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Hanukkah - a Lesson For Our Times


Written by the rabbi


לשיעור זה בעברית: חנוכה שיעור לדורנו

"What is Hanukkah, because of what miracle was it established? When the Greeks entered the Temple, they defiled all the oils in the Hall. And when the Hasmonean won, they searched and found only one flask of oil ... a miracle was made and it lit for eight days. The following year they established those days and made them to holydays of praise and thanksgiving" (Shabbat 21b) . According to this, the holiday is because of the miracle of the oil. This is quite puzzling , since we mention in the prayer: "the wicked Hellenic government rose up against Your people Israel to make them forget Your Torah... But You, in Your abounding mercies, stood by them in the time of their distress… You delivered the mighty into the hands of the weak… and effected a great deliverance and redemption for Your people Israel". If so, most of the praise should be directed towards the military victory, the salvation, and our ability to keep all of Torah through the generations, not on the miracle of the oil?!
Indeed, it seems that many people in that generation disapproved of the act of the Hasmoneans. They said : Do not fight the Greeks, they are strong and more than us, the war will not succeed! We must be realistic - not too fanatic, the war will put us in danger without good reason. Some said to look at reality and even if we can’t observe the Torah commandments, G-d forgives in such cases. Some said not to endanger the existence of our nation in the war against the Greeks, and others said not to rebel against the nations - it is against the Torah and we must wait until the Messiah comes . After the victory of the Hasmoneans, the criticism might have continued: You acted against the will of God, we are forbidden to rebel against the nations, a victory against the will of God has no value and all the success is temporary, at the end the Greeks will conquer Israel again and we will suffer doubly because of the rebellion.
When the Hasmoneans came to the temple and cleansed it, God made ​​them a visible miracle - the miracle of the oil. This was the sign that God was happy with their actions. The Hasmonean war was the will God, the devotion to G-d and the country was the right thing to do. That is why the miracle of the oil is so emphasized, to remind us that God approved the war of the Hasmonean!
This is to teach us, we should work for the redemption of Israel by awakening from below, rather than waiting for the awakening from heaven. And when awakening from below then comes Siyatta Dishmaya, G-d’s help from above. People who look with open eyes can see the Siyata Dishmaya of our time, from the actions of the workers for the salvation of Israel, and settling the land through to the ingathering of exiles and Israel's wars.


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