´¯`•. November 26, 2016

Happy Hanukkah!

Day Four: Hanukkah Happenings

aNNa’S NoTe:  I literally can’t keep up with everything I’ve learned  in regards to Hanukkah.  I’ve been trying to learn about it for years, now, and this is the first year when… well, the revelations are just astounding and back-to-back and so incredibly meaty!!  So I thought I’d better put them down, here, so you can read them!

Chanukah means re-dedication, or renewal. But renewal is the Eternal quality of the Infinitely Merciful G-d Who constantly renews – the world, you, me, everything … from nothing. The most we can do is to rededicate and thus touch on the essence of renewal. The closer we draw near to G-d, the more we become part of the G-dly process of renewal, the more we become part of that Essence that is constant rebirth, of self and soul.  In lighting the Menorah, our custom is to light a new light each night, and then go backwards, till we light the first light we lit on the very first night. This is how to build in our spiritual service of G-d: always adding but always going back strengthening the old foundations, making sure the foundations are firm and then building further.
With the lighting of the fourth candle, light and darkness are now evenly divided. Until now we were overwhelmed in darkness, but with each night’s added candle the light has grown.”

…The miracle with the oil is the only element of the Hanukah events that we commemorate to this very day. We have no custom or ritual commemorating a miraculous triumph [of the Jews over the Syrian/Greek regime]. What we do have is the kindling of a menorah for eight days, commemorating the fact that the oil in the Temple menorah lasted for eight days. How are we to understand this?
The answer allows us to appreciate the essential ingredient that has defined 4,000 years of Jewish history. The military victory was extraordinary; yet it didn’t last.  …Two hundred and ten years after Hanukah, in 70 CE, the Temple was destroyed, this time by the Romans. Jerusalem was plundered, Israel was decimated and the Jewish people exiled. It was the beginning of a period of Jewish powerlessness, dispersion and persecution which had lasted almost two millennia.
…the political and military victory of Hanukah did not last. What lasted was the spiritual miracle — the faith which, like the oil, was inextinguishable. Strength that is founded on military power alone is temporary. It may endure for long periods of time, but ultimately, its might will wane and it will be defeated by another power. …Yet what makes Hanukah a vibrant and heart-stirring holiday thousands of years later across the globe is the story of a little cruse of oil that would not cease to cast its brightness even in the darkest of nights and among the mightiest of winds.
On Chanukkah, …the Haftara [traditional reading] is…(Zechariah 2:14- 4:7).  Rashi explains the relation of the Haftara to Chanukkah is the verse “and I saw, behold a golden menorah”  …This is chidush, because it seems that the haftara of Zechariah is completely irrelevant to the idea of Chanukkah and it was chosen because of the mere simple mention of the Menora.  Also, why would Chazal not have chosen… Zechariah, Chapter 9, which says “and I will awaken your sons, Zion, over your sons, Yavan,”  which directly addresses the central concept of Chanukkah, the victory over the Greeks.  In fact, according to Rashi and others this latter prophecy in Chapter 9 was specifically said regarding the victory …over Antiochus!  Does a mere mention of the word “menorah” in an irrelevant context outweigh a direct reference to the victory of Antiochus?
Our Haftara lists many attributes of the menorah in the vision.

And the angel who spoke with me returned, and he awakened me as a man who wakes up from his sleep.  And he said to me, “What do you see?”  And I said, “I saw, and behold there was a candelabrum all of gold, with its oil-bowl on top of it, and its seven lamps thereon; seven tubes each to the lamps that were on top of it.  And there were two olive trees near it; one on the right of the bowl, and one on its left. So I answered and spoke to the angel who talked with me, saying, “What are these, my lord?”

Zechariah did not understand what he was being shown, and the angel explained not with might, not with force, only with my spirit, so says Hashem, the lord of hosts.
…This prophecy in Zechariah was said in the second year of the reign of Darius.  This was the time during which they began building the second Beis Hamikdash, as explained in the book of Chaggai. The entire book of Chaggai involves a number of prophecies that were said during four months of Darius’ second year, and their message is to encourage and stimulate the building of the mikdash. The last prophecy in the book of Chaggai is the following:
Pay attention now, from this day and before-from the twenty-fourth [day] of the ninth [month]- from the day that the Temple of the Lord was founded, pay attention.  The seed is still in the granary, and the grapevines, the fig trees, the pomegranate trees, and the olive trees have not yet borne [fruit]-from this day I will bless.”

And the word of the Lord came to Haggai a second time on the twenty-fourth of the month, saying:  Say to Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah, saying: I am shaking up the heaven and the earth.  And I will overthrow the throne of the kingdoms, and I will destroy the power of the kingdoms of the nations. And I will overthrow the chariots and their riders; and the horses and their riders shall come down, each one by the sword of his brother.
On that day, says the Lord of Hosts, I will take you, O Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, My servant; says the Lord, and I will make you as a signet; for I have chosen you, says the Lord of Hosts

The prophet emphasizes three times “pay attention” to this day.  The”day” is the twenty fourth of Kislev, …From that day and on, from the foundation day, blessing will come to the people of Ha’Shem.

With this he answers the question of the Beis Yoseph that there seems to be no miracle to commemorate on the twenty fifth, since there was enough oil for one day.  He says that the holiday on the twenty fifth is not for the miracle of the oil but rather to remember the day the second temple had been begun.  …then the lighting of the menora must have been on the eve of the twenty sixth!  The answer is, as explained, that the twenty fifth had ancient significance as the day the [men of the great assembly] laid the foundation of the Bayis Sheini (Second Temple), as was well known to Chazal when they instituted these days of commemoration.

The prophecy of the candles of Zechariah …promises that Jerusalem will be rebuilt and secure, and then the prophet sees Yehoshua the Kohen dressed in filthy clothes, filthied by sin.  The Satan finds an opening to accuse.  Despite this, Hashem removes the sin and dresses him in clean priestly clothing.  No mention is made of repentance at all.  …Although the Kohen Gadol, and the People he represents, are sullied with sin, still and all, by grace and kindness, and not by merit, Hashem, in a manner of speaking, disregards the sins and removes the sin of the land on that day.

Rashi explains that the menorah had a large basin atop it, and each of the seven lamps had seven small pipes that brought oil from the basin to the lamps.  Next to the menorah were two olive trees, and the olives fell from the tree by themselves and pressed themselves, and the oil ran into the basin and from there to the menorah. and the lamps. In other words, the Menorah described here is not just the Menorah that stood in the Mikdash.  This is a Menorah that lights itself.  What is the import of this vision?  How is it connected to the vision of Yehoshua and his dirty clothing?  How does it lead to the passuk “not with strength and not with force…?”  Perhaps we can say that the prophet was saying that while normally, the mitzva of lighting the Menorah is given over to the Jewish People, and it is they that are required to plant olive trees, to harvest, to press, to light, but the Menorah of the Second Bayis was a Menorah that lit itself without human involvement.

…here, in these exceptional circumstances, a Mikdash was built in which Hashem Himself lights the Menorah, because Klal Yisrael is not able or worthy to do so. According to this, the passuk should be read thus:  If only we would have merited, the Mikdash would have been built with the strength and force of Klal Yisrael, in other words, with our spiritual merit.  But, the prophet tells us,  …rather B’ruchi, with My Spirit- by My will, exclusively and specifically with divine initiative, in that the status of Klal Yisrael does not in any way justify doing so.

…What Zechariah saw in a vision, they saw in reality- a menorah that lit of its own accord!  This is exactly the nevua’h of Zechariah!  …According to this, the prophecy of the candles of Zecharya is directly on point to the miracle of Chanukkah, …It is the knowledge that even when we don’t deserve Hashra’as HaShechina, Hashem goes beyond din and provides grace to Klal Yisrael at a level far beyond what they deserve… In brief, the miracle of the oil showed us that we needed a divine gift, that we were not yet zocheh to accomplish kedusha on our own.  …This infusion of kedusha was a great chesed, because we we so desperately fallen that we were inexorably advancing toward the brink of a cliff and totally incapable of saving ourselves without an infusion of Kedusha.

And then this year’s big happening.  Seven days before [the 1-Adar] Hanukkah:


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