A Question Of Courage
Why Judah Macabee Should Be Your Hero
Courage,kur'ij, n. the quality that enables men to meet danger without giving way to fear: bravery: spirit
My palms were sticky and my face was hot. I could feel the sweat trickling down my back and I was short of breath as my heart beat wildly. I stared at the wall opposite me and swallowed hard as my thoughts raced incoherently.
It wasn't a punishment, it wasn't an exam. It wasn't even a doctor's diagnosis. I was only trying to explain to the bemused youth in front of me why their scathing comment about Jews keeping the Torah was offensive to me - a Jew.
Why, I often wonder, is it so hard to stand-up for what you believe? When it comes to the crunch and it's now or never, why is it so hard to open your mouth??
My Dad says to me, when I ask him about this, "When you are in a situation where you need to stand up for what you believe, it becomes something more than just stating your opinion. The devil doesn't want you to 'stand up' for G-d, and you worry about what other people who hear are going to think. It's become an invisible battle ground; it becomes a fight between good and evil, in just a small way. G-d wants you to say it - He wants you to defend what you believe in, He doesn't want you to cower away from the struggle and just let people walk over your beliefs ... It's a question of courage; courage to open your mouth and speak, courage to take the consequences of your action."
Hanukkah is so much fun! There is something extra-special in the warm glow of the Hanukkah candles as its strength increases night by night; saying Shekianu on the first night ... Who has kept us alive, sustained us, and brought us to this season ... Listening to the many stories of G-d's faithfulness to His people throughout the generations; hearing again the tales of all the brave Jews who, despite the difficulties and dangers of doing it, still managed to light the Hanukkah candles, bringing the light of G-d and His word into the darkest places ...
But we aren't all, baruch Hashem, struggling to live a secret Jewish life under the dark, lonely depths of the Inquisition, or Soviet Russia - and we aren't all Judah Macabee's, leading wars against those who seek to destroy our Jewish people and dishonour the name of our G-d.
We don't all - very few of us, in fact - lead high-profile revolutions against the Greek forces that Judah Macabee fought so bravely; but within each of us is the potential to be the Judah Macabee of this generation, fighting the small mental and spiritual (as opposed to physical - war elephants and swords aren't easily obtainable these days!) battles that contribute to the bigger picture.
No matter where in the world we live, how old we are, how strong or weak we are, like Judah Macabee, we too can be zealous for G-d; we too can fight to maintain our Jewish faith; we too, with G-d's strength, can survive; we too can be victors, fulfilling G-d's plan for our lives ...
You just need to put your trust in G-d, remember all those, like Judah Macabee, who came before us and have set us such an example of zeal for the L-rd - and a little courage!
"These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world." (John 16:33 NASB)
Copyright N. Allen - MET