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Women's Corner

What Made the Maccabees Embark on a War?

Rabbanith Ruth Menashe, 'a"h
Thursday, December 29, 2016/Kislew 29, 5777

Many of us are aware of the fact that on the Shabbat of Hanukkah we always read the emotional story of Yoseph HaSaddiq (Joseph). The question is, what is the connection between Hanukkah and Yoseph HaSaddiq? Is it a coincidence or is there special meaning or special connection between them?

First of all, let us think about Joseph. When he lived in his father’s house, he was the most beloved son of all; he was actually his father’s student. All the love that Ya’aqob Abinu, ‘a”h (Jacob) had, he passed on to Yoseph HaSaddiq. As we all know, he made a special coat for him. He was riding high and in one day, things changed dramatically. He goes to see his brothers in Dothan and they throw him to the pit, which, according to the Midrash, had snakes and scorpions inside. After that, he is sold to become a slave and goes to the country that was the worst country of the time, in terms of morality. One can only imagine what went through his mind: "I was all the way up there and now where am I? Why is it that I have gone down to the worst place in the world, away from my family and was sold to become a slave? Why?"

Yoseph HaSaddiq, as we know, perseveres and then goes through that terrible test with the wife of Potifar. We are told in the Midrash that this woman didn’t stop bothering him, day after day after day. She did not stop until the day when everybody had left the house and there was the opportunity for her to put her plans in motion, and indeed, she tried to tempt him. At that moment, when he was just about to do something that was forbidden, he saw in front of him the image of his father.

We are told that throughout the time when he was going through these trials and tribulations, he said to himself, “I’m far away from home, I’m away from my family, I’m away from my father. But I’m going to do the following. Every time I have a question, every time I have a challenge, every time I need a solution I’m going to ask myself the following: what would my father do at this point? What advice would my father give me?” And that is what kept him going! He sees that the image of his father and that image of his father, his teacher, his master, is what saved him.

That’s exactly what the Maccabim did and is what kept them going. How did they go and win a war that seemed to be so illogical? What made them decide that they would go into this war? Where did they take their courage from?

It was from looking back at our forefathers. They are the ones who give us strength and who pave the path for us. They are the ones we have to turn to. We constantly speak about זכות אבות, the merit of our fathers, in our prayers. We mention our Aboth (forefathers), Abraham Yis-haq and Ya’aqob (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob), ‘a”h, because this is something that we have to carry with us at all times! We must remember that we have roots and that those roots and the merits of our forefathers, are what give us the guidance, and light the path, showing us how to continue.


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