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Many in the Hands of the Few

Rabbi Daniel Moscowitz Lights the Menorahas State Senator Ira Silverstein looks on. (Photography by Yakov)

Rabbi Daniel Moscowitz Lights the Menorahas State Senator Ira Silverstein looks on. (Photography by Yakov)

Many in the Hands of the Few
-Rabbi Daniel Moscowitz

You delivered the mighty into the hands of the weak, the many into the hands of the few, the impure into the hands of the pure, the wicked into the hands of the righteous….Then Your children entered the shrine of Your House, cleansed Your Temple, purified Your Sanctuary, kindled lights in Your holy courtyards, and instituted these eight days of Chanukah to give thanks and praise to Your great Name. – Chanukah Liturgy

The Chanukah story stands as an everlasting lesson that good does prevail, that a single candle will dismiss the thickest clouds of darkness, and than even a small group of dedicated individuals can overcome the evil designs of tyranny.
Throughout the Chanukah holiday, beginning this year on Tuesday evening, December 20th, Jews the world over will celebrate and commemorate the miracles that happened over 2100 years ago. By lighting the candles each of the eight nights of the holiday we remember the small jug of oil that miraculously burned for eight days. We kindle the menorah each night, starting with one light on the first night and adding an additional candle every evening. The Chanukah flames remind us that light will dispel darkness, even in the most trying of times.
We also pay tribute to those brave individuals known as the Maccabees, who stood up to fight for freedom. Although few in numbers, and hardly skilled in the art of warfare, these committed men and women were determined to dedicate their lives for the right to worship and practice in the same way their ancestors had, for generations before them.
In our prayers throughout the eight days of Chanukah we recall the heroism of the Maccabees when we recite the Al Hanissim verse. “You delivered the mighty into the hands of the weak, the many into the hands of the few, the impure into the hands of the pure, the wicked into the hands of the righteous.”
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Two millennia after the original Chanukah story many are faced with the modern version of that age old challenge. So often we find ourselves swept up in the euphoria of the latest fads and fashions. Everybody is doing it. Everybody has it. Everybody wants it. We rationalize that we just can’t afford to be different, to stand resolute against the latest wave of “whatever”. And what can just one or two or a few of us do anyway when everybody is doing something else?

The Maccabees remind us that we can achieve “many in the hands of the few!” Every individual makes a difference. We all have the ability to turn the tide. Each of us can mimic oil and rise to the top. For heroism is not defined by numbers, but rather by outstanding individual acts of valor.

Let us celebrate our uniqueness and our ability to bring meaning and direction into a sometimes confused world. Chanukah teaches that each of us can generate miracles; with our individual acts of goodness and kindness. You will see what a world of a difference it makes.

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Rabbi Daniel Moscowitz is the regional director of the Lubavitch Chabad of Illinois. He is also the senior Rabbi at Lubavitch Chabad of Northbrook. E-mail him at rabbim@chabadillinois.com.

Learn more about Chanukah at www.ChabadIllinois.com/Chanukah.

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