Why does it seem we downplay winning the battle?

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    It seems we almost totally ignore winning the battle even though its mentioned in Al Hanisim (it takes up most of it.) Also, its a big reason why we say its 8 days even though the oil wasnt a miracle on the first day.


    The oil was a miracle the first day. That’s why we light eight days..the debate is how it was.

    As far as the emphasis, i have learned this before somewhere but I don’t remember offhand.

    I would think it’s because the main message of Chanukah is to spread the light of Torah and mitzvos even in the spiritually darkest places, so that’s why we emphasis that more even though practically we mention and commemorate both.


    If we mention it in Al Hanisim, and commemorate 8 days according to one opinion to remember the nes of winning, why do you think we are ignoring it?
    If you are asking why we may stress the nes of the oil more than the nes of the battle, maybe it’s because the former was a spiritual nes and the latter a physical one, and we are stressing that unlike the yevanim, the spiritual realm is far more important.
    Another possibility- the non-frum tend to make a big deal about the Maccabim as a symbol of Jewish strength and independence. Focusing more on the nes that cannot be wrongly attributed to kochi v’utzom yadi indicates that we believe also that the nes of the battle was from Hashem.

    Reb Eliezer

    The Pri Chadash says that the winning the battle was the neis the furst day. Others say that has happened before so it was nothing special and the importance was the oli to restore spirituality.

    anonymous Jew

    The military aspect was downplayed for valid political reasons. Having forced the Romans to fight 2 hard, long wars to suppress two revolts, the rabbis felt that highlighting the successful revolt against the Greeks would convince the Romans that another rebellion was coming and lead to increased persecution


    1. Ha-Shem got upset at us for being too happy when Ha-Shem drowned the Egyptians, so we are supposed to celebrate a war over the Greeks.

    2. Most of the “Greeks” were OTD Yidden. Note the many parts of the “al ha-Nissim” that only make sense if you assume they were Jews (Tahorim over Tameiim – but goyim are neither, specificially saying we won over minim, not goyim, etc.). We should make a big deal over killing Yidden (even if they were OTD)???????

    3. We won a battle but lost the war. That period in Jewish history ended with the Hellenized Romans destroying Yerusalayim.

    edited for more respectful phraseology 


    C’mon, mods. Give us akuperman’s full ungarnished comment. He made the best comment yet. And he is correct, to boot.


    1. Source please. The Gemara does note Hashem criticizing the malachim for saying shirah. But we do in fact say shira during Pesach (albeit “half-Hallel”) I don’t know of an ysource where Hashem criticises us
    (also why the dash in Hashem?)

    2. ” Most of the “Greeks” were OTD Yidden.”
    source please. The Greek army was defeated in many battles I am not aware of any source that says the Greek soldiers who fought at BeisTzur, Emaus , Beis Choron where “mostly” OTD yidden

    ” Note the many parts of the “al ha-Nissim” that only make sense if you assume they were Jews”
    Yet we DO say Al Hanissim, celebrating said victory

    3. Were periods end is subjective the war was won and an independent Jewish state was established, as the Rambam says “וגברו בני חשמונאי הכהנים הגדולים והרגום והושיעו ישראל מידם והעמידו מלך מן הכהנים וחזרה מלכות לישראל יתר על מאתים שנים עד החורבן השני”
    now while it wasn’t fully independent for the full 200 years independence was achieved until 69 BCE when Pompey and the Romans were invited to mediate in the chashmonai civil war.

    Though perhaps what you mean is that this “victory” was not one chazal wanted to glorify and this is probably true given that the chashmonai leadership after the first generation was questionable at best .
    Though the main reason is probably anonymous Jew’s, the two arent necessarily contradictory.

    The truth though is there are many aspects to all these things and different generations or even locales emphasize the part that speaks most to them.
    The current “Chanukah theme” in my circles is how Chanukah celebrates Torah or more specifically Torah shel Bal Peh , this is’nt mentioned in the Gemara, nor Rishonim (as far as I’m aware I would generally appreciate an early source to this end)
    Another example Shavuos went from “Chag Hakatzir” in the time of Tanach to Zman Matan toroseinu during the time of Chazal to Chag Hagevina in some Israel circles today. different times/cultures always put emphasis on different aspects (not that all are necessarily equally valid)
    Yet another example Purim. Iv’e been to shmuzin contrasting how Purim is salvation of guf over chanuka’s spiritual salvation .(I assume we all have). I have also been to shmuzin emphasizing the “kimu vikiblu” message of Purim as a time to reaffirm a comitment to Torah. Is this a contradiction? Of course not!


    Wow! This was my first time posting a question. I love the answers. Theyre all different but great.


    It’s only downplayed somewhat because the mission of the battle was to increase spirituality and clean service in the Bet Hamikdash. The battle wasn’t an end in itself. That said, the Bimei Matityahu which follows Al Hanissim in the Amidah, is generous in praising the miracles of the battle.’

    “…….Ha-Shem got upset at us for being too happy when Ha-Shem drowned the Egyptians, ….”

    FALSE. HE was upset that the MALACHIM were preparing praise, not us. The Az Yashir is full of praise and happiness over the Yam Suf miracles. Every cheder boy knows this, inside out.

    “…….Most of the “Greeks” were OTD Yidden ….”
    Really? Where did you get that from?

    “……We won a battle but lost the war….”
    So what? Chanukah was established BEFORE the Roman invasion.


    My little neighbor Moishele just reminded me that the Pesah Seder is replete with praise to Hashem for how he punished and drowned the Egyptians… What’s that Moishee. ?
    Oh yes, and how thrill on Purim about the hanging of Haman and how Yidden killed the anti-Semites…
    Here Moishele, here’s some Chanukah gelt…

    Reb Eliezer

    It says באבוד רשעים רנה we praise Hashem for the destruction of the rashaim, why? It says ויאמינו בה’ ובמשה עבדו they believed in Hashem and his servant Moshe, they recognized the importance of reward and punishment, hashgacha of Hashem and therefore, אז ישיר משה so Moshe sang the praises to Hashem, but the malochim had no benefit and nothing to gain so they were not allowed to sing.


    I believe that there are several reasons why the battle has been downplayed, some of which have been touched on here. The overarching issue is this. For good reason, the chachomim in the post churban and post bar kochba period recognized that the exercise of the national/peoplehood aspects of Judaism’s responsibilities was dangerous, potentially threatening the survival of the Jewish people. So they determined to emphasize the personal, familial, and congregational aspects. That involved a complete shift from the beis hamikdosh to the beis medrash, as the focal point, from the shulchan in the BHaM to the shulchan in the home, from the kehuna to the rabonus, from the meticulous performance of korbonos to the meticulous study of Torah shebe’al pe. (The question of re-emphasis now in a time of Jewish sovereignty in eretz yisroel is a very important one to grapple with)

    Thus in framing the story – from the time of the first Seder we’ve always been about making these stories fascinating to our families – that which was relatable to the people had to be more about neiros and less about swords and battles.

    A second possibility – ambivalence about the chashmonaim. By the time that the customs of chanukah were being formalized, the chashmonaim had usurped the kingship from the descendants of Dovid Hamelech, begun the process of hellenization, and essentially invited the Romans to become involved against the greek faction of Demetrius. It is not widely appreciated that the war with the Greeks and their Jewish supporters did not stop with the capture of the beis hamikdosh, – the Greeks continued to send armies into Judea, succeeding in killing several of the Macabi brothers in battle, and they occupied the Acra fortress overlooking the Har Habayis on the northwest themselves or through proxies pretty much until the Roman influence began. So the fruits of the “victory” were less clear and harder to demonstrate than the miracle of the lights.

    Finally, it has long been my question about Chanukah – How much did the “victory” cost us? HKBH acts in history, and within his cheshbon this was a conflict between the urban and the rural, between the elite and the farmers, between the Yerushalmi kohanim who were hellenized and the outliers who were not, between the coastal cities and the hilltowns. It was a civil war, and like all civil wars, it had long lasting consequences. Because of the pushback by the Greeks, the ascending Romans got a foothold, which became a tyranny. It led to the churban bayis. Because the chashmonaim coopted the monarchy, every rebel movement for 150 years was led by a davidic claimant, including the one which eventually morphed into christianity, and we know how much that cost us, up until the present day.

    Division has been our yerusha since the brothers sold Yosef into slavery. Chanukah and more specifically its aftermath seems to be yet another manifestation of that.

    I’d love to hear a good reason to celebrate the victory as well as the miracle of the lights. I think its just as important, and the sovereignty of the Jewish people demands it. But history tells a harsh tale, so maybe we’re better off focusing on the neis of the lights until we can be unified AS WELL as sovereign, and bring the era of Moshiach tzidkeinu bimheira biyomeinu.


    akuperma, <i> Ha-Shem got upset at us for being too happy when Ha-Shem drowned the Egyptians</i>

    No, he did not. On the contrary, the gemora you refer to explicitly says that Hashem completely approved of our celebration and shira, and objected only when the angels joined in. The gemora’s exact words are הוא אינו שש אבל אחרים משיש , “He does not rejoice, but He makes others rejoice”.

    May I suggest that the reason for the discrepancy is that when the BHMK stood the emphasis was indeed on the victory, and Ve’al Hanisim dates from that time, but after the churban, when we no longer had the benefits of the victory, that aspect became less important, but we still have the spiritual benefits of the miracle, so that is now the main focus of the celebration.

    Reb Eliezer

    The modern called it חג המכבים emphasizing the battle over the oil forgetting that Hashem helped in order to gain spirituality recognizing the importance of the Oral Law which was validated through the miracle of the oil that became impure through the decree of chazal.


    Yes, the Zionists 100 years ago turned Chanukah into a celebration of כחי ועוצם ידי, the exact opposite of what it was about throughout our history. But the question we’re discussing here is not about that. The question here is that since there were two miracles, which one should be the ikkar of the celebration, and why does it seem that the author of Ve’al Hanissim had a different view than the one we hold today.

    Speaking of which, however, let me point out that the heretical Zionist song מי ימלל, which in its original words is surely chazer treif, can be made kosher simply by changing four words. Here is a kosher version (stressed syllables capitalized):

    MI yemaLEL geVOOrot haKEL, oTAM mi YIMneh?
    HEN bechol DOR yaKIM hagiBOR go’EL ha’am.
    HO! BAyamim haHEm bazman haZEH
    Elokim moSHIa ufoDEH
    Uvyamenu KOL am yisraEL
    YIT’ached yaSHUV veyiga’EL.


    Milhouse: There’s no Jewish practice of taking a heretical statement/song and modifying it to make it non-heretical. The practice is to eschew it altogether.


    That there is no practice doesn’t make it wrong. Moreover, Judaism does teach us להוציא יקר מזולל, and about the advantage of light that comes from darkness, יתרון האור (הבא) מתוך החושך. It’s a catchy song, everyone sings it, and by changing just four words it is transformed from a statement of kefirah to one of emunah.

    מי ימלל גבורות הקל, אותם מי ימנה
    הן בכל דור יקים הגבור, גואל העם.
    שמע! בימים ההם בזמן הזה, אלוקים מושיע ופודה
    ובימינו כל עם ישראל יתאחד ישוב ויגאל


    Everyone sings it? This is the first time I heard it.

    Should we elevate popular communist folk songs into something modified for Judaism?


    Actually, it IS a popular song, although strictly musically speaking, it’s not very ear – friendly to me. I believe it’s in most Chanukah songbooks and has been recorded by various artists. I like your lyrics.
    BTW, we all know about the song ‘ szoll a kakas ‘ , which the Kaliver Rebbe “stole” from a Hungarian peasant and transformed some other tunes into holy songs. Who knows what other words the peasant used in the original.
    Plenty of tunes these days being hijacked by frum singers from the secular music world and attached to psukim, and the oylam dancing away at weddings… But that’s another story.

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