Miketz – Shabbat Rosh Chodesh Shabbat Chanukah


The festival of Chanukah commemorates the military victory of the Maccabees over the vastly superior Greek army as well as the miracle of the jug of oil in the Temple‭, ‬with the seal of the High Priest‭, ‬which miraculously lasted for eight days‭, ‬instead of just one‭.‬

The great Chassidic leader‭, ‬Rabbi Levi Yitchak of Berditchev‭ ‬

‭(‬1740-1810‭) ‬poses a fundamental question‭:‬

Why did our Sages institute a holiday to recall these miracles when there were so many others that we experienced in our history‭?‬

The Bible describes many miraculous military victories‭. ‬For example‭, ‬in Book of Judges‭ (‬ch.4‭), ‬we read of the Prophetess Deborah’s victory over Sisera and his powerful army‭. ‬In the Book of Kings‭, (‬II:19‭), ‬we read how the mighty army of Sancheriv‭, ‬was defeated without the inhabitants of Jerusalem having to raise a finger‭. ‬We mention both of these miracles in the songs of the Seder night‭, ‬but why is there no festival to recall these amazing events‭?‬

Rabbi Levi Yitchak explains that our Sages saw that some miracles are one-time events‭, ‬while others create spiritual forces that‭ ‬are reawakened each year when the anniversary of the event returns‭.  ‬The defeats of Sisera and of Sancheriv belong to the former category‭, ‬while Chanukah belongs to the latter‭.  ‬This is what the Talmud‭ ‬

‭(‬Shabbat 21b‭) ‬means when it relates the story of Chanukah and concludes‭, ‬“The following year‭, ‬they established a holiday‭.‬”‭ ‬

‭ ‬At the time of the Chanukah miracles‭, ‬it was understandable that the Jews were inspired‭. ‬However‭, ‬the following year‭, ‬on the anniversary‭, ‬there was a similar spiritual revival‭. ‬That’s when the Sages established Chanukah as a holiday for all time‭. ‬This is also what we mean when we recite the blessing‭, ‬“Who did miracles for our fathers in those days‭, ‬at this time‭.‬”‭  ‬The miracle was not only‭ ‬“in those days‭.‬”‭ ‬It returns in some form‭ ‬“at this time”‭ ‬as well‭. ‬Chanukah is a time of miracles‭!‬

Rabbi Levi Yitzchak’s explanation has a potent implication for our times‭. ‬Chanukah is probably the most popular of Jewish holidays‭. ‬It is an occasion when Jews from across the spectrum come together to celebrate‭. ‬But it also has the potential to be a lot more‭. ‬According to the Berditchiver‭, ‬there is‭, ‬at this time of year‭, ‬a powerful spiritual energy waiting to be downloaded that can inspire us and our‭ ‬communities to achieve great things‭. ‬Don’t waste it‭!‬