Countdown to Chanukah 9
The Rambam (Hilchot Chanukah 3:1) writes that the Syrian Greeks did not allow the people to toil in Torah. Yet, we say in Al Hanissim that they wanted to “make us forget the Torah,” which seems different from the Rambam’s words.
The Maharal of Prague (Ner Mitzvah) explains that “ to forget,” is also used to mean to ‘remove from one’s mind and awareness, as in (Isaiah 49:14) “And Zion said, ‘God has abandoned me, and God has forgotten me.” Zion surely did not accuse God of forgetting, says the Maharal. The verse means that Zion felt that God had removed her from His mind and attention. The Talmud (Rosh Hashana 19a, See Rashi) explains that when we do not toil in Torah, we begin to lose awareness of her teachings.
When we describe the Syrian Greeks of wanting to make us forget the Torah, we are saying that they would not allow us to spend hours toiling in Torah, which leads to distraction and loss of connection, also described as forgetting.
It is appropriate to spend extra time each day between now and Chanukah toiling in Torah. Study is not sufficient. We must challenge ourselves to study a topic or text that will demand hard work.