Hanukkah Message

The good guys beat the odds


There is a passage included in the Hanukkah liturgy which recalls the Maccabean victory and thanks God for the miracle of delivering “the strong into the hand of the weak, the many into the hand of the few… and the wicked into the hand of the righteous.”

Certainly, nature is defied whenever the weak beat the strong or the few confound the many, but what is so miraculous about the good vanquishing the bad? Why assume that evil has an inherent advantage over righteousness or that cruelty can only be offset by divine intervention?

Our sages tell us that, in fact, it is more difficult for the righteous to conquer the wicked, since evildoers believe that “all’s fair in love and war.” Without hesitation, they blindside their victim with a “sucker” punch or stab him in the back. For them any means is kosher.

Not so with the righteous person. He plays by the rules even when he fights. He will never hit first or strike below the belt. That is why he is at a disadvantage.

Accordingly, it is a wonder that the guys in the white hats ever win. Each time they do, they are beating the odds. Each time is a testament to God’s presence in the world.

Homegrown criminals and international terrorists often try to exploit the essential goodness of Western democracies. In pursuit of their nefarious schemes, they manipulate freedoms guaranteed by a civil society’s constitution and human rights protected by its law.

Even so, liberal nations have time and again demonstrated their mettle by vigorously defending the principles of liberty while providing their citizens with security.

Don’t underestimate how miraculous that is. Let us, during the festival of Hanukkah and throughout the year, thank God for delivering the wicked into the hand of the righteous.

I wish our Christian friends and neighbors a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! And to our Jewish brethren – Chag Urim Sameach (a Joyous Festival of Lights)!

Rabbi Ginsburg leads Congregation Sons of Israel in Woodmere.