Don’t Think the Maccabees Fought only for Antiochus!

Don’t think the Maccebees fought only Antiochus.

On Hanukkah their battle had a different focus.
It wasn’t Antiochus who proposed to alter
the customs of the Jews. Rich Jews began to falter
because they hoped to be more cosmopolitan
by breaking Jewish laws and customs like the ban
on nudity in gyms, and idols. The menorah
burning for eight days shows us the way the Torah
was not extinguished by these Jews. This may be why
on Hanukkah we light our lights for passers-by
who’re Jewish like ourselves, for we must all remember
our Jewish, not our gentile, customs in December.
We kindle lights in order to protect our Jewish home,
which is the temple for which Maccabeans fought – their Judaism
the temple in Jerusalem. Ours, not there, or in Rome,
diffracts the spectral lights that shine from a rabbinic prism.
This soon became the temple of observant Jews: our houses;
here we perform one ritual yearly seen by passers-by:
the eight night kindling of our lights together with our spouses
and children, who like ancestors with joy identify.
Gershon Hepner
7th Day of Chanukah 5781k
About the Author
Gershon Hepner is a poet who has written over 25,000 poems on subjects ranging from music to literature, politics to Torah. He grew up in England and moved to Los Angeles in 1976. Using his varied interests and experiences, he has authored dozens of papers in medical and academic journals, and authored "Legal Friction: Law, Narrative, and Identity Politics in Biblical Israel." He can be reached at
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