Rav Avigdor Miller on the Secret of Chanuka (December 1998)

What is a practical lesson that we could take out of Chanukah? 

I’ll tell you one important יסוד. We say to Hashem about our forefathers who fought the יונים at the time of Chanukah: דנת את דינם רבת את ריבם – “You, Hashem, judged their quarrels; You fought their fight.” Now, there’s a question here. It wasn’t their quarrel. It wasn’t the quarrel of the עם ישראל. It was Yourquarrel, 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 בני ישראל would be willing to behave like the Greeks, they wouldn’t bother them. So why did the עם ישראל fight? They didn’t fight for their safety; they fought for the Toras Hashem. It was for כבוד שמים, 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!

No. No! We say רבת את ריבם. You fought their fight! Because they had fulfilled what we say עשה רצונו כרצונך – “Make the will of Hashem your will” (Avos 2:4). What Hashem wanted, they wanted! They weren’t merely fighting for what Hashem wanted. What Hashem wanted became their רצון, their will.

That’s a tremendous a achievement. To feel that you’re keeping the Torah because the will of Hashem is your will. Not only that you’re doing Hashem’s will, but it’s your 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 they were fighting for כבוד שמים, but they were fighting for their רצון 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 קידוש השם that the צדיקים won out. It was great קידוש השם! 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 עובדי השם; they have no business with fighting. But these Kohanim went out with חרב וחנית, the sword and the shield, and they fought. They were fighting for Hashem’s honor.

And therefore Hashem says, “That’s a קידוש השם.” And the חנוכה lights are עדות לכל באי עולם שהשכינה שורה בישראל, testimony to the whole world that Hashem dwells amongst the Jewish people. And why? Because Yisroel lives for Hashem, they live for the שכינה. Their entire purpose is only כבוד שמים, glorifying the name of Hashem.

And that’s the greatness of Chanukah. It teaches that our nation is dedicated to כבוד שמים 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)