This issue is co-sponsored by Rabbi Leibush and Sarah Hecht n.y.
Vol. 13 No. 9
with deepest gratitude to the editors ofMidei Shabbos be'Shabbato
in honour of the marriage of
Eliezer Weisz to Bella Mayer n.y
by their respective families.
she'yizku li'v'nos bayis ne'eman be'Yisrael
Incorporating Chanukah supplement
Like Father, Like Son
Rabeinu Bachye, commenting on the fact that, after referring to the descendants of Ya'akov, the Torah goes on to relate the episode of Yosef (conveying the impression that Yosef was his only son), explains that Yosef was in effect, equal to all the brothers, in that he incorporated all their special qualities. For example, he explains, he possessed the birthright of Re'uven (as the Torah writes "And when he desecrated the bed upon which his father slept, he gave his birthright to Yosef"), the kingship of Yehudah ("And Yosef ruled over the entire land"), the prophecy of Levi ("And it was as he interpreted it, so it was") and the wisdom of Yisachar ("There is nobody as astute and as wise as you"), each of which he proves from a Pasuk.
In one of his explanations, Rashi, citing the Medrash, ascribes the Torah's equation of Yosef with the generations of Ya'akov to the many similarities or similar experiences (some of them striking) that father and son shared. For example, he says, they were both hated by their respective brothers and in both cases, their brothers planned to kill them (and both, one may add, for no justifiable reason); and, he adds, the Medrash gives many more such examples. Rabeinu Bachye supplies another twelve ...
Firstly, he says, Yosef resembled Ya'akov (as Rashi states here in an independent answer to the initial question).
Just as Ya'akov's mother (Rivkah) was originally barren, so too, was Yosef's (Rachel).
Ya'akov was born circumcised, and so was Yosef.
Yosef's mother experienced exceptional pains as a result of her pregnancy; so too, did Ya'akov's, and just as the one bore two children, so did the other.
Ya'akov was a shepherd, and Yosef was a shepherd, too. The truth of the matter is that all the brothers were shepherds. However, not only does the Torah specifically mention the fact that Yosef was a shepherd, but it does so using exactly the same expression ("hayah ro'eh ... ") as it used in connection with Ya'akov.
Ya'akov married a woman from outside of Eretz Yisrael and fathered children there, and so did Yosef.
Both Ya'akov and Yosef were accompanied by angels when they left Eretz Yisrael to go to Chutz la'Aretz. For so R. Yanai said, three angels accompanied Yosef ... , and as far as Ya'akov, we know that from his dream (see Rashi 28:12).
Just as Ya'akov rose to greatness through a dream, so too, did Yosef.
The moment Ya'akov arrived in Charan, Lavan's house was blessed on his account, and the moment that Yosef arrived in Egypt, the house of Potifera was blessed on his.
In the same way as the famine terminated as soon as Ya'akov arrived in Egypt, so too, did the famine terminate as soon as Yosef set foot in Egypt.
And finally, Ya'akov died in Egypt, was embalmed and his bones were taken out, and the same chain of events occurred with regard to Yosef. (Again, some of these events may have also happened regarding his brothers, but the Torah specifically records them as having taken place with regard to Yosef).
There might have been a fifteenth likeness, says the Or ha'Chayim, quoting the Gemara in Sotah (36b), had it not been for the episode with the wife of Potifera. Yosef was destined to have twelve children, says the Gemara, and it was when he was confronted by Potifera's wife, who initially, it appears, made a deep impact on him, that he 'lost' ten of the twelve, remaining with only Efrayim and Menasheh.
And the Or ha'Chayim, this time based on a Gemara in Sanhedrin (19b), offers another explanation to account for why the Torah writes "These are the generation of Ya'akov, Yosef ... " (without mentioning the other brothers).
The Gemara there, based on the Pasuk in Tehilim (77), which refers to K'lal Yisrael as "the sons of Ya'akov and Yosef", explains that someone who sustains his fellow-Jew in the time of famine, it is as if he would have given birth to him.
And he goes on to explain our Pasuk in the same way...
"Yosef, at seventeen years, looked after the sheep together with his brothers ... " and the ensuing events ended with his descent to Egypt, where he rose to greatness, and it reached a stage that the brothers needed him, and he sustained them and their children. Consequently, he says, it is as if Yosef had given birth to them. They became, not only the descendants of Ya'akov, but the descendents of Yosef, too. It is as if the Torah had written "These are the generations of Ya'akov and Yosef" (with an extra 'Vav').
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Adapted from the P'ninei Torah
They Deserve It
"And Ya'akov dwelt in the land ... of Cana'an" (37:1).
Ya'akov wanted to dwell tranquilly, but there sprung on him the 'angry' episode of Yosef. Is it not sufficient what awaits the Tzadikim in the World to Come. Do they also want to dwell tranquilly in this world, comments Rashi?
This is how one generally translates Rashi, turning his final statement into a rhetorical question.
It is quoted in the name of the Chozeh from Lublin however, and others, that the statement can also be understood as a statement (and not as a question). 'What awaits the Tzadikim in the World to Come is not sufficient, they may also expect to dwell tranquilly in this world'.
The truth of the matter, he explains, is that Tzadikim do deserve a measure of tranquility in this world. Consequently, G-d fulfilled Ya'akov's expectations, and brought on him the 'angry' episode of Yosef. Yes, the episode may have begun with 'anger', but see how it ended. When Ya'akov ultimately went down to Egypt, in fulfillment of the beginning of the Galus, he was led down by his children amidst great pomp and ceremony ... thanks to his connection with the viceroy of Egypt, Yosef. Had Yosef not prepared the way for his arrival, he would have been led into Galus in iron chains, as Chazal explain. (See also the Ba'al ha'Turim at the beginning of Vayechi).
Yes, it may have been a harsh beginning, but the end was a happy one, all in accordance with Ya'akov's original expectations.
"And he made him a fine woolen tunic" (37:3).
The Gemara in Shabbos (145) teaches us that the Talmidei-Chachamim in Bavel dressed elegantly because compared to those of Eretz Yisrael (who dressed much more simply), they were not B'nei-Torah.
In the same way, the Chasam Sofer explains, Ya'akov Avinu, in an attempt to hide his great love for Yosef (over and above his brothers), made him a special tunic, in the hope that the brothers would take this as a sign that their father did not consider Yosef a ben-Torah.
Unfortunately however, the brothers saw through Ya'akov's efforts to hide his real motive, with the devastating results that the Torah goes on to record.
In Case they Die
"And they hated him, so they were unable to speak with him 'peace' (37:4). In reality, say Chazal, it ought to be forbidden to use the conventional greeting 'Sholom aleichem', due to the off-chance that, after have pronounced the word 'Sholom', one has a stroke, in which case, one will have pronounced it in vain - and 'Sholom' remember, is one of G-d's Names.
Yet they did not forbid it because of the principle that anyone who 'gives Sholom' to his friend, will have his days and his years lengthened. Consequently, someone who says the word 'Sholom', and intends to add 'Aleichem' can rest assured that his life will not be curtailed before he has managed to conclude the greeting.
But this only applies in a case where one's greeting is genuine. Yosef's brothers, however, would have greeted Yosef with their mouths, but not with their hearts (as Rashi explained in Pasuk 4). In such a case, says the P'ninei Torah, it is safe to assume that the above assurance does not apply. Consequently, the brothers were unable to greet Yosef with the word 'Sholom'.
Fiction in a Factual Dream
"Shall we come, I and your mother, to bow down to you?" (37:10).
Yosef's mother (Rachel), comments Rashi, was no longer alive, so how could she possibly bow down. Clearly then, the dream was entirely fictional. The truth of the matter however, was that every dream contains some fiction, as Chazal explain. Ya'akov knew this, says Rashi, but he was trying to minimize the impact of the dream on the brothers.
The Arvei Nachal asks how we know that every dream contains some fiction, and that it was not just that particular one?
Simple, he answers, had it not been a matter of principle, then Yosef could have omitted that particular detail, thereby reinforcing the veracity of the dream. The reason that he did not do so, was because since there had to be something wrong with the dream, had he simply left it out, Ya'akov would have looked for something else by which to query it, but that something would have been the truth, in which case part of the dream, and perhaps even the entire dream, would have lost its meaning.
A Triple Errand
"Go and see how your brothers and the sheep are getting on, and let me know" (37:14).
Yosef said three derogatory things about his brothers: 1. that they were treating the sons of the maidservants with contempt; 2. that they ate Eiver min ha'chai (meat taken from an animal whilst it was still alive) and 3. that they commited adultery.
R. Ya'akov Gezuntheit points out that these three things conformed with the three instructions that Ya'akov issued to to Yosef: 1. 'Go and see how your brothers are getting on (whether they are living together harmoniously)'; 2. 'How the sheep are (that the brothers are not eating from them before they have been Shechted)'; 3.'Return me word (that they are not behaving immorally [indeed, the Torah uses the word 'Davar' in connection with immoral behaviour - see Ki-Seitzei 23:15])'.
"Let's see what will become of the dreams ... And Reuven heard and he saved him from their Hands" (37:20).
The words "Let's see ... " were not said by the brothers, says Rashi, but by G-d, as if to say 'Let's see whose words will prevail, Mine (in the form of the dream) or yours, who are making efforts to prevent it from coming true'.
The Gemara in Ta'anis (21a) tells the story of R. Yochanan and Ilfa, who were exceedingly poor, and who had both left the Beis-Hamedrash to go and earn a living. It was whilst they were sitting under a rickety wall and eating their meager bread, that R. Yochanan heard one angel suggest to another that they should push over the wall and kill the two men who had left the everlasting world for a passing one. But the other replied in the negative, because one of the two was destined to become the Rosh Yeshivah.
'Since I heard the dialogue and Ilfa did not, R. Yochanan concluded, I must be the one to whom the second angel was referring'. So he returned to the Beis Hamedrash, to become the leader of Eretz Yisrael's Chachamim and to write the Talmud Yerushalmi.
Here too, explains the Maharam Tiktin, Reuven reckoned that since he was the one to have heard the Heavenly Voice, he must be the one to act on it. That is why he went on to save Yosef.
It's All In the Eyes ...
"Where is the harlot who was at the crossroads?" (38:21).
The word the Torah uses for 'crossroads' is "Einayim", prompting R. Shmelke from Nicolsburg to explain the Pasuk (out of context) like this ...
If you want to know where prostitution begins, the answer is 'in the eyes'.
... And In the Mouth Too
"And how can I perpetrate this terrible evil, for I will have sinned to G-d" (39:2).
In similar cryptic fashion, R. Bunem from P'shischa explains why Yosef used the singular ("I" and not "we"). He did want to mention her together with himself, even in word alone.
The Power of Speech,
Good and Bad
"And he fled and went outside" (39:12).
Come and see, says the Upta Rav, the awesome power of Lashon ha'Ra (on the one hand, and of a good word, on the other).
Here Yosef succeeded in withstanding a temptation that few if any, would have been able to withstand, yet the Lashon ha'Ra that he spoke about his brothers brought about Galus Mitzrayim. Yehudah on the other hand, succumbed to the temptation with Tamar, yet, because he said "What's to be gained by killing our brother", he merited to be the ancestor of David Hamelech and Mashi'ach, who will redeem us from Galus.
From the Haftarah
Worthy of Punishment
"Only you did I know from among all the families of the earth; therefore I visited on you all your sins" (3:20).
A Rebbe generally declines to punish a weak Talmid, whose has difficulty in grasping the Gemara, because there is nothing to be gained by doing so. Whom does he punish? The keen, knowledgeable Talmid, when he is lax. There he knows, if the youngster will be taken to task, he will try harder next time.
"Only you I have known", said Hashem to K'lal Yisrael. 'I know your excellent capabilities. That's why I punish you severely when you disobey Me (not the nations of the world, for there's little to be gained in punishing them)' (Kochav mi'Ya'akov).
Others explain that Yisrael are always taken to task for their sins because the world was created for them, so they have to be a constant example to the rest of the world. Yisrael are the heart of the world, and so its upkeep and continuity is their responsibility. Consequently, when they sin, they cause havoc, and are punished accordingly.
When a gentile sins on the other hand, the only person who suffers is himself. He is not responsible for anybody other than himself, so G-d takes a less severe view of his transgressions.
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Stories of Chanukah
Adapted from Kol Agados Yisrael
Shortly after ascending the Greek throne, in the year 3610 (12 years before the revolt of the Chashmona'im) Antiyochus Epiphanes (or ha'Rasha, as he was also known) attacked Egypt with a huge army that included war elephants. The Egyptian King, Ptolomy, fled in terror, and Antiyochus quickly routed the Egyptian army, capturing every town and fortress, and sent the vast amount of booty that his army had plundered back to Greece. Then he attacked Yerushalayim. He took the Golden Mizbei'ach, the Menorah, the Shulchan with all their accessories, and the Paroches ha'Kodesh together with all the golden ornaments which he found in the Heichal, and cut them up into pieces. And he also plundered all the silver and gold and all the precious golden objects that he found in the Beis-Hamikdash. The people he smote by the sword, leaving havoc in his wake, before returning to Greece.
Two years later, he sent Nikanor, one of his senior generals, to Yerushalayim with another huge army to finish the job that he had begun. He killed many of those who survived the first onslaught, ravaged the city and set fire to it. He demolished many of its houses and walls, and sent many of its women and children into captivity to Greece, together with large flocks of sheep and cattle. He also placed cruel, evil men in Yerushalayim, with orders to spill the innocent blood of its inhabitants and increase its corpses, and he expelled the regular inhabitants from the city and replaced them with foreigners, and he laid waste the Beis-Hamikdash, turning the Festivals of Hashem into days of mourning.
In short, that period became an unparalleled time of oppression for Yisrael. To add to their troubles, Antiyochus issued a decree that, from that time on, all conquered territories were obligated to worship his gods and practice his religion, but against Yisrael, he came out with a series of harsh edicts, adding that whoever did not prostrate himself before his gods and images, and who would practice his religion, would be immediately put to death; He ordered the erection of a disgusting image on the Mizbei'ach of Hashem, and the construction of numerous altars all over Yehudah, as well as public sacrificing of sacrifices of animals and incense to his gods. And he also commanded his men to tear all the Sifrei-Torah they could find and burn them. Despite the danger, there were many who hid Sifrei-Torah in their homes. There were also many women who circumcised their newborn babies, in spite of strict orders to the contrary, and in spite of the fact that those who were caught were hanged together with the babies. To their credit, many chose death rather obey the evil decrees of Antiyochus, to desecrate what was holy or to eat what the Torah forbids.
Among the many captives that Antiyochus exiled to Greece was a Tzadik and G-d-fearing man by the name of Elazar. He saw his brothers' suffering, and would go to them and comfort them, strengthening their faith in G-d. He was held in high esteem by his fellow-Jews, before whom he served as a constant example of integrity and observance of Mitzvos.
This irked Antiyochus immensely, and he sent some of his servants to prevail upon him to give up his faith and to serve the Greek gods instead. Should he comply, they were to inform him, the king would honor him publicly and grant him anything that he asked for.
'When Elazar obeys my orders', Antiyochus thought to himself, and forsakes the Torah of his G-d and prostrates himself before my idols, his co-religionists are bound to do likewise, with the result that all the numerous captives that I brought from Yerushalayim will join our ranks.
The servants of Antiyochus did indeed speak with Elazar and faithfully conveyed the king's message. But their words fell on deaf ears. 'I have no need of the king's gold nor of his honour', was Elazar's reply. 'I was born a Jew and that is what I will be as long as I live'.
'Are you not afraid of the king' the servants asked him in amazement? 'One word from him and you will no longer be alive!' 'Here I am', he retorted. 'I am ready to die any time!'
The servants reported to the king, who sent them back to Elazar with the message that all he had to do was to eat a piece of kasher meat in front of the altar of the gods, so that his brothers would believe that he is eating from the idol's sacrifices, causing them to relent from their stubbornness and gain themselves life, then the king for his part, will not withhold from him his kindness and goodness, and will elevate him to a position over and above all the officers of the land.
The king's servants conveyed the their master's message, and tried to convince him to accept the offer, by describing the wealth and the glory (by way of magnificent clothes and the like) that awaited those who obeyed the king's orders. But Elazar answered simply 'I have already informed you that I am prepared to die. Why do you come back to me with such offers? Take me and do with me whatever you please. Heaven forbid that I do anything that does not conform with the Torah of Hashem my G-d!'
In reply, Antiyochus ordered his men to take Elazar and to inflict on him the most terrible tortures, until he died at the hand of his torturers.
When Yisrael heard what happened to Elazar, their faith in G-d was reinforced, and they served Him in truth and with Temimum. 'It is better to die with our faith intact, they said, than to live a life serving images made of wood and stone.
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This section is sponsored in loving memory of our dear father
Sol Van Gelder
on his Yahrzeit
What's In a Name?
Adapted from ha'Mo'adim ba'Halachah
The best-known reason for the name Chanukah is undoubtedly that of the acronym 'Chanu-'Kaf' 'Hey'' (they rested on the twenty-fifth). Its source is a Shivlei Leket, and it is the Avudraham who distinctly ascribes the Chachamim's choice of name to this acronym. The Maharsha, who explains the term 'rested' to mean rested from work, queries the Ran (who cites this reason too), on the grounds that the Chachamim specifically refrained from declaring Chanukah a full-scale Yom-Tov, on which work is forbidden. The Bach on the other hand, uses the name to support the Maharil's ruling not to do Melachah as long as the lights are burning. Otherwise, he says, what sense does 'Chanu-'Kaf' 'Hey' make? And to suggest that it refers to the victory, because they rested from their enemies on the twenty-fifth, is most unlikely, he maintains.
But the L'vush disagrees with the Bach. In his opinion, 'Chanu-'Kaf' 'Hey' refers to resting from the war (as in the Pasuk "va'yis'u ... va'yachanu") and not from work. And among those who agree with him is the Birkei Yosef, who wonders at the Bach (just like the Maharsha wondered at the Ran), since there is no prohibition to work on Chanukah, and the most we find is a Minhag for women to refrain from working whilst the lights are burning.
The name Chanukah is also the acronym for 'Ches Neiros, Ve'halachah Ke'Beis Hillel', with reference to the Minhag of the mehadrin to light one lamp on the first night and to add one lamp each night, as opposed to Beis Shamai, in whose opinion one begins with eight lamps, and detracts one on each subsequent night. One would hardly expect this to be a fundamental reason for the Chachamim's choice of name for the 'Yom-Tov', rather it is a neat Si'man, a hint to a well-known Halachah.
Yet the commentaries make use of it to resolve several problems. The She'eilos u'Teshuvos Mor ve'Ohalos citing the Seifer Beis (or Bas) Ayin, uses the above acronym to help answer the famous Beis Yosef's Kashya (why Chazal instituted eight days and not seven, which we will also discuss later). Now that Chazal considered this ruling sufficiently important to insert it by way of hint in the very name of the Yom-Tov, he explains, it is essential that we demonstrate it on each day of Chanukah, which we do by virtue of the number of lights that the Mehadrin kindle. Consequently, on the fourth day we kindle four lights, whereas according to Beis Shamai, we would kindle five. And on the fifth day, the numbers are reversed. Now had Chazal fixed only seven days, then, on the fourth day, we would kindle four lights according to both Beis Hillel and Beis Shamai, and there would be nothing to indicate that the Halachah is like Beis Hillel.
And by the same token, says the Mor va'Ohalos, the question that the commentaries ask why we do not keep nine days (S'feika de'Yoma) like we do on the other major Yamim-Tovim is answered too ... because if we did, then on the fifth day, we would be lighting five lamps, according to both opinions, and there would be nothing to demonstrate that the Halachah is like Beis Hillel.
(to be continued)
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All About Chanu-
Adapted from the Ta'amei Haminhagim
Eight Days Chanukah
In answer to the Beis Yosef's question as to why the Chachamim fixed eight days Chanukah and not seven, seeing as there was anyway sufficient oil to burn for one day, the Taz answers by pointing out that G-d does not perform miracles from nothing (like we find with the wife of Ovadyah, Elisha, who filled endless jars of with oil from the one flask that she had; without that flask, the miracle would not have occurred). Consequently, the mere fact that they found the one pure jar of oil, despite the Greeks' efforts to contaminate all the oil, was crucial to the miracle, and was therefore in itself a miracle.
And that is hinted in the words of 'Ma'oz Tzur', where we say 'and from the remnants of the jars, a miracle was performed for Yisrael' (who are called Shoshanim). Therefore the men of understanding (who understood the significance of the find) fixed song and celebration for eight days (and not just seven [Divrei Yitzchak]).
Others point to the phrase in 'Al ha'Nisim' - 'and they lit lamps in your holy courtyard'. The courtyard remember, had no roof, and the Chanukah story took place in mid-winter. Surely, the fact that the seasonal winds and rain did not blow out the Menorah was in itself, a great miracle, a miracle that lasted eight days, irrespective of how much oil the lamps contained!
The B'nei Yisaschar citing the Rokei'ach, refers to the juxtaposition of the Parshah of the oil and the lamp to that of Succos, a hint, not only to the actual 'Yom-Tov' of Chanukah, but that Chanukah lasts eight days. Consequently, should the Beis-Din of the Chashmona'im have had any qualms as to whether to fix seven days or eight, the above hint would have dispelled them.
Teshuvah on Chanukah
R. David from Dinev, citing his father R. Tzvi Elimelech says that from Rosh Chodesh Elul until Chanukah there can be seen shining in the sky the shape of a hand stretched out to receive the Ba'alei Teshuvah who, for whatever reason, did not succeed in repenting during the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah, and whose Teshuvah is accepted up until Chanukah. This refers, R. David explained, to the last day of Chanukah, as is hinted in the Pasuk in Yeshayah (22) "be'Zos Yechupar Avon Ya'akov" (a hint to the eighth day of Chanukah, which is known as 'Zos Chanukah', because we Lein on it "Zos Chanukas ha'Mizbei'ach") - by that time the sin of Ya'akov is atoned.
This conforms with the Likutei Maharil, who says that the atonement of Yom-Kipur lasts until Chanukah, as is well known. And a sign for this lies in the Pasuk "Tasheiv Enosh ad Daka" ... and the numerical value of "Daka" is twenty-five, hinting at Chanukah, which is the time for everyone to do Teshuvah.
Killing the Enemy
The B'nei Yisaschar quoting the Rokei'ach writes that the numerical value of the first letters of the words "Kol ha'Neshomoh tehalel ... " ('Tav', 'Kaf', 'Hey'), is equal to 'Chanukah Purim', days that are designated to thank Hashem and to recite Hallel (on Purim, say Chazal, reading the Megilah is considered like reciting Hallel).
The letters also spell 'Takeh', the name of G-d with which one is able to destroy and to humiliate the Resha'im. Indeed, it is the name which Moshe used to kill the Egyptian, which explains why the Rasha whom Moshe subsequently rebuked for raising his hand against his friend responded by asking him whether he meant to kill him like he had killed the Egyptian. Moshe had said to him "Lomoh Takeh Re'eicha", which is what led him to believe that this was Moshe's intention (see Ta'amei ha'Minhagim, Si'man 351, Kunt'ras Acharon at length).
The reason that we say 'Lehadlik ner shel (and not 'al hadlokas ner) Chanukah, says the Rokei'ach, is because the Menorah needs to burn until nobody is walking in the street (which Chazal fixed before the advent of street lamps, and), which is equivalent to half an hour. Similarly, we say 'Leishev ba'Sukah', because the Mitzvah lasts for the duration of Sukos, and 'Lehoni'ach Tefilin', because the Mitzvah extends for the entire day. The text 'al ...' on the other hand, implies that the moment the action is complete, the Mitzvah has been fulfilled.
Incidently, according to the Arizal, the correct text is 'Lehadlik Ner Chanukah', without the word 'shel'. This, explains the Birkei Yosef, is because one is not permitted to benefit from the light, which is only lit for the Mitzvah of Chanukah. On Shabbos, on the other hand, when we light for our personal benefit, we say 'Lehadlik ner shel Shabbos', implying a light for ourselves which we kindle on Shabbos.
Rebbi Didn't Like it
Considering that Rebbi allotted an entire Masechta to Purim, one wonders why, apart from a couple of incidental references, he did not even designate one Perek or even a single Mishnah, for Chanukah.
The Chasam Sofer attributes this to the fact that the miracle of Chanukah took place at the hand of the Chashmona'im, Kohanim who usurped the Kingship from David Hamelech's descendeants. This irked Rebbi, who was himself a descendent of David Hamelech. Consequently, when he wrote the Mishnah with Ru'ach ha'Kodesh, the miracle of Chanukah was omitted from the entire work (perhaps the Chasam Sofer is alluding to Chazal, who say that Ru'ach ha'Kodesh does not rest on somebody who is angry).
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