Friday, December 23, 2016
For years I have been posting about the Maccabee Brothers, every Chanukah, I post about the Maccabees. So, if you anything about me at all, you know how much I love those Maccabee Boys. They said, no way, no how, it is not going to happen to Antiochus' men when they came to a village in Modi'in. A Greco-Syrian soldier entered the Temple and started to sacrifice a pig on the altar. Enraged by this action, an old priest named Mattathias stabbed the soldier to death and the revolt began!
For me, this year Chanukah carries even more meaning. When I was in New York in October, as I have mentioned a few times, I went to the 'Jerusalem:1000-1400, Every People Under Heaven' exhibit at the Met. I had one of those moments when history, DNA, the resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto, and the present collided and had me completely frozen with awe. There it was, one of the Books of The Maccabees. I wanted to hug the exhibit glass, but, that would have landed me out of the museum. I wished they had had a stool or ladder for short people to see the case of these books from above. I don't know how long I stood there soaking it all in, time stood still. This book is huge, at least 2 feet or more by 18" or more. The craftsmanship, unmatched. What an incredible work of art! This is so amazing, because if it looks like sheet music, it is! Here is what the caption said, "Europeans fighting for the Holy Land considered the Maccabees, Jews of the 2nd century, B.C. as examples of the struggle for Jerusalem. The hymn that begins with this pitched battle is a plea for peace taken from the book of the Maccabees." It is strewn throughout the Bible that praise, blowing of the shofar(s), songs of worship were sung before battle, Joshua 6:1-20, being a well known example. As was custom, I learned from this exhibit, that everyone, of every religion, in the region scribed. More so, the books have survived literally thousands of years.
Pursued by the Greco-Syrians, Mattathias and his 5 sons, known as the Maccabees fled to the hills surrounding Jerusalem. There, the resistance movement took form. Before he died, Mattathias selected his son, Judah to lead the fight, which he did, and valiantly. Through strategy and foresight, the rebels overcame all of Antiochus' forces, including an army riding elephants. In victory, the Maccabees liberated Jerusalem from the invaders, and on the 25th day of Kislev (this year, the first night is tomorrow, the 24th day of Kislev) they cleansed the temple which had been defiled. Chanukah, which means dedication, commemorates that day.
The miracle occurred, when looking for holy oil to light the Temple's candelabrum, there was just a very small cruse of sacramental oil, just enough to last a day. Knowing it would take eight days to prepare new holy oil, the Maccabee Boys, used the little bit they had and lit the menorah. Lo and behold, the oil burned for 8 days. Look at God!
To my Family and Friends who celebrate, a very joyful and blessed Chanukah!