason it isn't doubled. Rather, the real reason for celebrating eight days of Chanukah instead of nine is an extra day of Chanukah isn't such a pain in the ass to keep anyway, so why bother mandating it? Now an extra day of the last day of Pesach – no THAT's worth it to the rabbis to make an add on!

The reasoning is similar, if inverted, for the Reform. If the Reform are willing to shave off latter rabbinic add-on holidays, why wouldn't they be willing to shave off a day or two of a holiday post-Torah in nature?

Come and Hear,

The answer can be seen with the businessman who Jews everyone down in his business dealings, but doesn't fight over a price of a soda at a restaurant. It just isn't worth it. Even the cheapest bastards have to pick and choose when and where to Jew someone down, or they will lose their positioning and negotiating power on the deals that matter. So why bother fighting for a discount on Chanukah when you have an extra day of Pesach to contend with AND a second seder?

There is another reason as well. The Yevanim (for POLJ's many Reform readers, that means "Hellenists") were certainly not Reform. But if we had to pick one major denomination that most closely resembles the Hellenists, well…it ain't the Belzer Chassidim, now is it? And by dropping a day of Chanukah, they would be walking into an ambush of, "well, you guys probably are just upset that your side lost in the first place!" And though not all past Reform leaders were as shrewd as RabbiYoffie is, they weren't that naive. And why would they feel any pressure to do so anyway? Most of us are spacing candle lighting by the third night anyway, at least if no one is looking. So if you are one of those who only made it to the third night, what's one more night of not lighting?

Most importantly, with an extra day of Chanukah, there is more of a chance that Chanukah will coincide with Christmas! And what could be more Reform than that?

Happy Holidays!

DK writes and is more pissed off than most at Kvetcher, where he complains about NCSY and Jewcy not being as Orthodox in their distaste of Jewish practices as he is.

280 comments:

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BZ said...

The Yevanim (for POLJ's many Reform readers, that means "Hellenists")

Speaking as one of those Reform readers, you mean Mityavnim, right? (Yevanim are Greeks.)

DK said...

Doh!

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