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    Democracy & Antiochus


    No-one could have predicted the festival of Chanukah.

    After all, King Antiochus was a pagan, and paganism is by nature tolerant; it deems one person’s god as good as another’s.

    Why then did Antiochus try so hard to eradicate Judaism, and in the process create a need for Chanukah?

    Because an “anything goes” philosophy is not as democratic as it seems. It is democracy gone mad.

    If one god is as good as another, then all are nothing. Likewise if one ethic is as good as another and good and evil are matters of personal opinion, or every lifestyle – holiness or hedonism – is equally legitimate, or every idea is as acceptable as every other.

    That is why Matitiyahu had no choice but to raise the banner of revolt against Antiochus. By proclaiming, “Whoever is on the Lord’s side, come with me!”, Matitiyahu was saying that there can only be one true God, one valid ethic, one sanctified lifestyle, one set of reasonable ideas.

    This probably made him unpopular among the Hellenists, and he was considered a spoilsport. But principle is principle. A person who believes in a principle has no choice but to defend it, though this must be done with derech eretz and dignity.

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