We have discussed previously that Chanukah is a holiday with many different themes and one such overtone is that of teshuvah. Rabbi Elimelech Biderman explains that this notion is alluded to in the Al HaNissim recited on Chanukah. We discuss the miracles of the battle, how the puny army Chashmonaim was triumphant against the stronger, larger Greek army. The text of Al Hanissim states that “You gave the mighty into the hands of the weak; the many into the hands of the few. The impure fell into the hands of the pure, the wicked fell into the hands of the righteous, and sinners fell into the hands of those who study Torah.” The first part, extolling the virtues of the Yevanim falling to the Jews, despite outnumbering them, is understandable. Rav Biderman quotes Rav Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev in explaining that the next few phrases need more elucidation. Why is it considered to be an overt miracle that the impure fell to the pure, the wicked fell to the righteous, and that the sinners fell to those who are preoccupied with Torah study? Can it be that out of the ordinary that tzaddikim reign supreme in war?
Rav Levi Yitzchak answers that not only did the Chashmonaim win the war, but the aftermath of the fighting sparked a tremendous wave of teshuvah among the Jewish people. When the Jews saw the valiant Greek militia suffer defeat from a group of Torah scholars, they did not take this lightly. They began to repent for their shortcomings. It showcased to them that just as one is loyal to God, that He will be loyal to them. Thus, the message in the words of Al HaNissim is that the impure became pure, the wicked became righteous, and the sinners became engrossed in limud haTorah!