It’s Chanukah, the Festival of Lights.
A time to rejoice and to celebrate the victory of the few over the many.
A military victory yes, but also despite attempts to eradicate us by the most powerful forces of the day, the victory of survival and triumph of Jewish life, ethics and world view.
The Chanukah story teaches us that no matter how large the challenge, no matter how vast the forces arraigned against us, a few people confident in their values and striving for something better can triumph and bring some light into the world.
Almost 2,200 years ago, after the Greeks had tried increasingly tough measures to repress Jewish culture and observance, a Greek contingent marched into the town of Modi’in set up an altar, gathered all the Jews and forced them to sacrifice a pig to Zeus.
In stepped Mattityahu and his 5 sons and the rebellion had begun. The Maccabees had arrived.
And how is this for staying power, the town of Modi’in exists today in Israel just a few kilometres to the northwest of Jerusalem, almost in the very same spot as 2,000 years ago. If that is not amazing, what is??!!
Many miracles occurred – the military victory, the oil lasting 8 days, the revival of the Jewish People against all odds…….
But the most important thing to remember, says the Talmud, is that miracles took place.
We too live in a time of miracles, but often we simply do not recognise them.
Who today thinks of Israel’s War of Independence as a miracle – so soon after the Shoah?
Or the miracle of the Six Day War
How simply beyond mere logic, facing the most evil forces in the world today, the miracle of Israel’s wondrous strides.
Whether it be in the field of science, technology, agriculture, music, literature, ethical thought or so many others.
And yes, also in Jewish defence.
Chanukah teaches us to look at the glass half full and to appreciate that there were very few times in our history that we even had half a cup.
Miracles continue to occur – we just need to recognise them.
With all of the troubles in the world – we are in a better position to face the challenges ahead than at almost any other time in our history.