Standing with Israel
Hanukkah – The Struggle Continues
On Tuesday evening we light the first of eight candles, ushering in Hanukkah – the Feast of Dedication. The holiday commemorates the re-dedication of the holy Temple in Jerusalem after the miraculous victory of a small band of faithful Jewish men over the Greek Seleucid armies in 165 B.C.E.
In 168 B.C.E. the Jewish Temple had been seized by Syrian-Greek soldiers and dedicated to the worship of the god Zeus. While this upset the Jewish people, many were afraid to fight back for fear of reprisals. Then in 167 B.C.E. the Syrian-Greek emperor Antiochus Epiphanes IV made the observance of Judaism an offense punishable by death. He also ordered all Jews to worship Greek gods. When in the town of Modi’in Greek soldiers forcibly gathered the Jewish people and told them to bow down to an idol and then eat the flesh of a pig, Mattathias, a priest, and his five sons rebelled and killed all the soldiers. After fleeing to the mountains they were joined by other Jewish people and the Maccabees, as they became known, brought about a great victory for the Jewish people against overwhelming odds.
The struggle that took place back then has repeated itself over and over again. The Jewish people in the time of the Maccabees had gradually been assimilating into the Greek culture. Judaism for these “enlightened” folks meant no more to them than it does to so many of us in the Western world today. Forget spirituality or truth – we have symbolism, social justice and, of course, a gastronomical experience. Because of the disconnect with Judaism and Israel, a majority of us are totally clueless when it comes to defending Israel against Arab rewriting of history. Sadly, many Jewish young people have embraced leftist ideology and blame the world’s problems on Israel.
Daniel Greenfield in his blog entitled, “A Holiday of Resistance”, challenges Jewish complacency by stating, “The Maccabees fought to resist having their culture and their religion replaced with just that kind of empty hedonism and self-worship. They fought because they believed they had something worth fighting for. Not for their possessions, but for their traditions, their families and their G-d. The celebration of Chanukah is not just how we remember them, but how we remember that we are called upon to keep their watch. To take up their banner and carry their sword.” In other words, if we view our scriptures and our rich history as nothing more than nice stories and good food, how will we have the strength and courage to defend our right to the land of Israel?
At the first night’s candle lighting ceremony last year at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, Knesset Speaker, Reuven Rivlin (Likud), said, “Hebron was the birthplace of the Kingdom of Israel, and on Hanukkah independence was returned to Israel. Hebron was the basis of our right to the Land of Israel, as a moral right that has no superior, and the right of ownership that cannot be questioned; it was our right then and it is our right today.” Rivlin went on to say regarding Hanukkah, “We did not take a foreign land, nor the property of strangers to us, but rather the Land of our forefathers which had been conquered in the past by enemies.” He then challenged the people, “Will we be able to stand by that today as well?”
In the biblical book of Daniel, written several hundred years before the fact, there is a detailed prophecy about the character and deeds of the Maccabees:
Those who do wickedly against the covenant he (Antiochus Epiphanes) shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits. (Daniel 11:32)
The Hanukkah struggle continues today against overwhelming odds. But the same God who brought a miraculous victory for our people almost 2200 years ago is still able to do the same. The question is, will we be the people who know their God, who will be strong and carry out great exploits?