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Torah Portion

Home > Torah Portion > Parshas Vayeishev/Chanukah

Torah Portion: CHANUKA TORAH 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
by Yaakov Fogelman

Compiled by Yaakov Fogelman, who lectures on Torah and Religious Zionism; sets and disks of these studies, as well as his audio and video tapes, are available at TOP. See "In the Service of God", by Shalom Freedman (Jason Aronson), for his views, together with those of 20 other teachers of Torah, on Judaism, Zionism and the Jewish People today ($30 from TOP).

A PROJECT OF TOP, TORAH OUTREACH PROGRAM, 54 HABAD ST., Jerusalem, (02) 628-8968 e-mail: All of our weekly, holiday and general studies are available, English and Hebrew, at: Join over 2100 subscribers to the latest version of our studies on automatic e-mail (the best things in life are free!); just send us your e-mail address.

GREEK CULTURE SEES THE BEAUTIFUL AS GOOD (e.g. Aphrodite); TORAH TRADITION VIEWS THE GOOD AS BEAUTIFUL (e.g. a shainer yid).-- see our Chanuka videos-- Lights, The Maccabees, Chanuka at Bubby's, and The 8th Day.

Rabbi Mark and Estee Kunis sponsor this study in honor of their daughter Lea



On the first day of Chanuka *, celebrating the Hasmonean rededication of the defiled Second Temple, we read Numbers 7:1-17; the passage deals with the tribal princes' joint offerings of wagons and oxen upon the completion, anointing and sanctification of the tabernacle, during Israel's desert trek from Egypt to Israel; it concludes with the special first day of dedication offerings of utensils and sacrifices by Prince Nachshon of Yehuda. On the other 7 days, we read of identical offerings, by the other tribal princes, one each day, from Numbers 7:18-59. On the one or two Shabbatot of Chanuka, we also read the usual weekly portion, always Miketz for the second Shabbat; on Rosh Chodesh Tevet, the order of Rosh Chodesh sacrifices precedes the Chanuka reading. If Rosh Chodesh Tevet occurs on Shabbat Chanuka, we read from 3 Torahs (some folks, whose lives may generally lack thrill, wonder and adventure, get all excited about this! The same people also get a thrilling delicious sense of wild living, when they contemplate the possibility of purchasing food on Shabbat, on credit, w/o writing, from our fine local Arab grocers).

On the 8th day, called Zos Chanuka, we also read about the offerings of Princes 9-12, and the grand summary of all their dedicatory offerings, Aharon's command to light the pure gold menora, and God's manifestation to Moshe, raison d'etre of the Tabernacle and all Jewish places of worship (Numbers 7:60-89, 8:1-4).

* alternate version: "... my true love sent to me, three lat-kes, two do-o-nuts, and a bottle of vodka from 770".

Chanuka celebrates a victory of a few, who clung to Jewish tradition, over so many who were dedicated to contemporary secular culture (may a new Channel 7 Jewish TV soon replace, or at least offer a respectable option to, primarily pagan Channels 1 & 2; may modern yeshivot, where Torah, as seen and experienced thru all authentic Jewish faith traditions, and interfaces with all human knowledge and experience, soon replace both the present H.U.-- Hebrew or Heretical University-- Bible Department and insular Jerusalem and Bnei Black Yeshivot; a merger with holy, yet academic, Benyamin Ish Shalom's Bet Morasha would be so much holier a dream than that of H.U.'s President, to have a bet midrash of heretical talmudists!). The Chanuka Torah readings return us to the dedication of the modest original Tabernacle in the desert, never defiled or destroyed. "Why has the tabernacle survived, tho concealed, to this day?-- for it was built by virtuous men, devout of heart. In the days to come, God will again descend to dwell in it" (Tana D've Eliyahu Raba 25). It was built only by Jews, who donated their work and wealth without compulsion, or even the social pressure of UJA. But our 2 magnificent Temples, partially built by aliens, financed by forced levies, were eventually rejected by God-- may we soon build the Third Temple as God's true house, never again to be destroyed. But the present undignified tawdry scene at the Wall today shows that we're still far from ready to operate a truly holy temple.

NUMBERS 7:1-9 describes the joint offerings of the 12 tribal princes for the just completed and sanctified Tabernacle. Together they brought 12 oxen and 6 wagons. This demonstrated equality and unanimity of the tribes in their relationship to the tabernacle, focal point of the Torah experience, uniting diverse Jews (Rav S. R. Hirsch; cf. the Wall today).

2 Wagons and 4 oxen were given to the Levite family of Gershon, who transported the curtains of the tabernacle; it accompanied the Jews during their desert trek and conquest of the Land; 4 wagons and 8 oxen were used by the M'rari Levite subtribe, who moved the beams, bars, and pillars (Numbers 4:24-32). The third subtribe, K'hot, transported the holy vessels, e.g. the ark, the table for the showbread, the menora, and the altars (Numbers 4:4), on poles on their shoulders (no wagons were used). Anyone other than a priest who touched these holy objects died (cf. other dangerous things in God's Creation, e.g. poison ivy, toadstools, sex-as-a-snack, looking directly at the sun, smoking and leaning over the top of a tall building); so only after the priests wrapped the holy objects, did the K'hotites lift their staves. So fire, tho giving warmth and the light of our Chanuka candles, is dangerous if you get too close-- cf. the burning bush. Yet it originates with lifeless fuel and wicks; perhaps focusing on the vibrant Chanuka candles reminds us to praise God for lighting a Hasmonean fire from the moribund assimilated Hellenistic Jews of yore; who can "turn on" Meretz today?-- more likely Avi Ravitsky, Dudu Fisher or Mordecai Gafni than Rav Ovadia or Rav Shach or Rav Elbaz.

This division of function between Cohanim and Leviim may teach a broader message-- the holiest men, cohanim, closest to God, while they preserve essential core holiness, are not the ones to move the Torah about with the wanderings of the Jews; this is the task of the Levites, holy teachers of Jews everywhere (cf. Habad); Levites also run rehabilitation centers for sinners, who have committed negligent manslaughter, within Levitical cities (cf. Habad drug programs in CA); the Levites are the only Jews permitted to take money (via tithes) for teaching Oral Torah to adults, per Maimonides-- see his dynamic diatribe against professional teachers of Torah, e.g. salaried Roshei Yeshiva, in his commentary on Rav Tzadok's warning against making the Torah a crown wherewith to magnify yourself, or a spade with which to dig (Avot 4:7)-- see also Avot 2:2, 1:13, 3:6, and M.T. Talmud Torah 3:10, where Rambam writes:

"Anyone whose heart leads him to be pre-occupied with Torah and not work, supporting himself from charity, has disgraced God's Name, degraded the Torah and extinguished the light of religion (cf. beggers at The Wall); he's harmed himself and lost the world to come, for it's forbidden to benefit from the words of Torah in this world"-- cf. kollels today; but, at the end of his Laws of Shmita and Yovel, Rambam does permit a zealous scholar to just work occasionally, rather than practicing a regular profession.

Other authorities nevertheless feel that we must have non-Levite paid Torah teachers today, due to the low level of Jewish knowledge and observance, after all our suffering and wanderings. This, like (not "as") all emergency dispensations, e.g. sale of land to a non-Jew in the sabbatical year, must be periodically reviewed to see if the alleged emergency still exists-- a model modern Israel could be structured to develop highly trained individual consultants, businessmen and craftsmen, who work half a day at high rates (about 3 hours, per Rambam, M.T. T.T. 1:12-- cf. 3:9, see Kid. 30a), live modestly, and spend the rest of their time learning and teaching Torah and doing good deeds- free, preserving their integrity and independence of thought. Israel is probably the only place where such a society can be set up, a model for all mankind; it might also ease the lot of women who want to both have and raise many children and practice a profession, but who cannot work all day.

An outstanding example of blending Torah and ways of the world is the Yeshivat Hesder system; its students may be the closest thing to perfection in an imperfect world-- soldiers who don't forget the Torah and scholars who don't forget that evil armies must be fought with guns. They're the true descendants of the Maccabees, claims Rav S. Riskin; but I disagree with his conclusion that, in a perfect world, those who choose to sit and learn Torah should be supported by the community; only in a terrible situation, e.g. Eastern Europe, where there were no skilled high-paying professions, was this possibly necessary. Otherwise, Rambam's ideal should apply, that the Torah not be used for one's own ends-- Hillel, quoted by R. Tzadok; he also urged scholars not to separate themselves from the community-- Avot 4:7; should one pray in yeshivot or shuls who don't even pray for the soldiers and State of Israel on Shabbat? Should one use a brown Artscrolls siddur, which completely ignores the great miracle of the revived State of Israel, and contains no prayers for its welfare and its armed forces?-- only the "kosher" (black!) Artscrolls R.C.A. siddur has such prayers and an introduction from a modern Orthodox Zionist perspective, tho still nothing about Israel Independence Day or Jerusalem Day.

NUMBERS 7:10-59: After their joint communal offering, each prince was told to bring THE SAME individual offering on HIS OWN particular day. Each tribe had its own unique characteristics and talents. All are to be purified via connection to God's Torah, which they are to express via their particular life style or emphasis. Together, the 12 form an Israeli model for diverse humanity to return to Eden. The princes are called both PRINCES OF ISRAEL and HEADS OF THEIR FATHERS' HOUSES (7:2). This reflects their dual role-- to be inspiring NATIONAL leaders and to integrate their PARTICULAR tribal nature with the national mission (Hirsch).

Each brought a 130 shekel silver dish (per A. Kaplan, 104 oz., back when a shekel was really a holy shekel!) and a 70 shekel silver basin (of the same shape and size, with thinner walls, per Sifri); both were full of fine flour mixed with oil for a meal offering (both the necessities and pleasures of life are to be blended harmoniously, dedicated to God, and must be brought in pure vessels-- cf. kiddush on wine, the symbol of sensual pleasure, and washing, lifting up, the hands before starting the day's work and before consuming it's most basic reward, bread, the product of man's most basic technology and power). Each gave a 10 shekel (8 oz.) gold cup, filled with incense. Finally, an array of animal sacrifices were presented; these vividly portrayed the connection of body and spirit, both in God's hands. Thus the high priest on Yom Kippur, peak of the sacrificial service year, achieved awesome radiance-- his appearance inspired ecstatic public worship. Per Rav J. B. Soloveichik, he radiated man's Divine Image potential, gradually obscured since increasingly monkey-like man descended or devolved from his Edenic glory.

Each prince brought a young bull, a ram, and a first year male lamb for a burnt offering, vicariously experiencing the Divine link to both sides of a human being-- active bullish creative man, pursuing unlimited progress, and passive, helpless lamb-like man, surrendering before that which he cannot conquer alone, especially death itself; the greatest genius can fall before one malignant cell in his body (Rav JBS). Each prince brings a MALE goat as his sin offering-- a symbol of probable abuse of his male active conquering power (an ordinary Jew, under the sway of princes, brings a female goat for his wrongs, perhaps symbolic of his inability to retain his nobility amidst his passive fate). 2 oxen, 5 rams, 5 male goats and 5 first year male lambs are brought as peace offerings by each prince, expressing gratitude to God for life's blessings, upon the festive dedication of the tabernacle.

THE ETERNAL MENORA Rashi claims that Aharon, the Prince of the Levites, felt inadequate, when only the other tribal princes brought elegant gifts for the tabernacle (cf. Midrash Tanchuma); Rav Soloveichik expressed his similar feelings-- as a Rosh Yeshiva, he can't afford to donate holy structures. Rashi explains that God placated Aharon with a far higher task-- lighting the holy menora in the holy tabernacle (B'haaloscha, Numbers 8:1ff); Ramban prefers earlier interpretations, perhaps unknown to Rashi (Rashi's rebbe never studied Tractate Avoda Zara because he couldn't find one- the Christians had destroyed all copies in his region!). They claim that God appeases Aharon by hinting, in His eternal Torah, that his Hasmonean descendants will do something far higher than dedicating a new, exciting and inspiring tabernacle-- they'll clean up and RE-dedicate the sullied 2nd Temple, trimming and RE-kindling the CHANUKAH menora. It's much harder to REBUILD, after all one's hopes have been shattered, than to venture forth with youthful optimism (cf. the birth of Israel and the rebirth of the hardei community and yeshivos, fighting against all odds, right after the Shoa); so Rav Mordecai Gafni notes that the mitzva of imitating God includes His acts, not just his attributes; thus when the Talmud states that God built and destroyed many worlds before this one, we're to follow His example and try to build new worlds upon those destroyed, e.g. remarrying and building a new business after divorce and business failure (are we also to sometimes destroy unsuccessful worlds, before its too late, so that we can rebuild, e.g. divorce and declaring bankruptcy?).

So the other priestly ETERNAL role, blessing Israel, is placed just BEFORE the princes'offerings. To bless them, to raise their spirits, even in exile, requires extraordinary faith and spirit-- as that of Aharon, Isaiah, Hezekiah, Hillel, Saadya, Ramban, Alkabetz, The Besht, The Berditchiver, Rav Chayim Hirschenson, Rav S. R. Hirsch, Rav A. Y. Kook, The Rebbe, and Shlomo Carlebach.

The menora represents another eternal Levite role-- to keep the lamp of Torah study burning, even in exile, until it again is an Israeli Law of Life. Even Rambam might allow salaries for Levite kollels and Roshei Yeshiva. The cohen's role is also greater than that of other Jews, in that he dedicates himself, not just his money, to God's service (contrast aliya with UJA donations). May all Israel regain their light and insight, as we again relight the Maccabees' candles, after more than 2000 years, in 5761.

I attended an interfaith conference last year, "Trialogue Toward the Millennium", in Jerusalem, with Jewish theologian Yechezkel Landau of Tantur, Msgr. Kmal Bathish, and my son's Arabic teacher at the Hartman H.S., Muhammed Hourari. Muhammed pointed out that the whole concept of 'millennium", which Bathish called "the year of salvation", was alien to Islam, which still has over 500 years until a millennium in their calendar! I would add that, for Jews, not only is our third millennium still 241 years away, but this millennium, which simply celebrates Jesus' alleged 2000th birthday, is absolutely as irrelevant to us as is his very existence. Ancient Jewish sources divide the 6000 years of worldly existence into 3 millennia- the years of tohu (unrefined and undefined existence), the years of Torah, of moral civilization, and the years leading up to the messianic age. I was turned off by a local synagogue's "millenium" shabbaton this week, not really something for Jews to celebrate.

Msgr. Bathish had an acute comment on IICC and other interfaith activities- they do not even try to reach the masses, the man in the street. Indeed, the 100 or so people present are in the intellectual and spiritual elite, to whom the programs are directed. Why doesn't IICC put up large billboards and posters where clergy of the 3 faiths state their common values and urge tolerance? Why don't they advertise in the popular media, e.g. Kol Hair? But his response to questions as to why the Vatican won't open their records of the Holocaust was that they have already made major changes in liturgy and theology and that is enough- besides there have been no reciprocal acts of repentance from the Jews (just what does he expect Holocaust victims and survivors to repent?). Landau, who delivered an exceptional address, explained that the Jews do not feel that enough has been done, a feeling which must be acknowledged and respected; he'd be willing to revoke the 19th blessing of Shmone Esre, against informers and traitors, which may have been related to early Christian-Jewish heretics, and revert to 18 blessings! But any original reference to Christians is long gone and a prayer against Jewish traitors is still appropriate, e.g. the kibbutz folks who spied against Israel, the Neturei Karta supporters of PLO, and Jewish-Christian missionaries, like Hillel the Jewish singer, at Shalhevet, 25 Shivtei Yisroel St., whose Sept. '99 concert, without a sponsor's name, was advertised by unaware "In Jerusalem". .

After the session, I went to the Ben Tzvi Institute for an academic panel on "Judaism and Hellenism: Who Really Won?", with Profs. Daniel Schwartz, Lee Levine, Isaiah Gafni and Oded IrShai. The general approach of these folks is to distrust Jewish tradition as to historical facts, especially when the traditions only appear hundreds of years later; yet they feel that they, thousands of years later, can somehow discover the truth, especially by comparing similar things in other cultures, e.g. the 8 day winter solstice festivals of lights in other ancient cultures and similar exegetical methods used by ancient Greeks re their own sacred texts; Lieberman, however, is careful to point out the functional differences between them, despite similar terminology. The consensus seemed to be that the Jews won the culture-kampf by virtue of the fact that they did not completely reject Hellenism, but incorporated it's valid insights and social structures within Judaism, while rejecting those values (e.g. public nudity and overstress on sports- may Israeli TV repent this Chanuka!!) which were in conflict with Judaism. Thus the Israeli custom of eating often oil-drenched doughnuts, safganiot, on Chanuka may represent the unique Jewish talent for selectively absorbing (sofag) other cultures' tasty knowledge and values.

The Torah describes each prince's IDENTICAL offering in detail; this lengthy repetition may teach that the same outward act may be experienced quite differently by each person doing it (Num. Raba 13:13). My big brother and my father may both hit me exactly the same way physically, but with quite different mind sets; so the righteous and the wicked may suffer the same pains, but with a totally different mindset, the righteous experiencing a cleansing and purifying process, the wicked cruel fate (perhaps implied by carefully reading Ps. 32:10).

We all pray the same words and do the same mitzvos, uniting us, but with vastly different thoughts and feelings (Baker; The late Chabad Rebbe-- Week In Review, 5:18; so non-Orthodox Jews and rabbis may perform those mitzvos which somehow strike their fancy, but, at least on a conscious level, they usually won't acknowledge that they are thus fulfilling a Divine commandment, lest they feel obligated to perform them all, e.g. not dancing with others' wives, not driving on Shabbat, no Big Macs, no elegant, but treif, dinners at international academic conferences for H.U. professors).

Midrashim demonstrate how each prince's name reflects the history and destiny of his tribe (otherwise why learn them?), leading to their unique intent in offering their tabernacle gifts. For example, Yissachar's forte is learning Torah-- HIS silver vessels would represent the written and oral law, both indivisible, filled with the same "fine flour", Torah; it must merge with "oil", symbolic of good deeds. For majestic Yehuda, the same objects had different significance. The 2 silver vessels represent his heirs, Shlomo and the Meshiach, who rule over land and sea.

Some Midrashim even claim that each prince PICKED these detailed gifts on his own! All reached the same conclusion from totally different Divine perspectives (Num. Raba 14:26); cf. approaches of primarily male intellect and primarily female intuition to an issue; independent researchers often simultaneously make the same discoveries, when God wants such knowledge in the world, tho from different perspectives; Profs. Y. Schroeder and N. Aviezer both worked on Big Bang Theory and Genesis, but didn't know of each other until I introduced them; meanwhile, Danny Matt developed basic connections between the kabbalistic tradition and Big Bang Theory and met Schroeder last week at Yakar. Yael Levine Katz, Tzipora Heller and I all wrote on The Woman of Valor about the same time in our feminist age, 1992-4; So God gives the Torah in 70 languages, perhaps reflecting Mankind's varied personalities and cultures. Each person and society may have to learn Torah in their own "Language"; the passionate Latin American may thrive in passionate Chabad, but not in cool Ponavitch.

The Torah may be teaching another message-- prominent creative people, like the princes, usually only want to sponsor unique celebrations and donations, expressive of their own personality and ego. Here we recapture the princes' unusual mood at the dedication, as each abandoned his usual pride to submit to God's will; each prince brings exactly the same prescribed offering day after day. Imagine contemporary fundraising for charity without the ego element (is it possible?). Yet, a separate day IS given to each tribal prince, for celebrations are not to be mixed-- even Yerushalmi weddings and Bar Mitzvas, with virtually identical food (and, often, cigarettes to poison young children). After all the magnificent princely gifts, God speaks from the tent-- but ONLY TO MOSHE!

One midrash stresses princely harmony, so high at this moment that all natural rivalry was forgotten (cf. Sinai); then God could view each prince as being equally involved in his cohorts' gifts. The 12 separate tribes each perform unique functions in the national fabric, all indispensable for the effectiveness of the others' contributions (cf. Tzahal, recipes, families, chief rabbis and orchestras). The tribes are listed here in their desert marching order (Num. 2). Nachshon of Yehuda is first-- he was first to jump into the Red Sea, before it split, at Exodus. A leader must possess positive individuality; but his true uniqueness is to be expressed by bravery and nobility, rather than mere egotism or attention-seeking purposeless non-conformity. The Torah now totals all the gifts brought, simple arithmetic; perhaps it wants to insure, indeed, that all Jews at least master simple arithmetic and value such skills!

Gestalt Midrashim see meaning in the total sums-- e.g. 12 silver vessels correspond to 12 months, constellations, and basic human organs. So the Temple is called "neck" (Gen. Raba 93:12), connecting lower and higher worlds; it's the true Great Neck, where U.S. Jews should aspire to be. The neck's 7 vertebrae may thus correspond to Shabbat; this approach interfaces with the concept that Man, image of the Creating Lord, is a microcosm of the entire structure of the universe, that it is the rest of nature of whom God requests: "Let US make man in OUR image" (Gen. 1:26-- 26 is the numerical equivalent of the one God's higher name).

THE HAFTARA FOR SHABAT #1 OF CHANUKA IS ZECH. 2:14-4:7 (also for B'haaloscha).
We joyfully anticipate the final redemption of fallen humanity via Israel and its temple. This slow historical process flows from the modest beginnings of that minority of Jews who returned from rich Babylonia, to build the 2nd Temple, and the few Maccabees who salvaged it (cf. today; but the Third Temple will only be built when no one opposes it, including the Arabs; we have to shape up soon, so that they'll accept our Yitzchakian leadership, and join our mission, probably as Islamic Noachides-- see Ramban, Gen. 26:19ff).

Zecharia began his prophecy about 17 years after his return from Cyrus' Babylon. He tried to revive the spirit of the Jews, who had abandoned rebuilding the temple, due to natural disaster and hostile neighbors. He focuses on their 2 great leaders-- Governor Zerubavel and high priest Yehoshua (the 2 olive trees beside the menora in his vision-- Radak). His message is: Right shall overcome Might; the little Chanuka light, which burnt so long, symbolizes Jewish spirit, the source of the Maccabees' military victory. The rabbis DID celebrate the victory in our prayers of Chanuka, but called attention to its source and aim, via the mitzva of lighting candles. "Sing and rejoice, daughter of Zion-- for, wow, I come and will dwell in your midst-- the word of God. Many nations will cleave to God on that day, and will become My people (Noahides), but I will dwell in your midst-- and God will once more choose Jerusalem". Zecharia then sees Yehoshua standing before the angel of God, with Satan (i.e. the evil in man) standing at his right hand to hinder him (symbolic of the Jew as the priest of mankind, broken by centuries of persecution and wandering). Tho God expels Satan, Yehoshua still wears "filthy garments" (a flawed exterior-- cf. Israel today, especially its TV, almost bereft of Jewish content; but, as nature abhors a vacuum, per Spinoza, so our TV is not parve, but inculcates Western decadence). Angels are told to remove the soiled garments, erasing Yehoshua's sinful background. He is to don "pure" garments, in a second or third Jewish chance to guide humanity. Both in his personal life and his job as Temple custodian, he must study and observe Torah. Then he will be a powerful example, teaching the people in his new pure garments (M. Hirsch)-- "THEN I'LL GIVE YOU ACTIVE MOVERS AMONG THOSE WHO STAND HERE MOTIONLESS" (3:7; cf. 3:1,3,5, where Yehoshua, Satan and the other angels are all STANDING)-- with proper spirit, the Jewish people will overcome all physical obstacles.

The hosts, forces of God's Creation, will then become active guiding "movers", who aid the prophetic mission-- no longer mere passive "standers"; MOVERS refers to those immortal souls who transcend death (Radak, Targum). "Listen Yehoshua, the high priest-- you and your companions that sit before you-they are men of wonder; for behold I bring my servant (Rashi: Zerubavel), as a growing plant (3:8)"-- cf. our incipient gradually growing redemption by God today, via the State of Israel, as expressed by Rav Kook; the Lubavitcher Rebbe, loyally following his anti-Zionist predecessor, Rav Shalom Dov Ber, treated by Freud for depression in 1902-3, publicly rejected this basic religious Zionist belief, perhaps against his own inner convictions and better judgement (but the Rebbe's otherwise non-observant Trotskyite brother, Label, Yehuda Leib, did make aliya with his future wife in 1936 and had a clothing store down the street from Chabad in Tel Aviv, on Nachalat Binyamin- his daughter, Dalia Gurarye, does research at the Weizman Institute); yet the Rebbe fully supported and encouraged the State which he never visited, urged many to live here and join Tzahal, and opposed giving up land for peace, vs. Rav JBS, who at least came here to try out for a rabbinical post in the early 30's (no one knows what either would say, were they still alive today-- Rav Shalom Gold). Those few poor Jews who returned to Israel from rich Babylonia were laying the foundations of the Messianic Age, while their peers got rich abroad (cf. Kibutz Lavi, N.Y.'s West Side, Golders Green, & Jo-Burg). So a handful of Maccabees fought Antiochus' forced assimilation to "Greek Enlightenment"; a small number of Zionist pioneers restored Israel, rather than heading West to seek their fortunes with most of their brethern in the "goldina medina". The age of the Meshiach-- a great, but human, teacher-- will imperceptibly, AS A PLANT, grow out of the framework of study and worship established by Ezra and his followers. There will be many unnoticed silent stages, as an oak emerges from an acorn. Finally-- "ON THAT DAY, SAYS THE GOD OF HOSTS" (to whose unified structure of reality-- hosts-- all will return; cf. the end of Ps. 24), "EACH MAN WILL INVITE HIS NEIGHBOR UNDER HIS VINE AND UNDER HIS FIG TREE" (3:10-- Rambam, so long ailing, deems fruit generally unhealthful; yet he praises grapes and figs (and almonds -- see Num. 17:23; Daot 4:11)-- God, via Zecharia, knows best! But God praises pomegranates, date honey and olive oil too, in Deut. 8:8! The angel then shows the prophet a gold menora, with its own olive trees to supply its oil (a self-sustaining Israeli Messianic high-tech economy?)-- "This is the word of God to Zerubavel, to promulgate: not by military force and not by physical strength, but by My spirit" (do Jews succeed in their mission), "says the God of hosts" (yet they must fight). "Who are you, the great mountain" (of Esav?)?-- "before Zerubavel", (you are) to be a flat plain... (4:7)".

THE HAFTARA FOR SHABAT HANUKA II (and Vayakhel) is IK:7:40-50. Solomon's opulent temple is contrasted with the modest desert tabernacle. 10 Menoras now surround the original menora of B'tzalel. Two immense pillars, Yachin and Boaz (1K7:21), were erected at the Temple entrance; they proclaim that the whole institution is only worthwhile and viable if it fulfills the Word of God (in the end it indeed wasn't considered HIS temple-- the Jews used it for their own ends)-- The right pillar, Yachin (lit. He will establish or direct), is aligned with the menora (the spirit), on the Temple's south side; it symbolizes the Law of God as that which DEFINES and DIRECTS life, giving it structure and meaning (vs. existentialist despair- see "La Dolce Vita"). The left pillar, Boaz (lit. IN HIM IS STRENGTH), is on the north side, with the golden table, symbol of physical strength and wealth. This pillar portrays the Law of God as the source of unconquerable strength in the Jew, and of his messianic mission. Both pillars and all Temple utensils wind up melted down in Babylonia, itself long covered by the dust of history. Nevertheless, their continuation, the modern State of Israel, will shape up; may its leaders become pillars of integrity soon. It will promulgate their messages of true strength, meaning, and direction in human existence to the whole world-- all will return to Jerusalem. Get in on the ground floor now! This year in Jerusalem!
BACK TO THE TOP- From notes on Rav J. Soloveichik's lecture, Chanukah 11/29/75:
First, the Rav would like to point out the 3 "key" words concerning Chanukah, 1. Light 2. Hallel 3. Chanukas Hamizbayach (the rededicating of the altar which had been defiled) In this lecture, the Rav discusses light. He asks if we shouldn't reverse the order of the haftoros, rendering them in chronological sequence; also, if there is only one Sabbath, why not read Solomon's haftora? However, it has thus been decreed by the sages. Perhaps the reason for Zachariah being read first is because it involves the restoration of the second Temple, and this is the spirit of the miracle, which belongs to the framework of the second Temple. In comparing the lighting of the Sabbath candles with the Chanukah candles, we employ a similar brocho, "l'hadlik ner shel Shabbos (or Chanukah)." Concerning the Shabbos candles, we may use their light- it is desirable to eat by them and to read by them. They illuminate the house, and in fact, one should attempt to complete his entire meal before they become extinguished. The two aspects of Shabbos are oneg (enjoyment) and kibud (honoring, decorating- laying out the house for Shabbos). The candles lend an air of festivity to the house. Oneg is practical, so that you don't eat in the dark. The main mitzvah is oneg (illumination). It is a normal light, which serves a practical purpose, and it increases man's comfort. Basically, the candle which is used on Shabbos is no different from the candle which might be lit any other night of the week. The only difference is that the one used on Sabbath has a certain amount of "luck", in that it is used for a holy day, instead of a regular day. Therefore, the word shel is used in the brocho. It has no inner endowment! Shel means "for". "You command us to light the candles "for" Shabbos." Another candle, without a brocho is used "for" any other night.

Chanukah is completely different. Here we really should not use the word shel, but "l'hadlik ner Chanukah (to light the Chanukah candle). It can only have one meaning, one purpose! We cannot use its light for any purpose, save merely to look at it. You cannot use it to illuminate your meal, you cannot read by it, and if you as much as want to identify an object, such as the denomination of money, you must turn on other lights. Otherwise you violate the mitzvah. It is a candle which is holy, "kodesh haym." It is intrinsically holy; it is untouchable. There is no pragmatic purpose. It is a public ceremony light.

One light (Sabbath) is "nayr hanayr", which gives light, because it makes our little world visible. The other (Chanukah) is "nayr hanirah" (just to look at). Sometimes G-d reveals Himself very close, as at Mt. Sinai. At other times, He reveals Himself from the great distance. Chanukah is the far distant light. The closer we come to it, the further it seems to remove itself. The light of Chanukah is as stepping outside on a clear night and gazing at the stars, the constellation of heaven. We can see the light, but it is from a great distance. Nayr Chanukah represents remoteness such as the stars. We have the sentence from Yom Kippur, "Or zoruah latzadik, ulishrai lev simchah." (Such as the Shabbos light, which shines for the righteous and fills their heart with joy.) But the Chanukah light is psychologically as far away as the stars. They may be considered as the "kodshei kodshim" (Holy of holies of the Temple). In spite of the physical closeness, they are millions of miles away. Such light is as inaccessible as the kodshei kodshim. As an analogy we have the lighting of the menorah by Aaron the Kohen Gadol, and the burning of the spices (ktores). The Torah states, "In the morning Aaron shall trim the lamps and burn the incense. In the evening, when he lights the menorah, he shall again burn the incense." This is the second type of light (the Chanukah type) as compared to the first type (Shabbos light).

The first light represents the stage in man life at which man has no ??, no problems. It is comparable to young people who are not searchers, who see that their lives are illuminated-straight and simple. On the other hand, the second light (Chanukah) is like the light which G-d created at creation, but immediately put aside-reserved for the tzadikim (righteous). The first light tells man the truth! The second light (such as we see from the stars) tells a discouraging tale. It is as if to say, "You will never get to me." It humbles man, who by nature is vain and proud. Even though the cosmos seem to tell man that it is mechanical, beyond the cosmos is the Maker. Therefore, all is not lost, for someone watches man. On the one hand we are discouraged, "What can I accomplish?"

But the knowledge beyond, that is the Almighty, is that which encourages. That is why the lighting of the menorah is combined with the simultaneous burning of the ktores. When Aaron put the ktores upon the hot coals of the golden altar, a mist arose so that it partially hid the light of the burning lamps of the menorah, so that the Kohen could hardly see the light. The purpose of the menorah was to illuminate the world- to tell the truth and to enlighten man. The second analogy of lights, both near and far, we find from the Kedushah, which we recite, and which was revealed at different times to the prophets Isaiah and Yechezkel. It represents the two stages in man's pursuit of happiness. When Isaiah saw the vision of the angels reciting Kedushah, he heard the words, "kodosh, kodosh, kodosh...molay chol haoretz kvodoh." (The entire world is filled with His holiness) He heard this at a period of history when Israel was very strong, when the Temple was strong- when whenever he turned he saw the glory of G-d. Yechezkel, on the other hand, who lived during the destruction of the first Temple, was himself taken prisoner, and already could not see that the koved was everywhere. It was already hidden, obscured from him. The words he heard were, "Ayay mokom kvodoh?" (Where is His glory, where is His holiness?) He couldn't say, "Molay chol haoretz kvodoh". It was almost as if he were in a concentration camp.

G-d is either close to us or far away. But whenever we say, "Boruch kvod hashem mimkomo" (Blessed be glory of God from His Place) or, when we go to a cemetery or to comfort the bereaved, we use the words "hamokom y'nachemcho" (may G-d of Place comfort you), we do not use the word "hakadosh boruch hoo (the Holy One, blessed be He)." Hakadosh is close; Hamakom is far away. Chanukah was a time of great trouble, and for the next 200 years until the final destruction of the second Temple there was constant trouble. But the twinkling star with its remote light, like the Chanukah light, sends us a definite message. It tells us that no matter haw far away He is, He will (eventually) come closer; this may also explain why we joyfully sing of all our historic crises of near annihilation in Maoz Tzur, right after proclaiming in Hanaros halalu that we may not use the Chanuka candles, which only serve to remind us of the eventual great light (this occurred to me an hour ago, as I lit this year's first Chanuka light). The first Temple was kadosh, kadosh, kadosh, built with great opulence. The second was built in hiding and mystery- with poverty, under stress, with one hand on the saw and the other on the weapon. However, the first, even though so glorious, completely vanished with the flames. But the kedushah (the holiness) never left the second one. So we cannot use the lights of the Chanukah candles. There is an interesting parallel to be found in the three sedras which precede and follow Chanukah. Vayishlach, Vayayshev, and Miketz- all have one word in common. That word is "ish" (man). The mysterious man. In Vayishlach, we have the mysterious "ish" who wrestles with Jacob. In Vayayshev we find again the "ish", whom Joseph finds in the field when he is going to search for his brothers. And in Miketz, Joseph himself is now the mysterious "ish", whom his brothers encounter. Especially in Miketz, the "ish" appears several times; he is unknown- strange to the point of absurdity.

There was nothing frightening to Jacob when he was about to meet his enemy (Esau). He knew his enemy (brother) well and the reason for the enmity He was accused of 2 crimes-taking the right of first born (bchoroh) and the blessing (brochoh). When you know your enemy you know how to appease him, with generous gifts; it's a form of disengagement. What does precipitate fear is the "ish" whom you don't know. What did he want? What kind of man was he? He might be your friend, or he might be out to destroy Jacob. With Joseph, the ish is also a strange man. Why does the Torah relate to us the entire business of meeting the "man", of being sent to Dotan etc? The answer is that it was a heavenly conspiracy. How did it even happen that the ish heard the brothers telling where they were meaning to go? Certainly they wouldn't have discussed it before a stranger, or loud enough for him to hear. Secondly, if the ish didn't appear and tell Joseph where to go, he would have searched for awhile and returned home unharmed. Thirdly, the brothers, in selling Joseph, did an unnatural deed, which they never would have dreamed of doing. It was all a mystery, part of a Divine plan. In Miketz, why should the ish have singled them out, asked them all sort of questions about their father, brother etc? The answer again is that it was a Divine plan, one which paved the way for the coming of Mashiach.


A Hanuka ditty really gripped us, as kids at Kesher Zion Hebrew School, in Reading, Pa.: "I WOULD LIKE TO BE A MACCABEE, SO BIG AND TALL AND STRONG....". We all have Maccabean Messianic Supermanian visions-- our good world will ultimately conquer all evil; no force can stand in our way. Unfortunately, even if we succeed, success and power often corrupt-- the Maccabean dynasties gradually sank into that very corruption and decadence, against which their brave noble ancestors fought. Hasmonean Priests got used to being kings and relished it (cf. religious parties and MK's). So the Jew fighting demonic Arab terrorists and armies today has to be careful not to ape their joy of war and carnage, Lebanon's leit-motif. Valiant soldier Yigal and dedicated Doctor Baruch can easily become assassin Yigal and mass murderer Baruch, howbeit, ostensibly, in God's Name. Still, most Jews identify with both Chanuka and the Maccabees. I was well trained in my neo-Litvishe Williamsburg, Brooklyn (not relatively modern Williamsburg, Virginia) Yeshiva to question every assumption (except the validity of the yeshiva itself, and its neo-Slobodka mussar lifestyle!)-- such is the conquering Jewish male's traditional critical talmudic misnagdic approach to life (usually ignoring Bible and Agada).

Avraham Schwartz told the tale of his highly variegated life, similar to that of Arye Kaplan, at H.U.'s Hecht Synagogue this week. He had been a Litvishe student in a Mussar Yeshiva in France, when Reb Arela of anti-Zionist Toldos Aharon paid a visit; Schwartz was highly impressed by his positive hassidic approach, as opposed to the negative fear and self-critique of the mussar movement, and eventually came to Jerusalem to study at Toldos Aharon; he found the lifestyle, which stressed long, deep and joyful prayer (2-4 hours each morning) and Torah accompanied by work, inspiring; the anti-Zionist motif was not stressed, unlike Neturei Carta.

But, as time went on, Toldos Aharon lost these unique assets, and became much like other hardei yeshivos. Simultaneously, he realized that their anti-Zionism, claiming that it was destroying Jewish identity, was simply based on ignorance. Schwartz had lived in Morocco, England and France and saw with his own eyes that the opposite was true- Zionism and Israel were often the only forces which successfully perpetuated Jewish identity, a conclusion shared by Rav J. Soloveichik. Avraham's critical talmudic mussar background had implanted in him the quest for truth and the disdain for "group think" or "rebbe think", so he followed his own heart and mind. Tho his beliefs changed, he continued to wear the archaic garb of his community for some time (as did his friend Avraham Krishevsky, when they first began coming to us on Shabbat, their "underground railroad"- both were eventually divorced by their ultra-haredi wives, under pressure from their families and rabbis; Krishevsky then married and founded a new religious Zionist family; Schwartz is still eligible!), but eventually repented and came out of the closet as a proud religious Zionist. He now lectures on the haredi world and gives tours of Meah Shearim. The students were very much involved in his talk, followed by their questions.

A bit of such talmudic analysis quickly reveals that very few contemporary Jews, tho they whoop it up every Chanuka, share those beliefs and convictions, for which the Maccabees risked their lives, back in those bad old days. The Maccabees fought Greek adulation of man's exterior-- aesthetic form and competitive sports-- relatively trivial realms, to be subservient to higher values, whose importance was grossly inflated by the "other side". Thus torch races, sport groups and beer in the name of the Maccabees are a travesty. Would Judah Maccabee really care if Maccabee Modein could kick a little ball better than Betar Jerusalem? Wouldn't he like Jewish sportsmen from Jerusalem just as well! The Hasmoneans fought any compromise of eternal halachic Judaism, of Divine origin, with then contemporary transient Hellenist culture and values; high priest Jason was unacceptable. Thus Hanuka celebration by groups who "Hellenize" down Judaism today is hypocritical-- cf. H.U. and Israel's Reform Movement's "Oneg Shabbat"s at Jerusalem's Bet Shmuel, featuring secular rock and jazz music. Even their own U.S. reform sponsors should be offended.

On the other hand, the Maccabees weren't content to just learn and pray, that evil infidels go away-- they revolted and fought battles; such activism (e.g. "hesder haredi") is opposed by most of the haredi world. Some thus see a ray of hope even in counterproductive violent Badatz shabbat demonstrations and attacks at the Wall **-- this activism and aggression may some day be turned against enemies of Israel and mankind, rather than other Jews. But our black brethren, fighters-for-the-faith, aren't in the Maccabees' situation-- non-observant Israelis today don't force haredim to drop or even water down their faith; they simply won't themselves obey religious laws, which they don't understand and don't believe are of divine origin. Haredi violence, aggression and hatred drive them even further away from Torah. Hatikva (and a recent Israeli survey) proclaims that the Jewish soul still resounds in Jewish hearts, tho secular Jews wish to remain "a free people in our land" (our 4000 year hope, to also be a "holy people in our land", is the final refrain of the new improved Hatikva-- get it on a bumper sticker, $1 from TOP).

** their public cursing of archeologists in 1995 was attended by Jerusalem's fire-and-brimstone ashkenazic chief rabbi Kulitz, and not condemned even by Israel's chief rabbis-- they at least had the decency not to attend. While the archeologists may lack proper respect for the dead, a sin, would the Badatz rabbis like to be cursed with the loss of their arms when they sin, e.g. via suicidal smoking in their court, and giving cigarettes to young children at their weddings, inspiring young haredim to smoke away their lives.

EEE (Education, Example and Empathy), not force, is the only way to influence and convince alienated Jews today; only a beautiful harmonious Torah society can inspire others-- not Satmar vs. Chabad, Vizhnitz the Father vs. Vizhnitz the Son; many Israeli "religious" Jews are raised to be strictly observant and learned in Torah, but are secularly inept and ignorant; they often repress their own inner doubts and life frustrations; their common resultant deep-seated anger and/or joyless apathy impede Torah's eventual peaceful triumph. When such "pious" Jews also lack a basic religious principle, gratitude, to the state and army which protect them, many are turned off to Torah-- please avoid synagogues and yeshivot which don't pray for our soldiers and state. So those who rudely interrupted appearances of Teddy Kollek in The Jewish 1/4 years ago ignored a major Torah principle-- gratitude. Even Moshe couldn't strike the river which once saved him. Those who benefit daily from wonderful Jerusalem, whose re-emergence was guided and directed by Teddy (now grandly carried forward by Ehud Olmart), mustn't bite the hand that feeds them, tho they can and should RESPECTFULLY and firmly disagree with secular outlooks.

Maccabees fought in the name of the unified unchangeable Divine Torah (the "Orthodox", truly traditional, belief; this unpleasant term was first applied in 1807, when Napoleon was freeing Jews from the ghettos of Europe. It described Jews "who accepted the fullness of Jewish Law and Tradition"- Kahn, R. in "The Passionate People", 1968, p. 132), which will eventually prevail over both secularism, which worships collective Man, and the idolatry and/or replacement theology of many, tho not all, other religions. Esav's evil angel almost destroyed Yaakov, who suddenly prevailed at (messianic) dawn; when the evil force then begged Yaakov-Yisroel to release him, Yaakov replied: "I WON'T LET YOU GO UNTIL YOU BLESS ME"-- recognize that I'm not your enemy, but your teacher and true source of blessing, in redeemed Israel. So today-- we don't just celebrate survival of our light; we also gradually increase our chanuka lights OUTSIDE our gates, where the whole world will see them-- "FOR FROM ZION (not, to the same degree, from Boro Park, Monsey. The Vatican, Salt Lake City or L.A.) SHALL GO FORTH TORAH AND GOD'S WORD FROM JERUSALEM" (Is. 2). Secular society indeed celebrates Hanuka, but simultaneously ignores its major messages.

Per Rambam, often cited by Rav J. Soloveichik, no one knows how God evaluates anyone in totality (M.T. Tshuva 3:2)-- I can't claim that God prefers a great rabbi to a street corner bum, an individual Maccabee to an individual Hellenist; only He knows their inner workings and background; nevertheless, the proper authorities must punish and stop those whose activity is likely to destroy our political and religious society; so we must give loving criticism (tochacha) to each other's actions and statements, IF, AND ONLY IF, it's likely to be productive.

While I just applied tochacha to contemporary celebration of Chanuka, I've ignored 2 other important Jewish traditions, which must always accompany it-- 1) to stress also the half-full glass, all that is good in the object of tochacha (e.g. to celebrate Yom Haatzmaut) and 2) to end everything, e.g. haftarot, on a happy upbeat optimistic note; when tochacha, especially via Moshiach, will eventually lead to worldwide tshuva (repentance), everything will be good again, as it once was in Eden, where day (i.e. bright clear messianic dawn) followed night (i.e. Man's beclouded existential exile).

Perhaps implementation of those 2 highly positive traditional maxims requires the feminine nurturing perspective of Miriam's spiritual descendants-- she convinced the broken Egyptian Jewish males to continue married life, tho Pharoh was drowning their sons; conquering males, fighting evil, need to be balanced by deep, intuitive, nurturing and encouraging female faith, and v.v. Only together, do both sexes form a complete balanced Divine Image. So Prof. Susan Handelman prefers not bringing up unpleasant uninspiring life episodes, tho not exposing them limits truth. So when I discussed writing this article about Chanuka with Greer Fay Cashman, her immediate response was: "Great, Chanuka's such a happy, beautiful and deep holiday!-- just like Purim, it inspires virtually all Jews; they love to celebrate it-- no one has to force them!". Somehow the quiet, but beautiful, message of Chanuka candles-- that there is a God, that He cares about what we do and what happens to us, and that His Torah is mankind's only factory-authorized instruction manual-- does penetrate Jewish hearts, even tho their other chanuka celebrations contradict its origins-- we wish all both a Happy and an Authentic Chanuka!

FAMILY FIRST Even penetrating skeptical Rav Dr. Dovid Hartman, who successfully slaughters so many sacred cows, accentuated the positive, decentuated the negative, in exploring Chanuka (his audio tape, "Hanuka and the Family", is available at TOP); he stressed family commitment, peace and harmony, not state and military prowess, as the essential theme of Halachic Chanuka; he notes that the true glory of the mitzva of lighting chanuka candles is when each family member lights his own. This law symbolizes each Jew developing his/her own unique inner light, while sharing, and contributing to, our common Jewish familial and communal ideals. Rav S. H. Hirsch similarly notes that individual, family and religious identity and essence are re-stressed at the beginning of Jewish nation building in Exodus, vs. Moshe Greenberg's specious conclusion that Exodus was originally a separate work (in the frequently highly heretical E.J.).

TV Rav Mordecai Gafni (he is now teaching Shmuel, Wed., 8:30PM, at Bet Elisheva, #4 bus) describes Rashi's ideal Jewish grandchildren, Baalei Tosofot-- they spent day and night questioning and disputing grandpa's conclusions, while affirming his overall values and visions. I personally believe that those haredim (not all do so) who strive to preserve every detail of Yisroel Saba's (Grandpa Israel's) life in Eastern Europe a century ago, including his unhealthful heavy food, his outmoded dress and his scientific ignorance, are as UN-traditional as the great majority of non-Orthodox rabbis and university scholars of Judaism, who deny the unity and Divinity of the Torah-- they replace it with the Documentary Hypothesis, popularized by Julius Wellhausen & Co.; such Germans tried to destroy Israel's soul, linked to the authority, sanctity and unity of Torah, a century before their descendants destroyed their bodies.

In a funny twist, Yemenite Tzadik and Sage Rav Yichye Kapach, Israel Prize winner Rav Yosef Kapach's granddad, decided, about 1900, that the Yemenites had drifted from the path of Torah and science of their own Yisroel Saba, rational Rambam-- they'd been corrupted by the pseudo-Jewish kabbala, brought to Yemen only 500 years ago by new-fangled Sefardi latecomers; Kapach threw out the Zohar and revived the Rambam's path for his followers, the Dor Deah, the Generation of Understanding; he established schools blending Torah and allegedly secular disciplines, similar to the misnagdic Lithuanian Yavneh schools for little Litvaks; back in the bad old days, only hassidim and Chatam Sofer tried to cut Jews off from the secular world, alienating so many potentially religious Jews; today's Haredi Misnagdim have unfortunately joined them, ignoring their own Yisroel Saba, the Vilna Gaon, who warned talmudists that they won't get their Torah and Talmud straight if they don't have their math and science straight; future Torah giants, such as Rav Aharon Kutler, studied in Yavneh-- they probably took along a lunch bag with a hard roll, an onion and a herring, rather than Bomba, deli or Drake's cake. Kapach's movement is alive, well and kicking in Israel today; there are Dor Deah shuls near Shmuel Hanavi (run by a Cohen) and Bar Ilan (run by Kapach's namesake). Leading Torah sage Razon Arusi, chief rabbi of Kiryat Ono and a member of Israel's Supreme Rabbinic Council, and Avraham of Jerusalem's great reasonable restaurant, Maavad Hak'samim, near the Mashbir (I recommend their take-home salads, laluch and saluf) are affiliated with Dor Deah.

Hartman cites a rarely applicable law, chosen by Rambam as the grand climax of his laws of Chanuka (M. T. 4:12-14): "The mitzva of a chanuka candle is extremely precious... one should even sell his cloak and buy oil and candles... it takes precedence over wine for kiddush... but if the choice is between a candle to light his home and a candle for Chanuka or wine for kiddush, an illuminated home takes precedence, for the sake of peace in his home; so God's Name is obliterated to make peace between man and his wayward wife (in the Sota ceremony)-- great is peace, for the entire Torah is given to make peace in the world, as said: `It's ways are paths of pleasantness and all its paths peace' (Prov. 3:17; cf. Mea Shearim, JDL, Bnei Brak)". The Shalom Hartman Institute's friendly non-judgmental approach engages even those non-Orthodox rabbis and Israeli educators who are far from Jewish tradition, in serious exploration of truly traditional Judaism. But sometimes it bends over backwards too far (and can fall down) to honor the heretical camp, even deriding the believers' camp in the process.


Rambam's yearning for family peace and harmony may reflect his own sad childhood-- his mother died bearing him; his father despised both, when little Rambam couldn't learn well, until he later became a child prodigy; at 38, he sank into depression and couldn't function for a year after the 1168 death at sea of David, his younger half-brother and family provider; he was also Rambam's pupil, perhaps his only childhood intimate other-- Rambam calls him a "most righteous and perfect man"; "my one joy was to see him; now my joy's turned to darkness"; Rambam compares himself to forlorn Yaakov in Gen. 42:38; see his angry Cairo letter to allegedly insensitive Israeli Rav Japhet b. Eliyahu in 1176, when he was still mourning David. Did (or could) Rambam, a medieval "lonely man of faith", ever overcome his tragic early emotional deprivation? He's the opposite of the warm, cheerful outgoing Baal Shem Tov-- did the late Habad Rebbe try to blend their personalities and perspectives in himself and his Chassidim? The Rambam's groupies may tend to be lovers of abstract concepts and systems, with distant cool fathers, while those of the Besht probably are more into human feelings, joy and common sense morality.

Another interesting speculation is why misnagdic or Litvishe Torah giants tend to have few children, while Hassidic rabbis tend to have many! The vitality of the rebbes and their frequent confining of their womenfolk to domestic realms may be factors. Some of Rambam's writings may reflect his emotional and sensual detachment, despite his intellectual, ethical and spiritual greatness:

1) He negates at least 99.99999% of humanity in his early "Introduction to the Mishna" (Mosad Harav Kook edition, pp. 75-83); he claims that they exist only to develop the world for the holy genius who appears every generation or two (corresponding to his own experience, that daddy-- and Daddy, Who is in Heaven-- only loves you if you're a genius), and to keep him company, lest he go berserk alone (cf. Rav J. Soloveichik's simple folksy friends in Brookline).

2) In Daot 5:2, Rambam views eating as a gross function, which a scholar will not do in the presence of others, and eating anything which you don't need to survive, e.g. Coke, kugel and kichels, as wild indulgence.

3) In his youthful (23-30) "Commentary to the Mishnah" (San. 10, ed. J. Kapach, 145), Rambam urges us to hate and destroy Jews who, even innocently, deny his basic religious principles, removing themselves from the Jewish community, "klal Yisroel"; Truly Grand Rabbi Norman Lamm comments in "Jewish Tradition and the Non-Traditional Jew": "Systems that hold that the acme of Judaism is attained in formulating correct ideas and true notions of God (e.g. Rambam), as opposed to proper conduct, will consider any divergence from such correct opinions to be severe violations of the integrity of the faith. Rationalism is closely linked to dogmatism. Since Maimonides is the supreme rationalist, who holds that metaphysics is beyond halacha, and that the loftiest goal is the forming of correct concepts about the Deity, it is in the area of ideas and theory that the test of faith takes place. It is in that realm, rather than in behavior, that one stands or falls as a Jew". In his comprehensive discussion of "Loving and Hating Jews as Halachic Catagories", Rav Lamm notes that Rambam himself mitigates his earlier extreme view in M.T. Mamrim 3:3, where he concludes that one who rejects fundamentals of Jewish belief out of force of habit or defective education isn't considered a heretic, even when he later learns about Judaism; he is like a child captured by gentiles, captured by the heretical Tzeitgeist. One should try to bring him back only with friendship and education. Either he became more sensitive with age or he realized that his intolerance was not compatible with Cairo, where Jews and Karites lived in harmony.

WHEN A SEFARDI JOINS THE LITVAKS: Rav Yehuda Chayoun, a Sephardic disciple of Rav Shach, compiled an interesting anthology of halachic and aggadic perspectives on the Messianic Era- "Otzros Acharis Hayamim", available, with a suitable warning of its dangers, at TOP, in English: "When Moshiach Comes" ($20 postpaid); I urged Targum Press and Feldheim to immediately recall all copies and not to sell them without a corrective label, to avoid a terrible disgrace to God's name and religion, and possible violence against the non-observant-- on the very first page (21), Chayoun quotes extremist anti-Zionist Rav Chayim of Brisk, Rav J. B. Soloveichik's insular uncle, that even an unintentional or mistaken non-believer in Moshiach Now is called a heretic, and that it's a mitzva to hate and destroy him, per the above Rambam on San. 10!!! Chayoun doesn't quote the Rambam's basic limitation to that principle in Mamrim 3:3 (he was unaware of it), leave alone all the contrary sources of Rav Lamm.

Yet this book has unqualified approbations from Israel's leading haredi misnagdic scholars, except Rav Shach; all are called "HaGaon Rav". How could they approve of the above passage? Either they did not even read the book, or they read it ignorant of the sources and thought of Harav Hagaon Lamm, Shlita, a true "gadol", or, God forbid, they identified with Chayoun's statement. Perhaps an approbation is just general identification with the author, affirmation that he belongs to the "alte bucharim club". So Rav Moshe Feinstein and others approved Amsel's "Judaism and Psychology", unaware that his alternative to Freud, "Cheshbon Hanefesh", a Jewish psychology of the unconscious, was Maskil Rabbi Levin's transmutation of Ben Franklin's writings into a "mussar sefer".

4) Rambam's original shocking ruling in M.T. Isurei Biah 12:10, wisely censored in the Vilna edition. It's not accepted as halacha and should be rejected by all, just as we demand of other faiths that they repudiate their offensive texts and teachings. Is he expressing unconscious anger there at the mother who "abandoned" him?

5) In M.T. Malachim 8:9, he rules that a captive woman, who won't abandon idolatry after 12 months, is to be executed, as any gentile who does not accept the 7 Laws, when there is strong Jewish authority. He also rules that a woman cannot serve as a judge or witness against them (9:14 ibid). In M.T. Daot 4:1, Rambam himself claims that one's thought and feelings must be distorted by any illness, howbeit slight-- his traumatic childhood, probably beyond complete repair, and his illness in his old age, may be good examples; cf. the views of his father, son and descendants, e.g. that the ideal is never to marry, at least to marry as late as possible, and to at least have few children, even if one must marry-- see 17th cent. Yugoslav "Shalshelet Hakabala" on the Rambam's life.

Herbert Strean, in "Psychotherapy With the Orthodox Jew", documents the ambivalent relationship that has existed historically between psychotherapy and Orthodox Judaism, with many therapists badly afflicted by counter-transference due to their anti-religious bias. True, as Eric Fromm, he and many other modern therapists have departed from Freud's rabid disdain for religion*, which climaxed in Sigmund's obsessive and ridiculous work, "Moses and Monotheism", as more and more religious folk turn to therapists; but Strean, as Fromm, still only appreciates Orthodox Judaism for its contributions to ego strength and its painstaking search for self-discovery, truth and improvement. He is blind to the possibility that the Torah is indeed objective truth, revealed and dictated by the Living God of Creation, that it is His guide for man, corresponding to His detailed principles and laws of nature for the whole universe. Therapy, as all science, is value-free, has no binding authority, and cannot explain our miraculous holistic universe.

* The difficulties that psychotherapy has had in coping with and understanding religious behavior very much mirrors Freud's own ambivalence toward his own religion, Judaism. Altho an avowed atheist, Freud was an active member of Bnai Brith, spoke and wrote frequently on Jewish subjects, was enamored of Moses and identified strongly with him, and married an Orthodox Jewish woman, Martha Bernay (Hirsch's rebbe's granddaughter, whom he took away from religion; as soon as he died, she began lighting Shabbat candles again). He declared that he would always be a Jew, despite the professional advantages of conversion. Freud, concerned over psychoanalysis' vulnerability to attack as the "Jewish science", thought that Jung could be a much valued successor to him as the leader of psychoanalysis, because he was not Jewish. Yet, he also told Karl Abraham that Jung could not understand psychoanalytic phenomena too well, because it took a Jewish mind to do so (Jones 1953-1957, Meghnagi 1993). The Reverend Oskar Pfister, a friend of Freud's and an ardent supporter of psychoanalysis, often berated Freud and other analysts for not embracing religious concepts and making them a part of psychoanalytic theory.

Strean's case studies with a rabbi, a rebbitzin, a baal tshuva and a strident religious feminist are fascinating illustrations that religious people are still people, whose early upbringing and parental relationships so much affect their behavior and attitudes too, including their religious behavior and attitudes; he claims that after they reach self-realization via psychoanalysis (a long and costly process), their religious experience itself is purer and healthier and a source of pleasure and inspiration, rather than an often masochistic burden. Strean summarizes the case of the masochistic rebbitzin: "A 34 year old woman, the wife of a rabbi, Rachel Aabramowitz (not her real name) came into treatment because she had severe psychosomatic problems. In social situations, which necessarily were many, her heart beat rapidly, she blushed profusely, and she became alternately nauseated, constipated, or had diarrhea. In addition. Rachel often stammered or stuttered in social situations. Most of these symptoms appeared soon after she married Rabbi Nathan Abramowitz.

In her therapy, Rachel slowly, and with much pain, became aware of how much she hated being her husband's "servant". Her demeaned position in marriage, however, was also a continuation of her inferior status- a girl, a sister and a daughter- in her original family, where "boys were everything and I was a nobody". Altho Rachel began to feel better and function at a higher level after she could accept some of her repressed rage, she modified her early positive view of the therapist, and then saw him as a "manipulator" and a "seducer", who did not have her "best interests" in mind. "In many ways", says Strean, "I reminded her of her arrogant father (An Orthodox Cantor) and of her husband, who acted "too smugly. The intensive negative transference of Rachel Abramowitz will be discussed in depth, and, of course, my own frustrations, irritations, and the individuals in my past, with whom I identified Rachel, will also be discussed and analyzed. When Rachel could emotionally perceive that she wanted to continue "a war with Jewish men" and could take some responsibility for her own wars, she became much more assertive at home and in the synagogue, liked herself more, and became less of a servile masochist. She began to see herself less as a rabbi's wife and more as a woman who enjoyed loving and working".

E . From THE HANUKKAH ANTHOLOGY, by Philip Goodman

During the long centuries of suffering and agonizing travail in the dark Diaspora, the Feast of Lights has served as a shining beacon for world Jewry. Year after year the frail Hanukkah candles have diffused spiritual luminescence into dreary homes and brought visions of better days to come. Over half a century ago, the late Justice Louis D. Brandeis predicted the creation of a new era for the Jewish people in these prophetic words: "The Maccabees' victory proved that the Jews-- then already an old people-- possessed the secret of eternal youth: the ability to rejuvenate itself through courage, hope, enthusiasm, devotion, and self-sacrifice of the plain people. This will bring again a Jewish renaissance". Indeed, the modern state of Israel was brought into existence and is being nurtured through the same indomitable spirit of the Maccabees, that kindled a flame of hope in the yearning Jewish heart and mind for the past two millennia. The establishment of Israel, too, was a victory of the few over the many, of democracy over despotism. It, too, was resurrected through the invincible faith and courage of the self-sacrificing modern Maccabees, who gave their lives so that Jews may once again live in freedom


Hanukkah comprehends Judaism to mean Jewish independence-- in the physical and political sense-- in that small land on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean, where the threefold bond of land, people, and faith was forged for all time. Hanukkah also enshrines the dialogue between Israel and the nations of the world from earliest times. The central theme is of the few against the many, of a people-- its soul kindled by immortal dispensation-- pursuing its distinctive course through the ages against all odds: a people confident in its faith that no mortal force, whether active or passive, whether of oppression or hatred, whether of discrimination or assimilation, could, in the final analysis, deny it the fulfillment of its spiritual and national destiny, both for itself and in the broader context of human progress.... The Maccabees of old were not only members of the priestly house and, as such, guardians of Judaism; they were also leaders of their people-- generals and statesmen.

In summing up political and military prospects, the criteria were the same in ancient times as today. The Maccabees could not have ignored them, and yet they embarked on a revolt against Greek oppression that, in light of what we know today about the balance of forces in those days, must have seemed remote indeed from any chance of success. They acted as they did because failure to act would have meant total physical destruction and spiritual eclipse. But an inner voice told them that if the tragedy of Jewish destiny is a precarious existence on the brink, its triumph is achieved by total commitment to faith, through which peril can be challenged and overcome (cf. Wye and Clinton).

In our time, over two thousand years later, the sons of the Maccabees faced a situation that, in poignancy and despair, recalled the circumstances in which their forefathers had likewise found themselves.... But the passage of time had not obliterated the spirit of the Maccabees-- their resolve, their faith, and the message of their experience bridged the gap of time and guided their heirs in the twentieth century. If archeology one day uncovers the political and military estimates of those who sent Greek forces to crush the Hasmonean revolt, we might assume that their analysis of the Jewish prospects would not be far different from the assessments that were prevalent in 1948. Redemption flashed anew, when every mortal assessment would seem to have denied its validity. The few vindicated their cause against the force of the many. -

As Hanukkah is celebrated throughout Israel today, its true significance and innermost spirit can be grasped for the first time since the festival was initiated thousands of years ago.... The dialogue of a redeemed people with the world has but begun. The testament of the Maccabees will be vindicated. On Hanukkah let us clasp hands in spiritual fraternity and historical involvement. Let us recall the testament of Mattathias, the father of the Maccabees; privileged indeed are we to live in this generation. May we be worthy of the destiny that summons us forward. One single spark, loyally treasured in but one single Jewish heart (e.g. that of Yoni at Entebbe), is sufficient for God to set aflame once more the whole spirit of Judaism. And if all the oil, if all the forces that were to have preserved the light of God in Israel, were to be misused for the light of paganism-- even then, one little crucible of oil, one heart which, in a forgotten hidden corner, imprinted with the high priest's seal, has faithfully remained untouched and undefiled, this one crucible is sufficient to become the salvation of the entire sanctuary, when the right time and hour has come.

"And even though all countries were bowed in obedience to Antiochus, if every man forsook the land of his fathers and assented to the king's command, even then, I and my sons and brothers will not forsake the laws of our fathers"-- thus spoke the loyal Hasmonean heart of one single hero advanced in years-- and Israel's sanctuary was saved.... And if you, yourself, were the only one who still preserved the spirit of the Maccabees in his home, remember that one single Jew, one single Jewish home is ultimately in itself sufficient to serve as foundation for the re-erection of the entire Jewish sanctuary-- from Rav. S. R. Hirsch, translated by Isidor Grunfeld.

F. CHANUKA TODAY Rav Yisroel Lau attributes the unmatched popularity of Chanuka to modern Jewish identification with the Maccabian fight against assimilation; most non-observant Jews still want their children to be Jewish*. Matisyahu is singled out for praise, in an age when most pious oldsters lost their children to the allure of Hellenistic culture-- his stood by him, both in joining his foolhardy revolt and in immediately tending to the Temple, rather than celebrating their military victory. Hillel, who accentuates the positive, adds a candle each night-- we celebrate the increasing spreading of God's holy light on Chanuka; Shamai starts with 8 and decreases their number by one each night. He may be more concerned with purging evil than spreading good.

10,000 Iranian 19th century Jews converted to Bahai, trading membership in one persecuted community for that in another, under no coercion; they did not really want to abandon their covenant with God, according to Iranian H.U. Prof. Amnon Netzer, at this week's inauguration of the H.U. Chair in Bahai studies and "The First International Conference on Modern Religions and Religious Movements in Judaism, Christianity, Islam and the Babi-Bahai faiths", organized by broad, deep and pleasant H.U. Prof. Moshe Sharon. The liberated modern Jews of Iran lived amidst a stagnant medievalist Jewish community, with no Hassidic or Reform (YF: or modern Orthodox) religious alternatives, and found the modern progressive Bahai society, abandoning inequality due to gender and race, and stressing reason and science, amidst spirituality, an attractive alternative; but many continued to frequent the synagogues, especially on Yom Kippur, and even observed kashrut, etc. But their descendants gradually abandoned all contact with Judaism; will those of their descendants who are still Jewish, due to maternal descent, return to Judaism when they visit Israel's holy Bahai sites? Should we seek them out and remind them of their ancestral covenant? The Bahai Universal Court of Justice must approve even a visit to Israel by a Bahai follower, a strangely authoritarian restrictive element in a group which proclaims freedom of thought and a critical approach to truth. So is the absolute belief that Bahaullah never said or did anything wrong, unlike Moshe in the Torah, but like the leaders of other religions, which claim to replace Torah, and much of Hassidut- Can a true Habadnik admit that the rebbe was sometimes wrong? Perhaps the Bahai movement indeed fears such a return to God's eternal covenant with Israel by Bahai descendants of Jews, upon exposure to the miracle of modern Israel, the beginning of our redemption- cf. the assimilated Jews in the Hasmonean Period. I will write later, the Good Lord willing, on the religious implications of the Bahai chair and conference for H.U., including the possibilities of Jewish revival at so secular H.U., despite President Magidor's dreams of it being Heretical University, a haven for heretical talmudists!

WILL OUR OIL LAST ?- RAV KUZRIEL MEIR: Much has been made of the fact that Chanuka celebrates the recorded struggles of a people-- our people-- for religious liberty. All too little attention is paid to the fact that Hanuka also celebrates the victory of a people over its own weaknesses. Long before the ruler of the Selucid Empire, Antiochus IV. promulgated his decrees aimed at destroying Judaism and making the religion of our fathers pagan-like, many of our fellow Jews had forsaken the ways of the Torah and embraced the heathen cultures of the Greek Empire. This moral and spiritual corruption had already found its way into the highest and holiest places of their day. Jason, the High Priest, paid Antiochus an exorbitant price for the permission to be High Priest. This price was the introduction of pagan institutions into Jerusalem, to insure that her inhabitants gained the right of freedom of worship and, thereby, attained the rights of a citizen of Antioch. Jason upheld his pledge-- soon "Olympic-style" games (with "kosher style" hot dogs?), which were considered forms of worship to certain Greeks, were instituted to replace certain Temple practices. We read of tales of Cohenim appearing naked in the hippodrome near the south-east end of the Temple Mount (cf. TV CH. 2). These stories are found in our historical records. The shock was too much for some. The general feeling was that Judaism was a dying faith amongst Judea's population.

Some felt that, with a little push, all the Jews would rush to embrace the offer of this new freedom. Antiochus would never had tried to convert the Jewish people, had not he been advised by the leaders of Judean Society that the people no longer felt a loyalty to their fathers' traditions. It was an internal struggle between Hellenists and traditionalists, that blossomed into an international struggle. The most important element of the struggle was the fact that it was a grass-roots insurrection. Ordinary people struggled against a great and dynamic mega-culture, to maintain their right to follow the faith of their fathers. In this context, we must look at the Rabbis' emphasis upon the single cruse of oil lasting for eight days-- cf. the Greek ban on the 8th day mitzva, circumcision (see "The 8th Day" at TOP). We see the miraculous struggle of the small rag-tag guerrilla army in a new light. Perhaps we can also appreciate our struggles in today's world of the Mega-pop-culture. It is only when we look at this aspect of our people's struggle that we begin to understand-- the real aspect of importance in the Hanukah story is our victory over our individual and collective weaknesses.

At the time of Antiochus' decrees, thousands of years ago, Judaism was split by ideological factions and weakened by political intrigues. Like the small flame of the single jar of oil, it seemed to only have enough strength to last a day. It appeared to have no future. It appeared to be dying. And, what was worse, it seemed that it would be extinguished before there was any hope for its renewal, before a new generation would be raised in its principles and be able to defend it against its enemies. It would take a long time-- eight days-- to prepare the pure oil; The way of the Torah, Heaven forbid, would pass away.

Suddenly a champion arose. The seemingly hollow shell managed not only to survive, but even conquered its enemies. Today Judaism faces the gravest challenge of its 3000 year existence. We are being asked to join the mainstream of humanity-- not through the old tactics of oppression and murder, but through the power of acceptance and love. Amidst the ideas of universal freedom and brotherly love, it is a hard thing for us to ask a generation of Jews to believe in the ways of our fathers-- the way of Torah-- when the light burns dim in our own lives. Our children no longer understand such values as Judaism places forth, because we fail to place an importance upon them-- we even have failed to truly learn them. The challenge of the Hasmoneans is still with us. Still calling us to remember that repentance is a daily task. And we must constantly purify and rededicate ourselves to the Torah's principles.

G. ADAM, EVE, AND CHANUKA are the subject of Phil Chernofsky's interesting lead article in TT #241, Parshat Vayeshev. Phil cites Talmud, A.Z. 8a: "When Adam noticed that the days were getting shorter and the nights longer, he feared that he was to blame for the coming destruction of the world. He believed that his disobedience (eating from the tree of knowledge) was being punished by an increase of darkness, which would return the world to the primordial chaos. He declared upon himself an eight day period of prayer and fasting to ask for Divine forgiveness. When the day started to lengthen, as the sun rose earlier and set later, he realized that this was "the way of the world" and rejoiced with an 8 day festival (The Gemera continues that, altho Adam's motives were proper, future generations took upon themselves the winter solstice festival as pagan ritual.... Chanuka, as innovative as it must have been viewed when first instituted by the Sanhedrin (but the prayer Al Hanissim implies that the Hasmoneans themselves instituted it-- YF), actually has its roots dating all the way back to the creation of the world.

A Midrash (not cited) says that the "darkness on the face of the abyss" represents Greece and that the Light, created on Day One, represents the light of Torah, which dissipates darkness-- so OHR, light, is the 25th word in the Torah (Chanuka begins on Kislev 25, the day the Chashmonim rested-- Chashmona is the 25th place in the desert encampment). Thus, in a sense, we can view Chanuka as the restoration of Adam's 8 day holiday in honor of God. Kohelet said that "there is nothing new under the sun". Chanuka is the composite realization of various potential elements we find hinted at in the Torah.

Phil also expounds the midrashic connection (not cited) between Yaakov's cruse of holy anointing oil at Bet El and Chanuka; he crossed the Yabok to recover it and was rewarded by its subsequent use to anoint the Tabernacle and the kings of Israel and to perform the 8 day Chanuka miracle. Aharon is commanded to eternally light the eternal light (Lev. 24:1-2), right after the main Torah festivals in Lev. 23. YF: such midrashim should be more appreciated for the ideas they try to convey, than for the questionable historic correctness of their exegesis-- Rav Y. Hadari has pointed out that Chazal had to get vital messages across to their public when they had their attention, once a week, at the drasha (hence "midrash") on the weekly reading; accepted custom dictated that any idea presented had to be somehow tied to the reading. Prof. Michael Kramer of Bar Ilan spoke on these connections of Biblical accounts to future events at the Bahai Conference, "Jewish Thought and Puritan Typology: The Transformation of a Mode of Exegesis in Modern America". He noted that other faiths discarded the original simple Biblical meaning in their typology, substituting the Christians for the Jews as "Israel" and "New Jerusalems" for Jerusalem, rather than merely including themselves in the Biblical message. H. In "ECHOES OF THE SONG OF THE NIGHTINGALE-- The Torah As A Divine Document" ($20 from TOP), Rav Leon M. Mozeson opens up his heart and mind to share his lifetime of Torah study and teaching, especially his constant contact with Rav J. Soloveichik, ztz"l (his son, Yitzchak Mozeson, who, thank God, survived a near-death experience, carries forward his father's spirit in his explorations of the Hebrew origins of all languages). Here's a bit of his Chanuka Torah:
The Talmud (Shabbat 21b) mentions that there were two explanations for the differing views of Hillel and Shammai. One explanation is that Beth Shammai is influenced "kneged yamim hanichnasin" -- by the number of days due to come. On the first night of Chanuka, eight lights are lit, because there are eight days of Chanuka scheduled to come; the second night of Chanuka, seven additional days of Chanuka are due to come, and so on, until the last night of Chanuka one light is lit because there is only one day of Hanuka left. Beth Hillel, however, is influenced "kneged yamim hayotzi'in" -- by the number of days due to leave. The first night of Chanuka one light is lit, in realization that one day of Chanuka is about to pass, upon completion of the day; the second night of Chanuka, two lights are lit, in expectation that after twenty-four hours, two days of Chanuka are scheduled to leave, and so on, until the last night of Chanuka eight lights are lit, and we know that by the next night Chanuka will be gone.

What kind of an argument is this, queried the Rav, if we should celebrate Chanuka by the number of days coming or going?! I turned to the Rav and said that evidently, according to Beth Shammai, the Chashmonoim wanted to renew the Temple rituals, and now that an undefiled cruse of olive oil had been discovered, they believed that by lighting the menorah with it, the menorah would continue to illuminate the Temple until a fresh supply of olive oil could be obtained, in 8 days (Ran). We light eight lights the first night of Chanuka in commemoration of what the Chashmonoim anticipated would happen - that the menorah would remain lit until natural means could be found to keep it lit indefinitely. According to Beth Hillel, however, the Chashmonoim were not that wildly optimistic. As the menorah supernaturally continued to be lit day after day, their wonder and gratitude commensurately grew. Our addition of one light daily reflects the growing wonder of the Chasmonoim, as the menorah continued to remain lit, day after day or rather night after night, until eight days had gone by and a fresh supply of olive oil was available.

"Correct!" was the one word of approbation that the Rav granted me... If I remember correctly, the Rav lit his Chanuka menorah after sunset and did not wait for tzais hakochavim (the appearance of the stars in the sky), as the Magen Avraham assumes the view of the Shulchan Aruch 672:1 to be. Rabbi E. M. Block, in Ruach Eliyahu, mentions that the Gaon of Vilna would light his menorah after sunset. This, indeed, seems to be the obvious text of the B'raitha in Shabbath 21b, "mitzvotah mishtshka hachama" ("Its mitzvah commences with the setting of the sun"). And this is the view of Maimonides, in Laws of Chanuka 4:5, who states in no uncertain terms: "The candles of Chanuka are not lit before sunset; only at sunset - not earlier and not later!" The Mishne Brura computes the precise time for lighting the Chanuka candles to be about fifteen minutes prior to the emergence of the stars in the sky, which is "the beginning of the second sunset." If I remember correctly, the Rav used the large Sabbath candles for his Chanuka menorah and not olive oil, even though the miracle of Chanuka occurred through the medium of olive oil (please see the chapters on Chanuka). I imagine that the Rav's preference is simply based on the fact that the wax candles burn smoothly and reliably, as Darkhei Moshe mentions on Tur, O.H., 673.

YF: I remember the Rov complaining that even big shabbat candles didn't burn long enough to keep the menora lit until folks stopped walking the streets today; I remembered seeing long burning colorful candles, with a pleasant scent, in the import stores near Harvard Square, and bought him a set for Chanuka. When he used them in the Y.U. dorm, security police suddenly appeared at his apartment and searched it for drugs!! Apparently, these incense candles were frequently used by drug users to cover the scent of their drugs!!! What, if anything, is the moral?-- That police should not jump to conclusions? That Torah adherents and scholars must know well even the more sordid elements of culture?

I.ADL- 21st Century Maccabees: With the burgeoning use of the Internet, wars, including anti-semitism and terrorism, are waged in cyberspace, trying to conquer public opinion, raise funds, invade fine web sites, disrupt e-mail and encourage and organize violence- Virtual, not Virtue-al, use of the web. We recently, as many Zionist causes, were briefly crippled by an e-mail virus, tho I cannot be sure that it was intentional. Kim Steeves,, notes that it was W95.MTX- "The virus attached itself to your original message and was sent as a separate e-mail message, called I_wanna-see-you.txt.pif; it also goes by a list of other names that fool the person into thinking it's legit. You can view this virus by logging onto Symantec." It also destroyed many of my e-mail in-box files, but I apparently got rid of it by first updating my Norton anti-virus program (free, via e-mail) and then running a virus check on my hard discs, which repaired and quarantined infected files. My apologies to our readers and I hope that it won't happen again and have taken other measures to ensure that it will not; if you sent me any e-mails over the last few months, which were not answered, please send them again. Should we, God forbid, have any future problems with our e-mail, an older, but attractive, version of our studies is available at, a well-done website by Menachem Kucher, Efrat. Our more recent e-mail studies are archived at

So it was quite appropriate that I was invited to a recent ADL international conference on "The Internet: Confronting On-Line Terrorism and Anti-Semitism"; the conference was extraordinarily well put together by Rav Dovid Rosen and his staff, in collaboration with ICT, The International Policy Institute for Counter-terrorism, and Rav Melchior, pleasant and savvy Minister for Israeli Society and World Jewish Community. The first session was: "The Internet: A Weapon of Extremism and Anti-Semitism", moderated by Rav Rosen. Chris Wolf, Esq., of ADL, Explored Anti-Semitism on the Internet, Reuven Paz, of ICT, "Islamic Extremism on the Internet, and Dr. Ely Karmon of ICT, "Right Wing Extremism on the Internet."

The 2nd session, "Cyberwar: A New Era," was moderated by Shabtai Shavit of ICT. Yael Shahar, ICT, whose proud fianc?e was in the audience, delivered an all-encompassing overview of Cyber-terrorism, using a computer and projection screen. Chief Supt. Meir Zohar of the computer crimes division of the Israeli police, fully explored "Law Enforcement Issues", focusing on the problems of foreign web sites which reach Israel. Eli HaCohen of Israel Radio portrayed "Electronic War in the Middle East."

The 3rd Session, "responding to the Threat, A Look Ahead," was moderated by Wolf. Forceful and analytical Likud MK Michael Eitan, Chairman of the Knesset Internet Committee, discussed all the issues involved in 'Legislating the Internet," a pretty hopeless task without some internationlly enforced regulations, e.g. any country allowing the transmission of hate mail being boycotted by all other nations. While Germany has a strict code, Germans are still exposed to U.S. material, where freedom of speech is the holy of holies, often even overriding danger and damage. Humorous Dan Mirkin, Esq. Explored "Legal Aspects of the Interne," followed by Mark Gazit, CTO, Delta 3, who spoke on current technology, "On the Frontline."

My general impression was that this was an excellent concentrated effort to explore and combat the use of the internet by hate groups, but not getting at the religious and psychological approaches to the underlying problem, hate itself, which motivates hackers and virus planters to cause hurt and discomfort to so many people, out to destroy and show their own power. Rav Rosen's kippa matches his hair, leading a Tel Aviv visitor to be amazed that this magnificent Cambridge orator is a rabbi, and an Orthodox one at that; he noted the recent adoption of antiquated Christian blood libels of Jews by extremist Moslems, who want to turn their political struggle with Israel into a religious war with the Jewish people worldwide. I added that they had done this over a century ago, in the killing and forced conversion of the Jews of Meshad to Islam, after a similar false accusation. They lived as marranos until they could leave Iran.

See for loads of information and ideas in ADL's on-going war against anti-semitism, racism and terrorism, including the symbols used by hate groups, e.g. "Racists, Bigots and the Law on the Internet", by Christopher Wolf- INTRODUCTION: The explosion of the Internet, and especially the startling increase in the number of teenagers and even children online, has raised important concerns among parents and educators. Among the distractions and diversions along the information superhighway, there are potent dangers. Much of the attention has been focused on online pornography and sex predators. Less has been said of the dangers of hatred and bigotry on the Internet. But the problem has been well documented. And the multiplying of hate sites on the Internet is really just the tip of the iceberg. While it's a marvelous medium for education, communication, entertainment and commerce, the Internet has a dark side. Hate groups have emerged from the back alleys of the past to post their hateful ideas online, in full view of everyone, where they can hide behind their anonymity while spewing their hatred for a potential audience of thousands, if not millions. The Internet is a relatively cheap and highly effective way for hate groups as diverse as the National Alliance and the Ku Klux Klan, as well as anti-Semites, right-wing extremists, militia groups and others to propagate their hateful ideas. What's more, it's becoming a powerful recruitment tool for these groups. Where the activities of hate groups once were limited by geographical boundaries, the Internet allows even the smallest fringe group to spread hate and freely recruit members online by tapping into the worldwide audience that the Web provides. Technology also offers such groups the ability to post messages in chat rooms and communicate like never before.

Recently, the Anti-Defamation League, which is at the forefront of tracking this trend of hate online and exposing the phenomenon in numerous reports, has responded to several incidents where hatred and bigotry has found its way onto mainstream Internet portals. For instance, the ADL recently fielded dozens of complaints about the presence of hate "clubs" on Yahoo, one of the Internet's most popular sites. Dozens of hate groups had established "clubs" in plain view on Yahoo's servers. In this case, ADL and Yahoo were able to work together to pull the plug on these haters, resulting in the company's removal of some of the most offensive clubs because they stood in violation of the site's terms of service agreement, which clearly prohibits hate speech. This was one instance where it was possible to rein in white supremacist and racist groups from spreading racism and bigotry. But in the vast majority of cases, online hate speech remains protected under the First Amendment. Hate speech and the many varied forums available on the Internet for the exchange of information have opened up a new set of legal quandaries. Many of the thorniest issues surrounding hate speech ultimately will be decided in the courts

J. From our Mailbox: From: Ruth Baks ORIGIN OF THE NAME CHANUKAH Why is the most well-know Jewish holiday called "Chanukah?" What is the origin of the name, and what are some of the deeper kabbalistic meanings behind it?

1) The name Chanukah was given in commemoration of the historical fact that the Jewish fighters rested - "chanu" (the FIRST THREE LETTERS of the word "Chanukah") - from their battles against Syrian-Greeks on the 25th of Kislev. 25 is spelled out chof-heh - the FINAL TWO LETTERS of "Chanukah."(source: Kol Bo; Abudraham; Tur; Ran)

2) The Hebrew word "chein" (the FIRST TWO LETTERS of the word "Chanukah") denotes grace. Thus 'Chanukah' could be meant to allude that the Jewish warriors found Divine 'grace' on the 25th of Kislev.-(source: Noam Elimelech)

3) One of the most direct explanations of the name Chanukah is that it is related to the dedication ("chanukah") of the Altar, [a centerpiece of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem]... We learn in the Talmud (Avodah Zarah 52b) that the Hasmoneans removed and stored away the Altar-stones which the Greeks had polluted with idolatry, and had to build a new Altar. That is why the festival is called 'Chanukah' which means 'dedication.' (source: Maharsha to Shabbos 21b) See also: I Maccabees 4:44-9 and II Maccabees 10:2-4. 4) The name Chanukah refers also to the dedication of the Second Temple, which occurred on almost the same calendar date (see the Book of Chaggai 2:18). It is because of this consecration ("chanukah") of the Second Temple that the miracle of the lights that happened in that season - generations later - is called Chanukah. (source: Rabbi Yaakov Emden)

5) The name also commemorates another dedication ("chanukah") that nearly occurred on a 25th of Kislev, for it was on that date that work was completed on the Tabernacle - during the 40 years of Jewish wandering in the desert. Although the work was finished in Kislev, the Tabernacle was not dedicated then, for, as the Midrash records, God wished to combine the joy of the Tabernacle with Nissan- the month in which the Patriarch Isaac was born. Thus God (so to speak) "repaid the loss" to Kislev, in which the labor was actually completed, with the Chanukah of the Hasmoneans. Furthermore, it is for this reason that the Biblical chapter dealing with the sacrificial offerings brought by the Tribal princes at the dedication of the Tabernacle [Numbers ch. 7], forms the synagogue Torah readings during our 8 days of Chanukah.(source: Shibbolei HaLeket)

6) Homiletically there is an allusion in the Hebrew name Chanukah to the fact that we conduct ourselves on Chanukah in the manner advocated by the School of Hillel. Hillel holds that we begin on the first night with one light, and add additional lights on each of the subsequent nights. (As opposed to the practice of the School of Shammai, who begin with eight lights and subtract one light on each of the subsequent nights). The initials of Chanukah spell: "Eight Lights, and the Halachah follows the School of Hillel." (source: Abudraham; Ateres Zekeinim; Pri Megadim)

7) Kabbalistically, at the time of the lighting of the Chanukah candles, there is a revelation of part of the "Ohr Haganuz," the great light hidden away since the beginning of Creation - the light of Messiah. And that is why the festival is called Chanukah - because it is a spiritual preparation ["chinuch"] for our destined Redemption.(source: Bnai Yisas'char) Reprinted with permission from "CHANUKAH - HISTORY, OBSERVANCE AND SIGNIFICANCE," by Rabbi Nosson Scherman. Published by ArtScroll/Mesorah Publications Ltd., Brooklyn, NY. Web:

Reply-To: "nlc" From: Rabbi Natan Lopes Cardozo" The Religious Equilibrium of the Menorah The menorah of Chanuka, sometimes called the chanukiya has, as is well known, its root in the menorah of the Temple. While there are many halachot (regulations) regarding how the biblical menorah should look and how it should be built, Rashi, the great French commentator, points to a most remarkable halachic feature that requires our attention. Commenting on the instruction that the lamps need to be arranged in such a way that they are lit "towards the menorah," (Bamidbar 8.2) Rashi comments that this means that all the lamps should point in the direction of the middle light.

The Italian sage and physician Rav Obadya Seforno, in his masterful commentary on the Torah, argues that this is to teach us that the "rights- wingers" and "left-wingers" need to focus on the middle light which is the main light of the menorah. While both are completely dedicated to Torah and its tradition, the right-wingers, i.e. those who are busy with eternal life, learning and implementing Torah, need to know that without the left-wingers, those who occupy themselves with the affairs of the mundane world, Judaism will not succeed. At the same time, the left-wingers have to understand that without those who occupy themselves with the study and implementation of Torah, their worldly occupation would lack the opportunity of sanctification. Only in a combined effort, symbolized by the middle light, will there be the kind of balance which the Torah and Judaism requires. This is based on the talmudic principle that "If not for the leaves, the grapes could not exist." (Chulin 92a)

Rabbi Samson Rafael Hirsch, known for his philosophy of Torah and Derech Eretz (Torah and worldly occupation), commenting on Yacov's final blessings to his children adds: "The nation that is to descend from him (Yacov) is to be, in its external relations a single unit and internally a "Kehal Goyim," a United Congregation of many kinds of people and professions. Each tribe is to represent a special type of person. The people of Yacov, who, as Israel, are to reveal to the world the directive power of God, penetrating and conquering everything that is earthly in human beings, is, therefore, not to show itself as being in any way one-sided, but, as a model nation, shall present in a nutshell the most varied appearance of all different characteristics. In its tribes, martial nations as well as merchant ones, as well as scientific and scholarly ones, etc. are all to be represented. Thus the fact is to be made clear to the world that the devotion and sanctification of human life in the bond with God through His law is not dependent on a condition to any special calling in life or national characteristic, but that the whole of mankind, with all its diversity is called on to accept the one common conception of God as taught by Israel and so from all the different individual and national characteristics of mankind into the United Kingdom of God." (Bereshith 35:11,12, translation by Isaac Levy)

Chatam Sofer, however, gives this halachic requirement a slightly different meaning. He warns his readers not to deviate from the middle road. As long as Jewish law is fully observed, one should not be too much of a right-winger or left-winger. The ways of God are those which testify to religious balance. This does not mean, as some people would take it, that a mediocre attitude towards observance is suggested or that a kind of religious status quo is maintained in which people no longer strive for higher spiritual dimensions, but that one should understand that it is not to become religiously "fat" which is the ultimate goal, but to become spiritually high. To grow plump is to become overly right- or left-wing with the result that one topples over; to become high means that one grows in equal and straight proportions. The gravest thing for a religious person is to forget what he represents.

From: Edwards Subject: Mei Hashiloach - Chanuka Drasha >From The Mei Hashiloach - R. Mordechai Yosef of Isbitza, ZtsuQLLH"H, 5560-5614 (1800-1854) The following is found in the Mei Hashiloach, vol. 1, from his commentary on the tractate Shabbat in the Gemara.

"What is Chanuka?" (Shabbat 21b) It is written (Tehillim, 119: 105), "Your word is a candle to my feet, and light for my path." "A candle to my feet," meaning that the blessed G-d bestows the words of Torah in a way that, "His Kingship in all of His dominion," (Tehillim, 103:19) is recognized in each detail of action. "A light for my path," means that the blessed G-d illuminates a special recognition also in a general way, for, "the kingdom is His." (It is written this way) because a candle is something specific, and light something general. The blessed G-d created the world in general, and divided it into three categories - time, place, and person. It is written (Tehillim, 139:16), "He fashioned days, and it is in one of them," (usually understood that when He created each of the six days of creation, He knew everything, every detail, that would ever happen in that day, for all time to come.) This means that in these three categories, he chose in particular the choicest element through which to illuminate, in a revealed way, a specific light and the recognition of His sovereignty, may it be blessed. In the category of place, He created the world in general, where the land of Israel is sanctified above the whole earth (See Mishna Kelim, Ch. 1:6), Jerusalem sanctified above all the land of Israel, the five hundred square cubits of the temple mount sanctified above Jerusalem, and the courtyard and chamber sanctified above them all.

In this very place He commanded to light the Menorah in order to illuminate this particular recognition in this specific place. In the category of time, He created the six days of creation, in particular the day of Shabbat, and then we also find the commandment to kindle the light of Shabbat. In the category of person, He chose specifically the nation of Israel out of all the nations. For now, until the final refinement (birrur) in Israel, He chose the tribe of Levi, and among them the Cohanim, and among them the High Priest, and gave him in particular the commandment to light the Menorah. In the days of the Hasmoneans, the Holy One, blessed be He, shone into them from the illumination of the future, for at that time they merited Malchut, kingship. In the same way, it will be revealed by means of Moshiach ben David, when the process of refinement will be completed, and then the chosen tribe will be Yehuda. So then, when the Hasmonean merited this Malchut (Kingship), the light of the recognition of the chosenness of each individual soul in Israel was greatly increased. Resulting from the miracle that was made with the Menorah, an individual candle (illumination) was established for the chosenness of each individual soul in Israel.

This is as King David said (Tehillim 87:6), "- G-d will count, when He writes down the nations, and for Zion He will say to each one born to her." "Count, when He writes down the nations," for with the nations, G-d's Providence is only for the endurance of the species, like other parts of creation. "And for Zion He will say to each one born to her," means that, for Israel, the Providence of the Holy One, blessed be He, is for each individual soul, each one born to her. The verse continues, "and He will establish her at the highest," means that for every one born to Israel, immediately upon birth, there is a recognition that the choicest soul has been born anew, and this is as it is said, "a candle for every one." (YF: this kabbalistic high degree of Jewish Chosenness, perhaps originating in or reflecting Yehuda HaLevi's "Kuzari", is not found among the philosophical school, e.g. Rambam, who, unlike The Zohar, denies the existence of unique Jewish souls).

This is the difference of opinion between the house of Shammai and the house of Hillel, as to just how the final "birrur," refinement, will be in Israel, and how to light the Chanuka candles, which hint at this. The house of Shammai asserts that we light all eight on the first night, and remove a candle each night, which represents the refinement as destroying the waste, decreasing and continuing until the innate Kedusha (holiness) remains, completely clarified. The house of Hillel asserts that we add and continue, adding a candle each night, for here the principle is to cause the Kedusha to spread forth at all times, and from this it follows that the waste will be nullified. This is also the meaning of the Halacha for the time of lighting the candles, "from the setting of the sun until the foot - regel - disappears from the market, meaning that (with proper lighting) no force of habit - hergel - will be found in any soul in Israel. This is the mitzvah to light it in the doorway of the house from outside, meaning that the candle - this recognition discussed above - should illuminate every step with intent for the sake of Heaven. And of what is said (Shabbat, 21b), "until the wood-sellers will leave the market (who would stay after everyone else had left to gather leftover wood)," which means when the final clarification in Israel will be completed. Concerning this it is explained in the Tractate Yevamot (17b), "they established six thousand archers (who went and raped the daughters of Jerusalem at the time of the destruction)," meaning that their seed was mixed into Israel, and this is the principle reason for the lengthening of the exile.

When this becomes clarified, then the will of the blessed G-d will be explicit before us, and this is, "from the setting of the sun," for the sun hints at the principles of the words of Torah, and in the future these principles will not be necessary (YF: !!!), rather the blessed G-d will cause an effluence of explicit understanding to each one in Israel for each specific action. This is as it is said, "a Chanuka candle that is placed above ten cubits is invalid," which is true for a sukkah and a "mavoy," (an open street or alley, concerning its width in the laws of Eruvin, symbolic Shabbat boundaries). (So for the three general divisions of existence) the Chanuka candle represents person, sukkah place, and the mavoy (in the laws of Shabbat) time, for the choicest of times is Shabbat.

P.S. We noted above that the sons of Kehot did not get wagons, for they carried the wrapped holy utensils on their shoulders. Rava expounded: Why was David punished thru (the death of) Uzza? (Uzza died when he put forth his hand to steady the ark being returned to Israel on a wagon, by David's command- 2S6). Because David called words of Torah "songs" (Ps. 119:54): "Your statutes were songs to me," (implying that they were easily understandable by him?). The Holy One, Blessed Be He, said to him: "I shall cause you to go astray in something that even the schoolchildren know, viz.: "And to the sons of Kehot he did not give (wagons), for the service of the holy things was upon them (to carry them, wrapped, on their shoulders they may not touch them directly; Numbers 7:9)..."- and he (David) had the ark brought in a wagon! (Sota 35a; YF: Rav Mordecai Gafni, however, noted that Shmuel and Eli slept near the ark and that a feeling of closeness to the ark, rather than only having awe and fear of it, is also sometimes appropriate).

But the Levites must indeed sing too: From "on the shoulder" do I not know that they (the Kehotites) bore them (the utensils)? What then is the meaning of "they bore (yisaoo)?"- "Yisaoo" also connotes singing, as it is written (Psalms 81:3): "Seoo song"- from whence the institution of Levitical singing is Scripturally derived (Erchin 11a). Rav Shefatiah quotes Rav Yochanan, in Talmud Megila (32a), who indeed obliges every Jew to accompany his Torah study with song, based on Ezek. 20:24-25: "If one reads the scripture without a melody (the cantillation), or repeats the Mishna w/o a tune (which aids the memory, per Tosafot), of him Scripture says: `Wherefore I gave them statutes that are not good...' Abaye strongly demurred: `Because he cannot sing agreeably, are you to apply to him the verse: `ordinances whereby they shall not live?'- he goes on to apply Ezekiel's words to scholars who live in the same city, but do not respect each other's rulings- cf. today.

Maharsha claims that David's sin in calling the words of Torah song is that songs are transient, very popular and then forgotten, sung on impulse, whereas Torah requires constant dedicated study. I'm sure that David had no such intention, but his style of enthusiastic religiosity may lead to such an attitude, of only doing that which turns me on- cf. Reform and Jewish Renewal.

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