Vayechi 5775 – Maccabean Games

Te scepter shall not depart from Yehuda (Bereshis 49:10)

Nowadays, we have something called the Maccabean Games. Now I enjoy sports, but there’s something that greatly bothers me with this name. The Maccabean Games is a Jewish Olympics. The Olympics were Greek games. Therefore, why do we call the Jewish Olympics against a group of people who fought against the Greeks? What an embarrassment to the name Maccabee!

I recently heard a lecture regarding the history of Maccabee/Chashmonayim family and learned that although they are the heroes of the Chanuka story, their future generations were not as pious as they were. Their descendants became Sadducees, which was a sect that rejected the Rabbinic commandments. All of them except for one daughter was killed out by a wicked king. The final descendant of the Chashmonayim jumped off a wall and killed herself stating that there were now no more Chashmonayim in the world. It is a bitter ending to a great group. Why?

The answer is because they did not listen to the Sages of their generation. They were great leaders. There was no worthy king during that time from the tribe of Yehuda, so the Chashmonayim took over the kingship. The law states, though, that the king needed to be a descendant of Dovid HaMelech, which is from the tribe of Yehuda. The Chashmonayim were Cohanim, so they were from the tribe of Levi. The Sages advised for them not to take over the kingship, but they did it anyway. This is what caused their downfall.

How could we now have something called the Maccabean Games when the Maccabees would never have taken part in them. The answer could be that Hashem is sending a message about how far the Maccabees fell. When we do not listen to the Sages, we make a mighty large fall.

Good Shabbos!
-y.e.s.
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