Simcha's Torah Stories - Chanukah 5759
Okay fellows; let's choose up sides for the ball game. Everybody who is on Chaim's team stand on this side, and Danny's team go to the other side.
Chaim, we're really outnumbered. Not only does Danny's team have more guys; they also have better players. What are we going to do?
Avi, it's only a sports game. The main thing is not whether we win or lose, but that we get some exercise and fresh air. Let's not take these things too seriously. However, since you brought up the subject of being outnumbered, you remind me of another time when the Jewish people were very outnumbered, and the situation was serious.
When was that, Chaim?
About 2100 years ago, during the time of the Greek empire.
Are you talking about the Chanuka story, Chaim?
I sure am. Try to imagine yourself at a meeting of Jewish leaders of the time.
Some 2100 years ago . . .
Let us have a status report of the latest activities of the Greek rule over the Jewish people here in the Land of Israel.
The Greeks, although they outnumber us, do not threaten us physically. They want us to assimilate and be good citizens of Greece. They are interested in beauty, esthetics, and scholarship. They want our Torah to be a part of their library. They made us translate the Torah into Greek, so that they could read it and include it among their studies.
The Torah can only be properly understood in the Holy language. Each word has many deep meanings. A translation captures only one or two meanings, and is just a shell of the real Torah. We hope this will not discourage Jews from studying the Torah in all of its depth.
Some time later . . .
The Greeks have stepped up their assimilation campaign. They have appointed many Jews to official positions, encouraging them to assimilate by rewarding them with positions of honor. These Jews, and others call themselves "Hellenists." They have joined forces with the Greeks and are encouraging other Jews to assimilate. The majority of Jews are still loyal to G-d and the Torah.
Another meeting . . .
The Greeks realize that they cannot succeed in assimilating us as long as we are keeping all 613 mitzvos. Therefore, they have outlawed three mitzvos. It is now illegal to keep Shabbos, perform bris mila, and sanctify the New Moon. We must defy this religious persecution. They must not succeed in uprooting even one of our holy mitzvos.
Some time later . . .
Antiochus, the Greek ruler has realized that his efforts will not succeed in separating the Jews from the Torah. He has now begun a campaign of violence. He has slaughtered tens of thousands of men, women, children, and infants. The Hellenists are helping his armies track down Jews who are in hiding. The enemy has entered our Holy Temple and defiled it in the most gruesome way. It seems there is no alternative except to wage warfare against this evil oppressor.
How can we ever hope to win an open war against Antiochus? Do you realize how mighty the Greek Empire is? They have conquered many countries, and rule of a large part of the world. They are trained warriors with weapons far superior to ours. To fight against them would be suicide.
You are forgetting one thing. We are fighting for the Honor of G-d and His Torah. He is on our side. He is more powerful than any weapon or army. We must go to battle. We have no choice.
Back to the present . . .
As we all know, Avi, the Jews, led by the Maccabees, defeated the mighty Greeks and liberated the Land of Israel from their rule. G-d was on their side. In our days we are still facing assimilation. Guess what? He is still on our side. No matter what the odds are against us. When we come to do mitzvos, learn and teach Torah, He gives us special assistance. Against all the odds.
A snail once fell to the bottom of a pit ten feet deep. The snail was able to climb up three feet every day. Unfortunately, he slid back down two feet every night. How many days did it take him to get out of the pit?
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