Did the Rabbis Think the Maccabees Were Too Militaristic?

The problem was not that the stars of the Hanukkah story were too heroic, but that they confused their military heroism for the capacity of communal leadership.

From Mattathias and the Apostate, 1866, by Gustave Dore. Wikimedia.

From Mattathias and the Apostate, 1866, by Gustave Dore. Wikimedia.

Atar Hadari
Observation
Dec. 15 2020
About the author

Atar Hadari’s Songs from Bialik: Selected Poems of H. N. Bialik (Syracuse University Press) was a finalist for the American Literary Translators’ Association Award. His Lives of the Dead: Poems of Hanoch Levin earned a PEN Translates award and was released in 2019 by Arc Publications. He was ordained by Rabbi Daniel Landes and is completing a PhD on William Tyndale’s translation of Deuteronomy.

This time of year we light our Hanukkah candles, spin dreidels, fry fattening food, and tell our children the story of the miracle of the oil in the recaptured Temple in Jerusalem that should have burned for only one day but lasted for eight. Great story, right?

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More about: Hanukkah, Religion & Holidays