Tuesday, May 15, 2007

27th Iyar - Megillat Taanit

In Megillat Taanit it says that today is a day of celebration because on this day the Chashmonaim nullified the decree of the Greeks. This is the day that they 'removed the garlands from Jerusalem.
The Greeks would put garlands of flowers (roses) outside their temples of idolatry and also outside all the stores and markets. They would sing songs to their idols. they They also wrote on the horns of oxen and the foreheads of donkeys 'the owner of this animal has no portion in the G-d above'. This is also what the Plishtim (Philistines/ Palestinians) used to do, as the verse states "no plough can be found..." (Shmuel 1 13:19-22).
Here is the original text:

בעשרין ושבעה ביה אתנטילו כלילאי מן ירושלם דילא למספד. שבימי מלכות יון היו עושין עטרות של ורד ותולין אותן על פתחי בתי עבודה זרה שלהם ועל פתחי החניות ועל פתחי החצרות ושרין בשיר לעבודה זרה וכותבין על קרניו של שור ועל מצחי חמורים אין לבעליו חלק בעליון כשם שהיו הפלשתים עושים שנאמר וחרש לא ימצא וגו' והיתה הפצירה פים למחרשות ולאתים וכשגברה יד בני חשמונאי בטלום ויום שבטלום עשאוהו יום טוב.

It seems that the purpose in putting the idolatry in the marketplace and outside the stores, as well as writing on the farm animals that they had no portion in G-d, was to drive the 'frum' Jews to bankruptcy. The only way to earn a living at that time was by acknowledging (at least externally) the validity of idols and the denial of G-d.
This was what the Philistines did in the time of Shmuel, when the Israelites were forbidden from working the land and were dependent on their oppressors for their livelihood.
The Chashmonaim abolished this practice and made the day into one of celebration, which is forbidden for mourning and eulogising (according to one version of the text, in practice we say that these laws of megillat taanit don't apply nowadays).

I wonder if there is any connection between the ancient Greeks and Philistines, who wanted to destroy Israel economically, and the EU and Palestinians, who want to boycott Israeli products and services.
Surely not.
Let's hope that we can celebrate the end of all anti Israel sentiment in the near future.

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