Thursday, 13 December 2012

The Following Day

The following day was Friday, and little Chaim washed early and changed for Shabbat, so he could be with the Chanukah Lights the moment they were kindled. He watched his father light the Chanukah Lights and then he watched his mother light the Shabbat candles. Now Chaim drew up a chair and sat down to accompany the Chanukah Lights.
Sure enough, he could hear the familiar voice of the First Light: "Good Shabbos and Happy Chanukah! I am glad to see you again. This is my younger sister. Say ‘Hello’ to the little boy."
"Hello," the Second Light said, making a graceful curtsy. "I know a wonderful story. Would you like to hear it?"
"I most certainly do," replied little Chaim. "Please, do tell it to me."
"Well," the Second Chanukah Light began, "Yehuda Maccabee led that little band of faithful Jews from victory to victory. Do you know what "guerilla warfare" is? It’s the kind of war that a small number of people wages against big odds. Yehuda and his men did just that. Hiding in caves or lying in ambush, they would suddenly attack the enemy from the rear, or in the middle of the night. Although greatly outnumbered, they succeeded in routing the enemy every time.
Antiochus was bursting with rage. He sent one big army after another to capture Yehuda and destroy his followers, but each time his generals failed. Finally Antiochus sent his best general, Lysias, with a huge army of infantry and cavalry and armored chariots.
Yehuda addressed his handful of brave warriors: "Today we are put to our greatest test," he said. "But have no fear, for it isn’t our weapons that defeated the enemy in the past, but our faith in G-d. They come in chariots and rely upon their might, but we come in the name of G-d and He will fight on our side."
Calling unto G-d and sounding their trumpets, Yehuda and his valiant followers flung themselves upon the enemy. Seeing Yehuda at the head of his men, looking like an angel of G-d, the Syrian warriors became terrified. Their whole army was thrown into terrible confusion, and they began to fight one another. Those who escaped the sword took to their heels, hotly pursued by Yehuda and his men.
It was a wonderful miracle indeed, and the victory was complete and overwhelming. Yehuda’s first thought was to free Jerusalem and dedicate the Holy Temple, so that the Jews could once again worship G-d in peace and security.
When the goal was finally achieved and Yehuda, at the head of his men, entered the Holy Temple, it was a sorry sight that met their eyes. Everything had been defiled and desecrated by the vandals. For a moment the spirit of triumph deserted them, and they stood there motionless, tears streaming down their cheeks.
"No time for grief!" Yehuda called. "Let’s clean up and dedicate our Holy Temple! Everybody get busy!"
"Now we shall light the Menorah with its seven lights!" Yehuda announced when the Temple had been thoroughly cleansed. But alas! There was no pure, sacred olive oil to light it with, for everything had been defiled by the enemy. Searching again and again, they finally discovered one little cruse of oil that still bore the seal of the High Priest. Chanting Psalms to G-d for their deliverance, they kindled the Menorah and dedicated the Holy Temple in the year 3622 after Creation.
It was on the 25th of Kislev, the very day the Temple had been desecrated by the enemy, that the Dedication of the Temple was celebrated. But that was not all. Wonder of wonders! The little oil that was expected to last but one day lasted eight days, until new olive oil could be prepared for the Menorah. Here was a clear demonstration that G-d’s miracles were beyond human understanding.
"This is where my part of the story ends," said the candle. "Tomorrow my younger sister will tell you another story of heroism. Now, you run along to Shul and be sure to be with us again tomorrow."
Excerpted from The Complete Story of Chanukah by Dr Nissan Mindel, published by Kehot
Post a Comment