By Rav Aharon Kotler zt”l, translated by Rabbi Yair Hoffman
[yh: We have just experienced major signs of the long Golus – COVID-19 and then horrible, horrible rioting with massive thefts and rioting and attempted killings of police officers. There may very well be a special message here about these times from Rav Aharon Kotler zt”l. Read further to see this message.]
Bahaaloscha es HaNeiros – Speak to Aharon and say to him: “When you light the lamps, the seven lamps shall cast their light toward the face of the menorah.” (Bamidbar 8:2)
[yh: Parshas Nasoh deals with the offerings that the Nesiim offered in the chanukah – the dedicating of the Mishkan. Bahaaloscha dealing with the lamps comes immediately after those offerings in the dedication of the Mishkan. The Ramban addresses why this parsha is placed next to the dedication offerings of the Nesiim.]
WHY IT IS DIRECTLY AFTER THE DEDICATION KORBANOS
The Ramban writes on this pasuk: “And I found the following in the Megilas Sesarim of Rabbeinu Nissim (990-1062): I have seen a Midrash that when the 12 shvatim offered a korban and Shaivet Levi did not [and was despondent because of that,] Hashem said to Moshe: Speak unto Aharon and tell him that there is a different chanukah that has a lighting of lamps.. And I shall make for Israel through your sons – miracles and redemptions and a chanukah dedication that will be called on their names and this is the chanukah dedication of the Bnei Chashmonai. Therefore, this parsha is placed next to the parsha of the Mizbeach.”
THE GREATITUDE IS ON THE NAIS OF THE OIL – NOT THE BATTLE
There is a major difficulty [in Chanukah], which this Ramban will explain.
The expression of gratitude that we make on Chanukah is for the miracles in the battles, as is explained in which our ability to fulfill the Torah and its Mitzvos was saved. Yet, as is clear from the Gemorah in Shabbos (23a), the blessing of Sh’asa Nissim (at least for the rest of the days of Chanukah) is on the miracle of the Neiros Chanukah lamps. We know this because the Gemorah asks: And let us minimize the length of the celebration and it answers that we cannot because the miracle lasted for 8 days.
WHY IS THE NAIS ON THE CHANUKAH OIL SO SPECIAL?
It is a most perplexing question as to why Chazal obligated the blessing of Sh’asa Nissim l’avosainu on this miracle? It was a miracle that was not at all applicable for generations. Also, even during that time alone it was a miracle that merely enabled them to fulfill one Mitzvah. Furthermore, there were many Mitzvos done every day in the Mikdash aside from the ten miracles in the Mishna!
OTHER ASPECTS IN THE MIKDASH SEEMED TO BE MORE SIGNIFICANT
In the Ner Maaravi itself, Chazal have said (Shabbos 22b) that it is testimony to the entire world that the Shechina resides in Israel. On account of this, for quite a few individuals from our sages – great miracles were performed for them including constant changes in teva. Creation itself was subordinate to them after they have completely mastered the physical world, as it says in Yishayahu 51:16) _. These were people such as Rabbi Chanina Ben Dosa and Choni HaMaagel, and others without limit. So what is the great significance of the miracle of the lamps that Chazal needed to establish a special bracha for it each year for eight days?
However, according to that which was explained earlier, hidden here, in fact, is a great matter that is applicable for all generations. True, the miracle of Chanukah was not for the purpose of saving Klal Yisroel. Nor was it within the parameters of Iyov 22:28, “You will make a decision, and it will be accomplished for you, and light will shine on all your ways” that we find regarding Choni HaMagil – where those in the Lishgas HaGazis sent to him, “You commanded down here [on earth] and Hashem fulfills it from above (see Taanis 22a). Nor was the miracle of Chanukah performed for the saving of an individual Tzaddik.
Rather, the miracle of Chanukah comes to teach all of Israel for generations to come before the very long galus – that many times there will be situations like the times of the Chashmonayim – where the Menorah and the lamps allude to Torah, as the well known statement in Bava Basra 28b: Rabbi Yitzchok says: One who wishes to become wise should face south, and one who wishes to become wealthy should face north. And your Siman to remember this is that in the Temple the Table, which symbolized blessing and abundance, was in the north, and the Menorah, which symbolized the light of wisdom, was in the south of the Sanctuary.
It also says in Mishlei (6:23), “And Torah is light.” It is also known that oil is symbolic of the light of Torah.
ALL SHEFA IN THE WORLD COMES FROM TORAH
Now, all of shefa – abundance in the world is on account of the Mikdash – both in terms of material abundance as well as spirituality. The foundation of it all is the influence of Torah as is known regarding the Aron and between the Kruvim. [yh: See Sukkah 5b that the Kruvim were formed in the image of children – because the world stands in Hevel pihem – their pure words of Torah. In other words, Rav Aharon Kotler zt”l is saying that whenever there is pure words of Torah – the world will be provided for – on account of them]. Tefillah is also connected to this.
THE TORAH INFLUENCE MUST BE FROM THE NOSAIN AND THE MEKABEL
However, the influence must be from both sides – from the giver – that is the influence of Torah from the homes of our holy congregations, as it says (Shmos 25:22), “I will arrange My meetings with you there, and I will speak with you from atop the ark cover from between the two cherubim that are upon the Aron haEdus, all that I will command you unto the children of Israel.” From the side of the Aron is the actual influence from Above – which we do not have a hand in determining – and for which we need syata dishmaya.
But there must also be effort from those who are receiving. The southern Menorah alludes to Torah – which is the receiving from our perspective – which we ourselves light. [yh: This is the pshat in the words of the pasuk – light the lamps keneged the Nosain]
THIS IS THE MESSAGE OF THE LIGHTING AND THIS PASUK
This is all alluded to in the miracle of the flask of oil – that even in generations where there will be a diminishing of Torah [like there was also then when so many people underwent Hellenization – especially the wealthy and the political leaders] if there will be some Torah in Israel that is studied in Taharah] – Torah will still miraculously endure – with the Hashgacha of Hashem, until things will straighten out once again.
THIS IS THE PSHAT IN DVARIM AND IN YISHAYAHU
This is the promise of the pasuk in Dvarim (31:21), “For Torah will not be forgotten from the mouth of his descendents..” It is as Yishayahu HaNavi has said (8:17-18), “For wickedness has burned like fire, and thorns shall consume them, and it kindled in the thickets of the forest, and they have become entangled by the thickening smoke. By the wrath of Hashem, the smoke has reached the earth, and the people has become like a conflagration of fire; no one has pity on his fellow-man.
Behold, I and the children whom the Lord gave me for signs and for tokens in Israel, from the Hashem, Who dwells on Har Tzion.
Rashi explains (on the psukim in Yishayahu) There is no harsher prophecy than that time when Moshe Rabbeinu said (Dvarim 31:18): “And I will surely hide My face on that day.” And even on that very day, He promised them, “And this song shall testify before him as a witness, for it shall not be forgotten from the mouth of his seed..” [yh: Rav Aharon Kotler zt”l seems to be saying that this means that the Torah will continue because of the pure Torah from the smaller group]
Rashi also states (from the Yerushalmi Sanhedrin 10:2), that it deals with Ahaz, who took hold (Achaz) the synagogues and the study-halls, lest the children of the schools study Torah. He said, “If there are kids, there are no bucks. If there are no bucks, there are no flocks. If there are no flocks, there is no Shepherd. I will cause Him to remove His presence.”
The Navi said to him: “No matter how much you bind the testimony and seal the Torah to close it up, so that it shall not be found in Israel, it shall not help you.”
And I will wait for Hashem, Who hides His Face from the house of Yaakov and I shall wait for Him.”
Behold, I and the children etc.: They are the disciples, who are as dear to me as children; they shall be for signs and wonders that the Torah will survive [in Israel through them].
THIS IS THE PSHAT IN THE RAMBAN ABOVE – AND THE PASUK
And this is what the Chazal mentioned above in the Ramban was discussing. That whenever a minority will be able to be saved in purity that will magnify Torah there will be a corollary salvation to the populace – through them.
THIS IS WHY THERE IS EMPHASIS ON THE LIGHTING WHICH REPRESENTS TORAH – SMALL FLASK
For this reason, Chazal obligated us in the recitation of special brachos on this miracle. For as it is known, after it the observance of Torah grew stronger in Israel. This was a great preparation for the time of the exile. It comes out that even though in the Heavens their actions created great favor at that time – the matter continued on for generations as explained above. Therefore, it is appropriate to establish a blessing to commemorate this each and every year – to shore up and to recall this great matter.
(This also answers why they did not light with the tameh oil even though technically they could have – because tumah hutrah b’tzibbur. They used only the pure oil to show that if we have pure Torah – as small a group as it may be – it will carry us through the galus].
[yh: The message to us all is that we should continue learning in pure Taharah and supporting that small group of learners in pure Taharah].
The translator can be reached at [email protected]