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The celebration of the miracle of Hanukah, נס חנוכה is a bridge connecting the historic victory of the Hashmonaim to the historic tragedies connected to the month of Tevet.

The סליחות , special prayers for the Tenth of Teveth mention three events; The edict of the Syrian/Greek kings to translate the Torah into the Greek language, the passing of Ezra, the Scribe, and the siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, the siege that ended in the חורבן, the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem. Now we have another painful addition to the Tenth of Teveth; it has been declared as the memorial day for the victims of the Shoah whose day of murder is not known. It is יום הקדיש הכללי, the day for reciting the Kaddish in their memory.

Even this first night of Hanukah, when we try to enjoy the light of the miraculous victory, our joy is clouded by yet again a manifestation of שנאת ישראל, hatred and vindictive vote against Israel. Do we deserve this?

Why is there no condemnation against Syria for the cruel slaughter of its citizens in the civil war raging there for five years? Who steps in quietly to help the innocent children and the wounded? – Israel. “More than 2000 Syrians have been treated in an IDF field hospital specifically set up in the Golan, with dozens more treated in regular Israeli hospitals.” (Jerusalem Post 23/12/16). There are many merciful Israelis who call on the government to open our doors to wounded and homeless Syrians. רחמנים בני רחמים.

This is not new for the Eternal Jew. When we study the book of מלכים (Kings) we learn that rulers of Syria סוריה whose capital was the beautiful city of דמשק  (Damascus) waged constant wars against Israel. Even in these ancient wars the enemy acknowledged the moral superiority of the Israeli kings: When the king of Aram was hiding after losing a battle against Ahab, and was desperate, his servants comforted him:  

וַיֹּאמְרוּ אֵלָיו, עֲבָדָיוהִנֵּה-נָא שָׁמַעְנוּ, כִּי מַלְכֵי בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל כִּי-מַלְכֵי חֶסֶד הֵם; נָשִׂימָה נָּא שַׂקִּים בְּמָתְנֵינוּ וַחֲבָלִים בְּרֹאשֵׁנוּ, וְנֵצֵא אֶל-מֶלֶךְ יִשְׂרָאֵל--אוּלַי, יְחַיֶּה אֶת-נַפְשֶׁךָ. (מלכים א', כ)

His servants said to him; "Behold now, we have heard that the kings of the house of Israel are merciful kings, please let us put sackcloth on our loins and ropes on our heads, and go out to the king of Israel; perhaps he will let you live."

When they met Ahab, he did more than that: he said “Is he still alive? He is my brother!” When Ben Haddad came out of hiding, Ahab received him warmly and helped him into his chariot. This magnanimity did not win praise from the prophets; Hashem promised a victory and it was wasted. Needless to say that Aram, ארם did not stop the raids into Israel.   The commander of the army of Aram, Naaman נעמן who was very honored by  the king, had leprosy.

It seems that he could not be cured in Demascus, so his wife listened to a captive Jewish girl servant who advised her to send the husband to Shomron to the prophet אלישע who could cure him,  Naaman told his king who agreed. And the king of Aram sent a letter to the king of Israel instructing him to heal Naaman from his leprosy. The king of Israel rent his garments in panic. He saw in the impossible demand a pretext against him. The prophet Elisha אלשע  went to the king and told him to send Naaman to him. The haughty Naaman came to Elisha who instructed him to bathe seven times in the Yarden. Naaman after disdainfully rejecting the advice, was persuaded by his servants to do as he was instructed and he was healed miraculously.

וַיָּשָׁב- אֶל-אִישׁ הָאֱ-לֹהִים הוּא וְכָל-מַחֲנֵהוּ וַיָּבֹא וַיַּעֲמֹד לְפָנָיו וַיֹּאמֶר הִנֵּה-נָא יָדַעְתִּי כִּי אֵין אֱ-לֹהִים בְּכָל-הָאָרֶץ כִּי אִם-בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל  (מלכים ב, ה)

He vowed to sacrifice only to God and only on the sacred soil of ארץ ישראל which he took back to Aram in order to build an altar. (מלכים ב, ה) As our sages say  מעשה אבות סימן לבנים . Whatever happened to the forefathers is a sign for the children.

Miriam Hauer

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