web analytics
July 23, 2014 / 25 Tammuz, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
IDC Advocacy Room IDC Fights War on Another Front

Student Union opens ‘hasbara’ room in effort to fill public diplomacy vacuum.



The Great Escape


.candles

In June 1967, even skeptics and agnostics admitted that the people of Israel, who only days before were digging their own graves, were saved by nothing short of a miracle. Over the years, however, however, the miracle, so obvious when it occurred, became camouflaged in a shroud of strategic, military terms.

Clearly, the victories of the outnumbered Maccabean freedom fighters over the vast Syrian armies of Antiochus, Lysias and their allies could only be explained in terms of a miracle. Indeed, the Book of the Maccabees, as well as the Al Hanisim prayer, portrays the military victories as miracles. Yet the Talmud, in a seven-line summary of the meaning of Chanukah, makes no mention of the military miracles.

Rather, the Talmud focuses on the miracle of that small jar of pure oil, untouched by the Syrian invaders, which burned for eight days, even though it contained oil sufficient for only one.

Why does the Talmud emphasize the miracle of the oil over the miracle of the military victory? The Talmud tells us that a lamp is lit over the head of each unborn child in its mother’s womb, enabling it to perceive all the ways of God throughout the world. When the child enters this world, however, it leaves the lamp behind and has to discover the ways of God without it. And in the jostle and struggle for physical survival, the divine spark that remains to guide us is often threatened with extinction. Life becomes so reasoned and vision so tunneled, that even the flare of a miracle can go unrecognized. Enter the Chanukah lights. This miracle, of the jar of oil sufficient in quantity for one day that burned for eight, is a nes galui, inexplicable in natural terms.

The rabbis tell us that the purpose of the Chanukah lights is to illuminate the miracle of the military victory which could perhaps be a nes nistar, explained in natural terms. They also tell us that the time to light is at sunset, when the light in this world is about to die, and that the Chanukah lights must remain burning “ad shetichle regel min hashuk” – until the streets become empty.

The Berditchever Rebbe points out that the word “regel,’ which means foot, is the same as the word “hergel,” which means habit. And so, he explains, the lights of Chanukah should remain burning until they remove the habit of reason from our spiritual vision and allow us to behold the nes nistar. Furthermore, though the Maccabean battles for the rededication of the Temple were won, the war was ultimately lost with the destruction of the Temple some 200 years later. The pure oil of the Temple menorah was extinguished until this day. But not the oil of the Chanukah menorah. Like the miracle of the burning bush of Moses, the Chanukah lights have withstood, for centuries, the fires of persecution.

Like the Jewish people themselves, the Chanukah lights, we are assured, will never die. That was God’s promise, in response to Aaron’s complaint that the Tribe of Levi was not invited to participate in the dedication of the Sanctuary. The lights of the Sanctuary, God warned, would eventually be extinguished, but the Chanukah lights of Aaron’s Maccabean descendants will shine forever.

The Midrash identifies seven chanukot in history, which include the chanukah of Creation, when God lit the lights of the world, the chanukah of the Sanctuary, the Maccabean chanukah, and the chanukah of Mashiach. On Shabbat Chanukah we celebrate two chanukot, the chanukah of Creation and the chanukah of the Maccabees. Which do we light first? The Shabbat and the Havdalah candles that celebrate the chanukah of Creation or the Chanukah candles that celebrate the chanukah of the Maccabbees?

The answer of reason and numbers would dictate tadir vesheino tadir, tadir kodem, which means do first what you do more frequently. And since Shabbat is celebrated each week and Chanukah just once a year, light the Shabbat candles first. But the Chanukah lights defy the logic of numbers and reason. Their message of pirsumei nissa takes precedence to remind us that creation and daily existence are miracles that cannot be explained in natural terms.

That is perhaps one of the reasons why most agree that the Chanukah lights are lit before the Shabbat candles and why most agree that the Chanukah lights are lit at home, before the Havdalah candles after reciting Havdalah in the Amidah.

Raphael Grunfeld’s book “Ner Eyal on Seder Moed” (distributed by Mesorah) is available at OU.org and your local Judaica bookstore. His new book, “Ner Eyal on Seder Nashim & Nezikin,” will be available shortly.

Any comments to the writer are welcome at rafegrunfeld@gmail.com.

About the Author: Raphael Grunfeld’s book, “Ner Eyal on Seder Moed” (distributed by Mesorah) is available at OU.org and your local Jewish bookstore. His new book, “Ner Eyal on Seder Nashim & Nezikin,” will be available shortly.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “The Great Escape”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Newly completed control tower at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv. June 2, 2014
US and European Flights to Israel Cancelled Due to Rockets
Latest Judaism Stories
PTI-071814

Perhaps, just perhaps, we can relate to this: whenever we feel distant from Hashem, that is the Churban.

Parshat Matot

Over the next 2 weeks covering portion Matot and Maasei, Rabbi Fohrman will bring order to confusion.

Lessons-Emunah-logo

Our home is in the center of the Holy Land, surrounded by (what else?) green hills and valleys.

Business-Halacha-logo

“Sound fine,” said Mrs. Schwartz. “In the middle, paint their names, Shoshana and Yehonasan. He spells his name Yehonasan with a hei and is very particular about it!”

Question: I recently returned from a trip abroad and wanted to say HaGomel. When I mentioned this to the officers of my synagogue, however, they told me – as per the instructions of the synagogue’s rabbi – that I would have to wait until Shabbos to do so. I was not given any reason for this and did not wish to display my ignorance, so I quietly acquiesced. Can you please explain why I had to wait?

Name Withheld
(Via E-Mail)

We may not recognize the adverse affect of eating forbidden foods, but they leave an indelible imprint.

There are several rules that one must adhere to when making a neder.

Important message for Jews in the Diaspora: In times of need run to Israel rather than from Israel.

The negotiation between Moses and the tribes of Reuven and Gad is a model of conflict resolution.

Once again we find ourselves alone – a little lamb among wolves.

When we return to our routines, things don’t have to go back to exactly the way they were.

The Three Weeks determines the “who we are and how we live” as Jews.

Sometimes when Chazal say that two different people are really one, they do not mean it literally, but rather figuratively.

The midrash says that Pinchas, (this parsha), and Eliyahu, prophet of Kings, are one and the same.

More Articles from Raphael Grunfeld
Grunfeld-Raphael-NEW

The kohen gadol may not enter the Temple unless his hair is cut every seven days.

Grunfeld-Raphael-NEW

A commonly employed and permissible device regarding the prohibition of wearing fresh clothes during the Nine Days is to don them for a moment or two before the Nine Days.

The prayer of Mashiv haruach u’morid hageshem mentions God’s rainmaking powers but it is not an immediate request for rain.

According to the Bach, Rosh Hashanah is referred to as moed, festival, the same term the Torah uses to describe Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot.

If the survival of Judaism is dependent on the next generation, there is no doubt that the most important person in the synagogue is the Candy Man.

From this decree on, the two days of Rosh Hashanah, unlike the two days of Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot, were no longer celebrated out of doubt but out of certainty.

Because the Torah requires one to count “seven complete weeks” one should count at the beginning of the day, which in Jewish law begins on the preceding night.

A few background principles regarding the prohibitions of chametz mixtures on Pesach may provide some shopping guidance.

    Latest Poll

    Israel's Iron Dome Anti-Missile System:





    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/the-great-escape/2011/12/17/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: