Friday, December 03, 2004

Column: Thanksgiving and Chanukah

Thanksgiving in Tzfat was different. A few friends -- all of whom voted for Bush and know how important the victory was -- got together to celebrate. We made a barbecue of course, which is the way everything is celebrated here it seems. We had beer and Araq. Araq is like Anisette or Ouzo -- licorice in flavor but not as sweet. It hits you like a hammer over the head when you drink too much, which is what I did -- completely out of character.

It was cold out and we were sitting around the fire sipping our beverages and telling stories about growing up in America. The Araq was warming and going down surprisingly smooth as we talked and waited for the fire to turn to coals. A light drizzle started to fall and we ignored it until it turned to rain and drove us under the little shelter we could find at the front steps. By the door now, the stories got better, the laughter deeper and the bottle of Araq emptier -- and it was me that was emptying it.

And then, just after the food was ready and we sat at the table inside, warmed by a good fire in the wood burning stove, I fell face first onto the table and stayed most of the night in that approximate position.

So why, I found myself asking later, did I get drunk?

Well, first of all it snuck up on me because I have become a lightweight and being largely unfamiliar with the effects of large amounts of Araq I was taken by surprise when the hammer hit. However, I am sure that there was another reason.

That other reason was that there were so few of us that really wanted to celebrate -- who really felt grateful for being saved from a world where the likes of John Kerry, George Soros, Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore, Jimmy Carter, Kofi Annan, Jaques Chirac, Hamas, CAIR and Peace Now would lead the way -- and that was why I got drunk, for all those who weren't celebrating Bush's win or didn't understand what it meant.

Of course, Israelis overwhelmingly were pulling for Bush and were grateful he had won and hopeful that the WOT would sooner than later put an end to the horrors and threats that have surrounded us -- and that is especially true here in Tzfat, the most right wing city within the so called "green line." However, many of the Americans living here are liberal and have remained liberal despite their becoming observant. I attribute it to a lack of awareness of the bonding of the Left with the Islamofascists, liberal education, and an understanding of Judaism that assumes that liberalism is a fundamental precept. This is an assumption that is supported by different influences at play. One of them is the New Age movement which has a universalistic and pacifist bent and which has influenced certain of the modern Kabbala movements, and Tzfat being the world center of Kabbala, those influences are at play.

All of this was completely beyond me of course as I recovered on the rug near the glowing fire. All I could think about was how warm the fire was and how soft the rug was and how grateful I was to have friends who took care of me in my hour of need.

Now that I am fully recovered and Chanukah is almost here (it seems that it has never come earlier) I am shifting gears. I am looking further back into the past and further off into the future as the Jewish holiday of praise and thanksgiving approaches -- for unlike any of the other Jewish holidays there are no mitzvoth other than lighting the candles and praising Hashem and singing and being happy and grateful for the miracles of a war and the miracles of light, which was in fact a war to keep our light, the light of the Torah.

Remembering all the miracles, we praise Hashem for all he did for us in the time of the Macabees; when the weak defeated the mighty, the few defeated the many, the pure defeated the impure, the righteous defeated the wicked, and the bearers of Torah defeated those that despised it. We remember the purification and rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem and we long for the day in the future when once again the Cohanim will light the golden menorah there. Then, in that future time, we will know the truest meaning of thanksgiving and praise and will be impelled towards it with all our being.

Happy Chanukah!


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