And the ugly truth about the story is that our real enemies were the same persecutors who joined the Reform Movement (and got the Malbim imprisoned on false charges) or the Communist Yevsektsia, both of whom made trouble for dedicated Jews with the non-Jewish authorities.
Today, we have terrorist-sympathizing Leftists, among others.
Back then, these troublemakers were known as mityavnim – those who became Greek, the Hellenizers.
Through their vocations (like tax collecting), they came in contact with the Greek elite, and then these mityavnim became upper-class elitists who scorned Torah ideals and strove to emulate the ideals of their surrounding society.
Yes, this has repeated itself several times, particularly in the past 200 years.
So Rav Miller emphasizes that all the tragedy and challenge of Chanukah started with Jews who fell in love with their surrounding non-Jewish society (including the aspects diametrically opposed by the Torah), and lost their heads.
Then he segues into the story of a Jew who could have been swallowed up by his non-Jewish surrounding society, but didn't allow that to happen:
When "Nice!" Means "The End"
And back then, Egypt was a vast & powerful empire, plus it was the leader in ancient hi-tech.
And Yosef Hatzaddik was second only to Paroh (Pharaoh) at the top of this incredible empire.
From both Egyptian royalty and the masses, Yosef received accolades, honor, glory, and all the material benefits available at that time.
Yet he remained Yosef ben Yaakov Avinu.
Rav Miller points out how the allure of a nice non-Jewish culture is ironically what destroyed the Jewish people via assimilation.
He gives examples from America (page 8) and from Germany (page 9).
Rav Miller recalls his visit to Germany just before yemach shemo took over in 1933.
Though Rav Miller was identifiably Jewish, an older German professor rushed over to help the young Rav Miller lift his suitcase on the train.
Such humility and a sincere desire to do chessed! What could go wrong?
Rav Miller recalls a country with no violence, a country that was so clean & law-abiding that no one even littered the streets. Even as a Jew, you could get an education, even a doctorate (as one former yeshivah bachur did, Rav Miller recalls).
Jews loved visiting pre-WWII Germany, a bastion of modernity & progress.
And look what happened in the end.
On page 10, Rav Miller exhorts:
“Don’t make any mistake about it,” Hashem was telling us. “It’s all shav v’sheker!” Like the medrash says: Eisav – what does Eisav mean?
– How false he is!
How false is the gentile culture! How false are their ideals and attitudes!
How false they themselves are!
And not only Germany – everywhere!
No Inferiority Complex?
Where are the Jews who came to American in the mid-1800s? Why don't we hear about them?
Why are so many of the Jews we know today only 2nd- or 3rd-generation Americans?
Vast amounts of Jews came to America over a century ago. Where are they now? Where are their descendants?
Rav Miller explains that traditionally, Jews didn't have an inferiority complex.
They had fear of their non-Jewish countrymen.
Jews only knew of rabble-rousing when the rabble came pouring into their neighborhoods to make violent trouble.
So the Jews had fear, but no feelings of inferiority.
Why Do Some Jews Hate Themselves More Than Non-Jews Hate Them?
And suddenly, the Jew feels bad about himself.
Rav Miller explains why a Jew sometimes hates himself more than non-Jews hate him:
Non-Jews, even those who don't really like Jews, have other things to do. They have other things to think about.
But a Jew influenced by non-Jewish culture?
Rav Miller explains:
But the Jew who has now learned gentile attitudes is living with himself always – he can’t escape it and so he learns to despise himself, to hate his own people.
Why is covering hair such a big nisayon for many Jewish women today?
Why is tsniyut (dressing & behaving with dignity) being bulldozed, with short skirts entering even the most insular communities (though not all of them, baruch Hashem)?
Who says that long clothing and wrapping up your hair is oppressive?
In many cultures throughout history, women covered their hair.
Outside of primitive cultures, women dressed tsniusly.
Today, even the most tsnius woman is not wearing as many layers or wearing the sheer lengths that chassidish men wear.
Some women go on diatribes against sheitels or hair-scarves.
But what about the chassidish men who wear a velvet kippah AND a fur shtreimel in the middle of summer in suffocatingly humid New York or the desert of Arad?
Who's head-covering is more oppressive and more uncomfortable?
Yet who's complaining?
It's all attitudes from non-Jewish society.
Look at how even the most ultra-Orthodox Jews need to tiptoe around toeva, making sure that even in their rejection of the worst parts of it, they don't sound too judgmental.
If you journey throughout history, someone somewhere is always nitpicking at Judaism for one reason or another.
They polytheist cultures didn't like the exclusionism of One God.
Ancient Egyptians, who worshiped sheep, didn't like the Jewish practices of sheep-herding and dinners of grilled lamb chops.
One Roman elitist criticized Jews for being too nice to slaves.
Greeks considered Jewish tsniyut (for both men & women) odd & backwards. They wanted to celebrate the human body by putting it on display. They took this so far, they considered brit milah a type of mutilation.
In fact, some Greek thinkers even considered the lack of idols and human statues in the Beit Hamikdash as "barbaric" and displaying a hatred of fellow humans. Weird, right?
Later, Jews were despised for killing a "god." (Yeah, talk about irrational contradictions.)
I was confronted with this accusation during Home Ec class in 7th grade. It was terrifying because I knew that no one would be on my side, what with blonde blue-eyed Tina insisting, "My pastor says that the Jews killed Jesus, not the Romans!"
Most of my classmates attended church, and respected the words of a pastor.
So I felt it was me against over 20 others.
Fortunately, a black friend of mine named Valerye came to my defense, passionately asserting her pastor said it was indeed the Romans.
Anyway, the list goes on.
Rav Miller notes that even observant Jews look at fellow frummies through the eyes of non-Jewish values.
They don't see all the mitzvot being performed in frum homes; they see only the aspects criticized by their surrounding society.
But back to Yosef Hatzaddik...
He also kept his brothers away from Egyptian influence even when they were in Egypt.
Yosef Hatzaddik loved Hashem. He loved Am Yisrael, even when it was hardly an Am.
And that's the real message in Chanukah (page 17):
And Chanukah tells us that great lesson, that beauty is only by us!
We always have to be on guard not to look for beauty and culture and perfection outside of our people.
You have to fall in love with the Am Yisroel – that’s what Chanukah is telling us, that we have to fall in love with ourselves
Rav Miller's Great Passion
He kept praising frum Jews.
Yes, we all know there are bad ones. He knows it too; he mentioned them occasionally.
Frankly, I think this was his way of preventing another Shoah.
That's why he was so passionate about seeing fellow frummies in a positive light.
He vehemently opposed putting down other groups that were uncompromisingly shomer Torah & mitzvot, even when he didn't personally subscribe to their hashkafah. He only praised them no matter what.
He wanted Jews to burst with love for Hashem and each other and the Torah's mitzvot.
He wanted Jews to serve Hashem with happy hearts.
This is what prevents Jew-hatred.
This is what hastens and sweetens the Geula.
Seeing ourselves, our Torah, and our God through positive eyes is the secret to Jewish survival.