Chanukah @ Shemayisrael

by Zvi Akiva Fleisher


~ Breishis 43:16 - "Utvoach tevaCH V'HoCHeiN" - The Tonoh D'vei Eliyohu says that the last letter of "tevaCH" and the word "V'HoCHeiN" spell "Chanukah." As well, the Shiltei Hagiborim points out that the gematria of "utvoach tevach" is 44, equal to the total number of lights kindled on Chanukah, including the shamoshim. It is no coincidence that Chanukah is alluded to in these words. The gemara Chulin 91a says that the preparation indicated by the word "v'hochein" refers to the removal of the "gid hanosheh." The Holy Zohar says that the word "nosheh" means forgetfulness. One who eats from the "gid hanosheh" forgets some of his Torah knowledge. The Greeks put great effort into attempting to make us forget Hashem's Holy Torah, "l'hashkichom Torah'secho." Hence with the removal of the "gid hanosheh," Yoseif did an act which symbolized a response to the attack of the Greeks. As well, the ministering angel of Eisov attacked Yaakov and hit him in his "KAF yerech," at the location of the "gid hanosheh." To counter this we had the miracle of finding a "PACH shemen," PACH being the reverse spelling of KAF, as olive oil is an elixir for remembering.

~ The Likutei Mahara"n says that the first letters of the words, "Hazeh K'godel CHasdecho V'cha'asher Nososo" (Bmidbar 14:19) spell Chanukah. ~ The Rokei'ach says that the source word "OHR" appears in the Torah 22 times, many times with prefixes and suffixes. We also have the word "m'oros," three times. This adds six, as "m'oros" is plural. The source word, "NER" appears eight times, also mostly with prefixes and suffixes. This gives us a total of 36, the total number of lights kindled on Chanukah. As well, the maximum number of eight lights is alluded to in the eight appearances of the "NER" word form. (See Ma'tei Moshe brought further down for clarification of this.) He adds that at the first appearance of the word "OHR" (1:4) in the Torah, it says "ki Tov." The letter "Tes" of TOV, which usually has three crowns (tagin) on it, has four, to also allude to the 36 "neiros Chanukah," as the letter Tes equals 9, x 4 (four tagin) equals 36.

~ The Rokei'ach also says that by virtue of the juxtaposition of the parsha of the lighting of the menorah in the Beis Hamikdosh to the end of the listing of the Yomim Tovim (Vayikroh chapters 23 and 24), "V'yikchu ei'lecho SHEMEN ZAYIS zoch kosis lamo'ore l'haalos NEIR TOMID," we have an allusion to Chanukah and to its lasting for eight days, as it is right after Sukos. Just as Sukos (including Shmini Atzerres) is eight days long, so too Chanukah. NEIR TOMID is indicative of a permanent light, independent of the existence of the Beis Hamikdosh. The Ma'tei Moshe adds that we find by the lighting of the menorah "l'haalos NEIR" and then "yaaroch es ha'NEIROS," to indicate that we start with one and then increase, as per Beis Hillel.

~ The Rokei'ach says that "Zose chanukas hamizbei'ach" (Bmidbar 7:84) has the same numerical value as "Zose y'h'yeh bi'mei Chashmono'im." The next words in the verse are, "b'yom himoshach o'so." This is equal to Chanukah b'yom ho'esrim vachamishoh b'Kisleiv" (Kisleiv spelled Kof-Samach-Lamed-YUD-Vov). ~ The Rokei'ach says that "n'choshes" is the final word in parshas Trumoh, and is followed by "V'atoh t'tza'veh es bnei Yisroel v'yikchu ei'lecho shemen zayis zoch." "N'choshes" when changed by the A"T B"SH transmutation code becomes Tes-Samach-Beis-Alef, whose numerical value is equal to Yovon, Yud-Vov-Nun. This indicates that the downfall of Yovon (the Greeks) is through the kindling of the menorah. The Ma'tei Moshe offers that it is most befitting that "n'cho'shes" is an allusion to an aspect of the Chanukah lights because the Medrash Tanchuma (Trumoh #7) on the words "zohov kesef uN'CHO'SHES" (Shmos 25:3) writes that this corresponds to Yovon.

~ The Baal Haturim says that the juxtaposition of the blessing of the Kohanim to the dedication of the Mishkon and the mizbei'ach (Bmidbar 6:22-27 to 7:1) alludes to the Chashmono'im, who were Kohanim, bringing about the re-dedication of the Mikdosh.

~ The Ramban in his commentary on Bmidbar 8:2 says that Hashem indicated to Aharon that his descendants, the Chashmono'im would bring about the rededication of the Beis Hamikdosh and that the lighting of the Chanukah menorah would last for all generations, even after the destruction of the Beis Hamikdosh.

~ Chanukah falls on the reading of parshas Mikeitz. Hagohas Mordechai finds an allusion to Chanukah in the very first verse, "Va'y'hi mikeitz shnosayim" (Breishis 41:1). Its letters serve as an acronym for "U'v'eis Yochonon Hich'chid Y'vonim Mi'beis Kodsheinu, Tzivonu Shenadlik Neiros Tamnia Yomei Meichanukah."

~ "Shnosayim" (Breishis 41:1) - Tosfos Hasholeim and the Shiltei Hagiborim say that this word is an acronym for "Smole Neiros Tadlik, Y'min Mezuzoh."

~ The Ma'tei Moshe says that we find the word form "neir" or "menorah" 8 times in the parsha of "menoroh" (Bmidbar 8:1-4), alluding to the eight lights of Chanukah. Upon counting, I only find 7. If you count "neiros" as 2 because it is plural, then we have 10. Perhaps his intention is to only count "neiros" as 2 when it is spelled "mollei" at the end of verse 2.


~ Before kindling the Chanukah light(s) we make three blessings the first night, ".. v'tzivonu l'hadlik neir (shel) Chanukah," She'ossoh nisim ..," and "Shehecheyonu ..," and the first two blessings only from the second night and onwards. The gemara Shabbos 23a asks, "How can we make a blessing with the word 'v'tzivonu,' since it is the Rabbis and not Hashem who have instituted the mitzvoh of kindling "ner Chanukah?" The gemara answers that Hashem has commanded us to listen to the edicts of the Rabbis through the words of the verse, "lo sosur min hadovor asher yagidu l'cho" (Dvorim 17:11).

~ The word immediately after "v'tzivonu" is "l'hadlik." Why don't we say "al hadlokas" instead? There are numerous rules governing the choice between these two forms of expression, as they apply to numerous blessings on performance of mitzvos. The Rokei'ach #366 says that for mitzvos that take extended time to properly fulfill the form "l'.." is used rather than "al ..." Even though the lighting takes but a moment to actually do, since the mitzvoh is to light in a manner that allows for the "neir Chanukah" to burn for approximately hour, the time that people returning home from work would notice the lights, for "parsu'mei nisa," publicizing the miracle, it is considered a mitzvoh of duration, hence "l'hadlik." He adds that this also explains "leisheiv baSukoh," as one is supposed to remain in the Sukoh for an extended period of time, and likewise, "L'honiach tefillin," as one is supposed to wear them all day. "Al" is indicative of a mitzvoh whose completion takes place in a moment.

~ The Shalo"h explains that we do not say "al hadlokas neir Chanukah" because we conclude halachically that "hadlokoh o'soh mitzvoh" (O.Ch. 675:1). If we were to say "al hadlokas neir Chanukah" its connotation could encompass having a light already lit and setting it aside for the mitzvoh. "L'hadlik" conclusively indicates the requirement TO LIGHT for the intention of "neir Chanukah."

~ The next words in the blessing are either "neir SHEL Chanukah" or "neir Chanukah." Everyone is in agreement that the blessing for shabbos lights is "neir SHEL Shabbos." However, here there are two customs. The Birkei Yoseif on O.Ch. #676 explains the custom of the Ari z"l to skip the word SHEL by Chanukah because SHEL indicates that it "belongs to." However, this does not show exclusiveness, as the lights of Shabbos are lit for the sanctity of Shabbos, but at the same time serve the purpose of bringing light to the home to be enjoyed. By saying "neir Chanukah" without the word SHEL we indicate that the lights are totally dedicated to Chanukah and may not be put to any other use. The Ei'mek Brochoh #263 says the same.

However, there are many who do say SHEL, and indeed the Ran on the gemara Shabbos 22a brings the text of this blessing and includes the word SHEL. ~ The third blessing is "she'ossoh nisim laavoseinu ba'yomim ho'heim bazman ha'zeh." Just as Hashem has wrought miracles for our forefathers in days of yore, so too, He does miracles for us these days. (Rabbi Chanoch Henoch the Holy Admor of Alexander)

~ There is a marvelous allusion to the 3 blessings we make on the kindling of the Chanukah lights on the first night in a verse in the Torah, "A'sei l'cho SOROF v'sim oso al NEIS v'ro'oh oso voCHOI" (Bmidbar 21:8). SOROF alludes to the fire that is lit, "L'hadlik neir Chanukah," NEIS is the blessing "she'ossoh NISIM," and "voCHOI" is the blessing "shehecheyonu." (Ben Ish Chai on parshas Va'yeishev)


~ Rashi and the Ran on the gemara Shabbos 21b say that this is based upon the fact that our Rabbis have fashioned the mitzvoh of lighting our Chanukah menorah after the menorah in the Beis Hamikdosh, through which the miracle took place. Just as it was prohibited to benefit from the light of the menorah in the Beis Hamikdosh, so too, the Rabbis instituted that the light of the Chanukah menorah may not be used for personal benefit. Since the mitzvoh was fashioned after the menorah in the Beis Hamikdosh, even using its light for a mitzvoh, for example to learn by its light, is also prohibited, even though "mitzvos lav l'honos nitnu" (gemara Eiruvin 31a, R.H. 28a, Chulin 89a) because the menorah of the Beis Hamikdosh was not to be used at all. ~ Since the intention of lighting the Chanukah menorah is for publicizing the miracle, "parsu'mei nisa," if one were to have personal benefit from its light it would negate people's realizing that it was lit for "parsu'mei nisa." (L'vush O.Ch. 673:2) It seems that this would also explain why the light of the menorah may not be used even for a mitzvoh.

~ The light of the Chanukah menorah symbolizes the pure light of the Torah. Just as one is not to derive benefit from the Torah itself, "Al taa'seim .. v'kardom lachpor bo'hem v'chach omar Hillel, 'd'ishta'meish b'saga cholaf'" (Pirkei Ovos 4:5), so too, one may not derive benefit from the Chanukah lights. (Chidushei HoRi"m)

~ The light of the Chanukah menorah is of such intense sanctity that the evil powers attempt to grab away some of its spiritual energy. As long as it only is done for the mitzvoh, they have no ability to draw from it. Once a person makes use of its light for non-holy purposes the negative powers are able to draw from it. This explains why we say "Yosheiv b'sei'ser elyon" (T'hilim 91:1) after the lighting. It is well known that this is the chapter in T'hilim said to protect against evil powers, as is indicated by the verses of this chapter, so too we say this to protect against the negative powers attaching themselves to the holy aura created by the Chanukah lights. (Kozhnitzer Magid in Avodas Yisroel on parshas Va'yeishev in the name of the Ari z"l)

~ While on the subject of "Yosheiv b'sei'ser", in the siddur of the Ari z"l it is brought in the name of the Rivo"sh that it should be recited 7 times after the kindling of the Chanukah lights as well as on Rosh Hashonoh and Yom Kippur and at times when one finds himself in dire straits. The Tashba"tz #258 writes that when the Chashmono'im went to war against the Greeks they said the verse "Vihi noam" (T'hilim 90:17 the last verse of this chapter) 7 times, and the verse "Orech yomim" (T'hilim 91:16 the last verse of "Yosheiv b'sei'ser") twice, and in this merit they overcame their enemies.


~ The Rokei'ach writes that the total of 36 lights of all 8 nights of Chanukah correspond to the special light that was present upon the creation of Odom, which lasted for 36 hours, and was then hidden until the time of the world to come.

~ The Bnei Yisos'chor and Medrash Pinchos #1 write that since the festival of Chanukah is one of affirming the legitimacy of the Oral Torah, we symbolically light 36 lights, which correspond to the 36 tractates of gemara.


~ Because we are to derive no personal benefit from the "neir Chanukah" we light an extra flame nearby, called a "Shamash," i.e. a light that "serves" the "neir Chanukah." The Mahari"l writes that this is alluded to in the verse, "srofim omdim mimaal LO" (Yeshayohu 6:2), LO has the numerical value of 36.

~ The Kav Ha'yoshor perek #96 writes that this light corresponds to the Kohein in the Beis Hamikdosh who lights the menorah, who after going up three steps stands higher than the menorah, so too the "shamash" should be placed higher than the "neir Chanukah." This too is indicated in the verse brought by the Mahari"l "miMAAL lo," above the 36. The Kav Ha'yoshor adds that just as the Kohein is sanctified, so too, one should not derive benefit even from the "shamash." Indeed, the Mo'gein Avrohom O.Ch. 673:4 writes that even if one has a "shamash," if he is using the area nearby, he should place another light on the platform or table.

The Kav Ha'yoshor adds that whoever is careful to also not make use of the "shamash" will merit to see the light of the Beis Hamikdosh bb"a. There seems to be another indication that even the "shamash" has some sanctity, as the Rokei'ach mentioned earlier writes that "utvo'ach" has the numerical value of 44, equal to all the lights of the 8 days of Chanukah including "shamoshim."

~ The Hagohos Mordechai Hachadoshos offers an allusion to the added "shamash" as "n'cho'shes" is the last word of parshas Trumoh and is followed by the mitzvoh of lighting the menorah at the beginning of parshas T'tza'veh. "N'cho'shes," spelled Nun-Ches-Shin-Tof is an acronym for "Neir Chanukah Shamash Tadlik." As mentioned earlier, the Ma'tei Moshe adds that it is most befitting that "n'cho'shes" is an allusion to an aspect of the Chanukah lights because the Medrash Tanchuma (Trumoh #7) on the words "zohov kesef uN'CHO'SHES" (Shmos 25:3), writes that this corresponds to Yovon.


~ Shulchan Oruch O.Ch. 675:3 writes that women are required to light "neiros Chanukah." Those who are married and some single girls who reside with their parents have this mitzvoh fulfilled through their husband/father. The reason for their being required to do this mitzvoh in spite of its being a time restricted one, "mitzvas assei shehazman grama," is because the women were also in mortal danger and were saved. As a matter of fact they had even greater difficulty at the time of the Chanukah happening, as there was a law that all newlywed women were to be misused by the local magistrates. This came to an end when a daughter of Yochonon Kohein Godol would not stand for this and somehow was able to put the magistrate to sleep and decapitated him. The women were thus credited with being the ones who brought about our salvation.

~ The Ran on the gemara Shabbos 21b writes that some say that women's bringing about our salvation is the reason for their being required to light "neir Chanukah," but he refutes this, saying that the reason is as mentioned above, that they too were saved.

~ The Ma'tei Moshe #994 writes that by virtue of the women being so instrumental in our salvation, they took upon themselves to not do any work during the time that the "neir Chanukah" are burning. He also offers that when men come home from work they usually don't do any household work, while women do. Because there is a fear of their using the illumination of the "neir Chanukah" for their home duties, they created a safeguard by refraining from all household work.


There is a well-known argument between Beis Shamai and Beis Hillel (gemara Shabbos 21b) whether we start with eight lights and decrease by one light nightly, or if we start with one light and increase nightly. The position to decrease can be equated to the approach of repenting by first relenting by diminishing one's negative behaviour, "Sur meira" (T'hilim 34:15), and only then "va'a'sei tov." The opposing opinion posits that one should not wait to correct his flaws before he begins on the road to good behaviour. First ""a'sei tov," and then "sur mei'ra."

The gemara concludes, "Nimnu v'gomru d'halacha k'Beis Hillel," - they have tallied and concluded that the halacha is like Beis Hillel that we start with one light and increase nightly. This is because by first pursuing the good, one will learn to behave properly, as he will busy himself with good and have no time for bad. If however, one waits to pursue good until he has eradicated the bad within him, he will never finish the task. (The Yehudi Hakodosh of Parshis'cha)


The gemara Shabbos 21a-b says KOVSOH EIN ZOKUK LOH, if one has properly set up the "neir Chanukah" so that they were expected to burn for the prescribed time, and unexpectedly were extinguished, then one need not bother re-lighting them. This is most puzzling. Since the main thrust of lighting the "neir Chanukah" is to publicize the miracle of Chanukah, it would be logical to require that one re-light the "neir Chanukah" to accomplish "pirsumei nisa." Allegorically, it may be explained as follows: The Greeks attempted to destroy the sanctity of the Torah, not the actual study thereof. (A lengthy article that included much material on this point was offered on Chanukah 5760.) Central to this theme is that with secular studies, if the knowledge gleaned is not properly and accurately absorbed and applied, it is of no use, and sometimes can even be detrimental. Imagine a person pursuing studies in the field of surgery who has not absorbed the information properly and then proceeding with a surgery of which he has improper knowledge. The results will be unsuccessful in the least and possibly even cause death. Not so with Torah study, as long as one approaches the Torah with the proper attitude, even if he misunderstands or does not fully comprehend its lessons, he is credited with learning Torah. This is the intention of the blessing "LAASOKE b'divrei Torah," to engage in the commerce of Torah. Many endeavours in business lead to no deal or profit, but nevertheless, this is the reality of commerce; one attempts to strike a deal, etc. So too with the Torah, even if one is not successful in reaching proper conclusions, he is credited with engaging in the "business of Torah," LAASOKE.

This is why KOVSOH EIN ZOKUK LOH. This means that even if one's understanding is wrong, it is extinguished, nevertheless it is still of value, one need not re-light, as the effort that was put into studying the Torah is of itself of value. (Bnei Yisos'chor)


~ In the laws of lighting "neiros Shabbos" the Shulchan Oruch O.Ch. 264:1,3 writes that only certain wicks and fuels may be used, those that produce a steady clear flame. However in hilchos "neir Chanukah" (673:1) it says that it is permitted to use any wicks and fuels, even those that produce a weak flickering flame. Wouldn't it be logical to assume that the "neir Chanukah," which embodies the publicizing of the Chanukah miracle, should have at least the same stringencies? The Holy Admor of Radomsk the Tiferes Shlomo (Drush l'Shabbos Chanukah d.h. "uv'zeh") writes that the wicks are the bodies of people and the fuel is their soul. "Hashemen" has the same letters as "n'shomoh." This combination produces spiritual light. Those who behave as the Torah dictates both have pure actions and purify their bodies. Their spiritual light is steady, clean, and pure. Chanukah has the ability to embrace even those who are estranged from its ways. They are the wicks and fuel that do not produce pure light. Even they are permitted, so that they may improve in their ways and eventually produce the light of Torah. ~ The Imrei Pinchos writes that Chanukah is unique in that it is a festival that begins in the second half of the month, when the moon wanes, contrary to all other festivals. (Shmini Atzerres is considered a continuation of Sukos.) This is also indicative of Chanukah's ability to draw imperfection into its grasp and elevate it.

~ Another law that runs along the same lines is that the best height position for the "neir Chanukah" is below 10 fist breadths, where the Holy Sh'chinoh does not descend (gemara Sukoh 5a). This too symbolizes that the light of Chanukah illuminates the negative, even reaching down to those who are in a location where the Sh'chinoh does not reside.

~ In a similar vein: The gemara Shabbos 21b states that the preferred manner is to place the menorah outside one's home so that it can readily be seen by the passing by public. The Sifsei Tzadik, a grandson of the Chidushei HoRim says that this symbolizes the light of Chanukah bringing positive influences even upon those who are sunk into the outside world, in the public marketplace.


~ As mentioned earlier, there was a preference to place the menorah outside one's doorway. The medrash Shir Hashirim pairs this mitzvoh with the mitzvoh of mezuzoh, and Rishonim, i.e. Ran on gemara Shabbos 21b and others say that the optimum situation is when one places himself while wearing "tzitzis" between the mezuzoh on his right and the menorah on his left.

~ The Ben Ish Chai on parshas Va'yeishev writes that this uniting of 3 mitzvos, Tzitzis, Mezuzoh, and Chanukah, whose first letters are an acronym for TzeMaCH, a name of Moshiach (Zecharyoh 6:12), will help bring about his coming bb"a.

~ Another aspect of location, also mentioned earlier, is that the menorah be placed below 10 fist breadths from the ground. Rabbi Nochum the Holy Admor of Tchernovitz in Mo'ore Einayim on parshas Mikeitz writes that we see from this that Hashem is so eager to bring us close to Him that He even descends to below 10 "t'fochim," an area into which He otherwise never descends (see gemara Sukoh 5a).


~ We have the custom to also light "neir Chanukah" in shul. The L'vush on O.Ch. 671:8 writes that there are wayfarers who reside in shuls. Just as wee hace instituted kidush on Shabbos evening for them, so too we light "neir Chanukah."

~ The A'terres Z'keinim on O.Ch. #673 writes in the name of the Rosh that since we fashion our mitzvoh after the lighting in the Beis Hamikdosh, we also light in our houses of prayer, which are a "mikdosh m'at."

~ Why do we light in the shul by day as well? The Orchos Chaim O.Ch. 671:13 in the name of the responsa Binyan Shlomo says that we do this to correspond to the opinion of the Rambam in hilchos t'midim umusofim 3:10. He says that the lighting of the menorah in the Beis Hamikdosh took place at the onset of night and at the beginning of the morning.

~ Another answer: There is an opinion that the miracle of Chanukah included 24 hour burning of the lights of the menorah. To commemorate this aspect of the miracle we light again by day, but only in shul, which as mentioned earlier, is a "mikdosh m'at."


Upon lighting "neiros Chanukah" we chant "Haneiros halolu onu madlikim." Its source is meseches Sofrim 20:6, although with some variations.


~ We add this prayer to our daily Amidoh and Birkas Hamozone. Since "al hamichyoh" is a diminutive Birkas Hamozone, why is it not incorporated into this blessing, just as we mention Shabbos and Yom Tov? The Machatzis Hashekel O.Ch. 208:18 answers that this is because they are not mentioned in the Torah.

~ MVRHRH"G R' Yaakov Kamenecki zt"l answers this question in a most marvelous manner. The gemara Brochos 29a says tha the Rabbis instituted a short form of the Amidoh called "tfilas havi'neinu." After the first 3 blessings are said in the normal fashion, the 12/13 middle blessings are said in very short form. The gemara says that this prayer may not be said on "motzo'ei Shabbos" because there is a need to say "havdoloh" ("atoh chonantonu") in "atoh chonein." Mar Zutra asks, "Why not say "havdoloh" in full in the middle of the shortened form of "atoh chonein" and say the rest in shortened form?" The gemara says that this is a difficult question and offers no answer. Rabbeinu Yonoh says that in spite of the difficulty posed by Mar Zutra we maintain the halacha that it may not be said on "mot'zo'ei Shabbos." He answers the gemara's question by saying that since the rest of the middle of the "amidoh" is said in very short form, if we were to include the regular lengthy prayer of "atoh chonantonu" there is a fear that a person might believe that in the full-length version there are numerous other blessings. Rabbi Kamenecki zt"l raises a question on "al hamichyoh." When we mention Shabbos or Yom Tov, why do we place it after "uvnei Yerusholayim" and not before, just as we find it in the full-length Birkas Hamozon? He answers that the point raised by Rabbeinu Yonoh could be raised here as well. Why do we mention Shabbos or Yom Tov in the short version? Is there not a fear that one might mistakenly think that in the original there is a separate blessing for Shabbos or Yom Tov? The answer is that there indeed is such a fear. However, our Rabbis wanted to include mention of Shabbos and Yom Tov in "al hamichyoh." Since when one forgets Shabbos or Yom Tov in Birkas Hamozone there is a make-up blessing that one should say right after the blessing of "binyan Yerusholayim" the Rabbis allowed themselves to include the mention of Shabbos and Yom Tov in the shortened version, but only after "binyan Yerusholayim," as that is the only place that they are accorded an actual blessing on their own. Since neither Chanukah nor Purim have a "blessing" on their own in "Birkas Hamozone" even when forgotten, we cannot include it in "al hamichyoh."


These words have the numerical value of 1,099, the same as the three decrees that the Greeks sought to impose upon us, to annul Shabbos, Chodesh, Miloh. (Imrei Chaim)


~ Compare these words with the blessing after reading Megilas Esther, "Harov es ri'vEINU hadon es dinEINU v'ha nokeim es nikmosEINU." Why by Chanukah do we mention these matters in third person, "THEIR argument, etc." while by Purim in first person, "OUR argument, etc."?

The Eizor Eliyohu answers that by Purim the bnei Yisroel as a whole repented. They proclaimed a three day fast and all prayed for salvation, "V'tzome uvchi umispeid sak vo'eifer yutza loRABIM" (Megilas Esther 4:3). The salvation was thus aroused by the bnei Yisroel, called "isarusa dilsata," an awakening from below. However, by Chanukah a limited amount of people repented and prayed to Hashem for help. In spite of this, Hashem in His boundless kindness saved the bnei Yisroel. This show of undeserved mercy is called "isarusa dil'eila," an awakening from Above. The fight on Purim was OUR fight, as we as a nation did our part to bring mercy upon ourselves. However, by Chanukah it was undeserved, hence it is called Hashem's fighting THEIR fight, etc., referring to the enemies fight, with Hashem overpowering them in the form of a small group of people, the Chashmono'im.

~ The Bnei Yisos'chor furthers the concept of "arousal from below" by Purim through noting that we hold the "gragger" from below, while on Chanukah, where we had "arousal from above," we spin the "dreidel" by holding it from above.


~ The Kedushas Levi says that it is known that the Chashmono'im were physically very powerful. If so, why are they called "chaloshim"? He answers that they considered themselves weak in that they felt that their merit was insufficient to win a war against so many. They were in their own minds weak in merits.

~ It is interesting to note that the Targum on Shmuel 1:2:4 seems to state that the Chashmono'im were weak people in a literal sense, although one might inject the concept of the Kedushas Levi into the Targum as well.

~ The Chonoh Dovid suggests that giving the strong into the hands of the weak is alluded to in parshas Mikeitz where we find in Paroh's dream that seven emaciated cows swallowed up seven strong healthy cows.


Every day of Chanukah we read a section of the N'siims' offerings for the dedication of the Mishkon. The L'vush on O.Ch. 684:1 writes that this is because the Mishkon components were completed on the 25th of Kisleiv. The story of Chanukah included a re-dedication of the Beis Hamikdosh. This similarity justifies reading this parsha, even though the N'siim brought their offerings starting from the first day of Nison. The Avudrohom writes that we begin the reading on the first day from the previous parsha, the blessings of the Kohanim, because the salvation of Chanukah came about through the Chashmono'im, who were Kohanim. A simple reading of maseches Sofrim 20:10 seems to contradict the Avudrohom.


We know that the Aron Hakodesh, which was home for the "luchos," embodies the concept of the written Torah, while the menorah embodies the concept of the oral Torah. The miracle that took place with the lights of the menorah is symbolic of the triumph of our oral Torah, called the LIGHT of the Torah, over the DARKNESS of the Greeks, "v'choshech" zeh golus Yovon" (M.R. Breishis 2:4).

The Bnei Yisos'chor offers a marvelous gematria that alludes to this. The word Chanukah spelled "b'milluy" as follows Ches-Yud-Tof, Nun-Vov-Nun, Vov-Vov, Kof-Pei, Hei-Hei has the same numerical value as "Bavli vIRushalmi," the Talmud, which encompasses "Torah she'b'al peh."


Chanukah @ Shemayisrael