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Home » Chanukah, Israel

Chanukah: One Battle at A Time

Submitted by on December 3, 2023 – 8:23 pmNo Comment | 296 views

The Maccabees won the war one battle at a time. The odds they took on were impossible, but they never thought about the future escalations. Their only concern was with the battle in front of them.

Their first military skirmish was against a minor garrison of soldiers. It was not difficult to win that battle because they had the benefit of surprise. They must have known that the Syrian Greeks would not take this defeat sitting down. They must have known that a larger force would be sent to make a public spectacle of the Maccabees and to punish them severely.

Yet, the Maccabees did not worry about the next battle. At that moment, they worried only about what was in front of them. Tomorrow would not be their concern until tomorrow comes. For now, it was still today, and the present was their only concern.

Indeed, tomorrow finally arrived, and when it did, they had to contend with the larger force. But they threw themselves into that battle with the same ferocity and trust in G-d that marked their first battle. They fought with the conviction that if their goals were pure and their purpose sacred, G-d would hand them a miraculous victory.

Yet, they would surely have known that the Greeks would not take that humiliation sitting down and that they would send an even mightier army. Still, they did not worry about the future. They dealt with the challenge that was on their plate today. When the next battle came, they dealt with the next battle. Each in its time.

In Life
We do the same in life. Suppose you are training for a new job. You don’t waste your training session thinking about the job you will begin after you complete the training. If you do that, you will not be well-trained by the time the session concludes. You focus on the training at hand; you focus on the present. What comes after the present is not your worry just yet. You can wait for tomorrow to worry about that.

Now, you don’t live in ignorance of the future. If you did not think about the future at all, you would never begin the training. You are clearly training in the present for a job you will take in the future, but you don’t worry about the future while you are in the present. You keep your mind on the task at hand so that when the future arrives, you will be ready for it.

Continual Creation
The doctrine of continual creation bears this out. The Jewish doctrine of creation is that G-d did not create the world one time. He recreates it each moment. We are not accustomed to such thinking because we are used to building things that remain in place. If you build a table, you walk away once it is done, and the table remains in place. But that is when you build, not when you create.

Try this experiment. Fill a cup with water and blow on its surface. You will have created a depression on the surface of the water. Now, suppose you wanted to destroy this depression; what would you need to do? Nothing at all. You would simply stop blowing and the depression would automatically cease.

You see, the depression was something you created. When you create something from scratch, you need to keep creating it, or it will cease to exist. It does not have its own rights to existence. You are the one that gave it existence, and if you stop giving it, it will revert to its previous state of non-existence.

The same is true of the entire world and of existence itself. It only exists because G-d created it. Should G-d stop creating it for even a moment, it would cease to exist.

Time is also a creation. It did not exist before existence was created. Time is, therefore, also subject to the doctrine of continual creation. Time is not a continuum that was put in place at the beginning of time and marched along ever since. Each moment is a new creation. This means that tomorrow doesn’t exist yet. It will not come into existence until it is created tomorrow. Worrying today about tomorrow is to worry about something that doesn’t even exist yet.

Yes, of course, we are confident that G-d will create tomorrow. After all, He created today and every single yesterday before today. Why would He not create tomorrow? He will, that is for sure. But there is no point in worrying about it before it even comes into existence. Right now, only today exists. Therefore, all we need to worry about is today. If we take care of business today, we will be ready for tomorrow by the time tomorrow comes into existence.

Victory Fatigue
All this leads me to an important point about the war that we are waging in Israel and the Gaza Strip against terror groups. It is easy to fall into a funk when we think about the inexhaustible determination of the terrorists. No matter how many of them we kill, there will be more terrorists. No matter how many victories we wrack up, they will never leave us alone.

Then there is the question about what will happen after the war. How will we find a partner for peace if the entire population is radicalized against the existence of Israel? If anything, the war will only serve to enrage them further, so what hope is there for the future? Such thoughts drain us of the will to fight. It depletes our energy and dashes all hope. It is self-defeating because it makes us consider the futility of this war. We may as well surrender to our enemies and let them have the land.

There is no question that war is primarily a test of wills. Which side can convince the other that it is more committed to victory? Which side can demoralize the other and sap its will to fight?

The solution is to think about today, and leave tomorrow for tomorrow. If we spend our time today worrying about what will happen tomorrow, we will fail both today and tomorrow. We will not fight well today, and we will not be prepared for victory tomorrow.

The reality is this. We have everything we need to defeat the enemy today. The question that plagues us is what will happen if the enemy keeps it up? How long can we keep it up? What if the enemy keeps coming at us again and again? Do we have the stamina? That is a worry for tomorrow. The same G-d that will create tomorrow will give us the stamina to do what we need to do tomorrow. Today, we need to take care of today.

There is no point in worrying about a tomorrow that doesn’t even exist yet. When tomorrow comes, it will come with all the resources that we require to contend with it. G-d never gives us a challenge that we cannot overcome. When He gives us tomorrow, He will provide us with the ability to succeed. How do we know? Because He did that for us today!

Yesterday, we had no idea how we might survive today. Yet, today arrived, and we are surviving and even thriving. The same will be true about tomorrow. Don’t worry about it just yet. Worry about today, and by the time tomorrow arrives, we will be perfectly capable of dealing with its challenges.

The very G-d that will create our tomorrow can make our morrow a time of victory, stability, security, and peace. Amen.