1 Tevet 5784
6th Candle of Hanukkah
Following is a sampling of inspiring speeches made by the Maccabean leaders which aroused the Jewish neshamahs of their followers to greatness in the Name of Hashem. Excerpted from The Chanukah Scroll by Hagi Ben Artzi:
[To the Greek officer who bid him come and sacrifice a pig on the altar to Zeus,]...Matityahu's response was delivered in a loud and confident voice, and was clearly heard throughout the city square. Matityahu said: "Even if all the nations in the Kingdom of Antiochus hearken to him and abandon their traditions and customs and follow the paths of the Greeks, I, and my sons and my brothers will continue to walk in the ways of our Forefathers, and will not betray the covenant of our God. We dare not leave our Torah and our national tradition! We will not follow and will not hearken to the words of King Antiochus, for the God Who dwells in Heaven is our King."
..."Jews, we are going out to war! Whoever is zealous for the Torah, whoever is loyal to the covenant with our God, follow me to fight for our faith and our Torah!"
[Even from his deathbed, Matityahu persevered]..."My sons, be zealous for the Torah; give your very souls for the sake of the covenant of your Forefathers. Remember the actions of your fathers, how they gave their lives and brought salvation to their nation. Remember Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov; remember Moshe and Pinchas; remember Yehoshua and Calev; remember David and Eliyahu; remember Daniel, Chanayah, Mishael and Azaryah.
Carefully reflect on the previous generations; learn from them that one need not fear an evil man, even if he is strong and threatening. Our fathers trusted in God, and He came to their salvation. You, as well: Believe in God, and become strong with Torah - for only this way will bring you pride. In your war with the enemies of our nation, Yehuda will be your Chief of Staff and commander, and Shimon will be your advisor and father. Gather to you all those who uphold the Torah, and avenge the honor of your people. Give the Gentiles what they deserve, and hold fast on to the Torah's commandments."
With these words, Matityahu passed away....
...when Yehuda's few men saw the great Syrian army marching towards them, great fear fell upon them. They called to their commander Yehuda: "We are few and weak; how will we be able to fight this great camp?" Yehuda then gathered all the men together, and strengthened their spirit with words of faith.
Thus he said to them: "Nothing can prevent God from saving us, whether we are few or many. It is not great numbers of soldiers or heavy weaponry that brings victory in war. It is rather a spirit of valor, one that stems from true faith. We are fighting for our nation and our Torah, whereas they are coming upon us with haughtiness and evil, to destroy us, our wives and our children, and to take our property. The God of our fathers will not abandon us; He will smite them before us.
Arise, my brothers! Go out and fight without fear!"
When Yehuda finished speaking, a spirit of valor overtook his men, and they fell upon their enemies with great force.
[When the war had continued many years, Shimon, the last of the Maccabees] ...gathered a large crowd in the courtyard of the Temple in Jerusalem, and encouraged them and raised their spirits. He said to them: "You know that which we have done - I, my brothers, and my father's house - on behalf of the Torah and the Temple. All my brothers died in the great war, in which they gave their lives for their people; I, alone, remain. Do not fear that their deaths have caused me to be afraid or to seek my own personal safety, for I know that I am no better than my brothers. Just as they did, I will continue to lead you in the way of the Torah and to fight the wars of God."
[When Antiochus sent a demand for the return of captured 'Greek cities' in Eretz Yisrael] ...Shimon rebuffed these demands..., and responded in resolute and firm terms:
"Not foreign land did we take, and not over property of foreigners did we take control. We have returned to the inheritance of our forefathers, from which we were unjustly banished by our enemies. And now, with the help of our God, we have returned to the inheritance of our fathers."
AMEN AND AMEN!!
And the Spirit of the Maccabees lives on...