In Al Hannisim we say:

v'al hamilchamot she-asita la-avoteinu Loosely translated: And for the wars which you made for our Forefathers

Why are we thanking Hashem for wars?


4 Answers 4


R' Yaakov Emden (Luach Eresh, sec. 177) writes:

כי הנה אחד מתארי השי"ת שהוא איש מלחמה, ויתכן להודות ולשבח לשמו עליהם, שהוצרכנו להם אחר שגרם העון והחרב באה, ובזכות הרחמים נצלנו (?) ממנה, כי ה' הוא הנלחם, חייבין אנו לתת הודאה עליהם בלי שום ספק

"One of Hashem's titles is 'the Master of War.' So it is logical to thank and praise His name for them, that we needed [war] after sin caused the sword to come, and in the merit of [Hashem's] mercy we were saved [I'm not certain about this word] from it, for Hashem is the One who fought. So we are undoubtedly obligated to thank Hashem for them [the wars]."

That said, there are versions of the Siddur (including R' Shneur Zalman of Liadi's) that don't have this phrase. In one of his letters, the Lubavitcher Rebbe zt"l provides possible rationales for this.

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    I still don't know why I would thank Him for Wars? I mean I think we would all agree Better no war than winning one. Nov 29, 2010 at 23:35
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    If I'm understanding him correctly, to have a state of "no war" would have required something on our part - maintaining our observance of the mitzvos. Given that we didn't do that, and thus brought the Greek occupation and persecution upon ourselves, we thank Him for not leaving us in the lurch, but fighting on our behalf to drive them out once and for all.
    – Alex
    Nov 30, 2010 at 0:13

I heard in the name of the Ch'sam Sofer (though without a source, unfortunately) that we thank HaShem for the battles to show we are thankful for our hardships, because they are all part of HaShem's plan and will, in the end, bring what is best for us. He gets this idea from the gemara (pesachim 50a):

אמר רבי אחא בר חנינא לא כעולם הזה העולם הבא העולם הזה על בשורות טובות אומר ברוך הטוב והמטיב ועל בשורות רעות אומר ברוך דיין האמת לעולם הבא כולו הטוב והמטיב.

Rabbi Acha bar Chanina said: this world is unlike the world to come. For in this world one says "Blessed is the good who does good" on good tidings, whereas on bad tidings one say "Blessed is the true judge". However in the world to come, one will always say "blessed is the good who does good".

The Tzla"Ch asks what the chiddush is in this gemara; obviously nothing bad will happen in the world to come! Of course there'll never be any need to say dayan ha'emes! Rather, the gemara teaches us that in the world to come, we'll say Hatov Vehameitiv on the past events, which we had previously said dayan ha'emes on. Because at that point we'll understand that everything - even what we considered bad at the time - was part of HaShem's plan and led to the best outcome. And this is also the meaning of Al hamilchamos, according to the Ch'sam Sofer.


Maharal teaches that the only way to Shalom (peace) is through Milhamah (war).

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    Really? is it in answer to this question or in general? Nov 29, 2010 at 13:14
  • Where is the Mekor for it? Nov 29, 2010 at 23:35
  • I'm going to have to get back to you on that one. It could be in Nesivos Olam, Nesiv HaShalom, but it has been many years since I saw it inside.
    – Yahu
    Nov 30, 2010 at 0:01
  • The Maharal seems to understand that Shalom is more than just not fighting- It is a wholeness, from the word "Shaleim". To achieve this wholeness a struggle is always required.
    – Yahu
    Nov 30, 2010 at 0:03
  • Mareh Makom please? Dec 2, 2010 at 2:15

I would assume we are saying the ones He did for our forefathers - meaning the ones He fought for them. It would fit in with the rest of the sentence. Of course we thank Hashem for the wars that punished us, too, but that would mistama be out of place in al hanissim.

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