In a nutshell, here is the prelude to the valiant war fought by the Hashmonaim (Makkabim) about 2,165 years ago:
The powers that be at the time offered "the honor" of performing an act of avodah zarah to Mattithiyahu ben Yohanan, the High Priest.
The powers that be offered it to another, who accepted.
However, before he had a change to perform this act of avodah zarah, he was killed by Mattithiyahu.
As one could imagine, the powers that be were not at all thrilled the prospect of having their authority threatened. Sound familiar?
And so, Mattithiyahu, his sons, and increasing number of followers retreated, plotted and planned, and fought on of the most spiritually important wars, Israel has ever fought. Well, they were all important.
But who was it that they fought?
Do most Jews, inside or outside of Israel, even know the answer to this question?
Examples of attempted answers to this question include:
3. Syrian Greeks
4. Selucid Greeks
How about Jews? That's right. Jews. Jews were among those the Hashmonaim fought and killed.
Assimilated, Hellenized Jews.
"Oh, but that was then; this is now." (Huh?)
"No, the Westernized Jews of today have a different status now." (Why?)
"No, you don't understand. There aren't really any rasha'im (evil people) today. It's not their fault. We have to show them, and bring them back to Torah." (Even though the Gemara says otherwise. Uncensored Rav A. Y. says otherwise as well.)
And these responses are coming from religious Jews! I do not even have to complicate matters by listing some of the responses from the non-religious, or so-called "liberal" ones!
Now, I am by no means, suggesting the we go around killing people that we don't like, let alone try to sort out all who I think is evil or who you think is evil.
No. What I am suggesting is that we remember a very important detail behind the holiday most popularly celebrated by your average American Jew, and not allow it it to be edited out of our history.
We Jews were never afraid of a fight. It was only living in galuth (diasporah) and the need to kowtow to the goyim, so they wouldn't beat us up, try to convert us, kidnap us, or kill us, which has tamed us.
Today, now that we have begun the process of taking back our Jewish Homeland, there are actually plenty of Jews out there who do not hesitate to talk about "those who want to kill us" (Yishma'elim/Arabs) and "those who want to steal our souls" (Esau/Christians). There are even those who are willing to talk about the various traitors in our midst (Erev Rav).
Yet, there are very few Jews out there who have any clue as to what to do about combating any of these threats. We must learn Torah AND be physically strong and courageous.
It is high time we rediscovered the righteous, Jewish warrior of old, he who recognized evil, and following one with authority, did not hesitate to stamp it out. This is this Jew we need today, along with the hakham (scholar).
This is the Jewish image we must rediscover and develop within ourselves, and convey to our children, if we are going to survive as a people.