The Jewish nation stands alone. Recent events continue to demonstrate that the Jewish people — wherever they may be, in Israel, the US, Europe, etc. — cannot rely on any of the support of anyone else. As much as we try to appease the world, we are constantly reminded that nobody really has our back.
The terror attacks on October 7 and subsequent rise in antisemitism served as a catalyst to bring Jewish unity to the fore, and also to remind us of the reality that we can’t depend on the nations of the world to be there for us. Though the United States has been steadfastly in Israel’s corner over the last couple of months — and the majority of our elected officials have gone out of their way to express their support for the Jewish community — we’ve been there before, and sadly we’ve been burned. Even our greatest friends and allies have their own motives, and as much as they support us now, we cannot forget that at the end of the day we must stand up for ourselves, because no one else has skin in the game like we do.
This has always been the case, as is depicted in the story of Chanukah. The Seleucid invaders of the Holy Land did not initially attempt to destroy the Jewish people, they did however try — with some measure of success — to infiltrate Jewish life with their culture of Hellenism. That was the real battle the Macabees fought. There was, of course, the physical war; but primarily it was a spiritual war, since the Seleucids’ aim was turning Judaism into a neat culture rather than a religious commitment to a higher power.
So while at the beginning it seemed like the invaders had the Jews’ best interests in mind, it very quickly spiraled into an all out attempt at annihilating both the Jewish body and spirit. The Seleucids had only their own agendas in mind, and they didn’t actually care for the advancement of the Jewish people. Their goal was a full-fledged Hellenistic Israel. And that’s what the Maccabees stood up against.
The word “Maccabee” is acronym for the verse “Mi Kamocha Ba’elim Hashem” — loosely translated as “There is no one as strong as our G-d.” That was the Maccabees’ motto: We rely on nothing other than our faith in G-d and that’s how we will prevail.
There’s a story told about a child who was learning the weekly Torah portion with his teacher, and when they got to the part about Joseph being sold into slavery by his brothers, the child was inconsolable. He couldn’t come to terms with the fact that brothers can do that to their own flesh and blood. The following year, as this Torah portion was once again being taught, the teacher expected the child to have a similar reaction. But instead, the student sat and listened to the story without a shred of emotion. When asked by the teacher why his reaction differed so greatly from the previous year’s, the child replied, “After what happened to him last year, Joseph should have known better than to go back to them.”
Or, as the statement often misattributed to Albert Einstein goes, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
We’ve been here before, so let’s employ history as our teacher. We cannot fall into the trap of depending on others, instead we must stand proudly as Jews, proud of our heritage, proud of our faith in G-d and commitment to a Torah way of life, and proud that we are still here and will continue to exist despite what the rest of the world has in store for us.