After the conquests of Alexander of Macedonia, the Greeks imposed their culture, which in those days seemed quite enlightened, rational, and intellectual.
The rational approach, consciousness and understanding was at the forefront, on the one hand, and on the other hand, beauty and aesthetics. Competition also played an important role. Essentially, ancient Greek culture was portrayed as very progressive and dynamic.
Initially, in the first two centuries, the new government was sympathetic to all the peoples, including the Jews, allowing them to keep their customs and religious rituals. Together with this, they were required to be a part of the universal “supermodel” empire with cultured moral principles.
At first glance, everything was okay. The Jewish elite joined the process and saw the developmental trends in it. But among the Jewish people appeared a group that opposed assimilation and wanted to keep its uniqueness instead of disappearing into the “collective” culture. Why was that? What was bad about it?
Answer: First of all, these events look very different to my eyes. That part of the people who remained faithful to Jewish culture represented not a quantitative, but a qualitative minority—the weakness of man’s internal forces.
Greek culture could not seriously penetrate Jewish culture, for it was in absolute opposition to what the Jewish people lived and breathed and what absorbed their entire approach to life. First of all, in those times, the Jews passed through a powerful comprehensive education system. It was said that there was no child from the age of six from Dan to Beersheba who didn’t know the laws of impurity and purity.
Moreover, this is talking about the inner purity of a person. Today Rabbis pass examinations on Kashrut, but the people knew then that “purity” was essentially the intention to bestow, and “love your friend as yourself.” Impurity was its opposite, the use of the ego for personal benefit. The Jews lived according to the law of love until the days of Rabbi Akiva, when the second Beit HaMikdash (temple) was destroyed and the principle of love your friend as yourself collapsed, something which later led to the exile of the Jewish people.
Indeed in the period of the Maccabees, they were all still at a great spiritual height; people knew how to keep the Torah and the Mitzvot (precepts) in the spiritual sense by correcting their desires for the good of others and for the good of the Creator. All of them then were truly as one person with one heart. They certainly were compelled at every moment to overcome the evil inclination that was continuously growing, and in this way, they rose higher and higher in the love of others, in unity. Their unity caused growth of the ego at all times and they again united again above it in order to discover all of the ego within the people, connect above it, and attain the completion of correction.
They yearned for this, and on this condition the first Beit HaMikdash was built. Then a retreat from this began, which was completely natural, until everything was destroyed and the people of Israel went into exile and then later left it, as it is said, Genesis 15:14: with great substance, as in the time of the exodus from Egypt. However, this time it would draw all of humanity after it, which in fact is something that we need to do today.
First of all it is necessary to understand the process, which is completely opposite of what happens with all other people. The people of Israel live according to the law, Leviticus 19:18: And you shall love your friend as yourself, in Arvut (mutual guarantee), each one supporting the others and creating unity through the power of bestowal. And then the Creator was revealed among them.
The prophets also appeared from here. Everything that they did and wrote was derived from living within the Light, through discovering the higher power, the true higher reality.
From the program “A New Life” 12/14/14