12 Cheshvan 5782 / Monday, October 18, 2021 | Torah Reading: Vayeira
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Channa Maccabbee    

Channa Maccabbee

What really happened to trigger the miraculous Hasmonean Rebellion? Few know the real story of a young woman’s courage that led to the downfall of the conquering Greeks…


Editor’s note: The following Midrash, a real eye-opener that describes the outbreak of the Hasmonian Rebellion and the marriage of Chana, daughter of Mattatyahu the High Priest (Cohen Gadol):

As part of their campaign to break the spirit of the Jews, the Greeks decreed that every maiden must spend her wedding night in the bed of the regional governor, and that only afterward would she be permitted to her husband. As a result of this decree, the Jews stopped marrying. For three years and three months, no wedding was held in Judea. Then it came time for Channa, daughter of Mattatyahu the Hasmonean to marry. In spite of the decree, Mattatyahu held a great celebration, inviting the leaders of the nation, for Mattatyahu's family was extremely prominent. The bride sat, as was customary, at the head table, but suddenly stood up, clapped her hands together, and tore her expensive wedding dress, exposing herself. Everyone looked away in embarrassment, and her brothers ran to fall upon her and kill her for shaming herself and her family.
But Channa said to them, "Why, when I shame myself before my relatives and friends are you so filled with embarrassment and anger that you wish to kill me, but you agree to surrender me this night so the heathen governor can lie with me? Why do you not learn from Simon and Levy, sons of our forefather Jacob, who avenged the rape of their sister Dinah (in Genesis, chapter 34)?"
Everyone realized that Channa was right; her brothers discussed the matter and came to a decision. They dressed their sister in the finest garments and brought her with great ceremony, at the head of a large procession, to the King. Channa's brothers declared, "We are the sons of the High Priest, and it is not fitting that our sister be given to the governor. Our sister is fit only for the King himself!" The brothers' words found favor in the King's eyes.
The Maccabbee brothers - Yehuda, Yochanan, Yonatan, Shimon, and Eliezer - accompanied Channa to the royal bed chamber, and thereupon, seized the King and killed him. Afterward, they stormed out killing ministers, guards, and servants, who were in the palace. And Hashem delivered the enemy into their hands. At that time, a voice [bat kol] was heard in the Holy of Holies that said, "The lambs [Israel] are victorious in Antioch [Greek HQ in ancient Israel]".
* * *
The original in Hebrew appears here on the website of Rav Yosef Shuvali's Yeshivat Tikkun Hamidot, a superb Breslever Yeshiva for baalei teshuva in the Haifa area. The Midrash appears in Part One of Midrash Otzar Tov and in Part 5 of Midrash Bet HaMidrash.
If they had any brains, Hollywood screenwriters would be studying our Midrash.
Happy Chanukah!

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