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August 17, 2011 Back

Triumph of the Jews

Hanukkah, or Channukah,  is a celebration that lasts for eight days, starting on Kislev 25th. We light candles and place them by a window in order to make the miracle, which took place more than two thousand years go, public. More than twenty centuries ago, the Hasmoneans rebelled against the Seleucids, who ruled over Jerusalem. The Seleucids tried to force a Hellenistic lifestyle upon the Israelites and decreed that the Jews could not perform any major commandments.  Miraculously, a small number of Jews managed to prevail over the Greeks, drove them out of their land and reclaimed the Beis Hamikdah, the Holy Temple.

When the Jews reconquered the Temple and wanted to light the Menorah, they had to face a dismal fact: out of all the jars of consecrated oil, which was used to light the Menorah, only one was left. That one cruse of oil was supposed to last only one day; miraculously, though, it lasted for eight.

Eradicating Darkness with Light

For the Jews, living in darkness, i.e, without Torah and commandants, is unbearable. Their willingness to sacrifice themselves in order to cleave go G-d is instinctual. For this reason, the Seleucids’ regime was, to some people’s opinion, worse than Hama’s plan to destroy the entire Jewish people. The Seleucids did not wish to annihilate the Jews, but make them assimilate into the greater society: to stop keeping Shabbat, performing the bris ceremony, and, most importantly, learn Torah.

The Torah is likened to light, as it shows us how to lead our lives and treat our fellow men, ourselves, and G-d; it lights our path of getting close to G-d and keeps the darkness, i.e, our evil inclination and faults, away.  When we celebrate Hannukah, we do not only commemorate the miracle of the oil that lasted for eight days; we rejoice in the fact that G-d redeemed and allowed us to keep learning His Torah. In this sense, every year Hanukkah takes on a new, bigger meaning: in spite of udergoing persecution and constant hatred, the Jews remain a consolidated people that still, after thousands of years, cleaves to G-d and lauds him for the miracles He performs for us.

Many Versus Few

The Hasmoneans had to deal with not only the Seleucids, but also with Jews who chose to assimilate into the Greek society. Those Jews were lured by the the Hellenistic way of life, the tempting bodily enjoyment that this culture represented. Another factor that the assimilating Jews found appleaing was the Seleucids’ great numbers; it feels safer to belong to a large group than a very small one, like the Jewish people.

However, in spite of this grim reality, the few Torah scholars and followers did not become disparate. That the small group of those who adhered to Judaism, to G-d, were right in doing so; as opposed to the Seleucids, who are now exinct, the Jews are alive and going strong. This fact is not surprising, it is in perfect line with our belive that spiritualy will always prevail over physicality, a premise that the miracle of the Menorah oil appositely proves.

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