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The Al Hanissim and Bimeh Matityah prayer included in the amidah expresses the military victory of the Hasmoneans as a miracle.

In Masechet Avodah Zara daf 2b, Hashem convene some nations in the end of times. Pertinent to the question, one of the claims asserted by the Persians before Hashem, is that all wars they waged were for Bnei Yisroel. Hashem retorts

יְהוָ֖ה אִ֣ישׁ מִלְחָמָ֑ה יְהוָ֖ה שְׁמֽוֹ׃ The LORD, the Warrior— LORD is His name!

A footnote in the Artscroll Avodah Zara, sends you to the sefer, Darash Moshe, and on that passuk (shemot 15:3) and I paraphrase a part of the footnote loosely, ‘that it is much of a miracle when a large force triumphs a smaller force as when a smaller force triumphs a larger force.’ Hashem determines who achieves the victory, as per the passuk. It then appears there is no Teva to war, as it is not decided by the number or power of the force but Hashem’s will. If you assume that a miracle is the suspension of Teva, then in this case there is no miracle, for no Teva was present to be suspended. On the basis of that assumption, there was no miracle of the Hashmonaim’s military victory. Hashem simply decided we should win.

How would one reconcile the argument above?

  • I don't see Al Hannissim as saying military victories of small vs. big are miracles. It says רבים ביד מעטים but that's not the reason for it being a miracle any more than רשעים ביד צדיקים etc. are especially miraculous – b a Dec 18 '19 at 1:39
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It might not be the best approach for an answer simply to challenge or change the premise of the question, but from the Chabad Website:

"Rabbi Tzvi Ashkenazi (1660-1718) explains that what we refer to as nature is actually miraculous and “unnatural.” It is only because “natural” events happen all the time that we take them for granted. --

In his volume of Shaalot uTeshuvot Chacham Tzvi, ch. 18."

as such, the claim that "a miracle is the suspension of Teva" may not be the only way to look at it.

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If you assume that a miracle is the suspension of Teva, then in this case there is no miracle, for no Teva was present to be suspended. On the basis of that assumption, there was no miracle of the Hashmonaim’s military victory. Hashem simply decided we should win.

Even based on what Rav Moshe held it would be incorrect to say there was no miracle. If Teva is suspended during a war then all wars have a degree of Nes to them. The question would be what was unique about the Chanuka story if all battles work with miracles.

When we speak the Nes Chanuka it usually is a reference to the oil burning for eight days and not for the victory in the war. The Gemora (Shabbos 21B) when talking about why we celebrate Chanuka barely mentions the battles at all and focuses almost exclusively on the oil burning for eight days.

Even so, we thank Hashem for the battles in the Al Hanissim. The Torah speaks against those who think Kochey V'oitzem Yodey when they won a war where they were the stronger party (in their mind at least). We certainly have to thank Hasehm for winning a war where we weren't.

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