Chanukah - A Tale of Two Cities
It seems to me that the ancient Greeks promoted good things, such as Science, the Arts and Physical Fitness. Why does Chanukah "celebrate" the opposition to, and victory against, ancient Greek culture?
The ancient Greeks are viewed as descending from Yafet, the son of Noach. The name Yafet is related to the Hebrew word for beauty. In fact, the Torah says about Yafet, "May
So what was the problem?
The Sages taught that although Esav's body was not buried in the cave of Machpela with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, his head was. After trying to bar Jacob from burial in the cave, he was smitten by Chushim the son of Dan, which resulted in Esav's head rolling into the cave where it was sealed. Since Esav's progeny aligned with the ancestors of ancient Europe, we see here as well that when these forces confront Torah they must be opposed. But when these forces have their "head in the right place", they may abide within Judaism.
So the problem with ancient Greek culture was that it used Science, Arts and Fitness to oppose
This opposition of the world-view of the descendants of Yafet to that of the descendants Shem was manifested in their major decrees against the Jews and the Torah, which prohibited the observance of Shabbat, the sanctification of the new moon and the covenant of circumcision.
Shabbat proclaims that the world was created by the Creator,
Similarly, the sanctification of the new moon expresses our
Finally, the covenant of circumcision imposes restraint on otherwise unbridled, animalistic desire and deification of bodily perfection. The ancient Greeks, however, prized physical fitness as means of liberation from limitation, where power and prowess were used to subjugate others to themselves, rather than subordinating themselves to Gd.
The approach issuing from ancient Athens — a world without a Creator, life without holiness and a body without restraint — is diametrically opposed to the message of Torah which goes forth from Zion. A Science which sees only itself with no vision of