The hidden light of Chanukah

Chanukah Part IV

Let’s take more of a look at the Chanuka story, to learn more about the Torah’s light. Greek culture is the root of all the klipot (husks of evil), and it still exists even in our times – Western culture is the direct continuation of Greek culture.

Greek culture contained a couple of different aspects:

Firstly, Greek philosophy – the ‘Elders of Athens’[1] who come from the aspect of ‘houses of idol worship’ – i.e. the type of wisdom that distances a person from believing in Hashem.

Secondly, the culture of beauty-worship, and glorifying the body, which comes from the aspect of ‘impure places’.

The majority of Am Yisrael were caught up in Greek culture

At the time of the Greeks, the majority of Am Yisrael was caught up in following Greek culture, and had fallen into these aspects of ‘impure places’ and houses of idol worship, and had become very distanced from really believing in Hashem, and from keeping the Torah’s commandments.

In order to escape from these places, there had to be some very big Tzaddikim who were prepared to sacrifice themselves to the nth degree for Am Yisrael. It’s written in our holy books that when the Hasmoneans went out to war against the Greeks, they were a handful of people at the beginning, really just numbering in the tens, and then afterwards they grew to be a few hundred people – against the multitudes and many thousands of the Greek army!

The miracles of Chanukah

When they went out to war, they didn’t think for a moment that they’d ever be able to win; they were fighting with the intention of dying al kiddush Hashem, to sanctify God’s name. But they experienced a number of extraordinary miracles, and they were victorious.

When they got to the Temple, and they wanted to re-institute the Temple service, they saw that the Greeks had defiled all the oil. When they conducted another thorough search, they managed to find one small jug of oil that was still sealed with the stamp of the Kohen HaGadol, and so was still pure.

And by a miracle, that oil burned for eight days.

Why did the Greeks just defile the oil?

The Greeks didn’t spill out or take the jugs of oil that were in the Temple for themselves, rather, they just defiled them. And this is a wonder, what was going on, that the Greeks dafka just decided to defile the oil?

Rav Natan explains that the Greeks did what they did with great cunning and cleverness, they were ‘clever for evil’, and they knew the secret of this oil. The light of the Torah used to flow down to all of the nation of Israel by way of the light of the candles that were kindled on the Temple’s menorah.

The Greeks wanted to destroy the minds and the daat (spiritual wisdom) of Am Yisrael. That’s why they defiled all of the oil, so there wouldn’t be any spiritually pure oil that could be used to kindle the menorah. By doing this, they hoped there would no longer be any true daat or Torah within the nation of Israel.

When the Hasmoneans came and lit the menorah with the pure oil from that little jug, the chachamim (Jewish Sages) could see and feel a new illumination of daat and Torah descending from the menorah – the Torah of the or haganuz.

The or haganuz descends when we light the menorah

On Chanukah, in the merit of the Hasmonean’s enormous self-sacrifice, Hashem illuminated the Temple menorah with the or haganuz, in order to help Am Yisrael break away and become purified from the terrible klipa (evil husk) of Greek culture.

So the Sages instituted Chanuka as a festival for all future generations, in the merit of the small jug of pure oil that burned for eight days, in order that we would merit that the or haganuz which descended on Chanukah then, would also descend in our days, too, at the time that we would light our menorahs.

May it be Hashem’s will that we will merit to experience this.

[1] A term that appears frequently in the Gemara, always denoting the ‘wise men’ of Greece who would come and debate questions of religion and philosophy with the Jewish Sages.


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