The two b’rachas, blessings, Jews recite when lighting the Chanukah candles:
1) Blessed are You, Hashem, our G-d, King of the universe, Who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us to kindle the Chanukah light.
2) Blessed are You, Hashem our G-d, King of the universe, Who has wrought miracles for our forefathers, in those days at this season
Tonight Jews all over the world begin to celebrate the holiday of Chanukah.
We celebrate the victories of the Maccabees, a group of pious, valiant brothers and their Jewish army, who fought against tremendous odds and succeeded in freeing our holy city Jerusalem from the Greek invaders and their Jewish collaborators.
The Maccabees relit the candles of the Menorah on the Temple Mount. Though there was only enough oil for one day, a miracle occurred and the candles burned brightly for eight days and eight nights. Hence, we celebrate eight days of Chanukah.
The light of the Menorah vanquishes the darkness of a decadent civilization.
The Maccabees rejected the dominant Syrian-Greek society. They despised the cruelty, oppression and Jew-hatred that characterized progressive Greek culture.
The Maccabees raised the banner of revolution for religious freedom, for the primacy of Torah values over pagan values.
They also went to war against apostate Jews, traitors to G-d and Judaism. Jews who endured painful surgeries in order to reverse their circumcisions so they could compete, naked, in the public sports gymnasiums that were all the rage in liberal, pornified Greek society.
The Maccabees were Jewish zealots who declared total war against assimilationist Jews who sought to overthrow the authority of the Torah with modern, secular, and yes, multicultural values.
Abhorring the idol worship of Greek culture, the deeply observant and conservative Maccabees despised the elite Jews who collaborated with the ruling Syrian Greeks.
The Maccabees fought savage wars in order to win the independence of the state of Israel from cruel foreign oppression. They yearned to purify the holy Jewish Temple from foreign worship, and they spilled oceans of blood to unite Jerusalem.
The Maccabees did not tolerate Jewish fifth columnists who claimed to love Israel while undermining the very foundations of the state.
Every single battle fought by the Maccabees took place in Judea and Samaria—AKA the West Bank. And, of course, the most ferocious battle took place in Jerusalem—mostly against Hellenized Jews, the J Street of their time.
The battles of the Maccabees are not over. We are fighting them again. It seems we wage the same battles time after time—on the same bloody ground.
Karen and I wish everyone a joyous and meaningful holiday.
Senator Orrin Hatch (Republican, Utah) a Mormon and a great friend to the Jewish people has written a wonderful Chanukah song. Interesting to note that he wears a mezuzah around his neck. Is this Mormon practice? I have no idea. Great song. Thanks so much, Senator.