Chanukah Hallel Paragraph Three: Becoming Trusters
“Not we, God, not we,
but Your Name deserves honor for Your kindness, Your truth.”
The Chashmonaim could not and did not choose to fight the Syrian-Greeks for their sake’s, but for God’s Name and glory. They chose the name Maccabbi: “Mi Kamocha Ba’eilim Hashem,” “Who among the powers is like You, God,” as a declaration that they were fighting for God’s Glory, not their own.
“How can the pagans ask, “Where is their God?”
The Greeks and the Hellenists, as have so many over the course of our history, openly challenged us by asking, “Where is their God?” They did not understand how a defeated nation could continue to cling to their “failed” faith when their enemies were ascendant. “Clearly,” they claimed, “Your God has disappeared in His failure!”
When Matityahu and his sons witnessed so many Jews turning to the Greek gods in their desperation for a Power to guide and bless them with success, they realized that their brethren were affected by the challenge of, “Where is their God?”
“Now our God in the heavens did just what He desired.
Their silver and gold statues are the work of human hands.
They have mouths but do not speak,
they have eyes but do not see,
they have ears but do not hear,
they have noses but do not smell.
A hand – but do not feel.
Legs – but do not walk.
They do not even groan.
Their makers will become like them, all who trust in them.”
The Chashmonaim challenged the Hellenists by wondering how such an advanced culture, and such sophisticated people could trust in idols made by the hands of men. The Greek gods represented by the idols were subject to very human whims and emotions. Their makers will become like them, all who trust in them.” “You Hellenists are no different from your ‘gods.’
“Israel: Trust in God! Their Help and Protection!
House of Aaron: Trust in God! Their Help and Protection!
Those who fear God: Trust in God! Their Help and Protection!”
It is only our trust in God that will win us His protection and blessing. Even if the nation as a whole lacks trust, we Chashmonaim of the House of Aaron, trust in God, and that will be sufficient to bring His help and protection. Those who join us in battle because they are in awe of God will find victory not through their military prowess, but through God’s help and protection. (Based on Tehillot Yisrael, Commentary to Psalms, by Rav Shlomo Kluger)
For What Do We Battle
The Zohar teaches that before we can declare our trust in God, our Bitachon, we must first know for Whom and for what we are willing to enter the fray. One who battles for God believing that his trust will protect him, will not succeed. He must first be willing to fight no matter the cost. When Chananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were willing to be thrown into Nebuchadnezar’s fiery furnace they were confident that they would be saved. God sent a message to them that He didn’t need the to do the favor for Him. Only when they declared, “Not we, God, not we, but Your Name deserves honor for Your kindness, Your truth,” and were willing to die to honor God’s Name even if they would not be saved, did God save them.
The Chashmonaim did not enter battle believing they would win because they were fighting for God’s Name. They fought for God’s Name even if they would not be saved. Only after they were willing to fight could they trust that God would help and protect them.
We are constantly faced with the battle for our Judaism and values. People often enter the battle as Trusters in God, believing that their Bitachon will win them God’s help and protection. They have the order wrong: It is our willingness to fight for what we believe that earns us the rights and powers of Trusters.
We sing this paragraph of the Hallel as our declaration that we enter the battle because we know for Whom and what we fight. We want to earn the right to be Trusters. Only at the conclusion of this paragraph do we speak of our trust.