Sunday, January 01, 2006


A Chanukah Lesson From Shimon the Hasmonean

"It is not a foreign land we have taken, nor is it over strangers' property we have ruled; rather, it is our inheritance that was illegally conquered at one time, and when we were able to do so, we returned it to our possession."

Thus replied Shimon the Hashmonai, one of the brothers leading the rebellion that became known as Chanukah, to an envoy of King Antiochus IV who had demanded that the Jews return control of the cities they had liberated from the Seleucid empire (First Book of the Hashmonaim [I Maccabees] 15:33-34). Short, sweet and to the point.

Don't such words need to be repeated again today?

When Jewish sovereignty returns to Jerusalem, the city of the Jewish King David, "it is not a foreign land we have taken." When a Jewish soldier raises the flag of Israel over the tomb of the Biblical patriarchs, forefathers of the Jewish nation, in Hevron, it is not "over strangers' property we have ruled."

The Arabs, preceded by Romans, and interspersed with various Europeans and Turks, repeatedly conquered and absorbed the lands of Judea, the Land of Israel, into their expanding empires. No single nation, including the Arabs, ever established an independent state in the Land of Israel since the previous Jewish commonwealth. Thus, "it is our inheritance that was illegally conquered" again and again.

In 1948 and in 1967, the Arabs launched or prepared to launch what they openly billed as wars of extermination against the Jews of Israel. Each time - how supremely ironic - Israel expanded its rule over more and more of the historical land of the Jews. Or, in short, "when we were able to do so, we returned it to our possession."

Sof pasuk.

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