Maybe it's the holiday. I'm not feeling snarky this morning. Sunday Morning Coffee is all about being a bit snarky...right? But, to stay with tradition let's dive into a couple of the top of mind items.
We ain't done yet and the news out of Europe is troubling. Austria goes into a lock-down, a new variant out of South Africa. Flying restrictions and nobody knows...nothin'. This way of life has been with us for nearly two years and I fear so many people are letting their guard down. That some still refuse to get the vaccine is awful and something I can not understand. Now that the weather is colder and folks are congregating inside...well, you get the drift. Get vaccinated, wear a mask when out and keep the hell away from other folks. You never know.
Meanwhile Americans are back to whining. President Biden's approval rating is lower than it's ever been. Another thing I don't get. We've just gotten a major piece of legislation passed that will have a huge impact on our ability to use roads and bridges and get parts of our nation connected and people are...whining. The president wants you to get vaccinated and you are whining. You can't go out and buy the latest gizmo and you are whining. We just passed Thanksgiving and rather than being thankful...you are whining. Weary.
Elon & Lauren
It seems Mr. Musk and Rep. Boebert (R-CO) have something in common at least when it comes to rich people and taxes.
Musk and Boebert tweeted out their disapproval of the Biden administration's proposal to expand the Internal Revenue Service's number of employees under the Build Back Better agenda. Under the proposal, the IRS would hire nearly 87,000 new workers over the next decade in an effort to close the "tax gap" by collecting unpaid taxes owed by large corporations, partnerships, and wealthy individuals.
Musk paid no federal income tax in 2018, the same year he was the world's second-richest person.
According to a May report from the Department of Treasury, the tax gap — the difference between taxes owed to the government and what is actually paid — will rise to more than $7 trillion over the next decade, or roughly 15% of taxes owed. (Photo - New York Post)
The report went on to say, "These unpaid taxes come at a cost to American households and compliant taxpayers as policymakers choose rising deficits, lower spending on necessary priorities, or further tax increases to compensate for the lost revenue. The tax gap disproportionately benefits high earners who accrue more of their income from non-labor sources where misreporting is common."
And, I think his EV truck is silly looking...so there.
Told you I just wasn't in the mood today. Maybe it's Chanukah or the combination of Thanksgiving and Chanukah? So let me leave you with this:
Tonight we will light the first of eight candles on the Chanukah Menorah. It's a holiday that is not in the bible but it is a holiday that marks an important historical event. So let me leave you with this, which I wrote for my congregation in Mason City:
"No, it is not the Jewish Christmas..." That is what I tell students who have no relationship with the festival, which, by the way, is not something that is ordained in the Torah. Sure, Chanukah happens around the same time as the Christian celebration and yes, there are lights being lit and yes some gifts are given but that ends the similarity. The rest is...history.
In 167 BCE, the Syrian-Greek emperor, Antiochus, set out to destroy Judaism and incorporate the Land of Israel and its inhabitants into his empire. His soldiers attacked Jerusalem, massacring thousands of people and desecrating the city’s holy Second Temple by erecting an altar to Zeus and sacrificing pigs within its sacred walls.
However Antiochus knew that was not the way to destroy the Jewish faith. He had to work on destroying the entire structure of the Jew so he made studying and teaching the Torah illegal. Next, he issued a ban prohibiting the practice of three mitzvot: 1) Sabbath observance 2) sanctifying of the new month (establishing the first day of the month by testimony of witnesses who saw the new moon) 3) brit mila (entering the Covenant of Abraham through Torah-ordained circumcision).
Enter the Maccabees
A family of Jewish priests – Matityahu and his 5 sons, known as the Maccabees – would not have it. They started a revolt and three years later succeeded in evicting the oppressors. The victory was a true miracle – on the scale of present day Israel being able to defeat the combined forces of all of today’s super-powers. This also explains why the emblem of the State of Israel is a menorah.
Once the Jewish people regained control of the Temple in Jerusalem, they wanted to rededicate it immediately.
In order to do so, they needed ritually pure olive oil to re-light the menorah in the Temple, which was a part of the Temple’s nightly service. However, only a single cruse of oil was found, just enough to burn for one day though they needed oil for eight days – the time it would take for new ritually pure olive oil to be produced. A miracle occurred and the oil burned for eight days. Thus, the Temple was rededicated; in fact, Hanukah means “to dedicate” in Hebrew.
And so, starting on Sunday evening we will light the first candle in the nine-branch menorah. Why nine? One of the candles is a "servant" candle. It is used to light the other candles, adding one each night of the festival until all eight candles are burning...along with the servant candle. Also each night we tell a story about Chanukah, play a game called dreidel and eat latkes...potato pancakes that are fried in oil. Yes, there is that oil connection again.
Even the dreidel game has a meaning. It's played with a "top" that has four sides. On each side is a Hebrew letter a nun, gimmel, hey, and shin. The first letters represent the phrase “nes gadol haya sham – a great miracle happened there.”
So, even in playing a game...we remember the miracle of Chanukah.
Happy Chanukah and thanks for reading!