Section: Daas Torah   Category: Rav Shimshon
Once Upon A Kana'i (a/k/a Macabi)

Today if someone calls you a Kana'i he is probably insulting you.  However many years ago there was a group of Kanai'im that made our nation proud.  They saved Judaism from almost certain extinction.  These brave Kana'im took on Antiochus and his entire army with no support from their own people who either sided with the enemy who spread its Greek culture or were too afraid to stand up.    Who were these Kana'im?  Rav Shimshon Pincus describes them as thirteen Yeshiva boys.   What were they thinking?  Were they mad?  Why didn't they just say some Tehilim or commit to learn an extra hour of Gemara each day to ward off the evil enemy?

Rav Elchonon Wasserman Hy"d explains that on Purim Haman wanted to physically wipe out the entire Klal Yisroel.  This he says is a gezeira from Shamayim, "Maasei Hashem".  It is a wakeup call from Hashem that it is time to do tshuvah or else.  Our response in such a circumstance is not to wage war but rather to mend our ways.  That is the whole goal of the evil decree.  Chanukah on the other hand, he says, is called "Maasei Satan".  It is not a decree against our physical existence, it is a battle waged against religion.  A response of Tefila and tshuvah is not appropriate in this case.  Here we need to go out defend "Kavod Shamayim", with no concern for our physical well being, up the point of Mesiras Nefesh.  We need to make a statement that without our Torah, life is simply not worth living.  Our personal existence is not important to us, we live for Hashem.   

So why, asks Rav Shimshon, are there no Macabim today?  We live in a time where a battle is being waged on many fronts against authentic Torah MiSinai.  Why do our tens of thousands of potential Macabi recruits stay in Yeshiva learning and not get up and fight the fight of their lives?  Rav Shimshon explains that for a number of reasons we are not suitable warriors for the cause. A real Kana'i needs to possess some critical qualifications.

First and foremost he needs to know what he is fighting for.  Does it really bother us if another Jew is Michalel Shabbos?  He will tell you that you should keep Shabbos and mind your own business about what he does.  Do you have a good answer for that question?  Why does it really bother you?  Do we understand what it means that Hashem's Kavod is being violated?  Does it cause a true "torahdike" rage to well up inside us.  (If yes, we are probably the type that gets up for Tikun Chatzos and mourns bitter tears over the Shechina's pain of being in Galus.  We probably don't speak Lashon Hara since Hashem hates that.  We probably never answer back anyone who insults us because Hashem really loves those kinds of people.  Let's not forget to mention that our mind is constantly thinking only about learning and our love for Hashem and never about ourselves.) 

A kana'i needs to be truly fearless.  If a weak man was confronted by a strong thug demanding his money he would quickly relent knowing he has no chance.  But if the thug wanted to take his son he would fight him despite the odds of winning, even risking his life.  How do view the Chilul Hashem that is commonplace today; like an assault on our car or on our children?  Are you willing to tell someone off if there is chance that he will pull out a gun and put a bullet through your head just for bugging him?  Even if no one were looking and no one would ever find out about it?  A real Macabi would.

Back them before waging war they fasted and davened.  Are we disturbed to the point of starving ourselves over our distress that some of our brother's are virulently anti-religious?  How many tears have we spilled for them in our tefilos?  Do we yearn for a world where Kavod Hashem is everywhere or are we satisfied that we ourselves are more or less following the basic rules.

These are just a few points Rav Shimshon makes (Sichos Chanukah: "Milchemes Mesiras Nefesh" pg. 94) about the issue he was coming to address.  Our purpose in this article is not to figure out whether we could or should wage war against anyone.  Rather our purpose is to create a measuring stick to view our own lives.  Wherever we are holding in life and whatever mitzvos are applicable to our time, place, and standing in life we need to ask ourselves where exactly we rank compared to the Macabim.  The ultimate level of Avodas Hashem is to become a soldier in his army.  For this you need to have already won the personal battle raging within you and now turn it outward to the world at large. 

The Macabim were so wrapped up in service of Hashem that they were able to pick up the flag and totally give their lives and future over to the cause.  How loyal are we in the way we serve Hashem?  It can range from going through the motions without any heart to strict performance and even further yet to total dedication.  Using the Macabi standard of loyalty we should imagine ourselves being interviewed in the Macabi recruitment office and ask ourselves if we'd be accepted.