Standing up to pressure is often difficult. Being right doesn’t always translate into popularity – indeed, sometimes being right is downright unpopular. Nevertheless, those with conviction, faith and fortitude, even when in the minority, find a way to stand up to the bullies of history. In the long run – and sometimes it’s a very long run – those who are in the right are often vindicated by history, and they make us proud. How wonderful it is when we get to celebrate their ultimate victories in great joy.
So it was with the Maccabees. A small, unpopular band of five brothers, led by their father, stood up to what was popular, what was easy, what was in vogue, what “everyone was doing,” and uttered the immortal words “Mi LAdonai eilai – who is for God, join me!” The passing faddishness of the moment did not fog their vision or lure them down the wrong path. The widespread pressure to succumb to extreme political forces was no match for the Maccabees’ deep strength and wisdom. Their fight for the Jewish moral religious cause – the cause of the Jewish people, the People of Israel – has helped inspire and sustain us throughout time, place, and circumstance. We celebrate Chanukah in tribute to them and with thanks to them. May their bravery, conviction, clear vision, and willingness to fight for it all, continue to inspire and sustain us always and everywhere.
Rabbi Jonathan Pearl