Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Chanuka 5769

My friend Calev asks what the lesson of Chanuka's military victory is for us today:
for every Judah the Maccabee who fought against all odds and successfully freed his people from an occupying empire (Greece), there is a Bar-Kokhba whose revolt against an occupying empire (Rome) ended in defeat and mass slaughter and expulsion
Although the Maccabee/Bar Kochba question remains open, Chanuka's significance is important - and perhaps is not as ambiguous as one might think. Implicit in the Al Hanisim prayer's lack of military emphasis is Chazal's reluctance to celebrate warfare. Their shift away from a military emphasis towards a spiritual one sends out the message of Chanukah - power without purpose leads nowhere.

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