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Taking Up Arms

Taking Up Arms

What you and I today would have written off as an act of insanity, was in fact one of the greatest deeds in Jewish history.

by Chana Graj

I look around the world in which we live, and I desperately long to encounter greatness. Where are our bona-fide heroes? The word "genius" is so easily thrown around, a "superstar," a "sensation." Do these words hold any real meaning? Who are the truly courageous people of unique ability who should be shaping our future?

And then there is Chanukah. I am truly awe-inspired by what the small band of Maccabees accomplished. They shaped our future.

When the powerful Syrian-Greeks sought to eradicate Jewish life in Israel, the Maccabees fought back. They didn't take into account any physical obstacles or logical reasoning. They didn't call a board meeting, or even ask for second opinions. They knew what had to be done, and they did it.

In an act of pure faith, they picked up their arms and went to battle against the largest, strongest army at that time. It defied logic, but they didn't stop to question.

What you and I today would have written off as an act of insanity, or what analysts would have pronounced as a suicide mission, was in fact one of the greatest deeds in Jewish history. God responded and assured their win -- but only because the Maccabees took the first step.

History is made through heroic people who stand up and are willing to forfeit everything for what they believe.

When the Maccabees reached Jerusalem, they found the Holy Temple desecrated and defiled. In the face of this utter debasement of their values and beliefs, the Maccabees once again rose beyond the laws of logic, and refused to light the golden Menorah with ritually impure oil -- despite the fact that Torah law would have permitted them to do so. The Maccabees were absolutely determined to kindle the Menorah as perfectly as possible. So once again, God intervened in the natural order and made single jar of oil to last for eight days.

When I look at the miracle of Chanukah, I think not just of the military victory or the jug of oil which lasted eight nights. Rather, I think of the Maccabees' courage, self-sacrifice and profound faith in God, by which they were able to accomplish the impossible.

History is not always made through acts of pragmatism or logic. History is made through heroic people who stand up and are willing to forfeit everything for what they believe.

The story of Chanukah is a call to abandon the shackles and restraints of our logic, to forget what "makes sense," and to finally fight our wars. A nuclear Iran? Poverty and domestic strife? Assimilation? The potential to attain the achievement equal to the Maccabees is within every individual. We must fight against the impossibilities, because only then can we make a difference; only then can we actually change history. Our personal history, and that of the entire world.

 

Published: December 13, 2006


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Visitor Comments: 6

(6) Sharona, December 21, 2008 6:46 AM

Redefining why

Your article states "God responded and assured their win -- but only because the Maccabees took the first step." I don't think that's the reason. They were true to their tradition, and didn't let one iota of Greek culture penetrate them. No "modern thinking", no Greek entertainment, just a pure Torah way of life. That's what God saw, and that's why God intervened.

(5) Linda, December 20, 2006 3:28 AM

inspiring

chana, your words reached something in me, because I agree with you, we need someone who will finally stand up and take charge and make that difference! we are a herd of sheep without a shepherd.

(4) B.ZalmanRosenthal, December 18, 2006 10:52 AM

My Punch Line

The more popular summary of Jewish History: They tried to destroy us, we survived, let's eat!
My own one liner (©/™ - may use with permission, just give proper credit): The Jewish People - Takes a lickin' and keeps on Tikkun!

(3) Lasch, December 17, 2006 8:29 AM

The war of independence

Dear Channa,
You don't have to go so far. In 1948. 3 years after the Holocaust, a small group of poorly armed Jews stood against 350 Million Arabs and the whole British empire, won and established the first Jewish independent State since over 2000 years.
I Know, because i have been part of it
Chag Sameach
Prof. Dr. Eli Lasch

(2) Becky, December 16, 2006 11:48 PM

really nice!

very nice article! i like the idea how it completely was irrational, and sometimes we need to give up our rational mind for the skae of what we beleive

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