There are very few events that are more emotional than a swearing-in ceremony for Israeli soldiers. Every soldier understands the gravity of what they are doing. But, Israel’s geopolitical situation demands it. If we don’t defend our homeland, we know what the ramifications are. Israel has no choice. There is a mandatory draft.
A few times each year, tens of thousands of young Israeli men and women swear their allegiance to defend the State of Israel. This is a modern-day miracle. There has not been a Jewish Army for thousands of years. It has never even been much of a thought over the generations. Jews fought with passports. If they were in an army, it was not a Jewish Army. It was a Russian Army or a German Army – yes, there were tens of thousands of Jews who fought in the German Army in World War I. And there were hundreds of thousands who fought in the Russian Army against them. Jews used to kill other Jews in foreign armies that fought against each other. They fought in the American Army or the Australian Army. But, Jewish soldiers did not have a distinct nationality until the struggle for the State of Israel began.
The Miracle of Hanukkah
Most people are not aware that an essential aspect of the miracle of Hanukkah is the fact that a small group of Jews picked up weapons and fought back in the Land of Israel. The very fact that there was a group of Israeli soldiers willing to fight was a major occurrence. The fact that a few hundred Jewish soldiers without heavy weaponry (elephants, etc..) defeated tens of thousands of Greek soldiers was an outright miracle. Then, when the Jewish soldiers rededicated the Temple and lit the candelabra for 8 days, that was yet another miracle. This manifested itself through the flask of oil with the High Priest’s signature.
The Real Miracle
But the main aspect of the miracle was that the Jews fought back in the Land of Israel and reestablished an Army and independence. 200 years later, the Temple was destroyed. But all of this happened nearly 2,000 years ago. Nothing even close to that happened afterwards. Until now. So, when we see the modern-day Maccabees, it is hard to find a dry eye in the crowd of well-wishers as our finest go off to serve our homeland and the people of Israel.