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Re: orion Hanukkah a civil holiday?


The issue that Marty appears to be raising is methodological in nature
and requires definition of "civil" and "religious" in order to resolve. 
Your approach may well explain why one should not expect Hanukkah in the
Scrolls, but the question is whether one can so easily distinguish
between civil and religious.  I doubt that it is that much easier to
make such a distinction in a modern society that prides itself on a
separation of church and state (note modern discussion in the 70's and
80's over civil religion).  You may well have a meaningful distinction
in search of a different terminology to adequately explain it.

David Suter
Saint Martin's College

RGmyrken@aol.com wrote:
>     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.
>      Russell Gmirkin

David W. Suter, Ph.D.
Professor of Religious Studies
Saint Martin's College, Lacey, WA 98503