Hanukkah reminds us that there are things worth fighting for.


For the week of December 27, 2014 / 5 Tevet 5775
Torah: Bereshit/Genesis 44:18-47:27
Haftarah: Ezekiel 37:15-28

Happy Hanukkah from Lord of the Rings

Note: This is a special message for Hanukkah.

Near the end of the film version of Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings - The Two Towers," Frodo's loyal companion, Sam, encourages Frodo in their quest:

Frodo: I can't do this, Sam.

Sam: I know. It's all wrong. By rights we shouldn't even be here. But we are. It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo; the ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end... because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was, when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines, it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you, that meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.

Frodo: What are we holding on to, Sam?

Sam: That there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it's worth fighting for.

The story of Hanukkah is the story of a shadow that passed over the nation of Israel in the mid-second century before Messiah's coming. The Jewish priest, Mattityahu, father of Judah Maccabee, reflects on this shadow with these words:

Alas! Why was I born to see this, the ruin of my people, the ruin of the holy city, and to dwell there when it was given over to the enemy, the sanctuary given over to aliens? (1 Maccabees 2:7).

Yet in spite of the ruin - the shadow - he and his family stood for what was right, true, and good. After much struggle, the purity of the nation was restored and peace once again reigned in the land. The shadow had passed, but not on its own accord. The light of godliness had pushed back the armies of darkness and prevailed.

There is a shadow that grows over the world today. Too few perceive its presence or its power. Like in the days of the Maccabees, great numbers are being overtaken by it. Yet, in the end, it won't prevail; but who will stand against it?

The lighting of the Hanukkah lights not only reminds us of the exploits of brave people of God in times past, but calls us to be lights in our own day - lights that will prevail over this passing shadow.

*I am not quoting the book of 1 Maccabees as Scripture, but as a reliable historical source for the events surrounding Hanukkah.

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