A Grain of Sand

"I will multiply you as the stars in heaven and as the sand upon the shore." - Genesis 22:17

"I can see the master's hand in every leaf that trembles, in every grain of sand." - Dylan, Every Grain of Sand (on Shot of Love)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Too good. Thanks to Yehudis for passing it on:


  1. Not unlike Whole Foods having their "Taste Of Chanukah" from 5 to 8 pm on a Friday night!

  2. Hannukah ham.
    Pesach pork.
    Shavuot shrimp.
    Kol nidre krab.

  3. This is not related to ham - but very funny picture!

    Basic question about Chanukah:
    What exactly is the miracle we're celebrating? The oil lasting or the military victory? If it's about the oil, was it just an unlikely event and convenient, or was it a survival issue? Did they need it to cook with? To have light at night for safety? Was it the only source for lighting everything else? What did they use to light ordinary lamps? Was there a nar tamid at this point or did that start later? Sorry - slightly more than one question!

  4. R., please correct anything needed. So the party line is that we celebrate both miracles, religious and spiritual freedom. The military side of things are a bit conflicted since the victors ushered in a problematic Hasmonean dynasty with civil war and eventual roman takeover.

    The oil in the temple had to be spiritually pure to use in the menorah. Other oil was available for other uses. The ner tamid is the eternal flame of the modern shul and finds its origin in the Temple's "western lamp" which was used to light the other six branches. The other lamps in the Temple menorah were cleaned daily, but the "western lamp" burned continuously.

  5. Dear Confused -

    Great questions. Here are the answers: during Channukah we thank God for both the defeat of our persecutors and also the miracle of the light. The emphasis is on the miracle of the light (the eight days). The mitzvah of Channukah is in the lighting of the candles, after all; that is, if you don't light on Channukah, you haven't fulfilled the mitzvah. However, the additional prayers that we say on Channukah make clear that it was by God's intervention that the Hasmoneans were able to defeat Antiochus and his legions. So, the answer is both.

    They needed the light because there was in fact a ner tamid - a light that was supposed to burn continually - in the temple. Once they purified the temple grounds, they needed to relight the ner tamid, but there was only a single container of kosher oil, found in a container with the priestly seal still intact. According to tradition, it would take eight days to acquire olives and make enough oil to continue with the light. The miracle, then, was that the light did not expire before they could make more oil.

    moepackman's point about the Hasmoneans is right on. The rabbis, writing some time after the Hasmonean dynasty, were conflicted about Hasmonean rule. The Hasmoneans were - in spite of the re-telling of the story that paints them as Jewish purists against Greek overlords - heavily influenced by Greek culture.