The situation looked bleak. The tiny band of resistance fighters was overwhelmingly outnumbered. They were not seasoned fighters. They spent their lives serving Hashem in the Beis HaMikdash. Members of the Jewish nation (called Hellenists) had defected to join the spiritual camp of the enemy. Their opponents were the mighty Greek army, who had conquered many nations. They were not discouraged. The Honor of Hashem and the survival of His people were at stake. They must fight. Miraculously, they won the battle, humbling the Greek army. They returned to the Beis HaMikdash, finding it in a shambles. All of its purity had been defiled. They wanted so much to restore its holiness, and to light the Menorah with pure olive oil. Yet only one flask remained, containing just enough for one day. To produce new oil would take a week. The Halacha (Jewish law) describes this situation as oness (circumstances beyond their control). Therefore, they were not required to perform the mitzvah of lighting the Menorah. Yet they persevered and lit the Menorah. Hashem bestowed another miracle upon them and the oil lasted eight days. If they were exempt from the mitzvah, then why did they light the Menorah? The Sefas Emes zt"l illuminates the subject. The Greeks tried to destroy the Jewish people's spirituality by outlawing mitzvos. They did not realize how close we are to Hashem. This was not the first time that we were willing to sacrifice our lives to keep His mitzvos. Now the war and the Greek oppression were over. We were able to light the Menorah, a mitzvah very dear to us. We would not be denied this precious mitzvah. Because we cherished this mitzvah so dearly, Hashem performed a miracle in the mitzvah itself. Now we see how dear we are to Him. The Rambam zt"l refers to the mitzvah of Ner Chanukah as a mitzvah which is extremely dear to the Jewish people. The Rambam does not describe any other mitzvah in the Torah as being so beloved. What makes Ner Chanukah so special? Pirsumei Nissa (publicizing of the miracle). Hashem performed a wonderful miracle for us, showing us how close and dear we are to Him. Therefore, the mitzvah commemorating this miracle is very dear to us, showing how much we love Him.
Kinderlach . . .
We love Hashem and He loves us. How do we show our love? Do we pray with kavannah (concentration), cherishing every word that we say to Him? Do we love our fellow Jews, His children, whom he wants to live happily and peacefully together? Do we honor and respect our parents, our link back to Adam HaRishon, the first man, whom He created? Let us all go around the table and give examples of how we show our love for Hashem.
"It happened at the end of two years to the day: Paroh was dreaming" (Bereshis 41:1). The Noam Elimelech zt"l has an exotic interpretation of this verse. The word shenatayim (two years) hints to two aspects of every mitzvah. The mitzvah itself is a holy act, and engaging in performing it brings additional holiness from Heaven to a person. The word yomim (days) refers to kedusha (holiness) which is called yom (day). A person may think that he has reached the pinnacle in his performance of mitzvos. He has performed it in perfect holiness and brought down the kedusha from Heaven. This is only a deception, foisted upon him by the body. "Paroh was dreaming." The word Paroh has the same letters as the word oref, which hints to the body, which is full of fantasies. If you think that you have reached perfection, you are dreaming. There is always room for improvement.
Kinderlach . . .
"I washed my hands and said the blessing before I ate bread. What more can I do?" Much more. You can learn the halochos (laws) of washing and blessing to make sure that you are doing the mitzvos 100% properly. You can learn the perushim (explanations) of the words of the blessing. You can study the reasons behind this mitzvah and blessing. Can you imagine how much better you will perform the mitzvah, and how much deeper you will appreciate and understand it? You have plenty to do!
Who can interpret Paroh's strange dreams? Not a single one of his "wise men". Suddenly the Minister of the Winery remembered that he had met a young man in prison, who had an uncanny ability to interpret dreams. This man was none other than Yosef HaTzaddik. How did the minister refer to Yosef? He was a naar Ivri eved (Jewish slave lad). The Netziv zt"l comments that each detail of this description is more amazing than the one before. He was a lad, who did not learn the wisdom necessary to interpret such dreams correctly. He was a Jew, who did not worship idols; therefore, he did not use witchcraft to understand the dreams. Lastly, he was a slave, who was surely not permitted to learn anything of value. Therefore, it was clear that his wisdom came from Hashem. The Netziv adds that this is not unusual, because it is known that the Jewish nation is not subject to the natural laws that govern other nations. They are under Hashem's direct supervision. Just as He is All Powerful, there is no limit to what they can accomplish.
Kinderlach . . .
1111 "I'll never do well on this test. There is just not enough time to review enough." " I will never finish all of this housework in time." " I will never be able to make shalom with that neighbor." " I will never understand this page of Gemora." "I will never be able to stop overeating." Kinderlach, if we were like other people, these statements might be true. However, we are Hashem's special nation. As we said before, we are very dear to Him. When we show our love for Him, He pays personal attention to us, giving us extra special siyata dishmaya (Heavenly assistance). There is nothing that we cannot accomplish.
Kinder Torah Copyright 2001 All rights reserved to the author Simcha Groffman
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