Today we are going to check out the partisan camp and see some of the caves and the valley where Judah Maccabee was slain in battle. We are visiting with Rabbi Yehuda HaKohen who lives just a few hundred yards in his small Jewish village in the Gofna Hills just outside of Bet El.
Somehow today, Chanukah has morphed into a commercialized holiday of presents which was probably an attempted response to a big jolly myth of a man climbing down everyone's chimneys with gifts each winter. Although Chanukah has maintained itself to be a time for song and praising G-d...but walking these paths on these particular hills really does brings things home.
The feeling one gets while sitting in the actual caves that housed this heroic partisan army is a bit sobering from all the donuts and latkes. There were battles and great people died fighting for religious freedom, Torah observance and national independence and self determination. The Maccabees were a partisan band of brothers who organized gorilla warfare against the dominant military force of their times and miraculously beat all odds for freedom and independence....those same religious freedoms that most of us take for granted on some level every day.
Living in Israel today is an amazing experience that even though we appreciate that we are able to be here, we also on some level take it for granted. It is mind blowing when we consider that after thousands of years far from this Holy Land we can now hop in a car and visit the place in Judea-Samaria where Jacob had his dream about the ladder, where Abraham entered into a covenant with G-d, where Maccabees encamped against the Greeks, and so many other stories both told and untold. Just like in those days, whether we choose to admit it or not, each and every one of us is either knowingly or unknowingly playing our unique part in the epic story of the Jews.