The Greek Touch - Chanukah
Things weren't so bad for the Jews when the Greeks first entered Eretz
Yisrael. The Greeks were not a primitive nation of warriors; they did
not want to destroy the Jewish people or their land. In fact, they
were wise people, who liked to think, paint, and build. They admired
beautiful things; they wondered about the secrets of nature, and they
respected other peoples' wisdom.
So why did a war break out between the Greeks and the Jews? Why did
the Greeks make laws against the Torah and punish Jews who did not
follow their rules?
Let's try to picture how it might have happened: The Greek king wanted
to find out how to rule Eretz Yisrael, so he sent out some soldiers to
mingle with the Jews. "Find out more about these people. See how they
live. Study their daily activities, and then report to me," he
instructed his soldiers.
The soldiers set out on their mission. They entered the Jewish cities
and strolled down the streets.
"They look pretty peaceful to me," said one soldier to another as they
walked past a shop. They overheard a merchant saying to a customer:
"Here, sir, you gave me an extra gold coin by mistake." The Greek
soldiers exchanged glances. "Well, it looks like they also have laws
about doing business honestly."
"So what? We do too. All people should be fair with each other."
"Hey, look, what's that on the door?"
"Looks like a piece of parchment. Let's ask."
The owner of the shop told them about the mezuzah. As they walked away
from the shop, one soldier shrugged and said: "It doesn't mean
anything to me, but if hanging up a little scroll to remind them of
their history makes sense to them, well, why not ?"
On the way, the soldiers passed by an olive grove. "Take a look at
that fellow," one pointed to a Jewish worker. "He's collecting single
drops of oil from each olive."
"Hey Jew, it'll take you forever to get the oil out of the olives if
you do it that way. Here, let me show you how we do it."
"Thank you, sir," the worker replied. "We also use oil presses. But
not for this oil. These first drops of oil will light the menorah in
our Holy Temple."
"Menorah? What's that? And why do you do it that way?"
The worker explained about the Beis HaMikdash, and concluded:
"...that's the way G-d tells us to do it."
"You mean you do it just because your G-d says so?"
The Jew nodded and went back to work; he didn't try to explain. The
Greeks believed only things that they could understand. It wasn't easy
to explain to them that we do things just because HaShem says so.
The soldiers reported to their king. He was bothered by what they told
him. "We'll show them," he said to his men. "They may have an
interesting religion, but they have to learn to accept man-made ideas,
not some holy commandments from an invisible G-d.
"Let them light the menorah if they want to. But we'll give their oil
our Greek touch."
And that's what the Greeks did. They entered the Beis HaMikdash and
made the oil impure. Then they tried to stop the Jews from observing
HaShem's Torah and mitzvos.
The Jews responded with mesirus nefesh, daring to challenge the most
powerful armies in the world with a few men and hardly any arms. But
HaShem helped them. They miraculously defeated the Greek armies, came
back into the Beis HaMikdash, and cleansed it of that Greek touch.
And then, the menorah again burned with the light of pure oil.
(Adapted from Likkutei Sichos, Vol. III, Chanukah)