Hanukah: What Is a Hellenist?

Recently, it was publicized that “30% of high school students define themselves as racists”. The fact is, that no one defined themselves in such a way. Then what? A survey which was conducted amongst the youth proved that they are still of healthy spirit! 72% were for preventing Arabs from being Knesset members, for fear that it will harm the Jewish character or the security of the state; 50% do not agree that Arabs should have equal rights; and more. For most Jews, this is sanity, but for the Israeli newspaper “Yidiot Achronot”, this is “racism”.

In the aftermath of the above survey, this same newspaper then brought down a “questionnaire” for all it’s readers, in which one can check himself to see if he is a “racist”. The multiple choice questions were in the form of a scale which rose in its degree of “racist” tendencies. Among the yardsticks to measure “racism”, you were asked what your reaction would be if your daughter brought home a Thailand worker or an Arab doctor from the Triangle, and introduced him as her future husband. If you would protest against such a marriage, you are a “racist” of the highest degree (on the scale, it is written, “you are dangerous!”); In contrast, the “anti-racist” sits next to the “suitor”, puts his hand on his shoulder and has a heart to heart chat with him…

What does all this have to do with Chanukah? It must be remembered that the circumstances for the Macabees war 2500 years ago were less severe than they are today. 2500 years ago, there arose from the Jewish people Hellenists. Hellenists are not people who for one reason or another find it difficult to fulfill mitzvot. Hellenists are those who want to be like the goyim. There is a difference. It is not just a matter of casting off the yoke of Heaven out of weakness or lust. Hellenism is an “ideal” in itself – to bring down the needless barriers between Jews and gentiles, which is the cause, so to speak, of all problems. Hellenism is first and foremost, the claim that there is nothing special or chosen about the Jewish People, and all people are equal.

This being the case, we find that today we are in a much more “progressive” stage than we were then. The “value” which overrides everything else in the state of Israel today is “democracy” and “equality”, and any opposition to this concept is considered the most severe of crimes. This is the true significance of the “war against racism” which has been taking place over the past decade. We are speaking about a war against the uniqueness of the Jewish Nation. In truth, the hellenists of today are not a large group. But their power and influence is immense, concentrated mainly in the judiciary and mass media. The government has not yet dared to stand against them. Any attempt to do so was immediately put to rest through media incitement, and when necessary, judiciary action. In this past year, these two functionaries have worked in unprecedented fashion to squelch any initiatives by the government that wasn’t to their liking. They do not act out of personal interests, so to speak, but rather in the name of the ultimate value: Democracy. Therefore, there is no politician who dares to seriously oppose this “hallowed” value.

It is critical to emphasize: Not all secular Jews are hellenists. The opposite is true: Now that we have defined what a “hellenist” is, it isclear that only a very small group (even if they hold influence) enter this category. Most secular Jews, despite the fact that they do not fulfill mitzvot (for historical and objective reasons), identify with their Jewishness, and are not ready to tear down the barriers between them and the gentile. They are still “gut Jews”. Without a doubt, most secular Jews in Israel would receive high marks as “racists” in the aforementioned test. But it is a great mark as Jew! Despite the severe spiritual problem plaguing the Jewish nation, at least they cling to their identity: We are Jews! We are special!

All that is missing is the war against the hellenists. Unfortunately, many use the concept of “Love of Jews” (Ahavat Yisrael) in a perverted way, often out of a need to placate the hellenists, in order to prevent a confrontation with them. But the message of Chanukah is this: As much as it may hurt, in order to save the Jewish People, out of a love of Jews, it is an obligation to fight that small band of hellenists who grip the Jewish nation by the throat, and do not permit them to fulfill their internal and true aspiration – to be Jews and not hellenists!

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