Chanukah is coming soon. It arrives as always on the 25th of Kislev, which this year is Sunday evening.
In lighting the Chanukah menorah, we recall the story of the jar of oil that lasted long enough for the Maccabees to manufacture more oil to burn in the rededicated Temple. Trusting that one pot of oil would last eight nights was not logical. In the same way, it was not logical for a small band of fighters to trust they could defeat a much more powerful Syrian army
Yet the Maccabees had faith in God – a faith that defied logic as well as arguments that it was better for Jews “to go along to get along” with the dominant Greek culture.
A Jewish educator, Harry Gersh, once wrote: “Antiochus offered the Jews complete equality with all the rest of his subjects—so long as they would agree to be like all his other subjects. For Jews, life is very, very important. But it is not the most important thing. Jews will not do anything to survive. For some things one must stand up and not give in. The Maccabees risked their lives for freedom to serve God.”
Gersh went on to write: “That’s why the festival of Chanukah does not take place on the day of a great battle. It does not take place on the day the Jews reconquered Jerusalem. It takes place during the week that the Temple was cleansed and a new fire lighted the menorah.”
May the courage of the Maccabees remind us to remain true to our principles, to act with conviction, and to have faith in God. May your candles burn bright during the Festival of Lights.