Purim & Chanukah, the Similarity and the Difference


Purim & Chanukah, the Similarity and the Difference


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Purim and Chanukah

By Nachum Mohl

There is a marked similarity between Purim and Chanukah. It has been mentioned that on Purim we rotate a groger, a noisemaker, by holding it up, and on Chanukah, we rotate a dreidel which we hold down. Certainly this is true, but more important, perhaps, is the mystical allusions that the two bring out, since it is known that nothing in Judaism is done with out a connection to the highest of mystical reasons.

First let us look a bit deeper in the two holidays. Both Purim and Chanukah have two similar elements, physical warfare and spiritual values. In Purim, the spiritual aspect was invoked to help in the salvation of the Jews. Esther and the Jews fasted and prayed to G-d that the evil decree of Haman should be over turned, and it was. Subsequently, King Achasverous permitted the Jews to enter into warfare with their enemies, resulting in the killing of thousands of these enemies.

In Chanukah, we find that Mattisyahu and his sons began warfare and were successful in their fight resulting in the regaining of our spiritual center, the Holy Temple.

In Purim, the spiritual aspect (prayer and fasting) preceded the physical (warfare), but in Chanukah, the physical aspect (warfare) preceded the spiritual (the Holy Temple).

Obviously this provokes the question that which is really more important, the physical aspect of fighting for our rights and liberties, or the spiritual aspects of life?? In addition, we can reinstate our original question of what connection is this to the spin of a dreidel or groger?

As we analyze the two holidays we can see a major difference between them. Chanukah was fought on Jewish land; Purim was in Persia, in a foreign country. Clearly it seems that when we are in foreign lands, our first recourse is to be through prayer, since we do not possess armies and armaments, we are at the mercy of G-d. However, when we are in our own land, that the Good L-rd has graced us with, we must show him that we are willing to physically fight for His Holy Presence here on earth, the Holy Temple.

Purim which was out side of our land was initiated with our spiritual powers, our prayer and fasting, and concluded with the heavenly gift granting us the use of physical warfare therefore, the groger makes its noise as we raise it up to the heavens and draws down its prowess to the earth below. Chanukah began with our rebellion as we lived on our land and concluded with G-d giving us back our spiritual center, the Holy Temple, so the spinning of the dreidel is started down below on the floor and draws its power to us from the earthly aspect of our efforts.

So, too, may it be in our times, that the Jews, who are today divided between the Land of Israel and the Galut, (amongst the nations of the world), should use their powers properly, each group in accordance to where they may be to bring the final redemption from the long Galut and the final rebuilding of the Holy Temple.


from the March 2003 Edition of the Jewish Magazine



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