A mandala for Ḥanukkah by Brazilian Yemenite Jewish artist, GatoJudeau . . .
“Odecha ki anafta bi (I give thanks to you although you were angry with me) was composed by Joseph ben Solomon of Carcassonne, who is dated to the first half of the eleventh century. This elegant and abstruse poem tells an epic tale of the Jews’ resistance to the decrees of Antiochus IV and includes accounts of both the Hasmonean bride and Judith. It bears a considerable resemblance to texts 4 and 12 of the Hanukkah midrashim[ref]See Grintz, Sefer Yehudit, pp. 205, 207–08[/ref] and this is evidence for the circulation of the joint Hasmonean daughter-Judith tales in the eleventh century, even if the surviving manuscripts of these stories are from a later date.” (Deborah Levine Gera, “The Jewish Textual Traditions” in The Sword of Judith: Judith Studies Across the Disciplines (2010).) . . .
Below we have made a faithful transcription of the text of the medieval Megillat Yehudith (the Scroll of Judith), not to be confused with the deutero-canonical Book of Judith, authored in Antiquity. We have further set this text side-by-side with the English translation made by Susan Weingarten, originally published as “Food, Sex, and Redemption in Megillat Yehudit: Appendix to Chapter 6,” in Sword of Judith. ed., Kevin R. Brine, Elena Ciletti, Henrike Lähnemann (Open Book Publishers, 2010) p.110-125. Our transcription sources are the same as Dr. Weingarten’s: A.M. Habermann’s transcribed text in “Megillat yehudit le-omrah be-hanukkah,” Mahanayim 52 (1961), pp. 42–47, and the “Midrash No.8” found in A.M. Dubarle’s Judith: formes et sens des diverses traditions II: textes (Rome, 1966), pp. 140–53. Dubarle provided section numbers by which the extant variations of the midrashim for Judith might be compared. As Dr. Weingarten notes, Dubarle only transcribed the second portion of the only extant manuscript. We have provided his section numbers in curly brackets. “Missing” numbers refer to portions of the story appearing outside the Megillah in the other variations transcribed by Dubarle. (Please refer to Dubarle’s work for these.) We are grateful to Dr. Weingarten and to Open Book Publishers for sharing their work under an Open Content license. Please read Dr. Weingarten’s complete chapter in Sword of Judith for additional context. . . .
Yosef ben Shlomo of Carcassonne composed two yotsrot (hymns) for the Shabbat of Hanukkah, one reflecting the events read in the Megillat Antiokhus, the other specific to Megillat Yehudith. This yotser is the latter of the two and was crucial in dating the composition of Megillat Yehudit to the 11th century. (The only manuscript witness of the megillah dates from 1402.) A.M. Dubarle made a translation of the yotser in French in Judith: formes et sens des diverses traditions II: textes (Rome, 1966), but we are endeavoring to translate it for the first time into English. Our transcription relies on Dubarle’s but is corrected it against the digital edition held in the Ma’agarim database. . . .
This is a largely uncorrected transcription of Rabbi Isaac Magriso’s telling of Megillat Antiokhus in Ladino (Judeo-Spanish) from the Me’am Loez: Bamidbar Parshat BeHe’alotekha (Constantinople, 1764). The paragraph breaks are a rough estimation based on my comparison with the English translation of Dr. Tzvi Faier (1934-2009) appearing in The Torah Anthology: Me’am Loez, Book Thirteen – In the Desert (Moznaim 1982). I welcome all Ladino speakers and readers to help correct this transcription and to provide a complete English translation for non-Ladino readers. . . .
Es war in den Tagen des Antiochus, dem König der Griechen, eines großen und starken Königs, fest in seiner Herrschaft, und alle Könige hörten auf ihn. Er eroberte viele Länder und besiegte starke Könige, verwüstete ihre Paläste, verbrannte sie im Feuer und warf ihre Bewohner gefesselt in den Kerker. Seit den Tagen Alexanders stand kein solcher König auf, an der Küste des großen Meeres. Und er erbaute am Ufer des Meeres eine mächtige Stadt, als Königssitz, und nannte die Stadt Antiochia – nach seinem Namen. . . .
Why is the military victory of the Maccabees not referred to in the Mishna or Gemara but is mentioned only in later writings and in the prayer of Al Ha’Nissim? . . .
Here’s a first draft of a brief liturgy for last night, for solstice plus Ḥanukah. Note that this is a kind of eco-liturgy, but it also stands on its own without imposing an ecological overlay. Since it’s still solstice all day, you may want to use this prayer now, or at dusk tonight. . . .
A singing translation of the popular piyyut (devotional poem), “Maoz Tzur,” by Reb Zalman for Ḥanukah. . . .
This digital edition of Midrash Ma’seh Ḥanukah was transcribed from the print edition published in Otzar Hamidrashim (I. D. Eisenstein, New York: Eisenstein Press, 5675/1915, p.189-190). We are sharing this transcription in the hopes that excellent translations will be prepared from it and shared under an Open Content license. . . .
“Tsaar Balei Ḥayyim” ([It is forbidden to cause] suffering to a living creature), source unknown. Many thanks to Tiferet Zimmern-Kahan for recording the niggun for the song and to Naftali Ejdelman and The Jewish Daily Forward for providing the lyrics. . . .
The Megillat Antiochus was composed in Palestinian Aramaic sometime between the 2nd and 5th century CE, likely in the 2nd Century when the memory of the Bar Kochba revolt still simmered.. The scroll appears in a number of variations. The Aramaic text below follows the critical edition prepared by Menaḥem Tzvi Kaddari, and preserves his verse numbering. The English translation by Rabbi Joseph Adler (1936) follows the Hebrew translation in the middle column, the source of which is a medieval manuscript reprinted by Tzvi Filipowsky in 1851. Adler and Kaddari’s verse ordering loosely follows one another indicating variations in manuscripts. Where Aramaic is missing from Kaddari’s text, the Aramaic version from Adler’s work is included in parentheses. Adler also included a Yiddish translation which we hope will be fully transcribed (along with vocalized Hebrew text, a Hungarian translation, and perhaps even a Marathi translation from South India) for Ḥanukah 5775 , G!d willing. . . .
For the purpose of the unification of the Holy One and His divine (feminine) Presence, with trepidation and love and love and trepidation, to unify the name Yud-Kay with Vav-Kay (the four letters of the Tetragrammaton) with a complete unity in the name of all Israel, behold I intend in the lighting of the Hanukkah candle to fulfill the command of my Creator as our wise men of blessed memory have commanded us to repair her root in a supernal abode. . . .
This is an intention that I composed for the conclusion of a performance piece, Inner Fire, created and performed by my Mistabra Institute for Jewish Textual Activism at Brandeis University in 2002. It is as relevant today as ever. Please use it for inspiration when you light Ḥanuka candles. . . .
Nomi Lerman and I were co-teacher’s this past season at Kolot Ḥayeinu’s religious school in Park Slope Brooklyn this past season, and as a Ḥanukah present we made a Ḥanukah Madrikh for our Kittah Gimmel class. I’m certain there are Jewish educators all over the world preparing curricular resources for Ḥanukah right about now and hope that by sharing this they can take it and improve on it, or else we’ll save them some energy so they’ll be able to do even more mitzvot. . . .
Just in time for Ḥanukah, Chajm Guski shares a חנוכה מדריך (Ḥanukah Madrikh), Handbook for Ḥanukah, with a Deutsch translation and transliteration of the blessings on lighting the Ḥanukiah, the kavanah, HaNerot HaLalu, and the piyyut, Maoz Tzur. . . .
Our Rabbis taught: When Adam HaRishon (primitive Adam) saw the day getting gradually shorter, he said, ‘Woe is me, perhaps because I have sinned, the world around me is being darkened and returning to its state of chaos and confusion; this then is the kind of death to which I have been sentenced from Heaven!’ So he began keeping an eight days’ fast. But as he observed the winter solstice and noted the day getting increasingly longer, he said, ‘This is the world’s course’, and he set forth to keep an eight days’ festivity. In the following year he appointed both as festivals. Now, he fixed them for the sake of Heaven, but the [unenlightened] appointed them for the sake of star worship. . . .
Some might seem surprised that this work isn’t in the Public Domain simply by virtue of the song’s popularity. Translations of Banu Ḥoshekh L’garesh are not uncommon despite the apparent lack of translation rights provided to translators. This all underlines how copyright is regularly ignored in the living practice of creative cultures. And yet, copyright law and the protections it affords are ignored at the peril of a copyrighted work’s remixers, publishers, translators, and other creatives. Both the song and an anonymous English translation are here being provided as an example for this article on copyright under Fair Use. Each individual contribution to our collective intellectual commons may be small, but together, our contributions will make a tremendous resource for a renewed vibrant living and creative culture. . . .
Every Jewish holy day, even Shabbat and the highest ones, we call forth all the 22 Hebrew Letters to join us in celebration. For those of us who study Kabbalah from within the realm of the Alef-Bet, Ḥanukah is unique in that we are given a magical tool with which to activate these signs and wonders. . . .
Psalm 67 is a priestly blessing for all the peoples of the earth to be sustained by the earth’s harvest (yevulah), and it is a petition that all humanity recognize the divine nature (Elohim) illuminating the world. Composed of seven verses, the psalm is often visually depicted as a seven branched menorah. There are 49 words in the entire psalm, and in the Nusaḥ ha-ARI z”l there is one word for each day of the Sefirat haOmer. Similarly, the fifth verse has 49 letters and each letter can be used as a focal point for meditating on the meaning of the day in its week in the journey to Shavuot, the festival of weeks (the culmination of the barley harvest), and the festival of oaths (shevuot) in celebration of receiving the Torah. Many of the themes of Psalm 67 are repeated in the prayer Ana b’Koaḥ, which also has 49 words, and which are also used to focus on the meaning of each day on the cyclical and labyrinthine journey towards Shavuot. . . .
May the next Thanksgivukkah be a time of health and abundance for all of you who will receive the world from our hands. May we together find away to make sure that there is health and wealth and beauty not just for our family, not just for the Jewish people and humanity, but for all living creatures who share this planet with us. May the One bless us with the power and wisdom to birth a society that shows love to the world around us, that lives with love towards all beings. . . .