The lessons within especially apply to our times.
While it's easy to laugh your way through the initial Q&A at the beginning (I laughed out loud at least 3 times—and this was the 4th time I've read it), several profound lessons lie beneath the witty exchange.
One that originally struck me & permanently changed my perception was this:
Rav Miller: I’m not a gadol, very far from it.
Questioner: Well, I’m very much impressed with your –
Rav Miller: I’m not a gadol
Questioner: Well, I’m very impressed with your delivery –
Rav Miller: A gadol doesn’t have any good delivery. A gadol stammers when he talks. A man who has good delivery is not a gadol. He’s a public speaker.
Questioner: Well, I think you understand the subject matter, I think you have some element of gedulah.
Rav Miller: I’m a speaker. A gadol can’t speak. A gadol can think!
I found myself feeling increasing respect for the rabbanim who don't speak so impressively. Some do stammer or simply aren't able to speak clearly for whatever the reason.
Some twitch or tic or speak staccato-style.
Some possess a more monotone & unanimated delivery, but their organization & content are sublime.
Some come off as sweet, rather than serious & scholarly.
Or they discuss Torah concepts in such an animated & blissful way, it almost seems childlike. (Some mekubalim possess this kind of sweet, innocent, and joyful persona due to their innate holiness & trust in Hashem.)
Recently, I heard a rav with such a sweet & gentle voice & persona, it struck me as effeminate—even though he clearly isn't effeminate.
And I see how correct Rav Miller was in emphasizing this—a true gadol tends to lack the impressive externals.
If you think about it, it's a big challenge to focus both on what you're saying AND also whether your tone of voice, facial & body language, and rhythm are equally up to par.
So most won't be really groovy speakers.
This isn't always true, of course. Rav Miller showed himself a universally compelling speaker in both Yiddish & English.
Likewise, the Lubavitcher Rebbe appealed to a universal audience with his captivating delivery, his powerful conduction of farbrengens, and his compelling way of relating to each individual with heartfelt concern.
Rav Yisrael Meir Shapiro of Lublin (of Daf Yomi renown), plus the Ben Ish Chai, were known for their oratorical skill.
But in general, one should look for the non-stunners when seeking out true spiritual greatness.
What We Learn from the Real Story of Chanukah & the Fall of Hyrcanus
It contains the real tragedy & battle of Chanukah—a battle we're still fighting today.
The real enemy is within, not without; there's a fifth column.
And yes, that fifth column sometimes looks assimilated with obvious hostility toward Torah Judaism...but not always.
Sometimes that fifth column doesn't mean to betray Judaism. It looks religious & committed, and even perceives itself as religious & committed...
...but it crosses a line at some point—a line that starts in its mind.
The big miracle is how we're still around after repeated self-inflicted onslaughts!
(And yeah, the surrounding culture & rulers caused & still cause a lot of harm, but even that starts with the fifth column from within.)
As noted above, this is something like my 4th time reading Hyrcanus's Downfall.
But for some reason, I found the story downright chilling this time. I don't why it affected me that way now & not before.
Anyway, the article is definitely food for thought—and mussar to be internalized.