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Chanukah's Eternal Message

Dear Friends,

In our long history, few individuals have threatened the spiritual survival of the Jewish people as did Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who ascended to the Syrian-Greek throne in 175 BCE.

Antiochus outlawed core Jewish practices such as Sabbath observance, circumcision, and Torah study. Then, in 168 BCE, even erected an idol in the Temple. The Jews responded with tremendous resilience throughout and in 166 BCE, the struggle finally boiled over.

In Modi’in, the elderly Matisyahu, from the priestly Hasmonean family, was called upon to sacrifice a swine to their god. Under the watchful glare of the Greek soldiers, he uttered his firm refusal. A hellenized Jew then came forward to sacrifice the pig. At that moment, the elderly priest stabbed him and killed the Greek commander as well. He then faced the crowd and roared “All who are for Hashem should follow me!”. Local inhabitants immediately pounced upon the Greek garrison, killing them. The fightback had officially begun.

We should take a lesson from these heroes. Had the attempts at Hellenizing the Jew, we wouldn’t be here today! Only the brave resistance of the Chashmonaim and their followers, who risked their lives for their religion, ensured the future of the Jewish people.

Have a delightful Chanukah,

Rabbi Sholom Mimran


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