What is a practical lesson that we could take out of Chanukah?
I’ll tell you one important lesson. We say to Hashem about our forefathers who fought the Yevanim: דנת את דינם רבת את ריבם – “You, Hashem, judged their quarrels; You fought their fight.” Now, there’s a question here. Because it wasn’t their quarrel. It wasn’t the quarrel of the Am Yisroel. It was Your quarrel, Hashem. Because, after all, the Greeks weren’t interested in killing Jews. They wanted the Jews to stop keeping the Torah, that’s all. If the Am Yisroel would be willing to behave like the Greeks, they wouldn’t bother them. So why was the Am Yisroel fighting? They weren’t fighting for their safety; they were fighting for Hashem’s word. It was for k’vod shamayim, for the honor of Hashem, that they fought. So it wasn’t רבת את ריבם. It was רבת את ריבך – Hashem, You fought Your own fight! You fought Your quarrel!
But no, we don’t say that. We say רבת את ריבם – You, Hashem, fought their fight! Because our forefathers had fulfilled what we say עשה רצונו כרצונך – Make the will of Hashem your will (Avos 2:4). What Hashem wanted, that’s what they wanted! They weren’t merely fighting for what Hashem wanted. What Hashem wanted became their ratzon, their own will.
That’s a tremendous achievement – to feel that we are keeping the Torah because the will of Hashem is our will. Not only that we’re doing Hashem’s will, but it’s our will! כי הם חיינו — The Torah is our lifeblood. It’s more than our lives. And we’ll give our lives for the Torah. So we see that even though they were fighting for k’vod shamayim, but they were fighting for their ratzon at the same time.
And that’s why it’s so important, when you see that it was not only רבים ביד מעטים, but it was רשעים ביד צדיקים. That’s important! It was a kiddush Hashem that the tzadikim won out. It was great kiddush Hashem! It says עשית שם גדול בעולמך. When tzadikim fight the fight of Hashem, when they’re willing to give up their lives for Hashem, that’s making the name of Hashem great in this world.
We say על ידי כהניך הקדושים. The miracle came by the hands of the holy Kohanim. The Kohanim! Kohanim should fight?! Kohanim are ovdei Hashem; they have no business with fighting. But these Kohanim went out with חרב וחנית, the sword and the shield, and they fought because they were fighting for Hashem’s honor. And therefore Hashem says, “That’s a kiddush Hashem.”
And that’s why the Chanukah lights are עדות לכל באי עולם שהשכינה שורה בישראל, a testimony to the whole world that Hashem dwells amongst the Jewish people. Because we are the nation that lives for Hashem, we live for the Shechina. Our entire purpose is only k’vod shamayim, glorifying the name of Hashem.
And that’s the greatness of Chanukah. It teaches that our nation is dedicated to k’vod shamayim more than to anything else that we would desire to do; even more than our own lives. We live only for Hashem.
TAPE # E-170 (December 1998)