Shabbat Parashat Miketz | 5763
From the works of Hagaon - Harav Shaul Yisraeli zt”l
The Need For Religious Legislation - From Harabanut V’Hamedinah p. 340
The gemara (Shabbat 21b) asks, "What is Chanukah?" and ignores all the background regarding the wars which enabled the purification of the Temple and the related miracle. Why was this ignored? After all, Chazal were aware of the importance of battle when it is needed. We don't believe in pacifism under all circumstances and when one comes to kill us, we are instructed to preempt him.
The war wasn't stressed, because war is not always appropriate. Sometimes it is not necessary and sometimes it is not possible. The point which Chazal did stress is one which is always applicable and important. The lesson is to become accustomed to appreciating ourselves and our inner spiritual strengths. We must never despair even when we appear to be on the verge of destruction, whether spiritually or physically. A strong, true "call to arms" can arouse many stragglers, because hidden in the recesses of our souls is a pure flask of oil. If the right person stokes the coals which smolder in the heart of every Jew, it will burn brightly.
Even on the physical level, there are enormous hidden powers which can be much more effective then one would expect after taking an external look. We know of the activities in Eretz Yisrael, which have revived a desolate land, covered ruins with vegetation, and discovered water in the desert. Where did these powers come from? We saw our brave brothers who fought in the ghettos of Europe and died as holy martyrs. Would anyone have been able to recognize this bravery in simple, everyday Jews? It is the same in the time of historical Chanukah. If not for the events of the time, nothing would have been known about a humble family of Kohanim from Modiin.
The message of Chanukah, which is stressed through the spiritual side, is to recognize the hidden powers, which always exist, and surface in unusual times. We should use Chanukah to recognize and muster up these powers and apply them to daily life. We must not forget who we are, and what we are toiling to accomplish.
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