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Re: orion Hanukkah a civil holiday?
Marty Jaffee writes (in connection with my claim that Hanukkah is not a
religious festival such that we would expect references to in in the scrolls):
> What exactly distinguishes a "civil holiday' from a "religious festival"
> in Second Temple Judaic culture?
I would very much welcome discussion of this point by others perhaps more
knowledgeable than myself. I believe that the festivals can be stratified
with the three major Pilgrim Festivals at which attendance (within Judea) was
mandatory ranking most important. The other biblical festivals (with the
exception of Purim) rank under this as purely religious days on which work was
forbidden and for which special sacrifices at Jerusalem's temple were
legislated. The extra-Biblical festivals in the Temple Scroll and other
Qumran scrolls possibly should be included among this last class, since they
apparently had specific sacrifices associated with them.
Below these were the days of joy listed in Megillat Ta'anit, including
Purim, second Passover, Hanukkah, Nicanor's Day, etc., in which work was
permitted but fasting was prohibited. These days were (as I understand them)
less than holy, and given the almost purely national character of several of
these days in M.T., I find this category to be civil rather than religious in
their essential legal character vis a vis Torah and temple.
Perhaps others on the list can correct any obvious misunderstandings,
mention relevant bibliography, or otherwise fine-tune the classification of
Jewish festivals. I don't claim to be an expert or specialist in this area.