|Al Regel Achat: נר איש וביתו|
|Written by Yossie Mayerfeld|
The gemara1 in במה מדליקין delineates the mitzvah of ner Chanukah:
The Gemara then goes on to tell us that there is a further dispute between two Amora'im about the rationale behind the dispute between Beis Hillel and Beis Shammai:
Although the normative halacha follows Beis Hillel - one of the cute roshei teivos for חנוכה is: ח' נ'רות ו'הלכה כ'בית ה'לל - the opinion of Beis Shamai is apparently not rejected outright, as the gemara goes on to demonstrate with the story of two זקנים, one of whom follows ב"ש, citing the parei ha-chag as his rationale.
Indeed, there are some very compelling parallels between Sukkos and Chanuka.
Sukkos and Chanuka
The Rokeach2 writes that the Torah itself emphasizes the link between Sukkos and Chanuka. In Parshas Emor, the Torah says וידבר משה את מועדי ה' אל בני ישראל, and goes on to list Shabbos, Pesach, Shavuos, Rosh HaShana, Yom Kippur and Sukkos. Immediately after that, it says ויקחו אליך שמת זית זך כתית למאור - and take for yourself pure olive oil for lighting - a remez to Chanuka. Furthermore, Chanukah and Sukkos (including Shmini Atzeres) are the only two Yomim Tovim that are eight days, and that we say the full hallel throughout the eight days.
The Sefas Emes3 points out that in no other Yomim Tovim are we so focused on the aspects of hiddur as we are on Sukkos, when we take the pri eitz hadar, and on Chanukah, as the gemara we cited above says, we try to perform the mitzva be'mehadrin min ha-mehadrin.
In another maamar, the Sefas Emes4 explains beautifully that the three regalim each give off enough spiritual energy to enable the chachamim to enact a holiday corresponding to it. Chanukah corresponds to Sukkos. Of Purim, it says kimu ve-kiblu, the Jews again accepted upon themselves the Torah that they had previously accepted at Sinai on Shavu'os. And the Yom Tov that will correspond to Pesach will be to celebrate the ultimate redemption from this golus.
The Maharsha5 says that Bais Shamai's focus is on the 70 bulls of Sukkos which represent the 70 nations. We want to demonstrate how they decrease: a remez for the weakening of the nations of the world, which is a prerequisite for our geulah. The Apter Rov6 notes that there are 70 days from the seventh day of Sukkos (when the last of the Parim are brought) until the eigth day of Chanuka.
Perhaps another connection can be found in the shared halacha of im l'maala m'esrim amah moridin - if a Sukkah's s'chach is more than 20 amos high it must be lowered, since the eye cannot perceive it at that distance; similarly, the menorah must be placed less than 20 amos high, so that it will be seen. (This halacha is also found in Eruvin - a lechi that is more than 20 amos high is deemed not readily visible, and must be lowered.)
Yaakov and Chanukah
R' Pinchas Winston7 has written about the deep connection between Yaakov Avinu and Chanuka. He quotes the Midrash Tzeida Laderech:
Hashem said to Ya'akov, "For endangering yourself for a small container, I Myself will repay your children with a small container to the Chashmonaim."R' Winston asks: "But what possible relationship could there be between Ya'akov's bravery to retrieve the containers and a miracle that wouldn't occur for another 1,300 years? On the other hand, why did Ya'akov go back for the containers?" He cites the Yalkut Reuveni in P' VaYishlach:
From where did Ya'akov get this jar? When he picked up the stones from under his head and returned them in the morning, he found a stone that had a jar of oil in it, and he used it to pour on the top stone (of the monument he built). When it refilled itself, Ya'akov knew it was set aside for G-d. He said, "It's not right to leave this here ..."After Yaakov wrestled with Eisav's angel and came limping away on his hip, the passuk8 says, ויזרח לו השמש - "the sun shone for him [Yaakov]". Rashi asks: "And was it only for him that the sun shone?" He quotes the Midrash9 that says, "This was a healing sun, as the passuk10 says: וזרחה לכם יראי שמי שמש צדקה ומרפא בכנפיה - 'And the sun of tzedaka will rise with healing in its wings for you who fear My Name'.
Rav Winston develops the idea that this "sun" that shone for Yaakov refers to the ohr ha-ganuz - the "hidden light" of Creation that the Midrash11 says shone for 36 hours and was then hidden away l'asid lavo. The Maharil12 says that the word lo (לו) in this passuk refers to the 36 lights of Chanukah. R’ Winston suggests that on the level of remez the verse can be read zarach lo ha-shamash - the shamash lit 36 (lights of Chanukah). He also notes that Chanukah is the yom tov of Torah sh’baal peh, represented by the 36 mesechtos of shas.13
Certainly, Chanukah represents the hidden.
In Ma'oz Tzur, we sing: בני בינה ימי שמנה קבעו שיר ורננים - which we may translate as: men of insight established eight days of song and rejoincing. Granted, the song is written in poetic form, but y'mei shmonah literally means "days of eight" - not "eight days", which would be shmonah yamim.
The Maharal14 writes that seven represents the natural world - טבע - since the world was created in seven days. Eight is one above, and therefore connotes what he calls al ha-Teva, above nature (or lema'alah min ha-teva – supernatural). This is the reason, he explains, that the bris milah is on the eighth day; we are going beyond nature. Further, the Kohein Gadol, who was the only person to go into the Kodesh ha-Kadoshim, a place where the laws of nature did not apply, wore eight begadim.
The days of Chanukah are "days of eight" - days in which that the hidden is revealed.
Some anagrams of שמנה that also can relate to Chanukah include:
רשעים נידונין בה וצדיקים מתרפאין בה
The gemara17 says that at the end of days, the goyim will complain to Hashem that if they were given mitzvos, like the Jews, they too would be able to be rewarded.
The Chassam Sofer connects this to what the gemara says18 a little further on:
The gemara goes on to prove this from the very same passuk in Malachi quoted by the above-cited Midrash. Based on what we saw there, perhaps we can suggest that this "sun" that punishes the reshaim and heals the tzaddikim is actually the ohr ha-ganuz.
The passuk in Yeshaya19 says:
The Alshich HaKadosh21 expands on the idea that the third Beis HaMikdash is k'negged Yaakov. He asks, we know the gemara22 says Avraham enacted shacharis, Yitzchak established mincha, and Yaakov was mesaken maariv. But - why doesn't the night come before the day, like in all other places, based on va-yehi erev va-yehi boker? Why wasnn't it Avraham who established Maariv, Yitzchak Shacharis, and Yaakov Mincha?
He explains that Avraham's beis hamikdash existed in the dawn of Jewish organized civilization. Yitzchak's was just before twilight - its destruction ushered in the bitter darkness of exile that we find ourselves in now. The bayis shlishi, Yaakov's "house", will only come at the end of this long night.
Yaakov and Sukkos
The Tur Shulchan Orech23 writes that the shalosh regalim each correspond to one of the Avos:
Pesach corresponds to Avraham Avinu. The malachim visited him on Pesach and the cakes he asked Sarah to prepare for them were actually matzos.
Shavuos, the holiday of receiving the Torah, corresponds to Yitzchak Avinu - the shofar that sounded at Har Sinai was from the ram that was sacrificed in his place at the akeida.
Sukkos corresponds to Yaakov Avinu as it says: ויעקב נסע לסכתה ויבן לו בית ולמקנהו עשה סכות על כן קרא שם המקום סכות - And Jacob journeyed to Sukkos and built himself a house, and for his livestock he made shelters; he therefore called the name of the place Sukkos.
We can suggest that Sukkos represents Yaakov's relation to olam ha-zeh - as the temporary dwelling that it is. The bayis, as we have seen, represents Yaakov in olam ha-ba. If we say that Chanuka represents the ohr ha-ganuz, or a glimpse into olam ha-ba, perhaps this explains the unusual formulation of the mitzva as: "ner ish u-veiso".
Koach and Poal
The Maharal24 says that the Machlokes between Shamai and Hillel is based on Koach (potential) vs. Poal (actualized potential). Beis Shamai, who say we count down from 8 to 1, relate to the Koach - what is left, whereas Beis Hillel, who say we count from 1 to 8, relate to the Poal, what was already accomplished.
Based on this, R' Elchonon Elyakin told me in the name of Rav Hutner ZT"L that the difference between a father and a teacher is that the father gives the Koach and the teacher makes it Poal. This is the difference between the brachos of Yaakov as opposed to those of Moshe. Yaakov’s brachos are those of a ‘dying father’ who blesses each son according to his individual potential, and relates to the personal destiny of each son. This is why the shevatim are listed pretty much in the order of their birth. Moshe, by contrast, is the 'departing leader' of Bnei Yisrael who are about to conquer and occupy the Land of Israel. His blessings relate in one form or another to either the tribe's forthcoming military conquest of the land; or to their leadership potential; or to the quality of the specific 'nachala' (territory) that they are destined to inherit – the actualization of their potential.
“Coincidentally”, we read parshas V’zos ha-bracha - the brachos of Moshe rabeinu – on Shmini Atzeres, and parshas Vayechi – the brachos of Yaakov avinu – just after Chanukah.
R' Elyakin suggested that based on what we have said above, we might be able to say that this present golus is on the level of Poal, and when Mashiach comes we will be in a world of Koach; our Father (Hashem) will be much more visible.
Ephraim and Menashe
In parshas Miketz, Yosef’s two sons are born. He names his first son Menashe:
The Bnei Yisaschar26 asks, how can it be that Yosef was celebrating the fact that he had forgotten his father’s house?! He answers that really the passuk is listing two different reasons for the name: 1) because Hashem caused me to forget my toil, and 2) because of my father’s house. The Bnei Yisaschar explains Yosef’s intent was to continue with beis avi - the bayis of Yaakov. This is why the letters of Menashe’s name: מנש"ה – are the letters of נשמ"ה –signifying that just as a bayis has permanence, so too, the neshama, which is purely ruchni, also has permanence.
In parshas VaYechi, when Yosef brings his sons to Yaakov for a bracha, the passuk27 describes how he placed Menashe on his left, and Ephraim on his right, so that Yaakov would put his right hand on Menashe, and his left on Ephraim. But Yaakov was sicheil es yadav, he put wisdom into his hands, and put his right hand on Ephraim and his left on Menashe.
Perhaps we can explain the difference of opinion between Yaakov and Yosef regarding the primacy of Ephraim and Menashe based on what we said above. We can suggest that Menashe represents the hidden potential, the Koach, not yet ready for this world of actualization. Yosef holds like Beis Shammai28, that we should try to uphold midas ha-din even in this world, while Yaakov says 'Menashe will also be great', but now is not yet his time.
Perhaps we can further suggest that this may be another reason that the Menorah is placed on the left side of the doorway. The right represents chessed, which is the primary way that Hashem runs this world – as the passuk says: olam chessed yibaneh29. Only in the world to come will the world be ready to function with midas ha-din. This is why we paskin like Beis Hillel now, but l’asid lavo, we will paskin like Beis Shammai. At that time, we will be ready for the limitless potential that is hidden beneath the surface.
1 Shabbos 21b
2 ספר הרוקח הלכות חנוכה סימן רכה
3 Chanukah 5640, fourth paragraph
4 Chanukah 5641, second paragraph
5 On our Gemara, Shabbos 21a
6 אוהב ישראל בראשית לחנוכה
7 I read this several years ago in a series of essays he wrote, published on-line as “Perceptions on the Parsha”. He later turned these essays into a book, “The Light of Thirty-Six: Accessing The Hidden Light Of Creation”, available via his website, thirtysix.org
8 Breishis 32:32
9 Breishis Rabah 78:5
10 Malachai 3:20
11 Brieshis Rabah 12:6
12 Maharil - Avoda Zara 3a
13 Found in The Bnei Yisaschar (כסלו-טבת מאמר ב סימן ח) in the name of רבי פנחס מקוריץ
14 Ner Mitzva
15 Mishlei 20:27
16 ibid 6:23
17 Avoda Zara 3a
18 ibid 3b
19 Yeshaya 2:2-3
20 Yalkut Shimoni to Yeshayahu, סימן שצא
21 On P’ Vayeitzei – Breishis 28:18-19
22 Brachos 26b
23 Orech Chayim 417
24 Chidushei Agados to the sugya in Shabbos 21a
25 Breishis 41:51
26 כסלו-טבת מאמר יב
27 Breishis 48:13-20
28 The gemara in Taanis (11a) says: אמר ריש לקיש אסור לאדם לשמש מטתו בשני רעבון שנאמר: וליוסף ילד שני בנים בטרם תבוא שנת הרעב - Reish Lakish learns from the fact that Yosef's two sons were born before the famine, that a person is not allowed to have relations with his wife during a famine.
Tosafos there ask: But we know that Yocheved was born "bein ha-chomos" - on the way down to Mitzrayim, while the famine was still in force, so obviously Levi did not follow this. (Tosafos answer that it's not really a halacha but Yosef acted with midas chassidus. This is not a very satisfying answer - why would Yosef act with midas chassidus and Levi would not?!).
The Kli Yakar says that shimush would only be asur if the mitzva of pirya v'rivya has already been fulfilled. He suggests that Yosef and Levi were cholek in the machlokes Beis Hillel and Beis Shammai (in the Mishna Yevamos 61b) about whether one fulfills his obligation of pirya v'rivya with two boys (ב"ש) or a boy and a girl (ב"ה). Apparently Levi had three boys but no girls, so he felt he hadn't yet been mekayem the mitzva, so there was no isur of shimush during the raav; but Yosef held like ב"ש, so since he had already had two boys, the gemara says he now refrained.
This works out beautifully l'shitaso - that Yosef holds like Beis Shamma.
There are indications that Yosef was in the realm of midas ha-din. He tells his brothers [Breishis 42:18] את האלוקים אני ירא – “I fear Elokim”. Further, Yosef's greatness came from סור מרע, which is how the Sefas Emes describes Beis Shammai's worldview (L’Miketz v’Chanukah 5644, in explanation of Beis Shammai's shita with regard to neiros Chanuka). Yaakov, on the other hand is aligned with chesed (see, for example, Alshich on תהלים פרק קטו ).
29 Tehilim 89:3