Chanukah remembers the revolt and victory of the small army of Jews (the “Maccabees”), over the mighty reign of Antiochus, who occupied the Holy Land and seized the Temple. With the victory of our regaining control of the Temple, the rededication of the Temple took place. This itself was a miracle. But Chanukah is known and celebrated as The Miracle of Lights…At the time of the rededication of the Temple, the Jews found very little ‘pure’ oil remaining to light the Menorah in the Temple. There was only enough oil to burn for one day, but miraculously, it burned for eight days. Thus, an eight day festival was declared to commemorate this miracle. It has been noted that the holiday commemorates the miracle of the oil, not the military victory, since Jews do not glorify war. Therefore it is known as the festival of lights. To celebrate this holiday, we light the Chanukiyah for eight days and eat all sorts of delicacies cooked in oil (I especially love the sufganiyot, the delicious jelly donuts).
As we celebrate the Festival of Lights, I find myself praying very strongly for another miracle. I think about what just happened in Paris (the City of Lights) and what is going on all over the world and I am wondering if only a miracle will help us defeat the evil, ruthless and barbaric acts of the terrorists, who are only getting more brazen and brutal with time.
We as Jews have always experienced the brutality of hatred and terror besieged upon us. From the beginning of time there have been kings and armies and heads of state and terrorist groups that try to destroy us and put their wrath of evil and torture in our way. Israel has experienced suicide bombings and strikes of terror since day one and continues to be besieged today.
As a people and as a nation (the children and state of Israel), we are resolute. We never forget. We remember Pharaoh, Antiochus, Haman, the Spanish Inquisition, the Holocaust, Hitler, Himmler, Eichmann, the plight of the Persian Jews, Syrian Jews, Egyptian Jews, Iraqi Jews, Yemenite Jews, Lybian Jews, Soviet Jewry, Russian Jewry, Eastern and Western European Jews, Hamas, Hezbollah, Ahmadinejad, etc. etc, etc.
Let us pray for our beloved State of Israel, for her peace and security, and let us pray that the leaders of the rest of the civilized world come together and figure out a way to put an end to the wrath of terror that is facing the world today.
Chag Sameach…Happy Chanukah!!
See you in Shul.
Cantor Sol Zim