Saturday, December 10, 2005

A Hero

The main Chanuka essay is already six pages long with more to be added. It will hopefully be completed in two or three weeks in time for the holiday. However, in order to quench my readers’ thirsts, I will publish a recently revised rehashed essay from a few years ago that I wrote regarding Yehuda the Maccabbee. It is purposefully limited to 450 words, but it’s purpose is more to get the reader’s into the holiday spirit—the Khanuka spirit—rather than to serve as a scholarly analysis of the issue.

Throughout history, there were many extraordinary Jews who have had the qualifications to be classified a "Hero." These heroes accomplished many things during their lifetimes. Many taught Jews the proper way to live or won battles. One of these heroes is Yehuda "The Maccabee." This person teaches us timeless lessons in how to live and act.

Yehuda taught and still teaches Jews to live with the trait of perseverance. This characteristic is personified in him because of his undying will to rid the Jewish world of the Hellenistic influence stemming from the Syrian-Greeks. Even when the Greek armies outnumbered his men, the Maccabee warriors, Yehuda never gave up and continued trying to free the Jewish nation. He maintained his perseverance even after his brother, Elazer, died from drowning in elephant dung. The common idiom, "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again," alludes to the many battles that Yehuda fought. One who teaches such an important quality through his actions can surely be called a highly important hero.

Yehuda is likened to President George Washington, a great American hero. Just as the Americans fought for freedom from the oppression of the British colonization, the Maccabees fought from the oppression of the Syrian-Greeks who outlawed certain religious practices essential to the Torah life. Judah sought to gain liberty from the Greeks, who even violated their own rules, as the British violated “No taxation without representation” in America. In addition, just as the American economy and lifestyle outweighed the English influence and culture within two centuries; the Jewish Hasmonean dynasty saw the downfall of the Greek-Empire (and rise of the Roman Empire) within 200 years of their defeat to the Jews. The Hasmonean-Kingdom, which was a direct result of the Jewish victory over the Syrian-Greeks, was the apex of the Second Commonwealth in terms of territory and world influence.

Although the Maccabees initially lost their battles because of the elephants, which were first brought in to warfare by the Carthaginian general Hannibal against the Romans, the outcome of the war was a victory for the Maccabean militia. When the Hasmonean-Kingdom was created by Yehuda’s family, the Jews worshipped HaShem with more fervor. They rededicated the formerly desecrated Bais HaMikdash in Yerushalayim. The Maccabees were victorious in ridding the Jewish people of the unfair decrees of Antiochus. They were also victors in the war for Jewish independence and in fighting the influence of the impure Syrian-Greeks of the time.

A synonym for hero is victor; Yehuda was undoubtedly a victor. Therefore, he is indeed a crucial and significant hero in the history of the Jewish people. He influences Jewish History and daily life with the values that are learned from him.

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