The times we live in today and those of the Macabees are strikingly parallel in both the problem and solution. What ws the reality of the situation in those days? The Greeks ruled, and as in every part of their empire, they wanted to establish their culture as the dominant force, something which in the case of Israel meant abolishing Judaism. As a result, the number of Jews (Hellenists) leaving their faith to embrace the “beautiful” and “enlgihtened” Greek culture increased until the culture of the materialism and of the body became the majority culture in Israel.
The scholars and the “Gedolim” in Israel sit at home. How many are there? Who knows. Perhaps they are a majority, perhaps only a small minority. In any case, their presence is not felt, as the harsh edicts of the Greek Empire petrify them. Any logical person understands that certainly concerning this period it was written, “the prudent shall keep silent in that time”. “Hashem will help”, they say, as they observe the mitzvot in secret. And all the while Hellenism is spreading throughout the Jewish People, infesting even the best of families. But “what can we do”? (“ma la’asot”) The empire is powerful, and the collaboration of the Hellenists makes it all that much stronger.
Likewise in Israel today, Western culture has become the obsession of the masses, with Israelis drooling for anything that says, “Made in USA.” Western democracy emasculates the thinking Jew, while the Israeli government succeeds in allying itself to religious groups by political bribery. Even the best of us despair, as we utter the slogan, “Nu, what can you do?” After all, the government rules with a strong hand, and the media continues to brainwash the masses and incite them to detest anything remotely resembling Jewish values. Most of the religious circles prefer to stay closed amongst themselves. A religious struggle? “It will only make things worse”. “Let’s at least not jeapordize what we have’, are some of the more common utterances. Even the most dynamic figures tell us that the only thing we can do is read Tehilim.
In the days of the Macabees, when things had reached a new low, eventssuddenly took a most unexpected turn. In a distant village where the Greek authorities sent a garrison to persuade the Jewish residents to sacrifice a pig on the altar to the Greek deity, the elderly Matityahu the Cohen suddenly arose, took the knife from the complying Jew and slaughtered him on the altar along with the enemy soldiers, fleeing from the site. Suddenly, the revolution had begun!!
A few against the many, the Macabees stood up against the mighty Greek army for many years. What a miracle! How did it even enter the minds of such a scanty few, faithful to Hashem and His Torah to enter battle under such impossible circumstances? Wasn’t this a suicide mission? Only Jews motivated by deep faith and trust in G-d would undertake such a mission.
Many commentators ask why it is that we celebrate eight days of Chanukah instead of seven. After all, there was enough oil for one day. The miracle then lasted only seven days, and not eight. My father, Rabbi Meir Kahane, HY”D, offered a novel answer to this question. Themiracle of the oil symbolizes the much greater miracle of the war in which the few overcame the many. However, in that miracle there is yet another miracle. The very fact that the Jews took the initiative to go to war constitutes a miracle in itself! Indeed, the miracle of the first day is that the Jews were willing to go out and fight in the first place! Can one imagine a few scholar-warriors today going out to war to fight the Hellensits – going forth against the Israeli establishment that has given the land away to murderers, and has force-fed Israeli children non-Jewish and anti-Jewish education and in its place has given them drugs, AIDS and other niceties of western culture?
In our times as well, it is in our hands to bring down this oppressive regime that bans and jails its opponents. And when the uprising begins, the true power and glory of Am Yisrael will be revealed, and following the few will be multitiudes.