Chanukah @ Shemayisrael

by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

Throughout the eight days of Chanukah we add to every Amidoh prayer and to "bentching," grace after meals, the prayer "al hanisim." This tells part of the happenings, the difficulties and the deliverance of Hashem, which brought to the festival of Chanukah. In "al hanisim" we find the following: "V'atoh b'racha'mecho horabim omadto lo'hem b'eis tzorosom .. u'l'amcho Yisroel osiso t'shuoh g'doloh ufurkon k'hayom ha'zeh," - And You with Your abundant mercy stood up for them at the time of their difficulty .. and for Your nation Yisroel You made a great deliverance and redemption as of this day." These words deserve clarification. What is meant by "at the time of their difficulty"? Isn't it obvious that help is only needed if one has a need to be helped? As well, what is the intention of the words "as of this day"? The gemara Yoma 29a asks, "Why is Esther compared to the morning star (T'hilim 22:1)? The answer is, to teach us that just as when the morning star is visible we know that we are at the end of the night, so too, Esther (the miracle of Purim) is the final miracle. The gemara then asks, "But we have Chanukah!" The gemara answers that Esther is the final miracle that is written (i.e. that is a book that is included in the Scriptures). Rabbi Yonoson Eibeschitz in his droshoh for 7th Ador, 5538 asks, "Why indeed isn't Chanukah written up as a book of the Scriptures?"

Rabbi Shlomo Kluger, in his commentary on our prayers, Y'rios Shlomo, explains that Hashem frowns upon miracles that are contrary to nature, while He is pleased with those that are within nature. This is to be explained as follows: We can view a happening as a miracle, totally contrary to the set laws of nature, while in truth it is not a miracle at all, but rather within the confines of nature. We find in the M.R. Breishis 5:5 that Rabbi Yochonon derives from "Va'yoshov ha'yom l'eisono," - and the sea returned to its strength, that although Hashem gave water the nature to flow, He stipulated at the time of creation that the waters of the sea should split for the bnei Yisroel at the required time. Since this was originally set into the system of the creation of the world, it is not to be considered a miracle, albeit that it is a major departure from the norm. The same is true of almost all of the miracles that Hashem has wrought. The Nezer Hakodesh writes likewise on Shmos 12:41, the verse that relates that after 430 years the hosts of Hashem exited from Egypt, that every miracle that took place in the saga of the exile in Egypt and the exodus, was already in the workings, having been pre-programmed into the creation of the world. This actually takes this type of miracle out of the realm of miracles. It is this type of miracle that Hashem is not reluctant to do.

However, there is a second type of miracle, one that was not in the original script. Hashem is reluctant to wrought such a miracle since He has given properties to His creations, i.e. for a body of water to flow, so deviating from this is akin to a king giving a present to his servant and then requesting it back.

This differentiates the miracle of Purim from the miracle of Chanukah. The gemara Chulin 139b asks, "Where is there to be found a source for Homon in the Torah? For Mordechai? For Esther?" However, the gemara does not ask for a source for Chanukah. This is because the gemara assumed that there would be mention of the miracle of Purim in the Torah, but not for Chanukah. The Torah is the blueprint of the world. In the creation of the world Purim was included, as its miracle was embedded into the creation of the world, so it is understood that Purim would be alluded to in the Torah. This is not the case with Chanukah, as its miracle was not part of the creation, but only came into being at the time of "in the days of Matisyohu etc."

Why is this so? The edicts against the bnei Yisroel that were aimed at their physical destruction were not a matter of the bnei Yisroel's moral choices. Hashem is responsible to extricate them, and He did this by setting miracles into the world system that would bring about their redemption. However, the edicts against the bnei Yisroel related to Chanukah were totally spiritual challenges, as explained in the Ta"z on O.Ch. #670 in the name of the L'vush. Since a totally spiritual challenge requires a proper response, this goes into the realm of free choice. Hashem leaves this in the hands of man. Being extricated from a spiritual challenge cannot be part and parcel of the world order as this is the challenge of man, to choose right from wrong. The outcome is in mankind's hand, thus Chanukah cannot be clearly alluded to in the Torah, as man must be left with free will and perhaps the bnei Yisroel would ch"v not have been ready to give their lives for the Torah. (Although there are allusions to Chanukah, they are more esoteric than Homon, Mordechai, and Esther, where more or less their names are found in the Torah, while Chanukah is alluded to by an acronym or the like.) When the bnei Yisroel were ready to risk their lives for the sanctity of the Torah Hashem enacted a miracle.

We may now return to the words of "al hanisim." At other times the miracles that took place for the bnei Yisroel were not wrought at the time that they took place. They were already in the world's workings. Not so with the miracle of Chanukah. Hashem responded "b'eis tzorosom," at the time of their difficulty, creating the miracle at that time. The reason is that the kingdom of Yovon, the Greeks, stood against them to make them forget Your Torah and to do away with their following the statutes of the Torah, "l'hashkichom Toro'secho u'l'haavirom meichukei r'tzonecho." Thus when Hashem saved them it was "k'hayom ha'zeh," as of THIS DAY. This is in stark contrast with other miracles.

We now understand why the story of Chanukah was not written and given the status of Scriptures. When one does an act that he is pleased with, he feels free and even proud of his actions and is eager to have it written. However, the miracle of Chanukah was not a miracle that was included in creation, and as such was a departure from worldly order. This is akin to a king giving a present to his servant and then asking to have it returned, as mentioned earlier. This is why Hashem did not allow Chanukah to be part of the Holy Scriptures.

A freilichen Chanukah!

Chanukah @ Shemayisrael