Yitzie Miworn - Chanukah
We Could Be Heros
As we find ourselves approaching Channukah it is only right to talk about heroism. Or more importantly, what gives someone the strength they need to be a hero. Many people incorrectly assume that a hero must in some way be different than your average man. Born with some special skill or strength that allows them to act heroically. But this is not the case as we see constantly throughout Tanach. Our larger than life heroes more often than not found their beginnings in less than suitable circumstances.
Any list of heroes from our nation’s past would be incomplete without the mention of our most memorable warrior king, David. But where did our honorable king start out? As nothing more than a shepherd, the youngest of his brothers as it is said” וַיֹּ֗אמֶר ע֚וֹד שָׁאַ֣ר הַקָּטָ֔ן וְהִנֵּ֥ה רֹעֶ֖ה בַּצֹּ֑אן” and of questionable parentage as Chazal bring in the Midrash. But yet in the next perek, this young shepherd has the courage to do what none of even the strongest warriors had the fortitude to do, “וְכֹל֙ אִ֣ישׁ יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל בִּרְאוֹתָ֖ם אֶת־הָאִ֑ישׁ וַיָּנֻ֙סוּ֙ מִפָּנָ֔יו וַיִּֽירְא֖וּ מְאֹֽד”. Stand up to the giant Goliath. All the more so he did it armed only with his sling and his true secret weapon. His unwavering faith in God. וַיֹּאמֶר֘ דָּוִד֒ יְקֹוָ֗ק אֲשֶׁ֨ר הִצִּלַ֜נִי מִיַּ֤ד” הָֽאֲרִי֙ וּמִיַּ֣ד הַדֹּ֔ב ה֣וּא יַצִּילֵ֔נִי מִיַּ֥ד הַפְּלִשְׁתִּ֖י הַזֶּ֑ה”.
However, the acts of David were those of one man. One individual strengthening himself in his faith in God and using that to help him perform acts of great courage and heroism. How then does this speak to us as a nation of jews? Can we become a nation of heroes?
Yehoshuah in one of his last discourses to the nation brings the entire nation and leaders together and reminds them of three things, we will focus on the first two. The first being a reminder of the great act of battle that Hashem has fought for them and the land that he has concern to be their inheritance. The second, a warning, and a word of encouragement
וַחֲזַקְתֶּ֣ם מְאֹ֔ד לִשְׁמֹ֣ר וְלַעֲשׂ֔וֹת אֵ֚ת כָּל־הַכָּת֔וּב בְּסֵ֖פֶר תּוֹרַ֣ת מֹשֶׁ֑ה, כִּ֛י אִם־בַּיקֹוָ֥ק אֱלֹהֵיכֶ֖ם תִּדְבָּ֑קוּ כַּאֲשֶׁ֣ר עֲשִׂיתֶ֔ם עַ֖ד הַיּ֥וֹם הַזֶּֽה …..אִישׁ־אֶחָ֥ד מִכֶּ֖ם יִרְדָּף־אָ֑לֶף כִּ֣י׀ יְקֹוָ֣ק אֱלֹהֵיכֶ֗ם ה֚וּא הַנִּלְחָ֣ם לָכֶ֔ם כַּאֲשֶׁ֖ר דִּבֶּ֥ר לָכֶֽם.
If you cling to god, if you let your faith grow strong, nothing can stand in your way.
But what was he telling us here now? For that answer let us look not back to Yehoshua but rather to the story of Chanukah. The Rambam in his retelling of the story of the Roman Gezerot, where he writes (רמב"ם הלכות מגילה וחנוכה פרק ג)
וגברו בני חשמונאי הכהנים הגדולים והרגום והושיעו ישראל מידם והעמידו מלך מן הכהנים וחזרה מלכות לישראל.
The Chashmonim were kohanim, Talmidei Chachamim, not men of war. Where did they find it in themselves to rise up and fight back against the overwhelming power of the Romans? They were not born to be fighters, rather they turned to their faith in god.
They looked to the world around them and where they saw Hellenism and secularization spreading throughout there nation, a world where Torah in Eretz Yisrael must be learned in secret. And they took their faith and became heroes of Am Yisroel letting no one stand in there way of purifying the world around them.
So too we find ourselves in a world that is not at all times the most welcoming to our people. We still find the world around us filled with enemies hiding in every corner. One must but read the news to find a world once more filled with hate and destruction. But what respite or salvation might we find from our enemies? Our faith in Hashem. We need only look towards the words of Yehoshua and be reminded of the strength we can attain from our faith in Hashem.
We should all merit with this Channukah to find the moments in our lives where we need to be heroes, where we need to go above and beyond what is demanded of us and find the strength to do great things. With the help and blessing of Hashem.