Categorized | Ask the Rabbi

Use lights of Hanukkah to illuminate world

Posted on 28 December 2016 by admin

Dear Rabbi,
What is your take on the U.N. Security Council vote condemning Israel falling out right before Hanukkah?
Joe and Marcie W.
Dear Joe and Marcie,
The significance of this disgraceful event falling out when it did was not lost even on the most secular of Israeli MKs, many of whom made mention of its obvious connection to Hanukkah, a time when we overcame our enemies against all odds.
I think, however sadly, that the true message of Hanukkah was, nevertheless, lost among many, even as they saw a connection between these events. This is not a new mistake, but goes back to the beginning of the State of Israel.
The predominant outlook upon Hanukkah and the Maccabees is as upon mighty Jewish warriors who stood up with great physical strength and fortitude, exercising their tremendous military prowess which enabled them, although greatly outnumbered, to triumph valiantly against the wicked Syrian-Greek oppressors. It is this great pride in the physical might of the Maccabees which has, for example, led to the naming of Tel Aviv’s soccer team “Maccabee Tel Aviv,” also an example of skill, strength and stamina!
Nothing could be further from the truth! The Maccabees were not mighty warriors, nor had they even the least bit of military training; they were yeshiva students who spent their days and nights studying Torah! The Siddur, the traditional prayerbook, written by the sages of the generation in which this miracle took place, says the following: “In the days of Mattisyahu … the High Priest, the Hasmonean and his sons, when the wicked Greek kingdom rose up against Your people Israel to make them forget Your Torah and compel them to stray from the statutes of Your will, You in Your great mercy stood up for them in their time of distress. You took up their grievance, judged their claim and avenged their wrong. You delivered the strong into the hands of the weak, the many into the hands of the few, the impure into the hands of the pure, the wicked into the hands of the righteous, and the wanton into the hands of the diligent students of Your Torah…” (ArtScroll Siddur, p. 187).
The Maccabees were not at all the “strong” ones; their hands were “the hands of the weak”! They did not, in the least way, rely upon their own military prowess, rather considered themselves emissaries of the Al-mighty; it was His victory, not their own! True, God delivered that miraculous victory because of the Maccabees’ willingness to fight and even give up their own lives for the sake of God’s Torah, but only because they relied upon God’s providence and His infinite ability to defeat even the strongest of armies despite the weakness and puniness of their physical capabilities did they fight that war.
Many commentaries explain that the purpose of the miracle of the menorah was to make sure the people didn’t mistakenly attribute the defeat of the Greeks to the strength of the Jews, and to remember it was a God-given gift, like the menorah which stayed lit far beyond its physical capabilities.
The message of the Security Council vote and the Obama administration, joined by the rest of the world, throwing Israel under the bus is not that “we” will overcome, or that Trump will save us. It is that if we connect ourselves to that which the Maccabees did, to the Al-mighty and His Torah, then God will continue to rescue us as He did so many years ago!
According to Kabbalistic sources, the final rays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur shine until the days of Hanukkah. The Hanukkah lights are our connection of light in a time of darkness to ward off the final attempt by our detractors to pass a negative judgment against us.
We have received a wake-up call at the last moment of judgment to utilize the lights of Hanukkah for what they symbolize, the light of Torah, and that light will ward off much darkness. They will, in turn, illuminate our Jewish homes and spread throughout the entire world, sending a message of light, peace and joy which will continue to ensure the continuity of the Eternal Nation.
A joyous Hanukkah to all!

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