15-Minute Maccabees

The Life and Times of Judah, Jewish History’s Greatest General

Click here to listen to the series.

As children, we learn that the hero of the Hanukkah story was the great warrior Judah Maccabee. But how many of us know the real history behind the tales we tell our kids??

In this special, limited-series podcast, Rabbi Soloveichik will uncover the fascinating military and political history behind the events of Hanukkah. He’ll explore the Hellenized Jewish world against which the Hasmoneans rebelled, the rise of Judah, the battles he fought, and what Jews today can learn from the military and religious vision of Judaism’s greatest general.

You can listen to every lecture right on this website below. Or if you prefer, you can subscribe to the course as a podcast on:

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Episode 1: Mesmerized by the Maccabees: Why Is One Family So Fascinating?

Why are Judah and his family so famous when even learned Jews know so little about them?

Episode 2: All Greek to Thee: The Challenge of Hellenism

How the essence of athletics lies at the heart of the Hanukkah story.

Episode 3: The Religious Vision of Mattathias

The Maccabean fusion of public faith in God and a willingness to fight was born in the priest Mattathias.

Episode 4: Judah as General

Unlike any other leader in Jewish history, Judah combined faith in God, an ability to inspire his men, and strategic genius to lead the Hasmoneans.

Episode 5: The True Story of Hanukkah

It was the liberation and purification of the Temple in Jerusalem that inspired Judah and his men to fight.

Episode 6: Against the Elephants

In the Battle of Beth Zechariah, the Seleucids defeated the Hasmoneans by using war elephants, but not before the Maccabee Eliezer did something that will be remembered forever.

Episode 7: The Day of Nikanor

Judah defeats a new general sent against the Hasmoneans in miraculous fashion.

Episode 8: Judah’s Last Stand

By the end of his life, the achievements of Judah rivaled—and in some ways surpassed—those of every great general throughout history. 

Episode 9: Epilogue: The Shamash and the Light of Judah

Even in this difficult time for the Jewish people, we are blessed to bear witness to the lights of the soldiers of Israel—who testify to the living legacy of Judah Maccabee.