Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
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The meanings of the prayer we insert on Channukah

And let’s ponder how the Channukah and Simchat Torah Wars compare

Into every prayer on Channukah, we insert ‘Al haNeeseem.

Here is my English translation of the Ashkenazic version:

[We thank You] for the miracles and for the liberation and for the strengths and for the salvations and for the battles that You performed for our ancestors in their days as well as today/in their days at this date.

In the time of the Chasmonean high priest Mattathias ben Jochanan and his sons, when the evil Greek kingdom rose up against Israel, Your People, to make them forget Your Torah and violate some of Your favorite Laws.

Then You, Yourself, in Your great mercy, stood by them in their time of need, fought what they needed to fight, convicted what they needed to convict, as well as avenged what they needed to avenge;

You delivered the strong into the hands of the weak, and the many into the hands of the few, and the impure Jews into the hands of the pure, and the wicked into the hands of the righteous, and the willful sinners (not any ignorant Jews) into the hands of those who labor at studying Your Torah.

And first of all, for Yourself, You Yourself realized a great and holy Name in this world that is certainly Yours, but also realized for Israel, Your People, a great salvation and liberation, just like You do today/as clear to us as if You did this today/around this very date.

And after this, Your true sons approached Your House’s Holy of Holies, and then cleansed Your Palace, and then purified Your Temple, and then kindled the known lights in Your Sanctuary’s Courtyards, and then fixed these eight days of Channukah to thank and exalt Your great Name.

How Does and Doesn’t This Relate to Our Present War?

While all the misery and heroism are definitely man-made, it’s hard not to see G^d’s Hand behand it all. Which makes it easier to thank for the miracles, liberation, strengths, salvations, and that He is performing today.

We don’t have one leader who stands up against the enemy. Rather, our People as a whole rose up. In the Hellenistic occupation, it was often Hellenistic against Mosaic Jews but now not so much. Chamas c.s. also, like the Nazis, don’t want to destroy just our heritage but exterminate us.

He, himself, in His great mercy, is standing by us in our time of need. We did have a lot of luck at and after Simchat Torah (it could have been even worse), but we can’t say He won the battle for us; but definitely, with us.

We do see the strong on a world scale be delivered into the hands of the weak, the many into the hands of the few, and the wicked into the hands of the righteous, but not one category of Jews into the hands of others because we have an unheard-of measure of Jewish unity now.

Those who see Him already, see Him now as greater and holier, and our great salvation and liberation as coming closer, again today.

We long for the building of the Third Temple. But since the Torah says that G^d built the Temple in our midst/within us, let us approach that, cleanse and purify our hearts, and kindle the lights in our eyes on these eight days of Channukah to thank and exalt His great Name, so we may see, with the coming of the Redeemer, the return of the Temple, soon and in our days.


Let us hope, this year, Chabad, in fact every Diaspora Jew, is wise enough to agree not to light public channukias. As Rabbi Yisrael Salanter said: The first Commandment in the Torah is “Don’t be a fool!” Remember that Channakah, like the Eve of Jewish Passover, is celebrated at the home.

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, previously a daily blog contributor to the TOI. He often makes his readers laugh, mad, or assume he's nuts—close to perfect blogging. He's proud that his analytical short comments are removed both from left-wing and right-wing news sites. None of his content is generated by the new bore on the block, AI. * As a frontier thinker, he sees things many don't yet. He's half a prophet. Half. Let's not exaggerate. Or not at all because he doesn't claim G^d talks to him. He gives him good ideas—that's all. MM doesn't believe that people observe and think in a vacuum. He, therefore, wanted a broad bio that readers interested can track a bit what (lack of) backgrounds, experiences, and educations contribute to his visions. * This year, he will prioritize getting his unpublished books published rather than just blog posts. Next year, he hopes to focus on activism against human extinction. To find less-recent posts on a subject XXX among his over 2000 archived ones, go to the right-top corner of a Times of Israel page, click on the search icon and search "zuiden, XXX". One can find a second, wilder blog, to which one may subscribe too, here: or by clicking on the globe icon next to his picture on top. * Like most of his readers, he believes in being friendly, respectful, and loyal. However, if you think those are his absolute top priorities, you might end up disappointed. His first loyalty is to the truth. He will try to stay within the limits of democratic and Jewish law, but he won't lie to support opinions or people when don't deserve that. (Yet, we all make honest mistakes, which is just fine and does not justify losing support.) He admits that he sometimes exaggerates to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quite a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * Sometimes he's misunderstood because his wide and diverse field of vision seldomly fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what some love about him. He has written a lot about Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (including basic statistics), Politics (Israel, the US, and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight reality), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, LGBTQIA+, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), the Climate Crisis, Ecology and Veganism, Affairs from the news, or the Torah Portion of the Week, or new insights that suddenly befell him. * Chronologically, his most influential teachers are his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach, and, lehavdil bein chayim lechayim, Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff, and Rav Meir Lubin. This short list doesn't mean to disrespect others who taught him a lot or a little. One of his rabbis calls him Mr. Innovation [Ish haChidushim]. Yet, his originalities seem to root deeply in traditional Judaism, though they may grow in unexpected directions. In fact, he claims he's modernizing nothing. Rather, mainly basing himself on the basic Hebrew Torah text, he tries to rediscover classical Jewish thought almost lost in thousands of years of stifling Gentile domination and Jewish assimilation. (He pleads for a close reading of the Torah instead of going by rough assumptions of what it would probably mean and before fleeing to Commentaries.) This, in all aspects of life, but prominently in the areas of Free Will, Activism, Homosexuality for men, and Redemption. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, and disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed. He aims to bring a fresh perspective rather than harp on the obvious and familiar. When he can, he loves to write encyclopedic overviews. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds should be disputed. In short, his main political positions are among others: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, anti those who abuse democratic liberties, anti the fake ME peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, pro-Science, pro-Free Will, anti-blaming-the-victim, and for down-to-earth, classical optimism, and happiness. Read his blog on how he attempts to bridge any tensions between those ideas or fields. * He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (, born in 1953 to his parents who were Dutch-Jewish Holocaust survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork. He grew up a humble listener. It took him decades to become a speaker too, and decades more to admit to being a genius. But his humility was his to keep. And so was his honesty. Bullies and con artists almost instantaneously envy and hate him. He hopes to bring new things and not just preach to the choir. * He holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam) – is half a doctor. He practices Re-evaluation Co-counseling since 1977, is not an official teacher anymore, and became a friendly, powerful therapist. He became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years, he was active in hasbara to the Dutch-speaking public. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a strict vegan since 2008. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second-generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. If you're a native English speaker and wonder why you should read from people whose English is only their second language, consider the advantage of having an original peek outside of your cultural bubble. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me. * His newest books you may find here:
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