Of the many lessons of the Chanukah story, the importance of faith, is one of the most significant for students today. One way to teach this theme is with multimedia presentations provided by TorahLive. TorahLive provides teachers with high quality video productions, which excite and motivate students of all denominations and all ages. The films communicate Jewish values in a non-preachy, well organized, and energetic manner and speak in the language of today’s youth.
In the Al Hanissim prayer, we quote Judah the Maccabee’s famous words, “many given into the hands of the few.” What helped achieve the Maccabees’ military victory was their belief that this was possible. They understood that having G-d on their side was more important than the number of soldiers they had or how well-trained they were. This faith was not limited to the Maccabees but accompanied the Jews all throughout the ages.
After introducing this concept to your students, you can demonstrate the timelessness of this message by showing them this TorahLive film which shows how the many were handed to the few both in the time of the Maccabees and during the 1967 Six Day War.
The video can serve as a jumping off point for a discussion on the miracle of Chanukah. How is the message of the holiday relevant to daily life and current events? How does the miracle of the oil flask tie in to the military victory and the centrality of faith? What does Chanukah mean to you personally? How is your faith strengthened by celebrating Chanukah?
Students can also be guided to think more deeply about the concept of faith. Throughout Jewish history, Jews have been in situations where only a miracle could save them. However, faith is always paired with hishtadlut (human effort). For instance, soldiers are armed and trained even if the odds of them winning by natural means are extremely low. Why is effort necessary? Is faith stronger with or without it? Students can be reminded that when Yaakov was faced with meeting Esau, he prepared by readying himself for battle, sending appeasing gifts to Esau and praying to G-d.
Also relevant to the discussion is Rabbi Aaron Rakeffet’s quote of Rabbi Yisrael Salanter that “one needs faith as if there is no effort, and at the same time needs to put in the effort as if there is no faith.” Students can be encouraged to tell stories of how these two concepts have played out in their lives and how they take them into account when making decisions.
Additional materials on Chanukah and faith: