Chanuka--what Really Happened There

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Objetivo de Recursos

Teach about the Gevura of the Maccabim, as well as about the story of Chanuka

Recurso Conteúdo

0What really happened there???

B'A Of Toranto

3rd-6th grade



Teach about the Gevura of the Maccabim, as well as about the story of Chanuka



Though the Chanuka story is well known, here is a little background just in case:

During the time when the Greeks controlled Israel, Jews began hellenizing, or trying to become more like the Greeks. Many adopted Greek names, stopped keeping Shabbat and Kashrut, and idol worship was taking place in the Beit HaMikdash. In the year 169 BCE, Antiochus decreed that anyone caught observing Shabbat, Chagim and receiving a Brit Mila would be punished by death. Nevertheless, many of the Jews, especially in private, continued to believe in Hashem. Jews who were known as Metyavnim, (were sitting on the fence between being a Jew and a Greek) often told the palace of those Jews who were not following the orders of Antiochus. Soon after, Mattityahu and his sons led a rebellion whose purpose was to fight the Greeks and rid them from Israel and to teach the non-observant Jews a lesson. Eventually the rebellion became a full fledge war against the Greeks, and after many clashes, the few defeated the many. The Chashmonaim reclaimed and purified Yerushalayim, and smashed the image of the Greek god Zeus, thus returning the holy city back to its original splendor and glory.



Game 1: Running Bases

Choose two chanichim to be the two infielders. All other chanichim should be divided between two bases on either side of the room. Make the bases away from the wall so that kids don’t run into the walls... The goal is to run back and forth between the two bases. Anyone tagged while not touching a base is out. Everyone must run at least every five throws. The two fielders throw the ball back and forth and try to tag anyone moving from base to base. Play for a bit, a few rounds, but make sure to change the fielders often. 



Game 2: Celebrate

This game won’t last very long, but it’ll help to illustrate the same point as Running Bases. Have all the chanichim stand in a circle. Choose one chanich to go into the middle and say something that s/he thinks is cause for celebration. Everyone who also enjoys that thing (ie. Getting 100% on a test, eating ice cream, having pizza at King Kosher….) has to go into the middle and celebrate. When the madrich says so, everyone must return to his or her spots, and the person initially in the middle tries to get someone’s spot. Whoever remains has to give the next cause of celebration. 


Discussion: So, how are these two games related? Most likely in running bases, the game proceeded as a few people would run a lot and others would eventually follow their lead. In Celebrate as well, people probably were very reluctant to go and celebrate in the middle. But when other people start doing it, they will follow their lead.

Similarly, the Maccabim began their revolt without much help. Very few people joined them, and they were incredibly outnumbered. However, after winning a few battles, other Jews joined the rebellion. As the Maccabim had more victories and captured more weapons, even more people joined, and eventually they were able to defeat the Greeks entirely. It is often the hardest thing to be the first person to do something, to lead the way and not know if people will follow you or not. You need a certain amount of bravery to do so, which clearly the Maccabim had. The root of Chanuka was that the Chashmonaim needed to convince the other Jews to support Judaism and not to join the Greeks. Of course, as any Bnei Akiva madrich knows, the best way to convince is to lead by example. Once you begin, others will join you. Which is exactly what happened in Chanuka.



More Background:

Why was Chanuka so significant?

It is widely known that during Bayit Sheni there were many Chagim that were celebrated, but after Churban Bayit Sheni they were all discarded, except for Purim and Chanuka. These two were kept because the Jewish People were saved during them. Ask the Chanichim who the Jews were saved from in Chanuka. They may answer that the Greeks were attacking them, but in fact the Greeks only attacked militarily after the Jews rebelled. The Jews were actually being attacked spiritually, both by the Greek laws and the Hellenizing Jews. This led to military revolt, and the real miracle of Chanuka is that they were able to win this war. The miracle of the oil only came as a confirmation that Hashem was behind the Chashmonaim.



Game 3: Judaism

Give each Chanich one of the cards on the following pages. They must get themselves into order according to importance, in regards to what makes somebody Jewish (and conversely, what if outlawed would keep you from being Jewish?) You as Madrichim must help facilitate debates and make sure everyone is involved. If there are extra cards, simply take some out. If there are more, make two sets and divide up into two groups. Or add your own.


*Going to a Jewish School

*Learning Tanach

*Giving boys a Brit Mila

*Keeping the laws of Kashrut

*Going to the Beit Keneset

*Fasting on Yom Kippur

*Having your Tzitzit Hang Out

*Giving children Jewish Names

*Using Hebrew Words

*Keeping Shabbat

*Listening to Jewish Music

*Having a long Beard

*Give Money to the Jewish Federation

*Living in Israel





Discussion: Obviously some of these are more serious than others. Hopefully the chanichim will put the active mitzvot ones, which you would expect, as the most important, and the appearance/external ones last. Emphasize this distinction to them. While Jewish appearance may add to Jewish identity, the real important ones are keeping the mitzvot and observing Halacha. The Jews during Chanuka were willing to put up with Hellenism(Greece’s culture.) until it threatened their observance of Halacha, until Antiochus outlawed Brit Mila, Shabbat, and Chagim.



Summary: We understood the historical story of Chanukah and learned why the macabbim really were heroes.  Its hard to fight for your beliefs and be the first to protest.  Today here in Toronto, its less hard to observe halacha and keep
Shabbat.  We don’t need to experience the same mesirut nefesh the Chashmonaim had.  Maybe sometimes when things are easy, we make less of an effort to do them. 















Recursos relacionados pode ser encontrada em:
» Todas > Entre o homem e si mesmo > Heroismo
» Todas > Historia > O segundo templo
» Todas > Festivais Judaicos > Chanuka
» Todas > Judaismo > Cultura Judaica
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