Saturday, December 31, 2016
Aristotle says that what makes man different than animals is that he can appreciate things for their own sake. On Chanukah, we say about the menorah, we are not allowed to use the light, only to gaze at it. But isn’t Chanukah about fighting the greeks? Answer: yes and no. It is true, part of what makes us different than animals is that we can appreciate things for their own sake. But if that means greek style olympian games that worship external beauty and the public sphere, it actually makes us worse than animals. Most of what we find in this world exists not for its own sake but as a means to an end. What makes us better than animals is appreciating specifically the light of the menorah for its own sake, which represents the subtle but powerful radiance that comes from doing good, and being rooted in an internal, and higher world.