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Re: orion Hanukkah a civil holiday?

On Mon, 28 Dec 1998 RGmyrken@aol.com wrote:

>     By contrast, the days of celebration in the Megillat Ta'anit, such as
> Hanukkah, were not found in the Torah (or 11QT).  This includes Purim, which,
> though Biblical, is not in the Torah, and hence of less-than-sacred status.
> The origin of these holidays was by national decree (even if fictitiously so,
> as at Esther 9:21-28). These days also lacked special sacrifices; work on
> these days was permissible; and they could be celebrated anywhere, not just
> Jerusalem.  Of all these holidays, only the observance of Purim and Hanukkah
> have survived till modern times, which points to their non-sacred character.

> Esther 9:22 contains the phrase, "days of feasting and joy," which the rabbis
> took to describe this category of holiday.  Perhaps someone could suggest a
> more appropriate terminology that clearly contrasts with the sacred holidays
> of the Torah.  Till then perhaps "sacred" and "civil" will do.

Bringing in the rabbinic tradition is precisely what you do NOT want to do
here, for it is precisely in Rabbinism that it is impossible to
distinguish YOm Kipppur from Hanukkah or Purim using a "religious"/"civic"
model. It is a "mitzvah" to light Hanukkah candles and to get sloppy drunk
on Purim, just as it is a "mitzvah" to fast on Yom Kippur. Neither set of
practices is more "religious" than the others according to the native
Rabbinic taxonomy. They just function in different spheres. The fast of
Yom Kippur is a component of atonement, the practices of Hanukkah and
Purim are components of participation in national victories engineered by
the hand of Gd. One "relives" the miraculous on these days no less than
during the Pesah seder. In any case, the Rabbinic constructions of sacred
time should really be left out of the Second Temple discussion.

In my introductory textbook to Judaism, I offer a taxonomy of sacred time
in Rabbinic Judaism. Perhaps you could take a look and let me know if it
is helpful. It can be found in J. Corrigan, C. Eire, F. Denny, and M.
Jaffee, *Jews-Christians-Muslims* (Prentice Hall, 1998), p.p. 222-223.