The story of Chanukah happened more than 2,000 years ago. Alexander the Great marched across the Middle East and into the land of Israel. While he allowed the Jews autonomy, Antiochos Epiphanes, who ruled Greek Syria after him, and in time Judea as well, was a harsh and brutal tyrant.
Antiochus strove to unite his empire under the Hellenist banner. Jewish study and worship were prohibited; Torah scrolls were burned; pagan altars were set up in villages all across the land. Many died heroically, standing true to their faith.
And then, a small band of brave men and women, fled into the hills of Judea, and the great revolt broke out. Known as the Maccabees, these warriors -- small in number but great in faith and courage – miraculously defeated an enemy more numerous and better trained than they.
Upon arriving in Jerusalem, the Maccabees found their Temple desecrated; its holy vessels destroyed or stolen, the sacred oil tainted and defiled; the seal on each flask broken by the enemy. Miraculously a small flask of pure olive oil was found – complete with an unbroken seal. Though pure and fit for the kindling of the great Menorah, it was enough for just one day! A full week was needed to produce new oil.
And wonder of wonders, that tiny amount of oil kept burning and burning for eight days and nights.
THE SPIRITUAL BATTLE
If we think for a moment about the story of Chanukah, it does seem odd that the enemy, upon entering the holy Temple, went about breaking the seal on every flask of oil. Why did they not destroy the oil, spill it on the ground, or even take it for their own needs? What is the point of merely breaking the seal?
In truth, the battle that was fought was not merely about territory -- it was a spiritual battle as well. The oil is the spiritual fiber that burns in every one of us. The tyrannical Antiochus and his armies were intent on polluting it. Modernizing and secularizing it. It was for our right to be different that the Maccabees fought. It was to preserve the unique oil that makes us who we are, that they sacrificed their lives.
This Chanukah, as we munch on crispy fried potato latkes or dig into a delicious jelly donut, let us consider our own faith in God and the life purpose that He has ordained for us.
Just as the Maccabees restored and rededicated the Holy Temple, let us rededicate our lives to the pursuit of goodness and righteousness, and bring light into our own homes and lives. Better yet, into the world at large…Burn bright like a menorah on a winter night.
For more information on the above, email Rabbi Leibel Fajnland at firstname.lastname@example.org
COMMUNITY CHANUKAH EVENTS
(RSVP at www.chabadrh.org)
Chanukah on Ice
Join us and enjoy... Ice-skate to lively Chanukah music with family and friends. Grand Menorah lighting with Mr. & Mrs. “Voice of the Wizards” Steve Buckhantz. Hot latkes and donuts. Dreidels and Chocolate Gelt for all. Grand Raffle and more.
Sunday, Dec. 25, 4:30 - 6:30 p.m. at Reston Town Center Ice Skating Rink, 11900 Market Street, Reston. Admission: FREE. $12 to skate. Event Sponsorship: Dreidle Sponsor $50. Menorah Sponsor $100. Macabee $180.
Chanukah Magic at Lake Anne
Join us for an amazing night of Chanukah fun for your entire family.
Enjoy: the hilarious pirate magic of Captain Silly Bones, lighting of our giant cupcake Menorah, face-painting, balloon shaping, mac & cheese dinner, chocolate coins, dreidles, latekes Chanukah activities and much more.
Tuesday, Dec. 27, 4:30 - 6:30 p.m. at Reston Community Center.1609 Washington Plz N, Reston. Fee: $5 per person. $18 per family. Event Sponsorship: Dreidle Sponsor $50 . Menorah Sponsor $100. Macabee $180
Menorah Making Competition for Children
Get creative and build a unique menorah according to the rules below. Bring your completed menorah to Chanukah Magic at Reston Community Center Lake Anne on Tuesday, Dec. 27 at 4:30 p.m.
Rules: Menorah must have a total of nine branches (including the shamash). Eight branches must be in a straight line and of even height.
Scoring: At the party, each Menorah will be tagged and guests will vote for the best one. Winner receives a $30 Amazon Gift Card and a Menorah. Contestants will be divided into 2 groups: Ages 5 - 8 and ages 9 - 12. One winner from each group. If we've got enough entries, we may pick a runner up, too!