Rabbi Hagai Lundin
Rabbi Hagai LundinCourtesy

The miracle of the jug of oil lasted eight days. As such, it seems that the battle between the Maccabees (sourced from the word macevet = hammer) and the Greeks was also a light war lasting several days. The myth is that the Greeks made religious decrees against the Jews, who responded with a lightning war in which Jerusalem was conquered, candles were lit and sufganiyot, fried donuts, eaten.

In reality, the clashes between the Maccabees and the Greeks lasted 27 years of an extremely bloody and cruel war. The Greeks not only made decrees against religion but carried out massacres throughout the Land of Israel that included amputations, mass rape, kidnapping and murder of children and babies. The war itself was fraught with ups and downs, victories and defeats, and the Maccabees often reached the brink of destruction.

A significant band of Hellenists served as a fifth column, and the Maccabees themselves were starving. Of the five Hasmonean sons—Yehudah, Yochanon, Yonatan, Elazar, and Shimon—only the latter lived to see victory.

At the same time, we celebrate Hanukkah every year to remember that light overcomes darkness, even if in a long, partial and winding way. This is why we add a new candle to the chanukiya (menorah) every day – "gradually increasing". Thanks to the Maccabees of 2000 years ago, we are in an infinitely better position today than in those days: we are not fighting against a world empire but against terrorist organizations; we are not a bunch of settlers at the mercy of murderers, but a strong state – economically and militarily – that knows how to fight back.

The divisive incitement during wartime are not a fifth column but just annoying people who are making themselves hateful in the eyes of the Israeli public; we do not light candles inside our homes for fear of a pogrom or inquisition,, but in the doorways of our houses to publicize the miracle.

Thanks to the Maccabees of 167 BCE, we now live in a much brighter world, and thanks to the Maccabees of 2023 CE, our grandchildren will live in an even brighter world.

In those days - at this time.

Shabbat Shalom and Happy Hanukkah!