The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, is a holiday that revolves almost entirely around miracles. The miracle most people know about is the miracle of the Menorah, and how one day’s worth of oil lasted for 8 days. But the bigger miracle of Hanukkah, and the one that is particularly inspiring in the world we live in today, is the battle fought by the Jewish people lead by the Maccabeess over Syrian and Greek rule, and the victory won when facing the most difficult of odds.
It is the story that actually relates today to not only the biggest fear of the Jewish people but for anyone whose freedom is being threatened. The leadership the Jews were fighting wanted far more than control, they wanted to eliminate any other religion or ideology other then their own. The similarities to today’s radical Islamic groups is eerily similar. Even the fact that the leadership was Syrian, as ISIS bases itself in the Syrian town of Raqqa, draws similarities. What’s important to take from this story however is not how similar the persecution was to the goals of ISIS, Hamas and the like, but the fact that evil was ultimately defeated.
If there is one holiday to take inspiration from in a time when terror is increasing and an evil group tightens its grips over large areas of land, it is the holiday of Hanukkah. I spend a lot of time trying to make people aware of the dangerous realities of the day, but today on the first day of Hanukkah I am happy to take this opportunity to make people aware of why they should be hopeful. This is not a hope based in falsehoods. It is a hope based on the great strength and courage of Judah the Maccabee and his heroic followers. A hope based on a Jewish army that understood what was at stake, knew what needed to be done, and had the willingness and capability to do it. As a result evil the oppressors were defeated and freedom restored.
On this Hanukkah I urge all of the decent people out there, the people who want a peaceful and free world, to take the following message into their minds, hearts and souls. That message is that as bad as things sometimes look, as hopeless as the future sometimes looks, good can and will prevail, as long as we believe in what is right and are willing to do what needs to be done. In a time when things sometimes look as bleak as we can ever remember them being, learn from the miracle of Hanukkah and remember that anything is possible when fighting for a just cause and maybe most importantly, when we as a collective group want that victory badly enough. Happy Hanukkah (Chanukah)!
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