Ever watch a really good sports game…
…where the outcome is decided upon by the referee?
I’m always mesmerized by news reports of those games. Inevitably, the newscaster goes to representatives from each side to interview them about the play.
The fan whose team benefitted from the call unfailingly praises the referee saying that it was the “right call.” The fan whose team lost because of the call unfailingly curses the referee questioning his eyesight. Alternatively, it might look like this:
You see, in life, the same event can be seen from multiple perspectives.
It just depends on who is doing the seeing, how it relates to their experience –how they make meaning out of the events.
We know ALL about multiple perspectives in Judaism. Rabbinic literature is full of different perspectives.
The Mishnah from the year 200 features famous opposing arguments from feuding rabbinic pairs like Hillel and Shammai, Shamaya and Avtalion and Yose ben Yohanan and Yose ben Yoezer.
And if a page of Talmud were colored in a way where each commentary was colored in a different color, do you know what it would look like? It would look like this:
Because our tradition is not fixated on dogma, the multi-vocality IS the tradition! Taking a deeper look, we can see many ways to view Hanukkah, too. Asking the age-old question: Ma’ei Hanukkah? What is Hanukkah? The Babylonian Talmud from the 5th century relates four answers.
1) it answers from a practical perspective: Hanukkah is the 25th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev that lasts 8 days.
2) it answers from a historical perspective: Hanukkah marks when the Hellenists entered the Temple and defiled the oil there, but the Maccabees prevailed and conquered them.
3) it answers from a spiritual perspective: Hanukkah marks when oil was sought to light the lamp in the Temple, only one vial to last just one day was found with the seal of the high priest intact, but a miracle occurred and it fed the holy lamp eight days in succession.
4) and it answers from an emotional perspective: Hanukkah was established as days of good cheer on which psalms of praise and acknowledgement of God’s wonders are to be recited.