"Chanukah in our time"


Blockbuster movies. Hit TV reality shows. Feature articles. Everyone seems to enjoy and feel the success of an underdog. There is nothing like cheering for a challenging boxer. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing someone who everyone gave up on, overcome. Stand up to the challenge. Standing on the peak a winner, a champion - despite all odds.

So sitting here, I have dreamt up a new reality show, I thought to myself there is nothing out there that will bring across this theme better than a story about the Jews people. A harsh reality of how we are still here.   

Putting down my pen, I let my thoughts drift back in the time to a story that we celebrate this time of the year. I see the Greek king Antiochus, Proud and arrogant, I see the Assyrian army standing sure and confident. I see them all united for one goal, one purpose.

Menorah 3 (small)School children know the story of what happened. How the small Jewish army - the Maccabees, which didn't have a chance, won over the great world super power of the time, the Assyrian army. Only to come back to the temple to give thanks to g-d and find it defiled. Wanting to light the Menorah - candelabra, they searched and found but one small jug of oil. This small jug, which had enough oil for one day, lasted for eight days.

Lets now look at what transpired. This wasn't a war to conquer a threatening enemy. This wasn't a war for riches or oil for that matter. Let's remember what Benjamin Netanyahu former Prime Minister of Israel said, "G‑d made the Jews wander for forty years and gave them the only land without oil."

No, rather this was a religious war, a Jihad, The Greeks disagreed with Jewish philosophy and decided to wipe them out. Everyone who was not like them deserved to be punished. They succeeded in winning the armies before them. But when they reached the gates of Jerusalem their luck ran out.

Now is the part of the story that we all love, the part where the few beat the many. The week vanquished the strong. The righteous was victorious over the wicked. The challenger won - despite all odds.

Coming back to my article, it struck me. These thoughts the Greeks had some twenty five hundred years ago seem all too familiar. Just a little while ago Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called for the destruction of Israel. Not because little Israel is destroying Iran's economy. Not because Iran wants something that Israel has. Simply because the Jewish people are...well Jewish.

Orthodox or Reform. Affiliated or not. They seem to have one goal, towards one people. In a world of political correctness, in this scenario they seem to disregard it. Even the liberal European Union spoke out against those comments.

 The problem lies in acceptance. One thing we have learned from our forefather Abraham and has been passed down through the generations, its acceptance. We were and teach to accept people together with their views. No matter if theirs differs from ours. Live and let live, despite that some chose to live in a different manner.

Now, my job as a Rabbi is to show people the truth. Not to lecture all the time. I have the pulpit once a week for that. During the week I encourage my congregants to live a better life. A more complete life. How do we do that they ask me. I answer them, to seek the truth.

So what is the truth? The truth is, the Jewish people will remain. 

School trips go to museums and admire at what is now ancient Greek history. When I go with my students, I admire their talents but scorn at their haughtiness. I explain to them that these nations all have one thing in common, their intolerance for another culture. I help them realize what a blessing growing up in the United States in this day and age is. Our standing there is a like laughing in their face. In fact we have a trip planned to go see King Tut, to do just that.

 Mark Twain was right when he figured out the Jewish People were special. He just couldn't find the secret. I will let you on it.

It's not nuclear or strategic for that matter. It's Godly. That one word answers all questions. Defies all statistics. Like the one statistic that says the Jews should really be extinct. After all which nation can overcome the Egyptians, Romans, Greeks, Holocaust, pogroms and the holy wars of the crusaders and Muslim extremists. But we have overcome and we stand here and laugh.

So just like Moses laughed at Pharaoh. Just like Judah the Maccabee laughed at Antiochus. Just like the Previous Chabad Rebbe laughed at the communist Russian government. So too I will laugh. Because I know that when the sun sets on those regimes who call for bloodshed, genocide and Jihad, I will be still be standing.