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A Chanukah miracle in Beverly Hills

How the backlash against Airbnb is a lighted candle in the darkness

Airbnb has been making headlines, and not the good kind. Last week, the online rental brokerage waded into politics when it removed listings in Judah and Samaria -- what the media call the West Bank. #Airbnb explained that settlements there “are at the core of the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians.”

Of course, if they were really sincere about their commitment to justice, they would have de-listed Arab properties as well, not just Israeli properties. But that kind of hypocrisy is nothing new, and it comes as no surprise.

What is surprising is the backlash. In Beverly Hills, CA, of all places, one of the most liberal enclaves in the country, the city council not only condemned Airbnb but is encouraging a boycott of the service.

That is nothing less than a Chanukah miracle. And I’ll explain why.

The story of #Chanukah is unique in Jewish history because the threat facing the Jews came not from the might of the Syrian army but from the influence of Greek cultural values. The Greeks had elevated art and architecture and philosophy to levels never-before-known throughout the secular world in a way that dazzled the eyes and excited the mind.

Many Jews bought into those values, not recognizing that for all their appearance of sophistication, they contained very little substance. Without realizing it, by embracing the superficiality of Greece, Hellenistic Jews were undermining the integrity of their own Judaism.

It’s easier and simpler to look at only one side of any issue, like the directors of Airbnb. But if we want to be genuine and sincere, if we want seek real solutions to the world’s problems, we have to look for the pinpoints of wisdom shining out from the darkness of willful ignorance.

And with that I wish you a delightful Shabbos and a joyful Chanukah.

This is a transcript of my weekly commentary on Let's Talk Torah; the recording usually appears about the 50 minute mark.

Photo via MaxPixel

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