Friday, December 07, 2007

A Delicious Irony: Chanukkah Ham

If you follow the weird news as I do, then you have probably already heard the story about the New York grocery store that was selling hams marked "Delicious for Chanukah." The news articles all point out that ham and other pork products are forbidden under Jewish dietary laws, making this shelf tag ironic at best.

But every news article I've seen has missed the most peculiar aspect of this advertisement: the forbidden status of pigs is at the heart of the Chanukkah story!

The Jews of Seleucid Greece were being oppressed by a tyrant who wanted uniform religion in his lands and outlawed the practice of Judaism. Torah study was forbidden and so forth. But the last straw came when the Jews were compelled to sacrifice pigs on the altar in the Temple in Jerusalem. This outrage sparked open rebellion against the oppressive Greek government and the assimilated Hellenistic Jews who chose Greece over Torah. So ham is certainly a part of Chanukkah... but not in the way that the grocery store intended!

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