“But know that the L-RD hath set apart the godly man as His own; the L-RD will hear when I call unto Him.”
– Psalm 4:3, JPS 1917 Tanach
We celebrate Chanukah, scarcely calling to mind the significance of the holiday, aside from the miracle of the oil that continued to provide light for the seven-candled Menorah in the Beis HaMikdash (Temple) for eight days. The rededication of the Temple, after regaining control of Jerusalem, was in accordance with it’s purification from all that was impure, having been ransacked by the Syrians. The effort made is contiguous on a spiritual level, inasmuch that the lesson learned by example, is for us to “clean out,” carefully, the impure elements of our lives, so that we may rededicate ourselves to H’Shem.
Then, when we cry out to G-d, He is more likely to listen: he will hear our prayers if we are on the derech (path), at least, attempting to walk in sincerity. Whereas, if we do not set ourselves apart from what is ungodly, whether in our own lives, or the environment around us, then our prayers will be drowned out, amidst the noise of Olam HaZeh (This World). Rather the message of Chanukah is to stand up for H’Shem, while remaining true to Torah.
Most Jews became hellenized by the Greeks, leading to a level of assimilation that would have destroyed us from the inside out. The Maccabees resisted the decrees made against the commandments by the occupying powers. Because of their zealousness to follow the commandments at all costs, G-d enabled them to defeat the invading enemy and reclaim the mizbeach (altar). Offerings made to the G-d of Israel constituted the significance of the Temple, the central place of worship in Israel for the Jewish people. Today, our offerings are misplaced if G-d is not part of the equation. Assimilation will continue to take its toll, if we do not make an effort to resist what is contrary to leading a g-dly life.