The Assyrian Greeks commanded the Jews, “Inscribe on the bolts of your doors, ‘I have neither portion nor heritage in the G-d of Israel!’” So the Jews pulled the bolts from their doors. They then commanded the Jews, “Write on the horns of your oxen, ‘I have neither portion nor heritage in the G-d of Israel!’” So the Jews sold their oxen.
This story – from a collection of ancient midrashim about Chanukah – celebrates how our forebears’ bravery, creativity, and faithfulness.
Fortunately, we do not face the same hazards. The primary obstacles to our relationship with G-d are of our own making; they are not placed before us by insensitive tyrants.
Chanukah means “dedication.” As this season of Chanukah begins, let us dedicate ourselves to our tradition. Let us rid ourselves of whatever spoils our relationship with God, just as the Maccabees rid the Temple of impurities. And let us etch our fidelity onto our doorposts, and let us light our Chanukah menorahs, for the whole world to see.
Rabbi Jeffrey Weill