This Weeks Haftorah
Rabbi Levi Langer

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Haftorah Chanukah

"And he called out and said to me, 'This is the word of Hashem to Zerubavel: Not with armed force nor with strength, but rather through My spirit, says the L-rd of Hosts.'" (Zechariah 4:6)

Rashi explains: "But rather through My spirit"--I will place My spirit upon Darius [King of Persia] and he will permit you to build the Second Temple.

How the once-mighty nation has fallen! A people accustomed for centuries to receiving the word of Hashem himself through his prophets, accustomed to miracles and wonders in the Temple; and now when Hashem promises them "My spirit," it means only that Darius's heart will be swayed!

This passage, one of the last of the prophecies, addresses the people of a new era.

In our haftorah, the prophet Zecharia is shown a vision of the Menorah being filled with oil not through human hands, but by means of conduits through which the oil flows on its own. And then he is given the explanation to relate to Zerubavel: not with your might or your strength, but rather through My spirit.

Zerubavel, viceroy of Judea and scion of the House of David, could have been the Messiah had the people merited it (cf. Malbim 10 Chagai 1:1). Instead, since the people did not rise to the moment, he was reduced to the status of a vassal under the mighty Darius, King of Persia. He himself, and the House of David which he represented, were but a pale shadow of what they might have been.

It was a time when things looked bleak indeed. Was this the salvation which the people had been anxiously awaiting? Why, they had not even been released from the dominion of the Persian Empire! Indeed, throughout almost the entire period of the Second Temple, Judea was ruled by foreign kingdoms. And for this epoch, Hashem sent a special message: the vision of the Menorah. They were shown that even when it would appear that they themselves were unable to illuminate the darkness, when they had not the means to do it themselves, Hashem himself would provide the light. True, it would not be in a miraculous or supernatural manner. But the people, if they would but look for it, would always be able to find the light of Hashem penetrating the gloom.

This is the enduring message of the Menorah.

Copyright (c) 1996 by Rabbi Levi Langer

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