Dora Bas Rivka Silver O'H
G-d Says No. (Well, Okay, Maybe a Little)
After Avimelech, Israel was ruled by Tola for 23 years, then Yair for 22 years. (This actually totals 44 years, as there was one year in which both ruled.) The Jews then backslid into their bad habits and started worshipping idols again. G-d therefore allowed the nation to fall into the hands of Ammon and the Philistines. The Jews cried out for salvation and G-d said no. He had redeemed them many times and they always went back to their evil ways, so this time they could ask the idols to save them.
Even though G-d said no, the Jews did a sincere teshuva (repentance) and got rid of their idols. They said to G-d that they would rather be punished directly by Him than by foreign nations. Since they did a sincere repentance, G-d agreed to save them. There was a change, however. Prior to this time, great leaders would redeem Israel completely. The Judges who would arise from this point on, while still great people, were also flawed. And while Israel would receive relief from their enemies, those enemies would not be completely repelled.
A short Insight into Judges, Chapter 10Since Chanukah is a time for shevach and hodayah, praise and thanks for Hashem, perhaps it is fitting to mention a medresh from Bamidbar Rabbah (20, 5) that dwells on the times in our history that we did not appreciate what Hashem had done for us.
“Hashem said, 'I redeem you and perform miracles for you and you rebel against me. Come and see seven times I have redeemed you. Correspondingly, you were obligated to praise me seven times. As it says in Shoftim (10,11-12), “Did I not save you from Egypt and from the Amorite and from the children of Ammon and from the Philistines? The Sidonians and Amalek and Maon oppressed you and you cried out to me and I saved you from their hand . . . and you rebelled against me by serving seven idols.”'”
“'My people, what [wrong] did I do to you. Did I tire you? Testify against me! … Maybe I said to you to bring to me burnt offerings from the the undomesticated animals of the mountains? The three kosher domesticated species are found near you: oxen, sheep and goats. The seven undomesticated species are found in the a distance: the hart, deer, yachmur, akko, disahon, teo, and the zamer. Did I trouble you to bring from those found at a distance? No, I only commanded you to bring those found close by.”
Did not Sichon and Og come out to wage war with you? Did I not fell them before you? Did I wear you out by asking you to bring a sacrifice [on account of their fall]?
Did Balak, despite seeing all of the miracles that I did for you, nonetheless, hire Bilam to curse you? Yet, I turned those curses into brachos!
On Chanukah, we show how we learned our lesson. We focus on our hakaras hatov, our gratitude, to Hashem for all that He has done for us.
How fitting it would be if we dwell on all of the miracles that Hashem has done for us since the time of the miracle of Chanukah – especially the miracles that we have experienced personally and as a nation in the recent past.
Perhaps, for that reason, there is a version of the of the brocha of Al Hansim that says, “She'asah nisim la'avoseinu bayamim ha'heim u'vizman hazeh” - “Who did miracles for our forefathers in those days and in these days.”