In 2nd century B.C.E, the Greek Seleucid Emperor Antiochus Epiphanes began a systematic campaign against Judaism, which he saw as an obstacle to the spread of Hellenist philosophy in Israel. He forbid certain forms of religious observance (such as circumcision, for example)—disobedience was punishable by death. He desecrated the Temple by sacrificing pigs there, and he put up a statue of the Greek G-d Jupiter in the Holy of Holies. Enraged, Mattathias the Maccabee and his five sons recruited a small army of Jews and launched a guerrilla war that is commonly known as the Maccabean revolt. After three years of aggressive fighting, this small Jewish army miraculously beat the huge and mighty Greek army. They took back control of Jerusalem and, on the 25th of the Hebrew month Kislev, re-dedicated the Temple and rekindled the light of Torah life.
Imagine you walk into a magic store where they sell special flashlights equipped with magic lights of different kinds. For example, you can buy the light of science, and when you point that flashlight at your hand, you see not a hand, but cells and blood vessels and tendons and ligaments. Or you can buy the light of art, and you point that flashlight at your hand, you see your hand as if it were a painting by Leonardo Da Vinci – you see form, and color, and texture. And you’re having a lot of fun trying out the different flashlights with the different lights. And then you see one labeled “the light of Chanukah.” What will you see in that light? What is special about the light of Chanukah?