When we imagine the scene of the first Chanukah, with the Maccabees lighting a small cache of oil in a miraculous expression of hope and courage, we are likely to picture the grand, golden Menorah described in The Torah. But at least one Midrash imagines that the Hellenistic Syrians would surely have pillaged such a treasure for its value, and that instead of the beautiful implements of The Temple, the Maccabees found only the scattered hardware abandoned by the recently ousted Greek soldiers.
According to the Midrash, Judah and Matityahu kindled the first Chanukah lights, not on fine gold, but on the iron, SPEARS left behind by their defeated enemies.
The very weapons of those who sought to destroy us were turned into an expression of joy, light, and national victory. What once brought death and darkness, now carried renewed hope. In commemorating their victory “ba’yamim ha’hem, ba’zman ha’zeh – in those days, at this season”, we join the martial and the spiritual together. By lighting the Chanukah lights, we remind ourselves to have strength and courage in the face of hostility and challenge, and to turn our shared hardship into light and shared purpose. Our enemies will not succeed with the tools of terrorism. Now, more than ever, we must remain vigilant, continue to build bridges of community, and rededicate ourselves to joyful Jewish living.”
Rabbi Hillel Norry leads Temple Beth David, the heart of Jewish life in Gwinnett.