Arie E. Pelta
Arie E. Pelta

Chanukah Questions – The Israeli Holiday?

  1. Where did the Chanukah miracle take place?

The Chanukah Story took place in the land of Israel. Every time we light the Chanukah candles we remind every Jew, that we won our battles against the Greeks and the Hellenists (assimilated anti-Torah secular Jews), in order to live under Jewish rule in Eretz Yisrael.

2. How is Chanukah parallel to the holiday of Succos?

Every year we read the story of Yosef being thrown into a pit (Parshas VaYeshev), prior to Chanukah. The Talmud teaches us that this empty pit had snakes and scorpions, but the brothers could not see these creatures because the pit was twenty amos deep. Similarly, the minimum height for a succah is ten tefachim (80cm) and the maximum height for a succah and menorah is twenty amos (960cm).

We use the story of the pit of Yosef being 20 amos (960cm) deep, as the source for the maximum Halachik height for a succah.  The minimum height for a Succah is 10 tefachim (80 cm); since the Shechina of G-d does not descend to below ten tefachim.  However, a menorah can be placed under ten tefachim, since Chanukah is annual unique spiritual opportunity when G-d’s Shechina does indeed descend to us, below ten tefachim.  However, this spiritual event only lasts for eight days.  Similar to a Succah a menorah cannot be placed above twenty amos.

שולחן ערוך אור החיים הלכות חנוכה סימן תרעא:ו

מניחו למעלה מג’ טפחים. ומצוה להניחו למטה מי’ טפחים. ואם הניחו למעלה מי’ טפחים יצא. אבל מניחו למעלה מכ’ אמה לא יצא:

[The menorah] is placed above three tefachim. It is a mitzvah to place it below ten tefachim. If it was placed above ten tefachim – one has fulfilled the mitzvah. However, if it was placed above twenty amos – one has not fulfilled the mitzvah. (Shulchan Aruch 671 :6)

Rejoicing on the holiday of Chanukah is not mentioned in the Torah. However, the Torah highlights the element of “rejoicing” שמחה, on Succos.

דברים טז:יד

וְשָֽׂמַחְתּ בְּחַגּךָ אַתּה וּבִנְךָ וּבִתּךָ וְעַבְדְּךָ וַֽאֲמָתֶךָ וְהַלֵּוי וְהַגֵּר וְהַיָּתוֹם וְהָֽאַלְמָנָה אֲשׁר בִּשְׁעָרֶֽיךָ:

And you shall rejoice in your Festival [Succos] – you, and your son, and your daughter, and your manservant, and your maidservant, and the Levi, and the convert, and the orphan, and the widow, who are within your cities (Devarim 16:14).

The main basis for simcha relates to the physical bounty of the agricultural year in Israel, which concludes on Succos. This joy cannot be complete without sharing the bounty with the needy in society. When is this requirement carried out? The Talmud Yerushalmi states that it might be appropriate on Chanukah; since Chanukah marks the completion of the final stages of harvesting. Therefore, there is an element of thanking Hashem for physical success on Chanukah as well.

Succos is also a time for spiritual simcha (happiness), since it is the culmination of the period of repentance. This simcha finds expression in the Simchas Beis Hasho’eva celebration in the Beis Hamikdash. As part of the celebration, jugs of olive oil were brought, which flooded the Temple and Jerusalem as a whole with light (Mishnah Succah 5:2-3).  This is similar to our use of olive oil to light our Chanukah menorah.

3. How is Chanukah connected to the city of Shechem and Yosef?

The Story of Yosef is always read in the Parshah cycle around Chanukah time. Yosef is buried in the city of Shechem.  Yosef married Osnat, the daughter born to Dina after she was raped by Shechem.  According to Rashi, in utero, Dina was supposed to be a boy named Yosef, but a miracle occurred and Dina was born instead of Yosef.

The Zohar points out that the first line of the Shema prayer has 25 letters. The Holiday of Chanuka begins on the 25th of the month of Kislev; this parallels the 25 letters of the pasuk of  Shema declaring G-d as The One and Only G-d (Yichud), שמע ישראל יקוק אלקינו יקוק אחד. This power of unification can turn bad into good as in the future time when Moshiach arrives and we enter the era of Olam Habah. However, this same date (the 25th of Kislev) has the power to change good to bad. This was the same date the Greeks/Jews started serving idols in the Beis Hamikdash.

The power of “אור”, spiritual light, was brought into the world at the time of creation. Just as we tap into this hidden spiritual light אור הגנוז on Chanukah, the 25th of Kislev; the letter אור  is significantly the 25th letter of the Torah!

בראשית א:א

בְּרֵאשִׁית, 2בָּרָא 3אֱלֹקים, 4אֵת 5הַשָּׁמַיִם, 6וְאֵת 7האָרֶץ.  8וְהָאָרֶץ, 9הָיְתָה     10תֹהוּ 11וָבֹהוּ, 12וְחֹשֶׁךְ, 13עַל 14פְּנֵי 15תְהוֹם; 16וְרוּחַ 17אלֹקים, 18מְרַחֶפֶת 19עַל 20פְּנֵי 21המָּיִם.  22וַיֹּאמֶר 23אֱלֹקים, 24יְהִי 25 אוֹר; וַיְהִי-אוֹר.

On Chanukah we light 36 mitzvah candles over a period of eight days. The gematria of Shechem without the final zero is 36,שכם 40+20+300=360.  Yosef was sold into slavery by his brothers when he went to meet them near Shechem.  This was clearly bad at the time. However, in this manner Yosef was able to miraculously become King of Egypt and became the protector of the Jewish people in exile.

Yaakov also revealed to his sons, on his deathbed, the secret of Moshiach when he said ברוך שם כבוד מלכותו לעולם ועד . The first letters of this sentence spell: In Shechem, thirty six; בשכם לו. Moshiach ben Yosef comes from Shechem and will bring back the light that was hidden.  After the world was created, only thirty-six hours of supreme light אור  was in existence.  Then Chava and Adam sinned by eating from the Etz Ha’daas.  As a consequence this holy light of creation was taken away from the world and hidden (אור הגנוז). However, on Chanukah we are exposed to sparks of this “hidden light” through the thirty-six candles that we light over a period of eight day.

The Greeks, יון , in Hebrew is the current symbol for the quality of our mobile phone connection. The Greeks or  יון  used our power of knowledge against us. This sentiment exists today, where many educated Jews do not feel a need to keep the Torah or our Holy Land of Israel.   They feel that they have progressed from our ancient practices.  Therefore, living in the modern world they feel “more educated” with “Greek” knowledge compared to our Torah teachers.

How do we battle this misinformation or misuse of knowledge?  We need the “צ” represented by Yosef HaTzadik ( יוסף הצדיק) and add it to the power of Greece  “יון” . In this manner we can sanctify the profane.  Yosef accomplished this temporarily in Egypt, whereas all Jews today can do this in Zion( צ+יון) ציון , Israel.

Yosef the Tzadik (צדיק יסוד עולם), who excelled in the galus of Egypt taught us not to get assimilated and pulled into the spiritual abyss of the Diaspora.  Greece or Yavan יון represents this with the letters of their name going from yud, to vav, to nun sofis; the letters get longer and longer to longest. One can easily misuse their knowledge of Torah to get drawn into the depth of assimilation; which is the galus of the Diaspora.

4. What is the parallel between the story of Chanukah and Dinah?

Chana a daughter of Matisyahu the Cohen Gadol (Tribe of Levi), a sister of Shimon the Maccabi was to be taken by force to the Greek governor (to be raped) on her wedding night.  She audaciously disrobed at her wedding and thereby inspired her brothers to fight for her honor and the honor of Klal Yisrael.

On their wedding day…At the time of the feast, all of the great men of Yisrael gathered in honor of Matisyahu and the Chasmonean, who were the greatest men of their generation. And when everyone was sitting down to eat, Chana, the daughter of Matisyahu stood up…tore off her royal garment and stood before all of Yisrael, revealed before her father and her mother and her groom!  When her brothers saw this, they were embarrassed, and they put their faces in the ground and tore their clothes, and stood to kill her. She said “Listen, my brothers and uncles! So what — I stand naked before you righteous men with no sexual transgression and you get all incensed?! And you’re not becoming incensed about sending me into the hands of an uncircumcised man who will abuse me?! You’ve got something to learn from Shimeon and Levi, the brothers of Dina, who were just two men who became incensed/vengeful on behalf of their sister and they murdered a walled city such as Shechem and gave up their souls for the sake Hashem! And Hashem helped them and they were not destroyed. And you are five brothers – Yehuda, Yochanan, Yonatan, Shimon, and Elazar…Put your faith in Hashem and he will help you…Right then, her brothers became incensed and said: “Come, let us have a council and decide what to do.” …“Let us take our sister and we will go to the great king and say to him, ‘Our sister is the daughter of a high priest! There is no one greater in Yisrael than our father, and we thought it not fitting that our sister should sleep with the local officer, rather with the king who is as great as us!’ Then we’ll go in and kill him and we’ll leave, and then we’ll start with his servants and with his officers, and Hashem will help us and strengthen us.” …(Midrash Ma’aseh Chanukah)

In the Dinah story, the Jews were living in their homeland when Dinah was kidnapped and violated by Shechem. Her brothers Shimon and Levi came to her rescue and slaughtered the town of Shechem in revenge.  This was clearly the inspiration for the Jews to revolt against the Hellenist Greeks.

5. Who was Zerubavel? How is he connected to Chanukah?The Navi Chaggai teaches us that Zerubavel (from tribe of Yehuda), was the governor of Judea during Babylonian rule. The job of Zerubavel was to rebuild Eretz Yisrael. During his time, the Jews were told by King Koresh of Bavel to leave their material comforts of Chutz LaAretz and to make Aliyah in order to rebuild the Beis Hamikdash. They overwhelmingly refused to leave Bavel, despite financial and moral support from Koresh, a non-Jewish king. Out of millions of Jews, only 40,000 Jews made Aliyah from Bavel. The Rabbis and the rest of the established Jews found justification to reject moving to Eretz Yisrael, despite G-d’s desire רצון, for them to return home to the Holy Land.The Navi tells us that Zerubavel was to be no less than Moshiach ben Dovid. Since the Jews ultimately refused to return to Israel; we were punished with the events that led up to the miracles of Purim. At that time our salvation required that a Jewish woman named Esther, had to be repeatedly raped by a goy Achashveirosh. In this manner, Esther became Queen, and she via self sacrifice ( ( קרקע עולםsaved the Jewish nation from annihilation. Eventually, Queen Esther bore a son named Darius II who enabled the building of the second Beis Hamikdash.The Chanukah story is the completion of one element of the mission of Zerubavel, to dedicate the Beis Hamikdash. During the time of the Chashmonaim we triumphed in taking control of the Beis Hamikdash and lived under Jewish rule.

6. What was the sin if the Maccabis?

The Maccabis were Cohanim (priests) from the tribe if Levi. They erroneously took over the kingship, which belongs exclusively to the tribe of Yehuda. We are supposed to only accept the leadership (Kings) of Moshiach ben Yosef and Moshiach ben Dovid (Yehuda).

7. Where did the pach katan, small jar of oil in the Beis Hamikdash come from?

The miraculous Chanukah jar of pure oil can be traced back to Yaakov. Prior to his encounter with Esav, he returned to Chutz LaAretz in order to pick up small jars of oil “pachim katanim”.  What was so special about these jars of oil?

The last night Yaakov slept in Israel, prior to going to Chutz LaAretz, he had his famous dream of the ladder in Beis El. In the morning he noticed that the twelve stones that he placed the night prior around his head, miraculously turned into one rock.  He immediately recognized the holiness of this place and he used a jar of oil to sanctify this rock.  Where did Yaakov get a jar of oil from?

The Imrei Noam (quoted in Pri Mayim Chayim) traces the origin of this oil all the way back to Noach.  To verify that the flood מבול was over, a dove brought to Noach in his teva, an olive branch with olives from Yerushalayim. Noach himself made oil out of these olives and he later gave it to his firstborn Shem, who in the time of Avraham was known as Malki-tzedek.  Shem acted as a Cohen who received maaser gifts from Avraham. In turn, Shem sealed this same jar of oil from Noach and gave it to Avraham as a gift.  Avraham handed it over to Yitzchak who passed it down to Yaakov once he received the berachos.

Yaakov, upon returning from Chutz LaAretz to Eretz Yisrael, forgot some small jars on the other side of the Yabok River and returned to retrieve them. One of these jars was the olive oil from Noah’s ark.  At this moment Yaakov subsequently fought with the angel of Esav and had his name changed from Yaakov to Yisrael.

His name was changed because when a Chutz LaAretz Jew, Yaakov is finally coming home and leaving the galus of Lavan, he goes up in holiness and makes Aliyah to The Holy Land. This is a Jew who in reality fears G-d by serving Him properly in the proper place – a Yisrael.

Many years later, back in Israel, this same jar of oil from Yaakov, was used to miraculously light the menorah in the Beis Hamikdash and reveal the Chanukah miracle by burning for eight days.

8. Who were our enemies that we defeated? Who were the victors?

The enemies at the time were the Greeks and assimilated Hellenist Jews. These were the leftist or the liberal/progressives of their day.  The Hellenists persecuted the observant Orthodox Jews.  The Chanukah story reminds us of the Jewish civil war between the Orthodox observant Jews (the Chashmonaim) and the Conservative/Reform/Liberal Jews of their day.

Jason, the brother of the Kohen Gadol Onias, purchased the Kohen Gadol position from King Antiochus for money. Jason then abolished the laws of the Torah such as keeping kosher and Shabbos [Reform].  Three years later, Menelaus promised King Antiochus even more money to be Kohen Gadol and promised to make Yerushalayim into a secular Greek city. The king dispatched his army to Israel, to facilitate collection of the money, from the cities of Judea, in order to pay Menelaus’s debt (Megillas Chanukah, Chapter 1).

תפילה – על הניסים

בימי מתתיהו בן יוחנן כהן גדול חשמונאי ובניו…מסרת…וטמאים ביד טהורים, ורשעים ביד צדיקים, וזדים ביד עוסקי תורתך.

In the days of Matisyahu the son of Yochanan the Kohen Gadol, the Chashmonean…You delivered…the impure into the hands of the pure, the wicked into the hands of the righteous, and the willful sinners into the hands of the diligent students of Your Torah. (Al Hanisim Prayer on Chanukah)

The holiday celebrates the military victory over the Greeks and the spiritual victory over the Hellenist Jews. Tragically, Jews had no choice but to fight and kill other Jews in a civil war.

9. Is the holiday of Chanukah about tolerance and acceptance of all faiths and beliefs?

No. The Hellenist Jews actually killed Jews who observed Torah laws such as the Shabbos.  The Orthodox Jews fought back and killed their Jewish enemies.

The Hellenist Jews we so assimilated that they took upon themselves new names such as “Menelaus” which was originally “Choni”, “Yehoshua” became “Jason” or “Jesus”.  Some of these Hellenists became the early Christians.

Following Yehuda’s death, the evil ones and the Jewish sinners [Hellenists]  began to lift their heads once again.  They persecuted everywhere those who were loyal to the Torah, and executed many of them (Megillat Chanukah, Chapter 7).

10. Where is the proper location to light the Chanukah Menorah?The proper place to light the menorah is outside the front doorway opposite the mezuzah. The Gemara Shabbos (22a) states very clearly:תלמוד בבלי שבת כב עמוד באמר רבה: נר חנוכה מצוה להניחה בטפח הסמוכה לפתח והיכא מנח ליה רב אחא בריה דרבא אמר מימין רב שמואל מדפתי אמר משמאל. והילכתא משמאל כדי שתהא נר חנוכה משמאל ומזוזה מימין:Rabbah said: The requirement is to place the Chanukah light within a tefach of the doorway to one’s house. And where, exactly, does he place it? Rav Acha the son of Rava said: On the right side of the doorway going in to the house. Rav Shmuel, from Bavel town of Difti said: On the left. And the halacha is that the Chanukah light is placed on the left side so that the Chanukah light shall be on the left side of one’s doorway and the mezuzah on the right (Talmud Bavli, Shabbos 22a).The mezuzah is to be placed on the doorway entrance to your house, as stated in the Shema בבתך (your house). The Ramban points out, and so does Rashi, that “your” house is only a structure that we possess in Eretz Yisrael. This is why the halacha is that one cannot sleep in a home in Israel without a mezuzah, even one night! However, in Chutz LaAretz one can possibly wait a month, to put on a mezuzah. The menorah represents our domination over our land in Israel, whereas the mezuzah represents our true home.

11. Is a Jew who lives in Chutz LaAretz, allowed to change the minhag and light outside?

No. A Jew living in Eretz Yisrael must perform the mitzvah properly by lighting the menorah outside.  However, Jews living in Chutz LaAretz are not allowed to fulfill the mitzvah in the best possible manner, and must light the menorah indoors.  This gives us another reminder that Jews belong in Israel and the mitzvos can only be fulfilled properly in Eretz Yisrael.

The message of Chanukah seems to be telling the bnei chutz la’aretz not to be comfortable in the growth of their Torah community. Do not be become comfortable living in the Diaspora. Do not become complacent and think that they are living in the new Yerushalayim. All Jews should want to return to Eretz Yisrael prior to Moshiach.

The way we fight anti-Semitism in the Diaspora is by either assimilating or making aliyah. We are not allowed to fight our enemies in chutz LaAretz. In Israel, Chanukah teaches us that only here, in Israel, we must fight our enemies. In addition, by specifically Torah observant Jews coming to Israel on aliyah, we are fulfilling the mitzvah of settling the Land of Israel by ensuring that it stays Holy.

שו”ת ציץ אליעזר, ח”ז

מדיברי שו”ת ריב”ש, שמסביר…שישוב ארץ ישראל אינו מצווה לשעתה, אלא מצווה מתקיימת לעולם היא, ומצווה ותועלת היא לכל ישראל שלא תשתקע ארץ קדושה בידי טמאים.

…the Rivash, who explains…that settling the Land of Israel is not a transient mitzvah. Rather, it is an everlasting one, a mitzvah that benefits all of Israel, ensuring that the Holy Land not descend into the hands of the impure…(Responsa Tzitz Eliezer, vol. 7)

At the same time, Chanukah teaches the bnei Eretz Yisrael not to lower their guard at a time that there are misyavnim who would like to destroy the Torah community and take our land away. Chanukah reminds us that Hakadosh Baruch Hu will perform open miracles for the bnei Eretz Yisrael, in order to preserve us. However, only as long as we remain as dedicated as the Chashmona’im were for the kavod of Malchus Shamayim.

12. Who will have children that are Torah Scholars?

The Gemarah Shabbos (23b) teaches that he who is careful with the candles of Shabbos and Chanukah will have children who are Torah scholars. This is based on the pasuk in Mishlei (6:23), “for the candle is a commandment and the Torah is light” (כי נר מצוה ותורה אור ). The Meiri qualifies; that this blessing only comes to fruition when the mitzvah is kept with enthusiasm and joy.תלמוד בבלי שבת כג עמוד באמר רב הונא: הרגיל בנר הויין ליה בנים תלמידי חכמים. הזהיר במזוזה זוכה לדירה נאה.Rav Huna said: One who is habitual in lighting the Shabbos and Chanukah light will have sons who are Torah scholars. One who is careful in observing the mitzvah of mezuzah will merit a beautiful house (Talmud Bavli Shabbos 23b).

13. On which Holiday does the actual Shechina come down to our homes?

On Chanukah, Hashem actually comes down to us. We learn in Talmud Succah, that the Shechina never goes below ten tefachim (80cm). This is why the menorah is lit at height of three to ten tefachim. תלמוד בבלי סוכות ה עמוד אותניא ר’ יוסי אומר: מעולם לא ירדה שכינה למטה ולא עלו משה ואליהו למרום שנאמר (תהלים קטו, טז) השמים שמים לה’ והארץ נתן לבני אדם. ולא ירדה שכינה למטה והכתיב (שמות יט, כ) וירד ה’ על הר סיני למעלה מעשרה טפחים.And it was taught in a Baraisa: Rav Yose says: The Shechina has never descended below into the human domain (ten tefachim from the ground). And Moshe and Eliyahu never ascended to the Heavens (G-dly domain –above ten tefachim), as it is stated: As for the Heavens, The Heavens are     G-d’s; but the earth He has given to mankind. And is it so that the Shechina never descended below into the human domain? But it is written: G-d descended upon Har Sinai? The Shechina remained above ten tefachim from the mountaintop (Talmud Bavli Succos 5a).However, the Meor Einayim states that on Chanukah G-d goes down below ten tefachim to bring us up to Him. Therefore, we can light the menorah from a height of three to ten tefachim, because the Shechina on these Holy eight days is with us.

14. How can we see the future?

The Kav Hayashar (#96) says that if we would have Ruach Hakodesh, then we would perceive the future when we light the Chanukah candles. The potential for actual nevuah (prophesy), can be found in meditating on the lights of the candles. This potential power exists because the menorah candles speak directly to the neshama (soul).

15. Are we supposed to stare at the Chanukah candles?

The Yeitev Panim states that the minhag is to sit and stare at the Chanukah candles after lighting them. By looking at them, we draw down miracles. The miracles and spiritual power of the holidays are repeated each year at their respective times, בימים ההם בזמן הזה.

16. What special prayers do we say on Chanukah?

We say full Hallel during Shachris and Al HaNisim in the Shmoneh Esrei and in Benching. These prayers teach us that in our current era, the Chanukah miracles are perceived as the natural way of the world.We do not say “Al HaNisim” in the M’ein Shalosh (al Ha’michya prayer), because the Chanukah prayer is not celebrating a specific day. Unlike, ya’aleh v’yavoh of Rosh Chodesh which is the celebration of a specific day; it is therefore mentioned in the M’ein Shalosh prayer.In addition, Birkas HaMazon (benching) has the second prayer of thanks called “Node lecha” and thus the payer of “Al HaNisim” giving thanks for the Chanukah miracle can be attached to this established prayer. However, there is no equivalent prayer in the M’ein Shalosh for the Al HaNissim to get attached to.The two holidays mentioned in the prayer of Al HaNissim are Chanukah and Purim. These specific holidays are to remind us about the holiness of Israel. The unique holiness of Israel is already mentioned in the shortened prayer of M’ein Shalosh, therefore a second mention is redundant.תפילה מעין שלש

…ועל ארץ חמדה טובה ורחבה שרצית והנחלתה לאבותינו…ועל ציון…בקדושה ובטהרה…

17. Why do we say full Hallel on Chanukah?

The Vilna Gaon points out that there are eight days of Yom Tov during the year that we do not say the full Hallel: the six days of Pesach, Rosh Hashana (one long day) and Yom Kippur. On Chanukah we make it up for these “lost” Hallel days. Similar to Neilah or HoShanah Rabbah, the last day of Chanukah, Zos Chanukah, is considered a spiritually powerful day like Yom Kippur. The Teshuva process and prayers for the year that started on Yom Kippur actually conclude on the last day of Chanukah.

18. Chanukah is eight days long in order to symbolize the power of a “miracle” which is above the laws of nature. How are we to serve G-d based on this concept?

The Laws of Chanukah are written in the Shulchan Aruch numbered 670-671; in Hebrew it’s . תרע-תרעא In Aramaic, תרעא means a gate keeper or a guard.These halachos explain the order of lighting the candles of Chanukah and their placement, סדר הדלקת נר חנוכה ומקום הנחתו. This symbolizes that during these days of Chanukah, the gates of Heaven are open and we can all go inside and attain our proper spiritual place.The number eight represents the power that exists above nature; there are no limiting rules. If we go beyond our general limits to serve G-d properly, in Eretz Yisrael, then we can expect miracles.Why does Mishnah Avos, compare us to animals and teach us to be strong like a lion? This is because animals act on instinct; they have no thought and no power of real choice. So too, we should be so involved with serving G-d properly that we also serve G-d on instinct. When we serve G-d beyond our limitations, then we will merit miracles which, by definition, are beyond the rules of nature. We witness miracles daily in Eretz Yisrael. According to Rav Dessler in Michtav MiEliyahu, miracles are the norm here in Israel.

19. Are we being tested in our anger?

Whenever we are being tempted to get angry, G-d is testing us. On a special day like Chanukah there is a great yetzer harah to get angry. So we need to be especially careful not to express anger during these days of Chanukah. In this manner we will receive lots of berachos.When we are challenged, then we have the potential to get closer to G-d. Without daily challenges then we are not growing spiritually.

20. Why is the miracle of the oil celebrated for eight days?

The first day of Chanukah the candles burned as expected. Whereas, the last seven days, the candles were not expected to burn. Thus only the last seven days were a miracle?Rav Moshe Feinstein taught that on Chanukah, we are training ourselves to see things correctly in order to marvel nature. Nature is also a miracle. Nature is G-d. Thus, all eight days that the Chanukah lights burned on the Menorah in the Beis Hamikdash were a miracle. In addition, the small jar of oil that was used on the first day, was the actual miracle oil used by Yaakov Avinu. He used it to sanctify the rock under his head, after his dream of the ladder סולם.

21. Is everything that occurs for the good?

We start reading the Parshiyos in the Torah about Yosef, every year right before Chanukah. This is to teach us that everything that happens makes sense and everything is ultimately for the good. This is symbolized by the story of Yosef. He is the only person in Tanach who is called “matzliach” successful. This is because Yosef always looked beyond his present situation and realized that everything that occurs is an aspect of G-d’s kindness.בראשית לט:ב 

Hashem was with Yosef, and he was a successful man, and he was in the house of his Egyptian master. (Bereishis 39:2)

וַיְהִי ה’ אֶת יוֹסף וַיְהי אִישׁ מַצְלִיח,ַ וַיְהי בְּבית אֲדֹניו הַמִּצְרִֽי:

22. Who in Tanach was successful and always happy?

Yosef was always happy. When one is sad or depressed then they fall into sin.

The Kesaf Sofer points out that G-d resides with the low and downtrodden when they are happy. When we have hard times, we must believe that it is for the good. When we are happy then G-d’s actual presence “Shechina”, is with us!

23. How do the 36 candles of Chanukah teach us to be happy?

We say three times daily in the Ashrei prayer, “Happy are the people like this(“(לו The word ”  “לוis the gematria of 36. When we know “this” – that everything we have is from Hashem, then we are truly happy because we also belong to Him ((לו.

            תהילים קמד:טו

            אַשְׁרֵי העָם שֶׁכָּכָה לּוֹ אַשְׁרֵי הָעָם שֶֽׁה’ אֱלֹקיו:

Happy is the people that has this [36]; happy is the people whom Hashem is their G-d.(Tehillim 144:15).

24. Why do we read the story in the Parsha before Chanuka of Yehudah attempting to punish Tamar burning her to death?

בראשית לח:כד, פרשת וישב

וַיְהִי  כְּמִשְׁלשׁ חֳדָשִׁים וַיֻּגַּד לִֽיהוּדָה לֵאמֹר זָֽנְתָה תָּמָר כַּלָּתֶךָ וְגַם הִנֵּה הָרָה לִזְנוּנִים וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוּדָה הֽוֹצִיאוּהָ וְתִשָּׂרֵֽף:

Now it came about after nearly three months that it was told to Yehuda, saying, “Your daughter in-law Tamar acted as a prostitute and she is indeed pregnant from prostitution.” So Yehuda said, “Bring her out, and let her be burned.”(Bereishis 38:24)

From here we can learn a hint to the Chanukah candles. We light the Chanukah menorah three months after Rosh Hashana; just as Tamar was to be tested three months after being intimate with Yehuda.

The mitzvah to light the Chanukah candle outside the house is learned from the word “הוציאוה” which means על פתח ביתו by the entrance of the house. In the story of Tamar, when she was being taken out the word used is הוציאוה.

The pasuk says ויאמר יהודה””, this hints to what Rav Yehuda says רבי יהודה אומר in Talmud Bavli Shabbos (21b). A shopkeeper who lit Chanukah candles outside and burns another person’s flax, is exempt from paying damages, because he lit the Chanukah candles outside with the permission of the Rabbis (Kol Simcha, Meynei Shel Torah).

תלמוד בבלי שבת כא עמוד ב

  תנן התם גץ היוצא מתחת הפטיש ויצא והזיק חייב גמל שטעון פשתן והוא עובר ברשות הרבים ונכנסה פשתנו לתוך החנות ודלקה בנרו של חנוני והדליק את הבירה בעל הגמל חייב. הניח חנוני את נרו מבחוץ חנוני חייב. רבי יהודה אומר: בנר חנוכה פטור. אמר רבינא (משום דרבה): זאת אומרת נר חנוכה מצוה להניחה בתוך עשרה. דאי ס”ד למעלה מעשרה לימא ליה היה לך להניח למעלה מגמל ורוכבו ודילמא אי מיטרחא ליה טובא אתי לאימנועי ממצוה:

We learned elsewhere: If a spark which flies from the anvil goes forth and causes damage, he [the smith] is liable. If a camel laden with flax passes through a street, and the flax overflows into a shop, catches fire at the shopkeeper’s lamp, and sets the building on fire, the camel owner is liable; but if the shopkeeper placed the light outside, the shopkeeper is liable. Rav Yehuda Yehuda said: In the case of a Chanukah lamp he is exempt. Rabina said in Rabba’s name: This proves that the Chanukah lamp should [in the first instance] be placed within ten [amos].  For should you think, above ten [amos], let him say to him, “You should have placed it higher than a camel and his rider.” ‘Yet perhaps if he is put to too much trouble, he may refrain from the [observance of the] mitzvah.  (Talmud Bavli, Shabbos 21b)

ולך עשית שם גדול וקדוש בעולמך ולעמך ישראל

Based on some of the teachings of Rav Elimelech Beiderman Shlita

About the Author
Arie E. Pelta, M.D., a Board Certified General and Colorectal Surgeon from the USA , made aliyah with his wife and 7 children in 2013. Received Rabbinical ordination in 1997. He is also a active Medical Corps Officer holding the rank of Captain in the IDF Reserves. Currently practicing in Laniado Hospital in Netanya; speciaizing in the surgical care of all problems of the colon, rectum and anus.
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