Chanukah: Israel's Victory
How does Israel, throughout the ages, prevail over enemies that are much mightier? The secret is that before they overcome the enemies, they must overcome nature. How?
by Rabbi Lazer Brody
Hashem tells Moses to do something physically impossible: "Gather the entire community at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting" (Leviticus 8:3), the entrance of the Tabernacle. Moses did as Hashem commanded him and no one argued. They could have protested, "How do you expect two million people to gather in a space where only a few hundred can fit? The Children of Israel can fill forty Yankee Stadiums! You want us all to gather at the entrance of the Tabernacle?" No one said that. They all believed the word of Moses that he received from Hashem. The holy Ohr HaChaim writes that by virtue of Israel's emuna in Hashem and in Moshe, the miracle occurred and they all fit...
How does Israel, throughout the ages, prevail over enemies that are much mightier? The secret is that before they overcome the enemies, they must overcome nature. How do they overcome nature? There's only one way - emuna. In the account of the splitting of the Red Sea, the Torah reveals Israel's template for victory: "On that day, Hashem saved Israel from the hand of Egypt...and they revered Hashem, and they believed in Hashem and in His servant Moses" (Exodus 14:30-31). We learn that true emuna includes the belief in Hashem and in His righteous servants - the true tzaddikim and spiritual leaders of Israel - in every generation.
The belief in the true tzaddik triggered the miracle of Chanukah. How?
200 years before the destruction of the Second Holy Temple in Jerusalem, the wicked King Antiochus wanted to solidify his vast Syrian Greek empire by destroying Judaism and turning Israel into a secular nation that conforms to Seleucid (Greek-Syrian) culture and paganism. In doing so, he marched with his vast army upon Jerusalem, defiled the Holy Temple and erected an idol on the altar. He made Torah study, Shabbat observance and circumcision punishable by death, for he knew that without Torah, the Sabbath and circumcision, the Jewish People would disappear, Heaven forbid, within a few decades even without war. But that wasn't all...
Antiochus in his evil cunning knew that in order to subjugate the Jews, you must subjugate their spiritual leader. He therefore sent a task force to the town of Modiin, the home of Mattathias the Kohen (priest), a revered, holy and courageous leader, the tzaddik of the generation. A Hellenist - an assimilated Jew who served as one of Antiochus's administrators - had the Greek-Syrian soldiers erect a portable altar. He then prodded Mattathias to be an example for the populace, to pledge allegiance to Antiochus and his regime, and to sacrifice a pig on the altar. On the spot, Mattathias pulled out a dagger from his priestly cloak and killed the administrator. He and his five sons - Yonatan, Shimon, Judah, Elazar, and Yochanan - routed the task force and sent them packing. Knowing that they would soon return with an entire army, Mattathias cried out, "Whoever is for Hashem, follow me!" (Exodus 32:26), the same battle cry that Moses used when the Levites rallied behind him to kill those who worshiped the Golden Calf.
By virtue of the simple faith of a handful of peasants who believed in Hashem and in Mattathias His servant, armed with nothing more than spears, bows, rocks and their unwavering emuna, they fought under the leadership of Mattathias and his sons, aka the Maccabees, in a dazzling guerrilla campaign against the massive well-armed forces of the Seleucid army. The rest is history. With Hashem's help, the Maccabees prevailed, recaptured, reconsecrated and rededicated ("Chanuka" in Hebrew) the Holy Temple. They rekindled the holy Menorah, and dedicated eight days to thanking Hashem. This is the miracle of Chanuka that we celebrate every year.
Don't think that Chanuka was something that happened 2200 years ago, and that is all there is to it. It's still happening today.
Nobody seemed to notice the connection between the volcanic ash cloud that was edging toward Israel and about to ground the entire Israeli Air Force, and all the missile battery movements under the guise of war games in Iran. All these were pieces in one big puzzle that Hashem was putting together show His might and miracles.
Israeli Intel and the Prime Minister were in a panic back then in May of 2010. Why?
Under the guise of maneuvers, the Iranians were in strike formation. They and the Syrians saw the volcanic ash cloud as an opportunity to pour a massive barrage of missiles on Israel, while the Israeli Air Force - who they're scared stiff of - would be neutralized by the jet-engine-destroying cloud. The volcanic ash cloud choking Israeli air space would have made us sitting ducks to Syrian, Iranian, and Hizbulla missiles, Heaven forbid.
So what did Hashem do? On Monday night, May 10, 2010, when the cloud ash cloud was set to reach Israel via a Westerly wind, the winds suddenly shifted here, blowing off the Saudi Arabian desert from southeast to northwest rather than our normal winds that blow off the Mediterranean from west to east. This 30-40 MPH searing hot desert wind, what we call the Chamsin, drove temperatures up to the high 90's (F) here on the coast, with sandstorms that coated everything with a brownish dust film. As soon as the ash cloud was blown away from Israel, the weather turned to a comfy 80F, sunny, with gentle 5 MPH winds from off the Mediterranean.
Hashem foiled the Iranian's plans. Once the skies were clear of the ash cloud and of the sandstorm that the Chamsin brought, the IAF was back to policing the skies full force. There were immediate large-scale aerial maneuvers here that communicated the message to Iran and its proxy Syria, "Don't mess around with us." Frustrated, the Iranians began flexing macho muscles and firing Fajr-5 missiles into the sea and threatening the US Navy. Hashem obliged and gave them a war in Syria.
More recently, there have been the miracles of the tunnels in Gaza that have been caving in on the heads of those who seek to harm us.
Meanwhile, Hashem is showing us how much He loves us. He can easily foil Iranian nuclear schemes with an earthquake.
Where does the tzaddik fit in the above scenarios? There's much to tell, but in short, Rav Shalom Arush shlit'a promised, during the most dangerous times, that as long as Israel would be busy in spreading emuna they won't have to fight wars. Many believe his words and have been working day and night in spreading emuna. These are the fortunate people who are spoiling the designs of our enemies.
Let's show Hashem how much we love Him. Let's strengthen our emuna in Him and in the true tzaddikim, and do our best to spread emuna all over the world. We must believe that we have the power to make this world a better place.
Rabbi Lazer Brody was born in Washington, D.C. in 1949. After receiving his bachelor's degree in agriculture from the University of Maryland in 1970, he moved to Israel and joined the Israel Defense Forces regular army, and served in one of the elite special-forces units. He is a decorated combat veteran of two wars and numerous of counter-insurgence and anti-terrorist missions on both sides of Israel's borders.
Rabbi Brody is the English-language editor of Breslev Israel's highly popular English-language website at www.breslev.co.il, and the founder and director of Emuna Outreach. Between Breslov Israel and Emuna Outreach, he devotes his time to spreading emuna and particularly the teachings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslev around the globe.
"Lazer Beams," Rabbi Brody's award-winning daily web journal, has been instrumental in helping tens of thousands of people around the globe find joy and fulfillment in their lives.