"Write on the horn of an ox that you have no part in the G-d of
Israel." This was one of the demands that the Syrian Greeks made
of the Jewish people in the period that led up to the Chanukah miracle,
over 2,000 years ago.
Why write on the horn of an ox? Why specifically the horn?
From our perspective, we know that the horn is one of the major categories
of damage. It is the symbol of a destructive agent who "intends
to damage and has no pleasure or benefit from the damage." This
contrasts with, for example, the tooth, which refers to an animal
that eats for its own benefit, or where the animal tramples something
in which case it has no real intention to destroy what it walks over.
When an animal gores something or someone it fully intends to harm
him, and it gains nothing from doing so.
It is hard to confront that sort of threat. One constantly seeks to
find the rationale for the demands that are being made; to understand
what motivates them. The most natural thing is to look for the self-interest
But sometimes it just is not there. Think about the turbine part that
the Prime Minister ordered to transport on Shabbos, refusing to consider
seriously the proposals that were advanced for compromise nor to even
fully honor the promises he had made only a day earlier to avoid Shabbos
desecration, not to mention his commitment in the coalition agreement
to preserve the status quo. In fact, he offered no post facto
explanation or justification for his order to go ahead with the transfer.
This leaves us with little alternative but to conclude that the whole
"point" was to put us and our Shabbos in what he regards as
their rightful place: incidental and inconsequential in his larger
scheme of larger things.
This is a pattern that has, unfortunately, repeated itself in other
incidents, such as the time mechanics were summoned from Israel on
Shabbos to England to repair the prime ministerial jet, even though
Barak had already clearly missed the only pressing appointment he
had (to speak at the General Assembly of the United Jewish Charities).
This approach is amplified in the behavior of Barak's Minister of
Justice (Yossi Beilin) and Minister of Education (Yossi Sarid). Both
are quite open about their antipathy to everything holy and share
the desire to shatter the status quo in order to establish new, more
liberal lines that are more in line with modern Western ideas of hefkeirus
We must stop this -- and Chanukah provides an important lesson
about our primary means of doing so.
Preceding the final events of Chanukah was a long and bitter war in
which the Jewish armies saw many miracles. Yet the focus of the commemoration
is the miracle of the cruse of oil that was important for the service
in the Beis Hamikdash. Chazal directed us to celebrate the renewal
of pure worship in the Beis Hamikdash, and not the just and essential
war that led up to it.
Our job is to light and spread the fire of mitzvos and the light of
Torah. Though the forces arrayed against this goal are strong, it
cannot be denied that we are making headway. The steady increase in
the chareidi community in Israel and throughout the world -- as
was so wonderfully evident in the recent Agudath Yisroel Convention
in the United States -- is powerful encouragement to pray for miracles
in our times as in days gone by.