web analytics
July 29, 2015 / 13 Av, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


The Great Escape


Chanukiah (Illustration photo)

Chanukiah (Illustration photo)
Photo Credit: Nati Shohat /Flash90

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.

Current Top Story
The White House will free Pollard but bar him form traveling to Israel for five years.
US Won’t Let Pollard Out of Country for Five Years
Latest Judaism Stories
Moses and the Ten Commandments,

The 10 Statements main point was not content but the encounter between G-d & His nation, Israel

Torat-Hakehillah-logo-NEW

Before going in, I had told R’ Nachum all of the things we were doing in Philly, and how it was very important to receive a good bracha on behalf of our newest venture, a Russian Kollel.

Q-A-Klass-logo

Question: When a stranger approaches a congregant in shul asking for tzedakah, should the congregant verify that the person’s need is genuine? Furthermore, what constitutes tzedakah? Is a donation to a synagogue, yeshiva, or hospital considered tzedakah?

Zvi Kirschner
(Via E-Mail)

Destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem

(JNi.media) Tisha B’Av (Heb: 9th of the month of Av) is a fast day according to rabbinic law and tradition, commemorating the destruction of the First Temple in 586 BCE by the army of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and the destruction of the Second Temple in the year 70 CE by the Roman army led […]

Devarim often parallels the stories in Bereishit but in reverse & can be considered as a corrective

‘Older’ By A Month
‘…Until The Beginning Of Adar’
(Nedarim 63a)

We realize how much we miss something only after it’s gone.

Because the words of Torah gladden the heart, studying Torah is forbidden when Tisha B’Av is on a weekday, except for passages in Scripture that deal with the destruction of the Temple and other calamities.

On Super Bowl Sunday itself, life seems to stop. Over one hundred million people watch the game. About half of the households in the country show it in their living rooms and dens.

Moses begins Sefer Devarim reviewing much of the 40 years in the desert & why he can’t enter Israel

While they are definitely special occurrences, why are they cause for a new holiday?

Torah wasn’t given to be kept in Sinai; Brooklyn or Beverly Hills-It was meant to be kept in Israel!

“When a king dies his power ends; when a prophet dies his influence begins” & their words echo today

In addition to the restrictions of Tisha B’Av, there are several restrictions that one may not perform during the week that Tisha B’Av falls in.

The word “shavat” in the first kina of Tisha B’Av morning indicates a sudden suspension and cessation of time that accompanied the Temple’s destruction.

More Articles from Raphael Grunfeld
Grunfeld-Raphael-logo

Because the words of Torah gladden the heart, studying Torah is forbidden when Tisha B’Av is on a weekday, except for passages in Scripture that deal with the destruction of the Temple and other calamities.

Grunfeld-Raphael-logo

On Shabbat during the nine days, one may don freshly laundered clothes, eat meat and drink wine, including Havdalah wine.

The combination of the severity of the punishment and the ease with which the prohibition may be forgotten require that the smallest amount of chametz – chametz bemashehu – be prohibited.

If the sick person is thrust into a situation where he is compelled to face his sickness head on, we who are not yet sick can encourage him by facing it with him.

Less clear, however, is whether the concept applies to the area of civil law such as the law of transfer of property.

Conversely, no part of the Land within the boundaries delineated in Numbers 34 may be relinquished for any purpose whatsoever.

Although it is true that the Final Redemption will be accelerated when all Jews repent and accept the rule of Torah, there is also another scenario for the Final Redemption.

Should just a few communities settle the Land of Israel? Should there be a mass emigration of all Jews worldwide to Israel?

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

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: