Chanukah celebrates the victory of the Jews over the oppression of the Greeks. Brave Judah Maccabee led the first recorded battle for religious freedom in all of human history.
Yet, strangely enough, our religious tradition downplays the military aspect of the Maccabee revolt. Instead of recounting the various battles the Maccabees fought during the three year revolt, instead the holiday of Chanukah emphasizes a non-militaristic miracle which took place after the war was won.
Everyone knows the story of the one cruse of oil which lasted for eight days. The essential message of Chanukah is not about shedding blood on the battlefield, but the trust the Maccabees had in rekindling the menorah, hoping that the light would last long enough for more oil to be manufactured
Faith in God and trusting in the human capacity to build a brighter future – that’s the message our tradition imparts as the essence of Chanukah. As the prophet Zechariah proclaimed: “Not by might and not by power by God’s spirit shall we be free.”