Chanukah, often described as the Festival of Lights, holds a timeless spiritual message that resonates through the ages. It reminds us of the triumph of light over darkness, resilience over oppression, and hope over despair. Rooted in the historical struggle of the Jewish people against the ancient Greek empire, Chanukah also draws parallels to contemporary challenges, especially the current war between Israel and Hamas.
The central theme of Chanukah revolves around the miracle of the Menorah, where a small amount of oil, sufficient for only one day, burned for eight days in the reclaimed Temple. This miraculous event symbolizes the enduring light of faith and the indomitable spirit of a people determined to preserve their identity and beliefs.
In the context of the current war between Israel and Hamas, the parallels are striking. Hamas, an organization committed to the destruction of Israel, represents a modern manifestation of the forces that have historically sought to extinguish the light of the Jewish people. In facing this threat, Israel’s struggle mirrors the Chanukah narrative, where a nation fights for its survival against those who wish to erase its existence.
Just as the Maccabees, the Jewish rebels of antiquity, stood strong against the oppression of the Greek empire, so too does Israel face the darkness of terrorism with courage and resilience. The parallel between the historical struggle of Chanukah and the contemporary challenges of the Israeli people underscores the enduring nature of the Jewish spirit in the face of adversity.
To be sure, the triumph of light over darkness is not only a historical tale but a living reality. The Menorah’s glow, resonating through the ages, symbolizes the unwavering commitment to G-d, freedom, and the right to exist without fear of annihilation. The Jewish people’s ability to not only survive but thrive after the challenges of the past serves as a beacon of hope for our people facing adversity and increasing antisemitism today.
While the conflict with Hamas presents formidable challenges, the spiritual message of Chanukah encourages a steadfast belief in the ultimate triumph of light. Israel’s survival against historical odds, much like the miraculous burning of the menorah, reflects the resilience of a people deeply rooted in our religious and spiritual heritage.
As we celebrate Chanukah, it is a poignant moment to draw strength from the lessons of history and the enduring spirit of the Jewish people. The festival reminds us that, just as the Maccabees overcame the Greek empire’s oppression, the light of Israel will prevail over the darkness of terrorism. The Festival of Lights is not merely a commemoration of ancient events but a living testament to the Jewish spirit’s ability to persevere, overcome, and ultimately thrive in the face of extreme adversity.
Simply put, Chanukah reminds us of the eternal truth that has defined our people since its inception, namely, that Am Yisrael Chai!
Author: Rabbi Yaakov Glasman AM serves as the Senior Rabbi of the St Kilda Hebrew Congregation and Immediate Past President of the Rabbinical Association of Australasia.