We live in a world steeped in Western Culture, a culture that idolizes “progress”, and views human history as a progression from primitive ignorance to ever-increasing enlightenment, through the power of human intellect. A culture that views the human mind as the ultimate arbiter of truth. And a culture that sometimes reluctantly tolerates belief in a Higher Power and a divine plan for the world, and often sneers at it, considering it backward, a relic of our helpless, simplistic past.

While Western civilization certainly has many accomplishments under its belt and contains much art and beauty, as Jews, we have our differences with them.

To us, Judaism is not old; it’s timeless. And Western Culture is not that contemporary. It’s actually kinda’ old. In fact, it’s as old as the Chanukah story (and even older).

Our battle against the [Syrian] Greeks was not only a battle of swords. It was also a battle of minds. And just as then a small group of tenacious men wouldn’t yield to the vast enemy, ultimately achieving an impossible victory, so too, to this day, a tiny nation doesn’t bend, and never will. For we know that there is something higher than human intellect, impressive though that may be. And that something is the knowledge of the soul. The knowledge of God. And the knowledge of His Torah.

Happy Chanukah!

By Rabbi Pinchos Fried

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