This is Brandeis University.
[Sylvia Barak Fishman]: Hello and welcome to you all. I'm Sylvia Barak Fishman, the chair of the Near Eastern and Judaic Studies Department here at Brandeis University. I'm delighted to welcome you here on behalf of NEJS, the Near Eastern and Judaic Studies Department, and also on behalf of the Tauber Institute for the Study of European Jewry and the Mandel Center for the Humanities. This is the 49th Annual Simon Rawidowicz Memorial Lecture. We are honored to welcome a most distinguished erudite and innovative thinker, Professor Israel Yuval of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who will share some thoughts with us this evening on the intriguing subject of the organization of sacred time among Christians and Jews. For us here in NEJS, the Rawidowicz lecture itself has attained the status of sacred time. Professor Yuval joins a long line of renowned scholars who have addressed us on their pathbreaking work in Jewish history, thought and culture. Their lectures have honored the memory of Simon Rawidowicz, the founder of the Near Eastern and Judaic Studies Department, himself an extraordinary scholar. In a few minutes, I'll be calling on Professor Jonathan Decter, Associate Professor and the Safra Chair in Sephardic Studies and faculty associate of the Tauber Institute to introduce Professor Yuval and his exciting work. I'd like to take a moment first to talk about the Rawidowicz legacy. Simon Rawidowicz was a key figure in an extraordinary group of European intellectual giants who came to the United States fleeing from the Nazi destruction of European Jewry. In 1959, Dr. Abraham Sachar, president of the newly founded Brandeis University, invited Rawidowicz to join the Brandeis faculty. Simon Rawidowicz became chair of Brandeis University's newly-created graduate program in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies, one of the first areas of graduate instruction established at Brandeis. Later, when undergraduate departments were established, in 1956 Professor Rawidowicz was appointed the first chair of NEJS, a position in which he served until his passing. His colleagues were great intellectual luminaries in the field of Judaic Studies: Professor Nahum Glatzer and Alexander Altman. Together, their expertise in and devotion to the fields of Jewish philosophy, history and cultural expressions, Hebrew and Yiddish language and literature, was monumental. Above all, these founders of the NEJS department were committed to the concept of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies in cultural context, grounded in the histories and philosophies and cultures of the Near East, and in the interaction between Judaic thought and Christianity and Islam in the communities around the world. Despite their brilliance they lived in the world, paying close attention to the central issues of Jewish life. These men and the colleagues they brought on trained the next generation of Judaic Studies scholars, setting the bar high for the newly emerging field of Judaic Studies and programs around the academic world. Today NEJS continues to be a world-renowned flagship program by taking the leadership role in emerging areas of scholarly endeavor. I think that NEJS is particularly distinguished by its diversity. And because that is not something that is always recognized I'd like to elaborate on that just a bit. The Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies is home to a strong and diverse international faculty whose members research the Bible and ancient Near East Jewish civilization from its beginnings through historical and contemporary times. Israel studies in the modern Middle East, rabbinic Judaism, Christianity, and Arabic and Islamic civilizations. NEJS faculty come from diverse religious and intellectual backgrounds. Their fields cross the boundaries of historical periods, utilizing multiple disciplines, such as critical, textual and literary analysis, social scientific research and archival detective work. Just to give you a taste of their diverse research areas, NEJS faculty are experts in magic in ancient cultures and mysticism today, Jewish commentaries on the New Testament, Jewish life, thought and culture in Muslim and Christian societies, the persistence of religiously sanctioned slavery in some societies, Jewish connections to both sides of the American Civil War, changing conceptions of maleness and femaleness from the Bible through historical communities, the impact of Jewish thinkers on the intellectual history of modern Europe, and contemporary Jewish film and fiction. Today in the NEJS Department, cherishing the past and looking to the future, we build on the legacy of Simon Rawidowicz's book Babylon in Jerusalem that spanned historical eras and disciplines, that made use of the highest levels of scholarship and transcended the barriers between them, and bridged the world of ideas and active engagement in the world. We feel very privileged to continue this living legacy at Brandeis University. Our invitation to our guest speaker this evening and our discussions with him about ongoing cooperation between the Hebrew University and Brandeis University are part of the expression of Professor Rawidowicz's worldview of cooperation between vibrant communities around the world. I want to close by acknowledging the presence of the family of Simon Rawidowicz here with us today. NEJS Professor Emeritus Benjamin Moore Ravid and his wife Jane Ravid and their wonderful family who since the inauguration of the Memorial Lecture have helped sustain the memory of Simon Rawidowicz. We cherish our relationship with them and with their wonderful children. And now to introduce Professor Yuval, I invite the Professor Jonathan Decter to the podium.
[Decter]: It's an honor for me to introduce Professor Yuval. Professor Yuval wouldn't remember this, but the first time I heard him speak was in the mid-1990s when I was a graduate student at the Jewish Theological Seminary and he was invited to give a lecture. At the time, Professor Yuval was a somewhat embattled figure owing to a thought-provoking article he published in 1993, which posited a connection between the reports of Jews killing their own children during the First Crusade and the invented charge that Jews ritually murdered Christian children in the 12th century. At that point I did not fully understand the meaning of the heated exchange but I did come to a conclusion about the role of the academic -- that one must be willing to put oneself on the line in the pursuit of truth, and that if he weren't saying something, if what you were saying wasn't making anyone angry, you probably weren't saying anything of great importance. Over the subsequent 20 years, Professor Yual went on to a stellar career at the Hebrew University, his studies of the deeply intertwined development of Judaism and Christianity. His work in this area is best represented in the English book "Two Nations in Your Womb: Perceptions of Jews and Christians in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages." This book studies shared and contested images, metaphors and ideas over the longue durée as they developed between Judaism and Christianity simultaneously. Professor Yuval has also been a driving force in the advancement of knowledge, both inside of Jewish Studies and in the humanities more generally, as the former director of the Scholion Interdisciplinary Research Institute in Jewish Studies at the Hebrew University, and now as director of the Mandel School for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, also at the Hebrew University. Although not all of Professor Yuval's arguments have gained universal acceptance, his work has unquestionably led to a paradigm shift. I'll mention only a few points here: 1) that Jews entertained fantasies of divine vengeance against Christianity and expressed these fantasies through liturgy and ritual; 2) that Christians possessed knowledge about Jewish rituals and ideas which they sometimes misperceived; and 3) that such knowledge affected Christian attitudes toward Jews. Despite the great disparity that existed between Christian and Jewish power during the Middle Ages, we must imagine an inter-religious polemical dynamic that was bi-directional with Jews and Christians often drawing on a shared symbolic vocabulary. For the 49th Simon Rawidowicz Memorial Lecture, Professor Yuval will speak on the organization of sacred time among Jews and Christians.
[Israel Yuval]: Thank you, Jonathan, for the warm introduction. Thanks, especially thankful for the invitation to come here to this prestigious Memorial Lecture, and to visit for the first time Brandeis University. It was a long day, very inspiring, and I hope also very promising for the future. Two weeks before Passover, one cannot start a lecture about the organization of the sacred Jewish time, a lecture dedicated to the memory of Professor Simon Rawidowicz, author of the famous article "Israel the Ever Dying People," without mentioning the poignant sentence from the Haggadah: "In every generation there are those who rise against us to destroy us, but the Holy One, Blessed be He, delivers us out of their hands." The Passover haggadah was written long before Auschwitz, while Rawidowicz's article was published shortly after Auschwitz in 1948. This passage of the Haggadah is an expression of the Jewish view by which doom and salvation always follow one another. Each generation we perish. Each generation God comes to our rescue. This concept stands as the basis of the Jewish winter holidays cycle: Chanukah, Purim and Passover. The three are based on a narrative of a fear of doom and eventual salvation. The Israeli experience added to these holidays, consecutively, the Holocaust Memorial Day, the fallen soldiers Memorial Day and the Independence Day. Thus, the six months between Kislev/December and Iyyar/April move between the poles of doom and salvation. When we come to compare the organization of the Jewish and Christian sacred time, a great difference is observed between the two religions. Christianity does not consecrate national memory, and consequently, its holidays are not about national salvation and rescue. The salvation that Easter announces is for humanity and man, not ethnicity. Christmas marks the birth of the Messiah, not the birth of the Temple seat of the God of Israel. But in spite of this basic difference, the historical development of the winter and spring holidays in Christianity and Judaism points towards parallel movements to which this lecture is dedicated.
Ten years ago, I suggested that we need to see the relationship between Judaism and Christianity as relations between two sister religions. The view of many scholars at that time was to regard Judaism as the mother religion, and Christianity as a daughter religion. This old model was generally accepted, probably because of the famous words of Paul in Romans 11. "If the root is holy, so are the branches." For Paul, the root is Abraham and the patriarchs, its founders of the Jewish people. If they were holy so should the branches, their descendants. But then Paul continues and introduces the new believers in Jesus using again the metaphor of the tree. I quote "If some of the branches have been broken off and you, thou, a wild olive shoot have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not consider yourself to be superior to those other branches. You do not support the root, but the root supports you." End quote. The wild olive has been engrafted into the fruitful one when the old tree began to decay. And this caused the decaying olive to revive, to flourish and to have new branches. Indeed, in many visual representations from the Middle Ages, the two religions are depicted as trees. Yoachim di Fiore, for instance, preserves the Pauline one-treed description: the tree is divided to two branches stemming from Shem and Japheth. The branch of Shem, the Jews, will flourish until the son will be revealed. Then we'll start a new era in which the Japheth branch will be filled with flowers and the Shem branch will become dry. At the end of time, those branches will converge in wonderful, colorful blossomming. These representations help to implement the mother and daughter religions metaphor. History too. Afterall, Judaism was older than Christianity. Therefore when the Esau/ Jacob brotherhood became a metonymy among Christians, Esau represented, naturally the old tree, the synagogue whereas the younger brother, Jacob, was identified with Christianity. Just the opposite of the Jewish metonymy. However, so I argued about ten years ago, this model defined rather the theological interpretation of history, not its real course. I offered then a more balanced description of the later development of both religions. Instead of the mother-daughter model, I advanced the sisters model. The idea behind it was that from historical perspectives, Christianity and rabbinic Judaism developed simultaneously. Without retracting from that argument, I would like to offer today a corrective.
I propose to return partially to the mother-daughter model but to reverse the roles of who was the mother and who was the daughter. There were some new religious ideas in rabbinic Judaism whose origin can be related to Christianity. My purpose is not to claim that Judaism quite simply imitated Christianity. Quite the opposite. The challenge imposed by Christianity motivated the rabbis to create counter institutions. The unique creativity of rabbinic Judaism in a rural, small population in the constrained place of the Galilee between the 3rd and the 5th century is the result of the blurring borders between the two religions. Moreover, contrary to the first century when the Jewish Temple religion was still strong and dominant, the situation in later centuries changed quickly the balance between the two religions. Judaism was gradually marginalized while Christianity became the successful and soon the dominant religion of the Roman Empire. Jews lost their ability to decide the religious agenda and were obliged to respond to an external growing threat. Not only were Jews became a minority, they also suffered from what could be described as a cognitive gap between the glory of the past and the miserable state of the present. This explains to my mind the unwillingness of the sages to admit that Christianity became a problem. Most of the Talmudic and midrashic sources are silent about Christianity. This silence does not reflect indifference to the world of Christianity, but rather an attempt to consciously ignore it. Whereas the articulated discourse ignored Christianity, the hidden transcript fought against it. Only rarely do we get a glimpse to the hidden agenda. This can be demonstrated in various aspects. I will concentrate myself today on two important examples which have a kind of connection, as you will hear later. First, the creation of a new sacred text and the organization of sacred time. The first issue has been presented lengthily in an article published recently, and I will repeat very shortly its main arguments. The second example is the result of a work-in-process which I'm privileged to conduct now in my work in a sabbatical in Berlin. In this last publication, I dealt with the creation of the new ideology of the rabbinic concept of a second Torah, the oral one that was given to Moses at Mount Sinai together with the written Torah. Hitherto, monotheism has sufficed to distinguish Israel from its pagan surroundings, but the emergence of Christianity as a second monotheistic religion reshuffled the cards. Not only did it nullify the monotheistic uniqueness of Judaism, but it adopted the Biblical text as its own and included them within its own sacred scriptures. In this manner, the need was born among the Jews to create an additional sign of separation, one that would clearly distinguish them from Christians. Christianity defined itself by means of an alternative text by the New Testament, and the Jews responded by creating their own alternative texts, the Mishnah and thereafter the two Talmuds. In a similar and parallel move, the two religions both set up a new identity defining text. Judas Liu emphasized the textuality of Christian Canon as establishing identity. And in a parallel manner one may point towards the orality of the Oral Torah as establishing the rabbinic identity and distinguishing it from its environment. It ought to be emphasized that more than the rabbinic oral text reflects the concrete historical reality, it fashions it. The oral text is not only the result of a given historical reality but it also plays a role in creating a distinct community, one with an identified internal discourse different from that customary in its surroundings. One is speaking here of an ideological decision formulated in an explicit way. I quote, "Those things that are written you are not allowed to say orally. Those things which are said orally you are not allowed to say in writing." And this is just one example from many. The question stands out even more strikingly when examined against the background of the Greek or Roman pagan and Christian environment. The sages operated in the cultural environment marked by a prolific textual activity. Despite this, and notwithstanding the old Jewish tradition of writing during the Second Temple period, they insisted upon the prohibition of writing. As a result, their creation is anonymous and collective, and is not crystallized around a single subject but always around a text -- the Midrash around the Bible; the Talmud around the Mishnah. It is true that this orality was inherited from the Pharisees among whom it served as a method of transmitting knowledge and learning it. That is to say, it had a purely pedagogic value. But among the sages, orality assumed an ideological function in the struggle with adoption of the written Torah by Christianity. This challenge is not simply an external point of friction far away from the battlefront between the two competing religions. But rather, it fashions and shaped the core, the substantive contents of the Jewish religious creation. The study of the oral Torah, and not of written Torah, became the great religious principle from that point on until today because it alone defined Jewish uniqueness in comparison to Christianity. The ideology of the oral law and the prohibition to write it down became one of the most important factors in shaping rabbinic culture. Not less important was the new interpretations of the sacred time. The destruction of the Temple deprived Judaism from the sacred place and left it only with the sacred time. The need to reorganize sacred time was joined by the need to confront the interpretation given to biblical festivals by Christians. The Seder evening is closely related to the Last Supper, a topic already discussed lengthily by me elsewhere. The rabbis' festival of Shavuot, commemorating the reception of the Torah, echoes the festival of Pentecost, commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit on the followers of Jesus on the fifteenth day after the crucifixion. That is the foundation of the church and the making of the New Covenant. Not only the new interpretations of biblical festivals brought the two religions into conflicts. Also the new organization of sacred time before and after Pesach has in both religions surprising parallels -- sometimes conflicting; sometimes not. The 40 days of Lent are for Christians a fasting season which prepared them to Easter. The preparation reached its peak during the Holy Week, which commemorates the last week of Jesus. For Jews, 40 days before Pesach begins a period of great joy -- Mishenichnas Adar marbim b'simchah -- with Purim in its midst. A period of 30 days before Pesach is allocated for the study of the halakhot for Pesach, this in preparations reach the peak in the last week before Pesach, starting with Shabbat HaGadol, a kind of parallel to Palm Sunday. Such conflicting parallels continue also in the period after Pesach and Easter. For Christians, the Easter season between Easter and Pentecost is a time of joy and celebration of Jesus' resurrection. Afterall, spring comes. For Jews, this period of time called Sephirat HaOmer is of semi-mourning. Mendele Mocher Sforim, the famous Jewish author, begins his "Book of Beggars" with the following description: "As the warm wind begins to blow, and the hot days arrive, and the entire creation is jubilant, days of grief, fasting and mourning are heralded by the Jews from the counting of the Omer till the beginning of the rain." But I wish to discuss here today another case of conflicting interpretations of two festivals, a Jewish and a Christian, which fall almost on the same days -- Chanukah and Christmas.
Let me first open by a few observations concerning Chanukah in the first centuries. The discussion devoted to Chanukah in the Babylonian Talmud opens with a famous question. Mah Chanukah? What is Chanukah? One gets the impression that the significance of this holiday was no longer altogether clear. The answer given by the Talmud is no less perplexing than the question. We would have expected the Talmud to tell about the rebellion that broke out in Judaea in the year 167 BCE in wake of the prohibitions imposed by the Greek King Antiochus Epiphanes upon the performance of the commandments of the Jewish religion. We would also expect the Talmud to tell us something about the military success of the Maccabees in conquering Jerusalem from the Hellenizers and renewing the service. But instead, the Talmud relates the story of the miracle of the vial of oil, a nice legend about how the wicked Greeks contaminated all the oil in the Temple and when the Maccabees sought to renew the service in the Temple and light the menorah, they found only a single vial of oil that had not been contaminated. The oil therein only sufficed for a single day while they required eight days in order to produce more oil. A miracle occurred and the oil in the single vial sufficed for eight days. To jam the great military victories of the Maccabees into a small vial of oil seemed to modern historians as a sign that the sages of the Talmud had forgotten the political accomplishments of the Maccabees. There are even those who claimed that they were not only forgotten but erased from memory. That is, that the sages did not want to remember the history of the Maccabees because the state of the Maccabees became later a corrupt state in which the most important positions were bought for money, and in which the priests serving in the Temple had become a wealthy aristocratic class, alleviated from the people whose culture has become progressively more distant from the ideals of its founders. Indeed, an important historical study by the historian Gedaliah Alon of the Hebrew University written during the 40's bore the title "Did the Nation Forget the Hasmoneans?" I would like to argue that the fact that the Talmud asks "what is Chanukah?" need not surprise us as the question is not whether the Sages of the Talmud forgot Chanukah, but why they they remembered it at all. From all truly logical viewpoints, Chanukah should have been long since forgotten. Let us imagine a terrible reality. The State of Israel is destroyed and ceases to exist. Imagine a community of Israeli refugees in Boston 20 years after the destruction of the state. Is it conceivable that they would continue to celebrate Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel's independence Day? In the year 70, Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed. What point is there in celebrating the rededication of a temple that no longer existed? And indeed, there are signs that after the destruction of the Second Temple, Chanukah began to be forgotten. The Mishnah, edited at the beginning of the third century, devotes entire tractates to the various holidays: Shabbat, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Passover -- all of them biblical holidays, and even to Purim, a holiday from the Second Temple period. But Chanukah did not merit a Mishnaic tractate of its own. The fact that it nevertheless survived suggests that that there may have [been] additional aspects to this holiday that continued to exist and that prevented its disappearance. The most striking additional feature of this festival is its connection, of course, to light. Josephus, the historian of the destruction of Jerusalem, refers to it as the Festival of Lights. He explains that salvation came to the Jews suddenly like light banishing the darkness. Similarly, the Talmudic Agada concerning the miracle of the vial of oil emphasizes the motif of the menorah and the light, as does also the obligation to light candles. This connection between Chanukah and light is alluded to in the following beautiful Talmudic legend taken from Babylonian Talmud Avodah Zarah. I quote:"After Adam was created and, according to the Talmudic view, the world was created, one of the Talmudic views, the world was created on Rosh Hashanah -- that is, at the end of summer. So after he was created, he noticed that the days were getting shorter and shorter and that light was getting progressively weaker and dimmer. Hence he was filled with dread that the world is returning to darkness and chaos, and began to fast for eight days until the shortest day of the year. Once it was so that the days were becoming longer and the light was increasing he made the next eight days into festival days. The next year, continues the Talmud, he made both these two cycle of eight days the diminishing and increasing light into festival days. He, Adam, established them for the worship of God but they, meaning the pagans, established them for the worship of idols."
End of quote. This last sentence clearly refers to two Roman festival days Saturnalia and Kalends. Saturnalia is celebrated on the 17th of December and Kalends on the 1st of January. According to the Roman calendar, the 25th of December was the day of the solstice, the shortest day of the year. Now between the 17th of December and the 25th, there are 8 days during which the light becomes progressively quicker whereas between the 25th of December and the first of January there are 8 days during which the light increases. During the 3rd and the 4th centuries, the 25th of December was marked in Rome as the holiday of the birth of the Sol Invictus, the invincible Sun God. But the Talmud still does not mention any Roman holiday on this day, on the 25th of December. And it also makes no explicit connection between Saturnalia and Kalends and Chanukah. However, the fact that the Talmud points out that Adam fasted for 8 days and made a feast of eight days, and that he made them into holidays alludes to a parallel between Chanukah and one of the two units of eight days, either before the 25th of December or the unit after it. A connection between Chanukah and the shortest day of the year is indeed very plausible. It begins Chanukah on the 25th of Kislev, the natural Hebrew equivalent to the 25th of December. It occurs when darkness is at its height -- the shortest day of the year as well as during the closing days of the Hebrew lunar month when the light of the moon wanes and then completely disappears. Yet another aspect that may indicate a relationship between Chanukah and the shortest day of the solar year is found in the debate between the School of Shammai and the School of Hillel regarding the manner of lighting candles. The Shammaites, Beit Shammai, think that one ought to light 8 candles on the first day of Chanukah and reduce the number each successive day while the Hillelites hold that on the first day one lights one candle, adding an additional candle each successive night until one lights eight candles on the eighth night. The Shammaites' approach may be seen as parallel to the first unit of eight days in the pagan system between December 17th and 25th during which the light gradually becomes dimmer, whereas that of the Hellelites neatly parallels the second unit of time in the pagan system between the 25th and the 1st of January when the light gradually becomes brighter. During the 4th century Christianity came to dominate the Roman Empire. The festival of the Sun God on the 25th of December was replaced by Christmas and Jesus replaced Sol Invictus. According to the Evangelist Matthew, when Jesus was born, a star appeared above Bethlehem symbolizing the light brought into the world by Jesus, called also by the Evangelist John "the light of the world." The statement, which has no source in the New Testament, that that Jesus was born on the 25th of December created a relationship between the Christian story of the birth of the Messiah, the light, and the shortest day of the year. Thus the renewal of light as an experience of nature received a mythic expression in both religions. Just as Chanukah signifies the rededication of the Temple, so does Christmas signify the birth of the Redeemer, who is considered in the New Testament as the new temple in heaven and whose crucifixion is an ultimate sacrifice that atones the sins of his believers just as the Temple of Jerusalem atones the sins of the Jews. We thus have three focus of light: for the Romans -- the Sun God. For the Christians -- Jesus. And for the Jews -- the Temple and its menorah. All relate more or less to the same date -- 25th of December; 25th of Kislev. In all three cultures -- the Roman pagan, the Christian and the Jewish -- the nature event gets a religious meaning.
These parallels may explain why Chanukah did not disappear and was not forgotten. Chanukah in the fourth century needed to confront not so much the Roman Feast of Light, but much more the Christian figure of Jesus as Messiah. And indeed, we begin to find messianic elements in Chanukah as well. The candles served not only to commemorate the miracle of the vial of oil or the victory of the Hasmoneans, but also as a symbol of the Messiah and the future redemption of Israel. The lights of Chanukah become the light of the Messiah. Taking the word Christos in its literal sense, meaning Messiah, we can speak about a Christianization of Chanukah, a suitable Jewish answer to Christmas. To mention just one example out of many in the familiar liturgical hymn sung during Chanukah "Mah Oz Tzur," the final stanza is devoted entirely to the anticipated messianic redemption: "Uncover your holy arm and bring close the final redemption, and" this is quite famous. Thus, the light of nature is transformed in both religions into the light of the Redeemer. By adopting the motif of light, it became necessary for the introducer of Christmas to overcome the similarity between the pagan celebration of the birth of Sol Invictus and the birth of Jesus, both celebrations of light. In a sermon on the holy lights, Gregory of Nazianzus writes around 380 the following. I quote: "Again my Jesus, and again a mystery; not deceitful nor disorderly, nor belonging to Greek error (he means the pagan error) or drunkenness (for so I call their solemnities); but a mystery lofty and divine and allied to the Glory above. For the Holy Day of the Lights, to which we Christians have come and which we are celebrating today, has its origin in the baptism of my Christ, the True Light that lightens every man that comes into the world. And now comes" the quotation from John: "I am the light of the world. Therefore, approach to him and be enlightened." We sense here a strong effort to set borders between the Christian holy mystery, as he calls it time and again, and the mysteries of the Greeks, the Roman pagans. Both have light. Both celebrate the birth of God, of a God in the solstice. The proximity is dangerous and the difference is minimal. The only way to claim uniqueness is by labeling the other as profane, demonic and to regard one's own light as sacred. A similar development can be observed in the rabbinical halakhah. The Chanukah poem has "HaNeirot halalu kodesh hem." These lights are sacred. The "Ein lanu reshut lahishtamesh bahem" and we are not permitted to make use of them. Why are we not permitted or why are we not allowed to use the light of Chanukah candles? Afterall, Shabbat is a more sacred day. The lighting of its candles is dealt in a specific special chapter in the Mishnah, but it is not considered sacred, and we are even required to enjoy its light. How come? How come that the candles of Chanukah became more sacred than the candles of Shabbat? My suggestion is that the rabbis adopt the same tactic of the Christians. They felt obliged "Lehavdil bein kodesh l'chol" -- to make a distinction between the sacred and the profane. It is not the pagan light that disturbed them. As we have seen, the Talmud was not troubled by heathens who turned the Adam festivals to pagan cult. It is the Christian surroundings and its use of light as a symbol for the birth of the Son of God that blurred the uniqueness of their Chanukah light. The Jewish light had to become sacred or, to use the Greek term used by Gregory of Nazianzus, it had to become a mystery. Determining Chanukah candles are sacred raises another question. Holiness is a metaphysical concept and its source should be divine, but the obligation to light Chanukah candles is not God's commandment, but is rabbinic. Under what basis could the rabbis define their human regulations as holy? That question is not invented by me but it was discussed in great length in the Midrash called "Pesikta Rabbati." I bring the following quotation from a specific passage: "No man should say that he will not obey the elders' prohibition to use Chanukah's candles for unholy purposes because such commandments are not to be found in the Torah. To a man who does say such a thing, the Holy One Blessed be He replies, 'No, my son. Whatever laws the elders decree for you, obey.'" To solidly that claim, the Pesikta (this collection of Midrash) quotes a famous Midrash, another one, according to which the Oral Torah assumed a crucial function in the struggle with the adoption of the Written Torah by Christianity. The Oral Torah is depicted as the mystery between God and Israel, the same term that is used by Gregory of Nazianzus when he defines the light, the Christian light. So the Oral Torah is depicted as a mystery with whom the Christians have no share. I quote: "When the Torah was given to Moses, Moses asks that the Mishnah also be in written form. (He asked to get also the Mishnah, like the Torah.) But God foresaw that the nations would get to translate the Torah, and reading it, say in Greek, and will declare 'We are Israel. We are the children of the Lord, and Israel would then declare 'No, we are the children of the Lord' and the scales would appear to be balanced between both claims. But then God will say to the nations, 'what are you claiming that you are my children? I have no way of knowing other than that my child is he who possesses my secret law -- mysterium (which is the oral law). And the nation will ask 'And what is your secret law? God will reply, 'This is the Mishnah.' Thus, the" status of holy candles reflects the authority of the rabbis and of the entire Oral Torah. The claim is that the authority of the sages is derived from God. Just as the Oral Torah has been given to Moses at Mount Sinai, so too the Future Commandments of the Sages receive a consent of God, and even he himself must obey to them. While Gregory of Nazianzus used the term mystery to distinguish between Christmas light and pagans' light, for the Midrash the holiness, the mysterion of the candles, and the mystery of the Oral Law distinguish Judaism from Christianity and from its sacraments. The light of the candles is a reenactment of the light of the Oral Law, both facing the challenge of the light of Christ. Chanukah's light was declared sacred because it has been raised as a torch against Christmas light. So far I discussed what I should perhaps call the illuminated side of Chanukah in its confrontation with Christmas. But it seems that Chanukah also confronts other less known Christian festivals. These festivals also penetrated in what Jews regarded as their own patrimony. I will call it the dark side of Chanukah. The first of the lesser-known Christian festivals was celebrated only in Eretz Israel, only in Palestine. The Christian community in Palestine rejected the introduction of Christmas on December 25 and celebrated on that day the Festival of David and Jacob. David is the king of Israel and Jacob is the brother of Jesus, better known in English as James. We know very little about that festival. It seems, however, that it reflected a local tradition of Christians who regarded James the first Bishop of Jerusalem, thus claiming a parallel or even a higher authority over Peter the Apostle who laid the foundation of the new Church in Rome. According to this tradition, James and David were the two father founders of the church in Jerusalem. During the Byzantine period, the Church of Tzion (Zion) became the center of the Festival for David and James. It was considered the first Christian Church erected by the Apostles immediately after Jesus' ascension to heaven. It was called Mater Ecclesiarum (Mother of the Churches). Ora Limor, the historian, described it with the following words: "David and James were the founding fathers of that church on the Mount Tzion, and the verses reciting during the ceremonies held in their honor confirmed this assumption. Just as David the King had conquered the city and established the first Tzion, so James, the brother of Jesus, was the founder of the new Tzion, namely the church. They complemented one another as the new testament complemented the old. But why on December 25? We have good reasons to believe that this day was chosen because of its proximity to Chanukah, the day of the dedication of the Temple. The Christians in Jerusalem, perhaps some of Jewish origins, wanted to preserve the links to Chanukah and to its locality by offering a new interpretation of it. Instead of the old story of the Hasmonean dedication, they invented a new memory to justify their political claim as genuine follower both of David and Jesus. While in the West and later in the East, Christians celebrated Christmas on the 25th of December, the Palestinian Christians remained loyal to their local tradition and refused to replace it with the new festival. Instead, they celebrated the birth of Jesus on January 6, the day of the Epiphany. They were not alone in creating a connection between Chanukah and David. Jews also did the same. This is attested by the so called "Shir Shel Yom" (The Psalm of the Day) recited on each of the eight days of Chanukah. The chosen psalm was chapter 30, whose title in Hebrew is "Mizmor Shir Chanukat HaBayit L'David." The English standard version translates, "A Psalm of David: A Psalm at the Dedication of the Temple." According to this reading, which is most probably the correct one, David is the author of the psalm; not the builder of the Temple. But the Vulgate had "Por dedicatsiore domus David," which means that the house was named after David -- the Temple. This is also the King James Version -- Song of the Dedication of the House of David. Indeed, in some midrashic sources the building of the first temple is attributed to David, not to Solomon. This reading makes David to be the king who built the Temple. The Pesikta Rabbati says the following. I quote: "The Holy One, Blessed be He, said to David: Upon your life even though you die, never shall your name removed from my house. At every sacrifice your name will be remembered, and there will be sung songs of yours beginning a psalm of David. "Ne'emor" because you did consider building the sanctuary even though Solomon is your son, is the one who built it, I shall attribute its building to you. And here comes the quotation, "A psalm and song at the dedication of the House of David." These exegeses constitute a part of series of sermons for Chanukah. It clearly contradicts the biblical story concerning the building of the first temple by blurring the role of Solomon. Furthermore, according to the biblical text God refused to allow David to build a sanctuary for him because the hands of David was
[sic] filled by the shed blood of his enemies. The Pesikta has a different explanation about the nature of that blood. I quote: "God said to David: in my sight all the blood you did shed is deemed as offerings. For in the words 'you have shared much blood upon the earth before me' the phrase 'before me' hints at offerings. David said: if you so deem then why may I not build a house? God replied: if you should build it, it will endure and never be destroyed. David exclaimed: how wonderful. God replied: it is revealed and known to me that Israel are destined to sin wary. So that Israel be delivered from this I will destroy the Temple and thereby cool my wrath. God went on to say to David: since you did intend to build the house even though Solomon, your son, will actually build it, I will nevertheless ascribe it to your name a psalm, a song at the dedication of the House to David. As we, I" mean, Hieronymus, who translated the Vulgate in Bethlehem, as we have just heard, shared the same reading of Psalm 30. We also remember that Palestinian Christians celebrated the Festival of David and James instead of Chanukah and refused to replace it by Christmas. Both communities put David at the center of their commemoration. How can we explain such an uncommon consensus between local Palestinian Jews and Christians? To answer this question we need to present another Christian festival, also relatively unknown, the so called Encaenia, or the dedication of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. The Greek word Encaenia means a festival of renewal or dedication so it is a literal translation of Chanukah. In the year 326 Constantine ordered to build on the location of an old pagan temple in Jerusalem two connected churches -- the Martyrium and Anastasis -- and the two compounds were consecrated on September 13, 335. The holy cross which had been found only shortly before was brought into the church on September 14. The celebration lasted eight days and it became later an annual festival. Why specifically on these days? Because the Encaenia was supposed to replace the dedication of the First Temple, which had been celebrated in the middle of Tishrei, the equivalent month of September, and lasted eight days, as we can read in the Book of Chronicles. In the celebration of the First Temple, the dedication conflated with the Feast of Booths, of Chag HaSukkot, by adopting a similar pattern of time. Encaenia called also to mind the Festival of Sukkot, which according to the Zachariah 14 bears a strong eschatological meaning. Especially relevant is verse 16 when it says that everyone who will survive of all the nations, the eschatological day will come against Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord, and to keep the Feast of Sukkot. For Constantine's contemporaries, the gathering of Christians in Jerusalem was a realization of the prophecy about the gathering of the nations, the goyim, and the pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Constantine pretended to be a second Solomon. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre -- the new temple built in the new Christian Jerusalem. This image of Solomon Constantine is expressed explicitly, explicitly mentioned by contemporaries such as the Bishop of Caesaria Eusebius. In the Year 381 the pilgrim Egeria, the woman pilgrim Egeria, visited the Holy Land and left a written report. She stayed in Jerusalem during the Encaenia and this is what she saw. I quote: The Encaenia of this holy church is a feast of special magnificence. You will find in the Bible that the day of Encaenia was when the House of God was consecrated and Solomon stood in prayer before God's altar, as we read in The Book of Chronicles. At the time of Encaenia, they keep festival for eight days. And for many days beforehand the crowds began to assemble. Not one of them fails to make for Jerusalem to share the celebration of this solemn feast. The feast ranks with Easter or Epiphany." Once again, a parallel is drawn between Encaenia and of the Holy Sepulchre and the dedication of the Temple of Solomon. According to Egeria, the Encaenia was not a local festival; but rather a festival of pilgrims who came from distant places. In contrast to that, the David and James Festival bears the scent of local tradition. We have, therefore, good reasons to believe that the dedication of the new Church of the Sepulchre was not welcome by the local Christians who regarded their church in Mount Zion to be the earliest and most venerable one. Afterall, it is on Mount Zion that the descent of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost supposedly took place, an event that marks the foundation of the church. I assume that Encaenia raised a kind of animosity among the Zionists -- I call them the Zionist Christians -- those who celebrated the festival in the churches of Mt. Tzion. The question was whose dedication is more important -- that of the true local Jerusalem or that of the newcomers from Byzantium? The Zionist Christian remained loyal to the original dating of Chanukah, although they change the original meaning by a new interpretation. The newcomers from Byzantium decided on another date of dedication, putting thus an end to any connection with Chanukah and the Second Temple. This could fit well with the perception of the Gospel of John from for whom Jesus replaced the Temple. Matthew too views the destruction of the Second Temple as a divine punishment for the crucifixion.
In their eyes there was nothing in the Second Temple to be remembered. This background explains why local Christians in Jerusalem prefer to celebrate the 25th of December as a festival of David and James, the only one among the apostles who was a descendant of David. David was theirs. Solomon belonged to the Holy Sepulchre. This explains perhaps also the Jewish preference of David in the liturgy and sermons for Chanukah. Jews felt deprived from their own heritage. Their Solomon became a source of inspiration for the new Christian Chanukah, the Encaenia, so they adopt a similar strategy to diminish the role of Solomon in the building of the First Temple. Local Jews and Christians went hand in hand in rejecting the Constantine's imaginaire of Solomon as founder of the First Temple. This was a rare case in which locality was stronger than theology. The next and last stage of our story is obscure. It seems that this sort of coalition between Palestinian Christians and Palestinian Jews could not resist. The pressure on the Christians in Palestine to adopt the 25th of December was too strong. But even after the adoption of the 25th of December as Christmas, the Christians around Mount Zion didn't abandon their David James festival. They accepted festival 25th as Christmas and postponed the David James Festival on just one day -- to 26th of December. Around the year 570, an anonymous traveler from Italy visited the Holy Land. He arrived to the region of Hebron on December 26 and this is what he saw. "From Bethlehem it is 24 miles to the oak of Mamre, the resting place of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Sarah, and also of Joseph's bones. The basilica in place (he means, as we can hear/understand from what follows, the city of Hebron itself), the basilica has four particles and no roof over the central court. Down the middle runs a screen. Christians come in one side and Jews on the other, and they use much incense. On the day following Christ's birthday (so on the 26th of December) the people of this area celebrate the deposition of Jacob and David with much devotion, and Jews from all over the country congregate for this, too great a crowd to count. They offer much incense and lights, and give presents to those who minister there. One may conclude that the celebration that he saw on the 26th of December was still David James for the Christians, and Chanukah for the Jews -- mind the proximity of the two festivals. They almost conflate. We don't know when exactly but the Zionist Christians finally disappeared. Christmas and Encaenia won, and the David James Festival was forgotten. The Jews were left alone in their battle against Encaenia. To this stage I would relate another description of the building of Solomon in midrashic homilies that were also written for Chanukah. In these homilies, David disappeared and Solomon is left alone to refute the pretension that the Church of the Holy Sepulchre replaced the Temple. The new tactic is an opposite one here to promote King Solomon far beyond those who claim to be his successors. I quote again three short passages. "While the workmen were building the first temple not one of them died. Not one took sick. No leg was broken. Not an eye felt pain. Not even a shoe thong was cut. Hence it is said, thus all the work proceeded in peace." This is a quotation. And another description: "When the workmen finished the work of the Temple their life was finished." Truly? But a moment ago you told that not one of them took sick. Why did they die after completing the Temple? And now comes the answer. It was a decree of God, however, that the nations of the earth should not draft the workmen and build buildings with their help and say these are the same men who together with Solomon built God's own structure, an illusion to the Christians and to Constantine is clear. In the last passage what is meant by the expression that the entire work was finished, the entire work of the building of the Temple, that each stone came flying and mounted to its proper place so that the building got built of itself. So the Temple of Solomon was built in a miraculous way. As Joshua Schwartz convincingly argued, these midrashic texts, which are part of a homily to Chanukah, deprive the new church from its pretension to replace or even to be greater than that of the Temple of Solomon. The only Chanukah for this Midrash to be celebrated is the Jewish one. I come to the conclusions: Chanukah is a festival of hope born from the deepest darkness. More than any other festival it symbolizes the element of compromise and symbiosis in Jewish culture as well as its need to engage in polemics. It represents another example of competition with Christianity and of the strong impact that the victorious Christianity had on the formation of the sacred time in rabbinic Judaism. We examined different strategies from the Jewish side of how to grapple with the challenge posed by three Christian festivals of dedication: the Christmas, the David James dedication and the Encaenia. Most of my lecture was devoted to sacred time but I started with the creation of the sacred text, the Oral Torah. Although both have a pre-Christian history they both changed dramatically their meaning in order to face the Christian challenge -- The Oral Torah versus the New Testament; Chanukah versus Christmas. In that sense I think that it would be justifiable to claim that Christianity had an important role in creating rabbinic sacred time and sacred texts. We can now sum up and postulate two statements. First, had there been no Christmas there would have been no Chanukah. Had there been, second, no Paul there would have been no Rabbi Akiva. Thank you.
[Decter]: Thank you so much, Professor Yuval. Of course I'm now thinking about potato latkes and jelly donuts rather than the bread of affliction. But Professor Yuval, we have some time for questions.
[Audience]: I wonder if we're not taking too narrow a context for the emergence of rabbinic Judaism. Afterall, the Babylonian Talmud is probably more important than the Palestinian Talmud. And the Babylonian Talmud emerged in a society which was Zoroastrian in which Christians were a minority and were actually worse persecuted than Jews. I wonder where this fits into your general analysis.
[Yuval]: This is a very good question. Thank you for raising it. I tend to meet this question time and again and I think the question is correct. And yet, my answer to that is first of all, that in matters of religious controversies or religious tension the problem of majority or minority doesn't play an important role. And I think we have many examples from our contemporary life. The very fact that Judaism had to face a challenge of a new religion, which actually attributed its sacred scriptures to itself is enough, or even more that claimed to be the true Israel, is enough for Jews all over the world to feel threatened by Christianity regardless the question of numbers of Christians. As you probably know, and that's why you said this is a minority, but Christians, there were Christians in Babylonia so they were not unknown. And just perhaps a kind of a disturbed example that I can bring his argument. Think about Shakespeare and The Merchant of Venice and this description of Jews in England long after no Jews live in England. So I think the problem, and if I may also bring as an example the from modern Israel the very strong impact that Haredi society has in Israel among the secular Israelis. I think the question of numbers is not, it's not decisive. This is not the point. The point is the very fact that you have an alternative, and you have an alternative and also in the sense, and this is something that I discussed in my discussion about Pesach, in which you don't always know who is who. Just to give before before Passover, I can bring just, I think you mentioned the bread of affliction. This is what brings me to this, I think, good example. We begin the Haggadah with a declaration, "This is the bread of affliction that our fathers ate in Egypt. And then comes the" invitation -- everybody is invited to share the meal with us. And I mentioned in my book, the mentioned book that this stands as a clear parallel to the words of Jesus: "This bread is my body. Hoc est enim corpus meum." Then comes "Come and eat this to my memory." So why to open the Seder evening with such a declaration? And, by the way, the declaration refers to the bread of affliction which occurs only one time in the Book of Deuteronomy. Usually, the matzot -- we explain the eating of the matzah because we did not have enough time to wait for them to be leavened enough so that the reference to the explanation that the matzah is a bread of affliction clearly I think calls to mind the the parallel. So if you think about the reality -- you are sitting in the Seder evening. You are in the family, and you are obliged, or you are requested, to declare a kind of of loyalty. This is the bread. And the meaning of the bread is the Jewish bread, and not the Christian bread. I remind you that the host is also unleavened bread. So the need, the very fact that you have this kind of necessity in the family to explain what is the meaning I think shows that the penetration, the presence of Christianity was very strong. And I think it was even in places where perhaps Christians were a minority.
[Audience]: I want to thank you for pushing us all in lots of directions, and in many ways I echo Anthony's question, especially when you begin Chanukah with my Chanukah which points us to the psalm, and which points us to a very Babylonian layer in the Talmud itself. But more to the point -- I don't want to only just repeat what he just said -- but there are other places. I have a sense that when you're dealing with Christianity you're dealing often with Western forms of Christianity rather than more Eastern forms of Christianity. So there are points where Christians, for instance, see what the Eastern Churches do: use leavened bread for the host, for communion. And more to the point, the discussion of leading up to Passover and Lent -- I knew Larry Hoffman proposed that in a publication in a book that you also have an article in -- but the Christian work on the origins of Lent don't support that. It's actually very, very messy in terms of how long the period is. Even today it's different lengths between different churches, and when exactly this emerges, and I think that the whole question of dating and figuring out how these pieces fit together is a problem that when I read your work I'm sitting there constantly asking that question.
[Yuval]: This is a very important point, and you surely know better than I the difficulties in fixing the relation. When I mentioned this Mi she nichnas adar b'simchah and Lent, it was only an example to show parallel. I think I also used the the term parallel development. I certainly don't claim to any causal, I mean direct explanation, and sometimes as you as you know, it's very difficult to set the dating to know exactly since when something begins. I just mentioned that the Ha lachma anya -- where was it? I mean, we don't know. It doesn't appear in the Talmud so we know it's not so early. But many of the liturgical institutions are born in darkness so the relation sometimes is -- I fully agree with you -- is, could be parallel; could be, I mean, there are many many possibilities to explain. I think what we should do at our stage, I mean, of knowledge is to put things side by side to see the possible relations. I agree that I don't, I cannot claim for sure that the Jewish way to S'firat HaOmer is a result of the Christian joy between Easter and Pentecost because we don't know also when it really started. Maybe it could be much later, I mean, to perhaps from the Gaonic time. So that I think there are cases where you can claim for more clear casual relations, and my hope and my assumption is that I could bring some, that it is plausible to assume that this adoration of David reflects in a way something that was common among only Palestinian Jews. And particularly it's Palestinian; it's not Babylonian. We don't find it. But and also the kind of discourse, or this kind of elusive discourse, with Encaenia also reflects I think a response. This seems to be a response because of dating, of the later dating of this homily in comparison with the Encaenia, which is a fourth century institution. But certainly, there are cases in which you just, you put the two things side by side. You see parallels. You see similarities. You cannot claim for direct relations. And I think the point with Lent is correct.
[Audience]: Thank you for that wonderful talk. You know this isn't my field, but liturgy is. When I hear this talk
[Yuval]: I mentioned Shakespeare because I didn't see you.
[Audience]:I'm not gonna bring up the Shakespeare, but when I was listening to the talk I felt several different things. 1) the force of the talk to me was not so much the Jewish anxiety about and compensation for Christian holidays, but rather the reverse. In other words, the story to me seemed a story of Christian synchretism, which Christiaity is good at -- a syncretic adoption and absorption of and response to a Jewish holiday that was challenging it. And the story you told is one in which Christians didn't come up with one; and they didn't come up with two; they came up with three answers to a Jewish festival that seemed to demand a kind of answer. In other words, we have to have had Chanukah, which then these Christian holidays are in lots of ways responding to. And then there's a sort of third phase in which then Chanukah adopts some of the qualities of the Christian holidays. It's a kind of liturgical Darwinianism. It wants to continue. But I thought what was missing was what to me seemed important -- that it was actually a Christian anxiety that then provoked a Jewish anxiety.It seemed like there was a phase to it that I didn't hear in your talk, and I wanted to hear you say something about.
[Yuval]: What the Christian anxiety is, of course, is related to the biblical tradition. I don't see, I mean, certainly in the introduction of Encaenia in the middle of the month of September, which is parallel to the middle of the month of Tishrei, the dating of Sukkot, I don't see any relation to any Jewish institution. This is, and that this is the reason why I brought this quotation from Gregory of Nazianzus, because it shows that the early Christians were much more concerned and were just disturbed by the problem of the danger, or the threat of the challenge, posed by the pagan Sol Invictus. They were not bothered by the Chanukah. Only the Christians in Palestine try to Christianize the Chanukah and to make it something completely new. So that in that case, the anxiety, the way Encaenia is celebrated reflects a Christian anxiety, but to the Bible, which was theirs. It's not Jewish for them; this is something that belonged to them so that I think the more you proceed in time the more you have the impression that it's more and more one way I think -- much more. And this is the reason why I began my lecture with claiming that this is of course an argument to Silencio that in a way that Chanukah actually should have been forgotten. And the reason is it was still not only survived but also got new meanings is I think explained as a reaction to the, but I agree there there are many cases, many examples in which we find Christian anxiety, as you call it, but rather I think more to the biblical level; not to the rabbinic.
[Audience]: I feel it's more plausible that what you see as a Christian-Jewish competition or parallelism with regard to Chanukah, don't you think it's more likely that since the winter solstice was probably the most universally celebrated festival worldwide, especially in the pagan world, that the fact that the 25th of Kislev or the 25th of December or the Saturnalia, the Calendra -- all of these were primarily pagan, worldwide pagan events, which both the Jewish and the Christian worlds tried to adopt and transform into their respective religious festivals? Isn't it possible that the reason why those those dates were chosen for for the birth of Christ, etc. was because the early Christians wanted to bring the pagans in the Roman Empire into the Christian orbit and so they transformed the pagan holiday into a Christian holiday? I don't, I'm not convinced of the Jewish-Christian relationship. It seems to be much more plausible that it is a pagan-Christian, pagan-Jewish relationship.
[Yuval]: Okay, I have two answers to that. First of all, the Sol Invictus Festival was introduced only in the third century. So it's not an old institution. Moreover, there is a big discussion -- I didn't want to complicate things here -- there is among Christian liturgy a big discussion concerning the relations between Sol Invictus and Christmas. I presented here one dominant view according to which Sol Invictus was introduced in the third century, and somehow one generation or two generations later, Christmas came to contradict or to Christianize Sol Invictus. Many, especially German liturgists, are of the opinion that the relations are vice-versa -- that Christmas was introduced first, and then Sol Invictus was the answer of the known Christian pagans in Rome. They wanted, so but the two institutions are relatively new, certainly in comparison with Chanukah. So the big question is why Chanukah was celebrated on the 25th of Kislev? Now you would claim certainly this is how it happened because the Temple was rededicated or purified on the 25th of December. But this is not such an easy answer. First of all, the book of Maccabees tells us that the purification by the Maccabees occurred exactly two or three years after the Temple was desecrated by the Greeks. Now the question is then why the Greeks decided the 25th of Kislev to be the day of the desecration of the Temple. Moreover, in the biblical small book of Haggai we hear that the inauguration, the beginning of the work on the Second Temple, long before the Hasmonim, was also on the 24th or 25th of Kislev. In a brilliant article published by Moshe Benovitz, he also claimed, you know, that Herod actually destroyed the Temple that stood on the place and built a new one. And Benowitz claims that the dedication of the Temple by Herod also occurred on the 25th. So you have a long set of dedications from the Second Temple period, long before the Sol Invictus that occurred on the same day. And the question is why? Now we can perhaps assume that the answer is because of the nature; because of this is the shortest day of the year and it has, and but I don't think we need any pagan explanation. This is part of nature. But, and probably a dedication of a temple has something to do with a renewal of light. So I would not assume that the story of Chanukah has something to do with the pagan background. Christmas is, probably, if we accept this dominant view among liturgists. But not Chanukah. And I think this is separated. So Chanukah is what it is until the first century. And then it gets a new meaning. And my interest was to understand the new meaning, the Messianic meaning, if you want, or the adoration of David instead.
[Decter]: Although the conversation is still going very strong, I'm actually going to cut it because I'm tired and there's food in the back for everyone who would like. And I'm sure Professor Yuval will be happy to answer your questions. Thank you.