Day 8 – Zos Chanukah. The Hallel of Today parallels Yom Kippur.
Daily Torah Reading
Zos Chanukah זאת חנוכה, this is Chanukah.
Gamliel son of Pedazur, Menashe ; Avidan son of Gidoni, Binyamin; Achiezer son of Amishadai, Dan; Pagiel son of Ochran, Asher ; Achira son of Enan, Naphtali. Aharon HaCohen lights the Menorah, representing the tribe of Levi/Cohen. Thus, the lighting of The Menorah is the only ceremony from the Beis HaMikdash that exists today in some form.
Zos Chanukah parallels the Holidays of either Shemini Atzeres or Yom Kippur. The Hallel prayers on Chanukah make up for the eight missed complete Hallel’s of the year. Day 1-6 of Chanukah is parallel to the half-Hallel of Pesach. Day 7 of Chanukah is parallel to the missing Hallel of Rosh Hashanah. Day 8 of Chanukah parallels Yom Kippur.
Sefirah – הוד שבהוד
Splendor or Hod, is the quality that brings Netzach into balance by harnessing its potential. Today is the day that goals are put into practice. The letters on the dreidel are the same as the first city that the Jews settled in Egypt – Goshen. Yaakov sent Yehuda down to Egypt to prepare the city that they could survive the exile prior to their eventual return to Israel. He told Yaakov to go Goshna גשנה , which is the same letters as נס גדול היה שם. This is Chanukah; we survived the exile, now let’s come home to Israel, build the Beis Hamikdash and actually live as Jews.
Transcendence, Divine Grace, Life
After Yonatan’s death, Shimon, brother of Yehuda and Yonatan was appointed the leader of the Jews. Shimon saw that the nation was afraid of the gentiles he therefore organized a gathering in the courtyard of the Beis Hamikdash. He raised their spirits:
…All my brothers died in the great war…I alone remain. Do not fear that their deaths have caused me to be aftraid…I will continue to lead you in the way of the Torah and fight the wars of G-d.
Shimon joined forces with Tryphon’s enemy, Demetrius, since he killed Yonatan. In this manner, Demetrius was able to overcome his enemy. Demetrius made a peace treaty with Yonatan. He exempted the Jews from taxes and they now had complete freedom. In the year 170 (on the Greek Calendar), the yoke of the nations was removed from the Jewish Nation.
The assimilated Jewish sinners in the Yerushalyim fortress heard the news. Out of fear they surrendered to Shimon. Shimon banished the evil ones to Antioch (Antakya, modern day Turkey) and purified the citadel in Yerushalayim of all of its idols. Shimon took his army to make war against the Gentile cities of Gezer and Yaffo. He banished their inhabitants and resettled them with Jews.
He turned Yaffo into Yerushalayim’s port city. The Romans and the Spartans renewed their alliances with Shimon. For three years Shimon fought wars. The Jews then returned to their homes and their land. Every man sitting under his vine and under his fig tree. The Beis Hamikdash avodah and karbanos returned to its full glory and the Yeshivos were filled with Jews learning Torah. The Jewish sinners were banished to the land of the Greeks.
The Jewish nation wrote the story on large bronze tablets about the heroic deeds of Matisyahu the Cohen and his five sons and erected them on Har Tzion. The nation accepted Shimon as their Nasi Cohen Gadol and Chief of Military Staff. Shimon led them in accordance with the laws of the Torah. He fortified the cities of Yerushalayim and Yehuda.
After the death of King Demetrius, his son Antiochus became king. He triumphed in war over Tryphun. He revoked all the agreements that had been made with Shimon and the Jews. He sent Athenebius to Shimon and demanded the return of Gezer, Yaffo and the Metzuda citadel in Yerushalayim, in addition to the cities that the Jews captured on the coastal plain. Shimon refused and said:
Not foreign land did we take, and not over property of foreigners did we take control. We have returned to the inheritance of our forefathers, from which we were unjustly banished by our enemies. And now, with the help of our G-d, we have returned to the inheritance of our fathers.
Antiochus angered by Shimon’s response, sent his army to war against him. Candabius, was the head of the army. He encamped in Yavneh near Gezer and began to provoke Shimon. Shimon called his two sons Yehuda and Yochanan and instructed them to lead the Jewish army against the Greeks.
Yehuda and Yochanan lead the army, accompanied by the Cohanim who blew the holy chazozros and davened with the people. Yehuda and Yochanan defeated the Greek army. Yehuda was wounded during the battle but Yochanan pursued the Greeks to Ashdod, which he conqued and set on fire.
After the death of Shimon, the nation appointed Yochanan as the Nasi and Cohen Gadol and he continued to wage Israel’s wars. In his time the land was quiet and Israel lived in peace and security. At the end of his days his heart became arrogant and he left the path of the Torah. From then on the Chashmonaim Kingdom deteriorated from failure to failure. Eventually, all the members of the Chashmonai family were murdered. In the end their evil gentile slave, Herod, took over as a fake Jewish king.
Today the Jews are back in the land if Israel. We are resettling the land one city at a time. We are all coming home to Israel from all the four corners of the earth. As of this year, most of the Jews in the world now live in Israel. The last time in history that most of the Jews lived in Israel, was during the time of the first Beis Hamikdash. We are now living history. Those Jews who chose to live in Israel now are part of Jewish history, including their future descendents. The same cannot be said for those Jews who chose to emulate the gentiles of the world, or who choose not to live here. Now is the time to come home to Israel, be a Yisraeli who serves G-d by keeping and studying His Torah in the Holy Land of Eretz Yisrael.
Megillat Chanuka, The Chanuka Scroll. Hagi Ben-Artzi. Special Edition in memory of Lt. Col. Emmanuel Yehuda Moreno, who fell during a combat mission of Sayeret Matkal during the Second Lebanon War in the Baalbek region of Lebanon, on Shabbos the 25th of Av 5766 (2006). Beit El Publishing House Ltd. 2007.