Ask The Rabbi

What If The Greeks Had Won

The Color of HeavenArtscroll
Topic: Chanukah, Importance of Military Victory

Mike wrote:

What would have happened if the Greeks won?

Josh from Melbourne wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

My name is Josh and I go to Bialik College, Melbourne, Australia. I just wanted to ask you a few questions about Chanukah. Why is Chanukah so important? What is the main feature of Chanukah? What do you think would happen if the Greeks were successful in the battle against the Maccabees? Why were the Maccabees chosen to fight the Greeks? Thank you for your time and I hope to hear from you soon. From your Jewish friend, Josh.


Dear Mike and Josh,

Chanukah is so important because it means the victory of Torah over Greek philosophy.

Unlike previous pagan ideas so revolting to Jews, Greek paganism was bound up with beauty, art and philosophy. Therefore, it captured the imagination of many Jews. Many Jews became "Greekified," or "Hellenists."

This may surprise you, but the Greeks did win. You see, there was a battle and there was a war. The Maccabees won the battle and were able to hold on for a while but eventually they succumbed to Pompeii's conquest 80 years later.

But the miracle of the oil inspired us to realize that G-d is with us no matter what. Without that inspiration the Jewish People might not have been able to survive future periods of even greater persecution.

Why the Maccabees? Because their father Mattityahu's faith in G-d gave him the courage to stand up against power and corruption. The name Maccabee comes from the Hebrew acronym "Mi Camocha B'eilim Hashem" - "who amongst the mighty is like You, G-d?" Although the Maccabee's military victory didn't last, the miraculous events of the war and the oil inscribed the message of faith and loyalty indelibly into the Jewish soul.


 
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