An older Polish Jew immigrates to the “Golden Land” – the United States of America. There, he experiences the culture shock of his life. Everything is big, industrialized, impersonal, cold, materialistic…he wonders: “where is the human passion of the old country?”
“America!” he spouts the word in disgust as he walks down a busy street. “No one cares about anything here! There is no one idealism in this country!”
The man behind him overhears his comment and protests. “Not true, Americans can be idealistic about everything! You just have to pay the right price!”
The miracle commemorated on Hanukkah is the victory of the few Maccabees over the many and mighty Syrian Greeks.
However, the story was not about a fight for survival. No, the Greeks were not out to kill Jews; all they wanted was to replace the “Absolute” Jewish values with the sophistication of Hellenistic culture. And so, in an effort to pull the Jewish population into the melting pot of Hellenism, Jewish practices deemed “irrational”, such as the Sabbath and circumcision, were banned.
That is why the Maccabees rebelled. And in the battle of morals vs. culture, morals won. Principles were victorious over popularity. The few triumphed over the many.
The lesson we learn from the Maccabees is to remember that the most powerful weapon we have, is our “Absolute commitment to our Jewish values”. It is stronger than tanks, planes, and anything else a world power can conjure up.
We outlived the Greeks then, and we will persevere now. We draw red lines and stick to them. We don’t get intimidated or embarrassed. We are proud!
We are Maccabees!
Shabbat Shalom and Happy Hanukkah