Within Nature And Beyond
Sichos in English
Parshas Mikeitz; Zos Chanuka, 2nd of Teives, 5750
This year, the unique aspect of Chanuka is that it contains two Shabbasos; both
the first and the last day of the holiday fall on this holy day. These Shabbasos
are special in that they possess a dimension that includes all the other days of
Chanuka. In potential, all the days of the festival are included within the
first day, as reflected by the fact that on this day the cruse of oil, which
burned for eight days, was found. The eighth day contains the influence of all
eight days as they have already been celebrated. This dimension receives greater
emphasis according to our practice of lighting eight candles on the eighth day,
each candle representing one of the days that has been celebrated.
the Torah readings of these two days reflect their all-inclusive nature. The
Torah reading of the first day of Chanuka describes the princes’ decision to
bring the sacrifices, thus containing the potential for all the further
readings. The Torah reading of the final day describes the sum total of those
sacrifices after they had been offered. The all-encompassing aspect of these two
days is emphasized by the Midrash stating that it is considered as if "all
the princes offered their sacrifices on the first day" and as if they
"all offered their sacrifices on the final day."
the first and final days of Chanuka include within themselves the entire
holiday, the fact that they fall on Shabbos implies that there is a Shabbos-like
quality to the entire festival. The lessons derived from this fact are generally
relevant to the totality of our service of Torah and mitzvos throughout
Sages state: What is Chanuka (i.e., in commemoration of which miracle was the
holiday instituted)?...They searched and were able to find only one cruse with
the seal of the High Priest. It contained enough to burn for only a single day.
[Yet,] a miracle occurred with it and it burned for eight days.
Beis Yosef asks: Since there was enough oil in the cruse for the menora
to burn for a single day, the miracle lasted only for seven days. Why then is
the holiday celebrated for eight days?
the resolutions offered is that the discovery of the oil was itself a miracle.
Nevertheless, other commentaries object to this answer, explaining that the
discovery of the oil cannot be compared to the miracle of the oil’s burning.
The latter miracle transcended the laws of nature. In contrast, the discovery of
the oil could be described as a natural occurrence. It was hidden, buried in the
ground, and hence, overlooked by the Greeks. When, however, the Jews needed oil
desperately, they searched carefully and found it.
this objection, the resolution offered is not rejected. Accordingly, we must
understand this sequence: Why is it that the miracle of the first day of Chanuka
is one that took place within the natural order, whereas the following seven
days saw a miracle that transcends nature? If G-d wanted the miracles of the
holiday to transcend nature, the oil could have become available in a totally
miraculous way (descending from heaven or the like). If He wanted the miracles
to be within the laws of nature, He could have enabled the Jews to find an
amount of pure oil sufficient to burn eight days.
concept can be explained on the basis of the following story. Once during the
imprisonment of the Alter Rebbe, before his redemption on Yud-Tes Kislev, he was
being taken by ship from one prison to another. In the process of the journey,
he asked the ship’s captain to stop the ship so that he could recite the
prayers connected with the Sanctification of the Moon.
captain refused to comply with the Alter Rebbe’s request. The Alter Rebbe told
him that if he continued to refuse, the ship would stop by itself, but the
captain would not listen. Subsequently, the ship stopped and the Alter Rebbe
recited the Psalm introducing this prayer. The Alter Rebbe then allowed the ship
to continue and asked the captain to stop it. Realizing that he had no
alternative, the captain agreed to stop the ship, and the Alter Rebbe recited
the appropriate prayers.
question can be asked that is similar to the question raised above regarding
Chanuka: Since the Alter Rebbe was capable of having the ship stop through a
miracle, why did he ask the captain to stop it? Furthermore, having performed
the miracle, why did he recite only the introductory Psalm? Why did he allow the
ship to continue only to ask the captain to stop it again?
explanation for the above is that mitzvos must be performed within the
context of the natural order and not through miracles which transcend that
order. The preparation for the fulfillment of the mitzvos should also be
carried out within the context of the natural order. Therefore, the Alter Rebbe
wanted the captain to stop the ship on his own volition so that even the
preparatory steps for the fulfillment of the mitzva would have been
carried out in this manner. Even when he was forced to perform a miracle to stop
the ship, he allowed it to proceed so that the captain would stop it on his own
similar concept can be explained in regard to the Chanuka miracles. The entire
miracle of the menora was not absolutely necessary; according to Torah
law, it was permissible to light the menora with impure oil, for when
there is no alternative, the laws of ritual impurity are waived regarding
communal offerings. The miracle was thus an expression of the dearness with
which G-d holds the Jewish people, allowing them to fulfill the mitzvos
with pure oil for the rededication of the Temple after it had been recovered
from the enemy.
even when G-d performs a miracle to show the dearness with which He holds the
Jewish people, He performs a miracle in a manner that allows the mitzvos
to be fulfilled in the fullest manner, i.e., within the context of the natural
order. That is why the oil did not descend from heaven and was found buried in
the ground. Even when it continued to burn for eight days, which was an outright
miracle, that miracle involved natural oil.
This principle relates to the totality of Torah and mitzvos, whose
connection to Chanuka is emphasized by the expression, "the candle of mitzva
and the Torah of light." G-d created nature in a manner that is appropriate
for the fulfillment of Torah and mitzvos.
explain: It is written, "If you follow My statutes, observe My
commandments, and fulfill them, I will provide you with rain in its season and
the land will bear its crops." The Rambam interprets this and the other
promises of material success in the Torah as follows: "[G-d] promised us in
the Torah...that He would remove all factors preventing us from observing
it...and provide us with all the benefits that will strengthen our fulfillment
of the Torah, e.g., plenty and peace, and an abundance of silver and gold, so
that...we can be free to study wisdom and observe the mitzvos."
passage indicates that the nature of the world itself facilitates the Jewish
people’s performance of Torah and mitzvos. This concept applies even in
times when the world is characterized by darkness and concealment. Thus, even
when "the wicked Greek kingdom rose up against Your people, Yisroel, to
make them forget Your Torah and violate the decrees of Your will," and the
Greeks entered the Beis HaMikdash itself and made the oil impure —
i.e., the situation in the world appeared to oppose Torah and mitzvos —
it was revealed that these negative aspects were only superficial. The
Hashmonaim conquered the Greeks, negating all conflicting influences.
Furthermore, the miracle of the oil openly revealed how the very nature of the
world allows for the performance of Torah and mitzvos, since, as
explained above, the oil was found in a natural manner and even continued to
burn in a manner which did not alter its basic nature.
association of this lesson with Chanuka teaches a further concept. As mentioned
above, it was not absolutely necessary to kindle the menora with pure
oil. Thus, the use of such oil can be considered a hiddur mitzva,
the fulfillment of the mitzva in the most complete and perfect fashion.
Thus, we see that the natural order permits even this level of fulfillment of
Torah and mitzvos.
does not apply only to a person who is on a high rung of Torah observance.
Chanuka is associated with the word chinuch (education). This implies
that even one who is at the initial stages of the service of G-d, merely being
educated, still has the potential not only to fulfill Torah and mitzvos
according to the law’s minimum requirements, but even to reach the level of hiddur
above relates to our service in Exile. Despite the darkness of exile, G-d gives
every Jew the opportunity to fulfill Torah and mitzvos in a manner of hiddur.
What is more, the nature of the world leads toward this goal. G-d grants every
Jew all that he requires in the realms of children, health, and earning a
livelihood so that he can fulfill Torah and mitzvos in a state of both
spiritual and physical composure.
The above also relates to the Messianic age, when we will have the opportunity
of fulfilling Torah and mitzvos in a complete fashion. At present,
because we are in exile and living in the Diaspora, there are many mitzvos
that cannot be fulfilled. These circumstances, however, do not contradict the
principle that the nature of the world is structured in a manner that enables a
Jew to fulfill Torah and mitzvos easily.
is an abnormal situation for the world and for the Jewish people. The world was
created "for the sake of Yisroel and for the sake of the Torah," i.e.,
to enable the Jews to fulfill all 613 mitzvos. "Because of our
sins" — acts that run contrary to a Jew’s very nature (as the Rambam
states, each Jew, "desires to be part of Yisroel...to observe all the mitzvos
and separate himself from all the transgressions") — "we were exiled
from our land."
change in nature on the part of the Jewish people effects a change in the nature
of the world at large. Temporarily, rather than fulfill the mitzvos that
revolve around Eretz Yisroel and the Beis HaMikdash in actual
deed, it is sufficient that "We will render [the prayers of] our lips in
place of [sacrificial] cattle." Through prayer and study, we can compensate
for our inability to perform these mitzvos. This compensation fulfills
our obligations in regard to these mitzvos in the fullest manner
miracle of Chanuka, however, teaches a further concept — that ultimately, the
nature of the worldd will be elevated to a level of perfection in the Messianic
age. To explain:
states that the portion of the Torah describing the menora was placed
next to the portion describing the princes’ sacrifices (as was read in today’s
Torah reading) because: When Aharon saw the dedication [of the altar] by the
princes, he was shaken that neither he nor his tribe were included....The Holy
One, blessed be He, told him, "Rest assured. Your portion is greater. You
will light...the candles."
Midrash explains that the kindling of the menora is on a higher level
than the sacrifices because the sacrifices will be offered only during the time
the Beis HaMikdash is standing, while the candles will always light up
Ramban questions the latter statement, noting that, in a simple sense, the
kindling of the menora is — like the sacrifices — dependent on the
existence of the Beis HaMikdash. When there is no Beis HaMikdash,
the menora also may not be kindled. Accordingly, he explains that the
Midrash is alluding to the candles of Chanuka, which are kindled even in the
time of exile.
the candles of Chanuka do more than compensate for the kindling of the menora
in the Beis HaMikdash, as "[the prayers] of our lips"
compensate for the sacrifices; they allude to and reflect the kindling of the menora
which will take place in the Messianic age. Our Sages associate the number eight
— the number of candles lit for Chanuka — with the Messianic age. In that
era, we will kindle the menora in the Beis HaMikdash in a manner
which will never be nullified.
the miracle of Chanuka — a miracle of eight days — reflects how, and
contains the potential for, the era when the world will be elevated to its
ultimate level of perfection in the Messianic age. At present, the natural order
is represented by the number seven, reflecting the seven days of creation. In
the Messianic age, the nature of the world will be lifted to a higher level,
eight, which is symbolized by the Chanuka festival.
effect of the Chanuka miracle is to elevate the nature of the world to the level
of perfection it will reach in the Messianic age. This is accomplished by
"spreading the wellsprings of Torah" — the aspect of Torah related
to oil — "outward."
latter service is required in the present age. The Arizal states that "in
these later generations, it is permitted and it is a mitzva to reveal
this wisdom (the teachings of Pnimiyus HaTorah)." This certainly
applies to the revelation of the teachings of Chassidus by the Baal Shem Tov and
the Maggid, and the revelation of Chabad Chassidus by the Alter Rebbe,
particularly after the redemption of Yud-Tes Kislev. It also surely applies to
the Rebbeim who followed him, including the Rebbe Rayatz, who declared that the
"spreading of the wellsprings outward" is the "obligation of the
moment" in the present age.
the service of "spreading the wellsprings outward" will bring the
coming of Moshiach. The "spreading of the wellsprings outward" is
itself a beginning and a reflection of the revelation of Pnimiyus HaTorah which
will accompany the Messianic redemption.
qualities are reflected in the Chanuka lights, which we are commanded to place
"at the entrance to our homes, facing outward" and shine "until
the feet of the Tarmudites (representative of the quality of rebellion)
disappear from the street;" i.e., they effect the lowest levels of
existence and prepare them for the revelations of the Messianic age.
The preparation of the world for the Messianic era through the service of
spreading the wellsprings outward shares a particular connection with the
arrival of the Rebbe Rayatz in America. America is referred to as "the
lower half of the world." The Torah was given in "the upper half of
the world." Through the efforts of the Rebbe Rayatz after coming to
America, the wellsprings of Torah were spread in such a manner that the entire
world, even those portions in which "the Torah was not given," becomes
a fit receptacle for "the wellsprings of Torah."
is a further point to the spreading of the wellsprings of Chassidus in this
country. In America, in contrast to the situation of the Jewish people in
Eastern Europe, Jews live, by G-d’s grace, in affluence. Indeed, this
situation has become accepted as natural to the extent that in all aspects —
food, clothing, and accommodations — we have become accustomed not to be
content with the minimum, but rather to expect comfort.
reason G-d has granted such affluence is to facilitate the service of Torah and mitzvos,
to allow for the fulfillment of mitzvos b’hiddur and the study
of Torah with a broad-minded perspective, so that one can "know the G-d of
your fathers and serve Him with a full heart."
the previous generations, the Chassidim were involved in the study of Chassidus
and the spreading of the wellsprings outward, while living in a state of
poverty. Thus, the Alter Rebbe writes, "It is not hidden from me the
difficult times when your livelihood has become constrained..."
Nevertheless, he charged his Chassidim not to cut back their gifts to tzedaka.
In the Mitteler Rebbe’s time, the situation of the Chassidim was even more
hard-pressed, to the extent that some of his Chassidic teachings were not
printed in their entirety in a single cover. If they had been, the Chassidim
would not have been able to purchase them. Despite these difficulties, Chassidus
was revealed in a manner of "the broadening of the river."
these later years, beginning from the time the Rebbe Rayatz came to America, the
study of Chassidus and the spreading of the wellsprings outward has been carried
out amidst affluence. As we draw closer to the coming of Moshiach, the
wellsprings have become spread out to further frontiers than ever before. The
affluence of our environment has enabled us to spread the wellsprings further
and to do so with a broadminded perspective, which is also one of the new
dimensions of service expressed by the Rebbe Rayatz.
condition of affluence reveals how the world itself has become prepared for the
spreading of the wellsprings of Chassidus outward. Thus, material wealth and
affluence is granted to Jews to be used for the sake of spreading the
wellsprings of Chassidus outward.
latter concept is also connected with the fact that the first and last days of
Chanuka fall on the Shabbos. Shabbos is a day when "all your work is
completed," i.e., the work which involves the refinement and elevation of
the nature of the world. Accordingly, the nature of the world is on a higher
influence of Chanuka — and its connection with Shabbos — has an effect on
all the days that follow, elevating them to a higher level, a rung on which all
matters associated with "the candle of mitzva and the light of
Torah" can be fulfilled in the fullest degree possible. This will lead to
Messianic age, "the era which is all Shabbos and rest for eternity."
influence for all the above is granted this year, 5750, "A Year Of
Miracles." To summarize, these are days when each Jew should take on
resolutions to increase his involvement with "the candle of mitzva
and the light of Torah." Specifically, he should study Chassidus in
abundance, stealing from the time he would devote to his business. G-d, in turn,
will surely shower him with all the wealth he needs. Indeed, this money already
exists. All that is necessary is to go and get it.
this context, it is worthy to hold a farbrengen after the Mincha prayers
and another one at night, as a Melaveh Malka, to influence people to accept good
resolutions in regard to the study of Pnimiyus HaTorah, the spreading of
the wellsprings of Chassidus outward, and all other matters of Torah and mitzvos.
Also, at this time, it is worthy to mention that all those who have not
fulfilled the custom of giving Chanuka gelt to the extent desired should
compensate for this in the days that follow.
all these activities hasten the coming of the time when we will dedicate the menora
in the third Beis HaMikdash. May it be now, immediately!