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The Secret of Chanukah

The Greatness of Peace - The Purpose of Light

Being P.C. or C.P.

The Big Collision

The Shape of The Menorah

Let There be Light

Two Miracles: Two Modes of Commemoration

A New Level of Awareness

The Message of The Chanukah Lights

Why The Maccabees Rebelled

Increasing The Amount of Candles Lit on Chanukah

Reliving Chanuka

Chanukah and Moshiach

Chasidic Discourse - Mai Chanukah

Q & A

Letters From the Rebbe

Children's Corner

The Significance of Chanukah

 The Secret of Chanukah Being P.C. or C.P.

The Greatness of Peace - The Purpose of Light

Publisher's Foreword

One of the motifs highlighted in the sichos to follow is that although the Chanukah lights shine in the darkness of the night of exile, in the present age, they are kindled within our homes.

A parallel to this exists with regard to the light of Chassidus.

Chassidus has the power to illuminate the entire world, preparing it to shine with the light of the Redemption. But - particularly, from a Chabad point of view - firstly, that light must shine within ourselves, our homes, and our community.

The flow is inside out.

As we provide examples of how the Rebbe's teachings have added depth, satisfaction, and purpose to our lives, giving us a foretaste of the Redemption, we will spark others to emulate this pattern.

May the study of the Rebbe's teachings empower us to successfully confront the spiritual challenges which we face. And may our dedication to the mission with which he charged us draw down overtly apparent Divine good and blessing, including the ultimate blessing, the coming of the Redemption, and the fulfillment of the prophecy (Yeshayahu 26:19), "And those who repose in the dust will arise and sing."

Sichos In English
20 Kislev, 5755

The Greatness of Peace

At the conclusion of his discussion of the laws of Chanukah, the Rambam writes: [1]

If [a person has the means to perform only one of two mitzvos,] lighting a lamp for one's home, [i.e., the Shabbos candles,] or lighting a Chanukah lamp; or a lamp for one's home or the sanctification of the day (Kiddush), the lamp for one's home is granted priority, since it generates peace within the home.... Peace is great. Indeed, the entire Torah was granted in order to bring about peace in the world.

The question arises:

Why does the Rambam explain the importance of peace in the portion of the Mishneh Torah dealing with the laws of Chanukah?

Moreover, seemingly, it would have been more appropriate to state this law in Hilchos Shabbos. Indeed, the law applying to Kiddush which the Rambam quotes [2] has no connection with the laws of Chanukah. And stating the law in Hilchos Shabbos would not have prevented him from adding the conclusion concerning the importance of peace.

Two Frequencies of Light

This question can be resolved by explaining the difference between the lamps of the Menorah in the Beis HaMikdash and the Chanukah lamps.

Among the differences between these two mitzvos are:

  1. the lamps of the menorah were kindled within the Sanctuary building, while the Chanukah lamps are kindled: "at the outside of the entrance to one's house." [3]
  2. the lamps of the menorah were kindled during the day, while the Chanukah lamps are kindled "after sunset," [3] with the intent that they burn into the night.

The lamps of the Menorah were kindled in a place where holiness was overtly revealed; in the Beis HaMikdash, the concealment of G-dliness which characterizes our material world was not apparent at all. Therefore, when the Greeks brought impurity into the Beis HaMikdash, all of the elements of sacrificial worship carried out in the Beis HaMikdash, and in particular, the kindling of Menorah, were nullified.

The Chanukah candles serve a different purpose.

Their intent is to illuminate the surrounding environment and to brighten the darkness of night, i.e., the exile. Indeed, the Chanukah lights have the potential to negate the powers of the forces of evil.

This is alluded to in our Sages' statement [4] that the candles should burn until "the feet of the Tarmudites depart from the marketplace." The Hebrew name Tarmud shares the same letters as the word moredes "rebellious one," and refers to the forces of evil. [5]

This indicates that the Chanukah lights possess a dimension which surpasses the lights of the Menorah.

This is also reflected in the Ramban's commentary [6] which explains that the lights of the Menorah were negated by the influence of the Greeks who desecrated the holiness of the Beis HaMikdash The lamps of Chanukah, by contrast, will never be nullified. They will continue to shine even in exile, in the times of the greatest darkness.

This parallels the advantage which baalei teshuvah, those who repent, possesses over the righteous. [7]

The righteous have no connection to evil whatsoever. A baal teshuvah, by contrast, has tasted evil, but through teshuvah, he has the power to transform his past. Even transgression which were performed intentionally can be converted into merits; [8] the evil itself becomes good.

These concepts are also reflected in the fact that we light a greater number of candles on Chanukah, eight, than in the Beis HaMikdash, seven.

These numbers are also of unique significance.

Seven refers to perfection within the context of the natural order, as reflected in the seven days of the week. This applies in our material world, and in the Seder HaHishtalshelus, the chainlike progression of spiritual realms. Therefore, in the Beis HaMikdash, where G-dliness was revealed, seven lamps were sufficient, for seven represents the light of the natural order.

When, however, the intent is to illuminate the darkness of exile, it is necessary to employ a light which transcends the natural order. And such a light is produced by the eight lamps kindled on Chanukah. For the number eight reflects a light that is not bound by any limits. [9]

Fusing Two Thrusts

Baalei teshuvah possess an advantage over the righteous; they draw down a higher level of light. Nevertheless, the righteous also possess an advantage over baalei teshuvah; they have nothing to do with evil. Their Divine service involves only good, and they are privileged to a far greater revelation of Divine light.

For this reason, the ultimate peak of Divine service involves the fusion of both these approaches, that of the righteous and the baalei teshuvah. This will be accomplished with the coming of Mashiach, who will "motivate the righteous to turn to G-d in teshuvah. [10]

The fusion of these two approaches is made possible by a light which transcends both of them, and therefore can bring them both together.

The fusion of these two paths of service is also reflected in the Chanukah candles. [11] Their purpose is to illuminate the night of exile. They are, however, rooted in the lamps of Beis HaMikdash. For, the Chanukah lamps were instituted to commemorate the miracle that took place concerning the lights of the Menorah, and they perpetuate that light.

This concept is also alluded to by the eight Chanukah lamps, for the number eight is associated with the Era of the Redemption.

Thus our Sages relate [12] that the harp used in the Beis HaMikdash had seven strands, and the harp of the Era of the Redemption will have eight strands.

This refers to the revelation which transcends the natural order This revelation is, however, encompassed by the influence of G-d's essence, which reflects the ultimate level of transcendence.

And this level can fuse together the Divine light which permeates the natural order (paralleled in the context of our Divine service, by the devotion of the righteous) and the Divine light which transcends the natural order (paralleled by the commitment of baalei teshuvah).

The Connection Between Chanukah And Peace

On this basis, we can understand why the Rambam underscores the greatness of peace in Hilchos Chanukah. Peace refers to the establishment of unity between two opposite thrusts. [13]

With regard to opposites, there are several different levels.

With regard to the matter at hand, peace in the home, we are speaking about establishing unity among all the elements of the house and their ultimate purpose, the indwelling of the Divine Presence. For every Jewish home is "a sanctuary in microcosm," [14] where the Divine presence rests.

In particular, this refers to the establishment of peace between a husband and his wife.

(For the term "his home" is also employed to mean "his wife.") [15] Although a man and a woman have opposite tendencies, they can complement and assist each other [16]

The kindling of Shabbos candles was instituted to bring about peace in the home. [17] Similarly, the Chanukah candles are also intended to bring about peace, indeed, an even higher level of peace: peace between darkness (the time when the Chanukah candles are lit) and light, between the natural order and the light that transcends the natural order.

To explain this in terms of our Divine service:

There are two dimensions of the Chanukah lights:

a) The dimension of teshuvah, i.e., that darkness will be illuminated, establishing peace between entities that appreciate their selfhood, and G-d. b) The fusion of the service of teshuvah with the service of the righteous, that the light which transcends the natural order will shine within the natural order.

This is the ultimate intent.

When, however, a person lacks resources, it is apparent that his first priority must be the establishment of peace in the home, and not an attempt to illuminate his surrounding environment. Thus kindling Shabbos candles, and thus establishing peace in the home is given precedence.

Adapted from Sichos Shabbos Parshas Vayeishev, 5722

The Purpose of Light

There is a difference between the Chanukah lights and other candles kindled to observe mitzvos.

Indeed, this distinction applies even with regard to the lights of the Menorah, which are the source for the mitzvah of lighting Chanukah candles.

All of the other lights associated with mitzvos are merely intermediaries through which one can reach an intended goal. The Chanukah candles, by contrast, are not intermediaries; the light they produce represents their purpose.

To explain:

In general, all of the other lights associated with mitzvos can be divided into two categories:

  1. lights kindled for the sake of honor, e.g., lights kindled in a shul, which enhance the honor of that building. They are not lit for the sake of their light. And therefore, the blessing borei meorei ho'eish, recited during the Havdalah ceremony may not be recited on these candles. [18]

  2. candles which are kindled for the sake of their light. For example, the Shabbos candles are kindled to use their light to bring about peace in the home. Similarly, with regard to the candles of the Menorah, it is written: [19] "The candles will shine ," i.e., they were kindled to give off light.

Similarly, the Chanukah candles were kindled to provide light. For this reason, it is necessary to clarify [20] that these lights should not be used for Havdalah, because it is forbidden to derive any benefit from them. Thus were we allowed to benefit from them, they could be used for the Havdalah ceremony, for their purpose is to provide light.

A distinction can, however, be made between the Chanukah candles and the Shabbos candles and the candles of the Menorah.

The Shabbos candles and the candles of the Menorah were kindled for a purpose: the Shabbos candles to establish peace in the home and the candles of the Menorah to serve as "testimony to the world that the Divine Presence rests within Israel." [21]

With regard to the Chanukah lights, by contrast, their light serves no other purposes; the purpose is in the light itself.

The Talmud [22] does state that the purpose of the Chanukah candles is to "publicize the [Chanukah] miracle." This does not, however, represent their fundamental purpose. Their fundamental purpose is to shine forth light; incidentally, this light also publicizes the Chanukah miracle. [23]

This explanation is borne out by the fact that we recite a blessing over the Chanukah candles even in an instance when kindling them does not publicize the Chanukah miracle. [24]

This is not true with regard to the Shabbos candles. If they are lit in a manner in which the purpose of generating peace in the home is not fulfilled, it is forbidden to recited a blessing upon them.

For example, when several heads of families kindle their Shabbos lights in a single candelabrum, the additional candles do not increase the functional dimension of the light. Therefore, it is forbidden to recite a blessing on the additional candles. [25]

With regard to the Chanukah candles, the Talmud rules [26] that a candelabrum with two candleholders may be used by two individuals. Although the second candle does not cause the miracle to have been further publicized, the person is considered to have fulfilled the mitzvah, and should recite a blessing before doing so.

Similarly, the Talmud states [27] that in a time of danger, [28] when the Chanukah lights cannot be kindled in a manner that overtly publicizes the miracle, it is sufficient to light the candle[s] on a table within one's home, and a blessing should be recited.

This indicates that the dimension of publicizing the Chanukah miracle is an incidental element of kindling the Chanukah candles, and not their fundamental purpose. Their fundamental purpose is the light which they produce.

A Glimmer of Transcendence

The inner dimension of the above distinction can be described as follows:

All of the elements of the Chanukah miracle - the decrees of the Greeks in that age, the self-sacrifice of the Jews which brought about the miracle, the very miracle itself, and the commemoration of the miracle as instituted by our Sages, - revolve around one concept: the Jews' commitment to G-d which transcends the limits of rational thought.

To explain:

The intent of the decrees issued by the Greek's was "to make them forget Your Torah." [29] The emphasis is on "Your Torah," i.e., the Torah as it is connected with G-d, i.e., the G-dliness in the Torah which transcends rational thought.

The Greeks did not object to the Jews' studying the wisdom and logic of the Torah. They, however, desired that the Torah be studied without the appreciation that it is G-d's Torah.

Similarly, with regard to the observance of the mitzvos, the Greek's intent was to have the Jews "violate the decrees of Your will." [29]

The word "decrees" refers to the chukim, the mitzvos whose rationale transcends the limits of knowledge and which are observed out of a commitment of kabbalos ol, a desire to fulfill G-d's will. These were the mitzvos which the Greeks endeavored to stamp out.

More particularly, the Greeks would have accepted the observance of the chukim were the motive for this observance to have a base of logic. They would not have objected had the Jews said: It is true we do not understand the rationale for the chukim.

Nevertheless, we rely on the fact that He who commanded the observance of the chukim is the ultimate of knowledge. Thus we can assume that the chukim also possess a rationale that can be understood, but that rationale transcends the limits of ordinary mortal knowledge. [30]

What the Greeks objected to was the Jews' commitment to observe the chukim because of kabbalas ol, without seeking any rationale. They opposed the Jews' desire to obey solely because the mitzvos are G-d's will. [31]

This explanation also enables us to understand why the Greeks made the oil in the Beis HaMikdash impure, rather than destroying it, or stealing it.

The laws of ritual purity and impurity are also chukim, transcending the limits of mortal knowledge.

As the Midrash states: [32] "The Holy One, blessed be He, declares: 'This is a statute which I have instituted, a decree which I have ordained You have no permission to violate it.' "

There is no reason in mortal logic why a corpse should impart ritual impurity, or a mikveh should impart ritual purity. This is a decree from G-d, which the Jews must observe. Since ritual impurity is a concept which transcends mortal intellect entirely, the Greeks strove against it, and "made all the oil in the Sanctuary impure." [33]

Similarly, the Jewish response to the challenge presented by the Greeks transcended the limits of mortal intellect.

The Jews fought the Greeks with mesirus nefesh; although the battle pitted "the weak against the strong," [29] they were willing to sacrifice their lives for G-d, His Torah, and His mitzvos And self-sacrifice is by nature beyond the bounds of commitment inspired by understanding.

Comparable ideas apply with regard to the Chanukah miracle.

By definition, every miracle transcends the limits of knowledge. In addition, the Chanukah miracle is unique in that it was wrought: "to show [G-d's] love for the Jewish people," [34] a love which is not bound by the limits of reason.

Since the miracle of the Chanukah lamps reveals a connection between the Jews and G-d that transcends all limits, our Sages ordained that the fundamental celebration of the Chanukah miracle reflect this bond. Therefore, they ordained that we light candles, [35] commemorating the miracle which transpired with the cruse of oil, instead of the military victory (which is commemorated with prayers of praise and thanksgiving).

This points to the transcendent bond which the Jews share with G-d. [36] Accordingly, we can appreciate why the light of the Chanukah candles has a self-contained purpose and is not merely an intermediary serving another intent. Since they reflect the bond with G-d's essence, that itself is their purpose; there can be no other objective for them.

Three Planes of Light

As mentioned above, in general, the purpose of the Shabbos candles, the candles of the Menorah, and the Chanukah candles is to produce light.

Our Sages say: [37] "There is no light other than the Torah, as it is written: [38] 'A mitzvah is a candle, and the Torah, light.'" Thus the light produced by all these three types of candles is Torah.

The three types of candles allude to three different types of light, three different approaches to studying the Torah.

One of the purposes of Torah study is to become knowledgeable concerning the observance of the mitzvos, knowing what and how we are required to observe. Through this observance, the Torah brings peace to the world. [39]

This parallels the Shabbos candle s which are kindled for the sake of "peace in the home."

Another purpose of Torah study is to connect the Jewish people with G-d. [40] This parallels the lights of the Menorah which served as testimony that the Divine Presence rests with the Jewish people.

The highest level of the study of the Torah is Torah lishmah, the study of Torah for its own sake, without any other intent. It is this approach to Torah study which binds a Jew with G-d's essence. [41] And with regard to G-d's essence - and similarly with regard to the Torah which is one with G-d's essence - it is impossible to say that He exists as an intermediary for a purpose outside of Him. This dimension is paralleled by the Chanukah candles. [42]

The Potential is Sufficient

As stated above, publicizing the Chanukah miracle is merely an incidental factor, and is not the fundamental purpose of kindling the Chanukah candles.

This concept is not refuted by the law which states that if a person lights Chanukah candles in a place where they will not be seen by others, e.g., higher than 20 cubits, [43] or at time when they will not be seen by others, [44] he is not considered to have fulfilled the mitzvah.

To explain:

The definition of the mitzvah of kindling Chanukah candles is to light a lamp which provides light for people. [45]

A priori, this light should also be positioned in a place where it publicizes the Chanukah miracle. There is, however, no binding obligation that others actually see the Chanukah lights. All that is necessary is that candles produce a light which can be seen by others. [46]

To Reveal What Cannot Be Revealed

The inner rationale why there is an inherent motive for the Chanukah candles to produce light which can be seen by everyone, and which even attracts public notice, can be explained as follows.

The highest levels of G-dliness, those which transcend the natural order, even the essence of G-d Himself, as it were, must be drawn down to this material realm. [47]

These levels of light transcend the limits of our material world.

Nevertheless, the ultimate intent is that they be drawn down in a manner that will enable them to permeate also our material frame of reference.

There is a parallel to this in our Divine service.

The fundamental intent of the power of mesirus nefesh which reflects the essential bond between a Jew and G-d is not to serve as an intermediary to arouse and illuminate our revealed powers of intellect and emotion.

The fundamental purpose is the mesirus nefesh itself, and the bond with G-d which is established through it. Nevertheless, in the most complete sense, mesirus nefesh should also be openly apparent, and should effect our revealed powers, spurring them to deeper involvement in the Torah and its mitzvos.

For as explained in Tanya, [48] the observance of the Torah and its mitzvos is dependent on mesirus nefesh. Nevertheless, even when, Chas V'Shalom a person's mesirus nefesh does not have a direct effect on his observance of the Torah and its mitzvos (as it is possible that a Chanukah lamp will not provide light for another person), there is nothing lacking in the mesirus nefesh per se There is a lack in the person's revealed powers; they are not sufficiently developed to be affected by the mesirus nefesh. [49]

This lack does not detract from the person's mesirus nefesh.

The power of mesirus nefesh exists within all Jews as an inherent potential, as our Sages state: [50] "A Jew, even though he sins, remains a Jew." In this instance, however, the mesirus nefesh has become an active force.

What Exile Cannot Obstruct

On the basis of the above, we can appreciate a unique factor which distinguishes the Chanukah candles from all the other mitzvos.

With regard to all the other mitzvos, there is a possibility that a gentile will prevent a Jew from observing the mitzvos. Even with regard to the three mitzvos concerning which it is stated: [51] "You should die, rather than transgress," and a Jew is obligated to sacrifice his life, a gentile's oppression can have an effect.

Although the gentile cannot cause a Jew to nullify the observance of these mitzvos, he can prevent the Jew from fulfilling them. For if the Jew will remain firm in his observance and sacrifice his life, he will be killed, and the mitzvos will no longer be observed.

With regard to the mitzvah of Chanukah, by contrast, there is no possible way that a gentile can negate its observance.

For as stated above, in an age when the gentiles try to prevent the Jews from observing the mitzvah, it is sufficient to kindle the Chanukah light[s] on one's dining room table. [52] A gentile will not prevent him from doing that. [53]

This factor can be explained on the basis of the concepts stated above.

The mitzvah of lighting Chanukah candles reflects the connection of the essence of the soul with G-d's essence, a spiritual rung which cannot be affected by sin. As such, exile which comes as a result of sin (as we say in our prayers, [54] "Because of our sins, we were exiled from our land") can have no effect upon this mitzvah; no one can negate its observance.

A gentile can issue a decree preventing a Jew from kindling a Chanukah light that shines outside his home; he cannot, however, frustrate the essence of the mitzvah, for the candles can be kindled within the home.

As the Ramban states, [55] "The candles of Chanukah will never be nullified."

The concealment of G-dliness which characterizes exile, and in a larger sense, our material existence as a whole, cannot prevent their light from shining.

Adapted from the sichos of the 5th night of Chanukah, Shabbos Parshas Mikeitz, and Zos Chanukah, 5720


  1. (Back to text) Mishneh Torah, Hilchos Chanukah 4:14.

  2. (Back to text) Although the Rambam's words are quoted from the source for this law in the Talmud (Shabbos 23b), he elaborates on the connection between the two more than in the original text.

  3. (Back to text) Shabbos 21b.

  4. (Back to text) Ibid.

  5. (Back to text) See Kehillas Yaakov (written by the author of Melo HaRo'im), entry Tarmud. This concept, as are all the elements of Pnimiyus HaTorah, is also reflected in the teachings of Nigleh, the revealed realm of Torah law. As evident from our Sages' statements (Yevamos 16b), there were servants of King Shlomo who rebelled against him, fled, and intermingled with the Tarmudites King Shlomo "sat on the throne of G-d" (I Divrei HaYomim 29:23). Thus a rebellion against him constituted rebellion against G-d, as it were.

    This also reflects the advantage of the lights of Chanukah over the lights of the Menorah in the Beis HaMikdash The revelation brought about by the Menorah's lights did not nullify the existence of the Tarmudites. On the contrary, they were partners in its destruction (Jerusalem Talmud, Taanis 4:5).

    The Chanukah lights, by contrast, cause the Tarmudites to depart, i.e., they nullify their existence, even their feet. The Chanukah candles eliminate all traces, even the lowest levels, "the feet," of the approach of the denial of G-d's authority symbolized by the Tarmudites.

  6. (Back to text) At the beginning of Parshas Behaaloscha.

  7. (Back to text) See Berachos 34b. See also Sefer HaMaamarim 5709, p. 183.

  8. (Back to text) Yoma 86b.

  9. (Back to text) See the Responsa of the Rashba, Vol. I, Responsum 9. See also the maamar entitled Vayehi BaYom HaShemini, 5704, where this concept is explained at length.

  10. (Back to text) Likkutei Torah, Devarim 92b, Shir HaShirim 50b.

  11. (Back to text) This concept also shares a connection to Parshas Vayeishev as reflected in the teachings of the Maggid of Mezeritch (Or HaTorah, at the beginning of Parshas Vayeishev).

    On the verse (Bereishis 37:1): "Yaakov settled in the land where his father had sojourned, in the land of Canaan," the Maggid focus on the fact that the word megurei, translated as "sojourned," also means "fear of."

    Thus the verse can be interpreted to mean that even though Yaakov had settled in the land, in our material world, he was still absorbed in the fear of his Father in Heaven Although he lived in the land of Canaan, among wicked people (as Hoshea 12:8 states: "Canaan, in his hands are crooked scales"), he did not learn from their actions.

    (There is also a similar explanation in Torah Or, loc. cit., focusing on the fact that the above verse mentions the word "land" twice. The explanation in Torah Or, however, speaks of a higher level, the sublime unity, and the lower unity.)

    The repetition of the word "land" refers to the approaches of the righteous, and the baalei teshuvah. Both are mentioned in the same verse, indicating a connection between them.

  12. (Back to text) Erchin 13b; see also Likkutei Torah, Tazria 21d.

  13. (Back to text) See Tanya, Iggeres HaKodesh, the conclusion of Epistle 30.

  14. (Back to text) Cf. Megillah 29a.

  15. (Back to text) Yoma 2a; see also Shabbos 118b.

  16. (Back to text) See Yevamos 63a, commenting on Bereishis 2:20.

  17. (Back to text) See Shulchan Aruch HaRav 263:1 which explains that the reason for kindling Shabbos candles is to establish peace, so that one of the members of the family will not trip over an article left on the floor accidentally, and for this reason enter into strife with another family member.

    Similarly, lighting Shabbos candles is associated with Oneg Shabbos, Shabbos pleasure. In particular, this refers to the time when a person eats, for all of a person's physical needs can be referred to with the term "eating."

    The explanation of the fusion of the opposite tendencies of the man and his wife relates to the Rambam's statements in Hilchos Chanukah, where as a reflection of the greatness of peace, he cites the fact that "G-d's Name is blotted out to establish peace between a husband and his wife."

    Similarly, the above explanations enable us to understand why the Rambam refers to the Shabbos candles with the term "a lamp for one's home," rather than refer to them by name.

    (Indeed, in the passage from Shabbos 23b, it is necessary for Rashi to explain that the intent is Shabbos candles.) For the importance of the Shabbos candles in this context is the peace they establish within the home.

  18. (Back to text) Berachos 53a; Shulchan Aruch HaRav 298:17.

  19. (Back to text) Bamidbar 8:2.

  20. (Back to text) Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 681:1). See the explanation of this concept in Moadim B'Halachah, by R. S. Zevin.

  21. (Back to text) Shabbos 22b. See also the Sifra quoted by Tosafos.

  22. (Back to text) Ibid. 23b.

  23. (Back to text) The concept that the Chanukah candles were not intended for a purpose other than their light cannot be disputed because of the explanation given above that the Chanukah candles generate peace (indeed a higher dimension of peace than that generated by the Shabbos candles). Nor can a question be raised from the fact that kindling the Chanukah candles elevates the G-dly sparks enclothed in the oil. These concepts, like the concept of publicizing the Chanukah miracle, are incidental factors The essential purpose of the Chanukah candles is solely for their light; kindling them fulfills a self-contained purpose.

  24. (Back to text) E.g., a person living alone who kindles them within his home as will be explained.

  25. (Back to text) See Shulchan Aruch HaRav 263:10, and the sources cited there.

  26. (Back to text) Shabbos, loc. cit.

  27. (Back to text) Ibid. 21b.

  28. (Back to text) I.e., an era when the gentiles attempted to stamp out the observance of Chanukah. Before this time, Chanukah candles were kindled at the entrance to one's home or courtyard, and from this time onward, it became customary to kindle the lights indoors.

  29. (Back to text) The Al HaNissim prayer, Siddur Tehillat HaShem, p. 59.

  30. (Back to text) There is, moreover, a foundation for such an approach within the Torah itself. Bamidbar Rabbah (19:2) quotes King Shlomo as saying: "I was able to comprehend all the [other difficult passages in the Torah], but with regard to the passage of the Red Heifer, I asked and I sought; "I said, 'I will become wise,' but I [saw] that it was far from me." And similarly, with regard to Moshe, the Midrash (loc. cit.:6) states: "The Holy One, blessed be He, told Moshe: 'To you [alone] will I reveal the rationale for the Red Heifer.' "

  31. (Back to text) See HaYom Yom, entry Teves 2.

  32. (Back to text) Bamidbar Rabbah, at the beginning of Parshas Chukas; see also the Rambam, Mishneh Torah, the conclusion of Hilchos Mikveos.

  33. (Back to text) Shabbos 22b.

  34. (Back to text) Commentary of Pnei Yehoshua and Rosh Yosef to Shabbos 21b; Responsa Chacham Tzvi, ch. 87.

  35. (Back to text) See Tosafos, Sukkah 46a; Magen Avraham 676:1; the gloss of the Tzaphnas Paneach to the Mishneh Torah, Hilchos Chanukah 3:3.

  36. (Back to text) This concept is also reflected in the number of candles lit: eight. For as explained above, the number eight is associated with a transcendent dimension, Similarly, it is reflected in the fact that it is the universal custom to observe this mitzvah in the manner of mehadrin min hamehadrin, in the most careful and beautiful manner. See Likkutei Sichos, Vol. I, p. 92.

  37. (Back to text) Taanis 7b.

  38. (Back to text) Mishlei 6:23.

  39. (Back to text) Sifri, quoted by the Rambam at the conclusion of Hilchos Chanukah. See also the maamar entitled Heichaltzu and its explanation in Likkutei Torah. Note the interpretation given for our Sages' statement (Sanhedrin 99b): "Whoever occupies himself with the Torah for its own sake brings about peace...."

  40. (Back to text) See Zohar, Vol. III, p. 73a. See also Tanya, chs. 5, 52, and 53.

  41. (Back to text) See Tanya, ch. 23, and the notes of the Tzemach Tzedek to that chapter.

  42. (Back to text) On this basis, it is possible to explain the statements of the Ramban in the name of the Midrash in his commentary at the beginning of Parshas Behaaloscha, which mention that the lamps of the Menorah always point to the center of the Menorah. The Ramban explains that this passage refers to the Chanukah candles, and as such, the question arises: What is the connection of the Chanukah candles to the center of the Menorah?

    The Hebrew word translated as "center," pnei, also means "inner dimensions." The Chanukah candles, which refer to the Torah as it is united with G-d's essence, reflect this inner light solely. See Tanya, Kuntres Acharon, the essay beginning David Zemiros Keris lihu.

  43. (Back to text) Shabbos 22a; note Rashi's commentary. See also Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Hilchos Chanukah 3:3, 4:12.

  44. (Back to text) See the conclusion of ch. 673 in the Beis Yosef, the Maharshal, the Magen Avraham, the Chemed Moshe, and others.

  45. (Back to text) Similar to the Menorah which the Torah (Bamidbar 8:2) states must "shine."

  46. (Back to text) To cite a parallel: With regard to the mixture of oil and floor for the meal offerings, our Sages explain (Menachos 103b) that although the Torah states that they should be mixed together, as long as they are fit to be mixed together, the offering is acceptable even though in actual fact, the flour and oil are not mixed together.

    The concepts explained in the text above can be extended to serve as the basis for the interpretation of the difference of opinion between our Sages (Shabbos 21b) as to whether it is permissible to derive benefit from the Chanukah candles or not. The opinion which permits deriving benefit from the Chanukah candles, maintains that the light of the Chanukah candles, though transcendent in nature, also has an effect and produces benefits that can be appreciated within the natural order.

    The opinion which maintains - and which is accepted as halachah - that it is forbidden to benefit from the light of the Chanukah candles operates under the conception that the purpose of this light is not to effect change with regard to our immediate, temporal concerns, for this light transcends the natural order Even the changes which it does effect in the world are separate from ordinary worldly matters.

    (Both of these concepts are reflected in the nature of oil: On one hand, oil permeates through all objects. Simultaneously, it does not become mixed with any other liquid.)

    Since this transcendent light does not enclothe itself within the world and adapt itself to its limits, the process of transmission to lower levels does not cause it to undergo contraction or dimunation.

    This can be connected to the Ramban's statements (in his commentary to the beginning of Parshas Behaaloscha) that the Chanukah candles and the priestly blessing will never be nullified. For the Chanukah candles and the priestly blessing share a common factor: They draw down a light which transcends the natural order.

    (This points to another connection between the two. The commemoration of Chanukah in our prayers is through the recitation of Hallel, and the addition of the prayer Al HaNissim in the blessing Modim. The priestly blessing is also recited after the blessing Modim. Moreover, hode'ah, acknowledgment of G-d's kindness, is thematically related to the two, because the transcendent light which they convey cannot be grasped and appreciated, all that we can do is to thankfully acknowledge its influence.)

    The transcendent light which the Chanukah candles and the priestly blessing draw down does have an effect within the world. Nevertheless, this effect is not constrained within the limits of our world. On the contrary, it follows the pattern of "His word runs most swiftly" and is revealed in a transcendent manner (Tehillim 147:15). (See Likkutei Torah, the conclusion of Parshas Korach.)

  47. (Back to text) This transforms our world into a dwelling for G-d; see Tanya, chs. 33 and 36.

  48. (Back to text) The conclusion of ch. 25.

  49. (Back to text) To cite an example of how a person's essential powers may not effect his conscious self. Our Sages (Berachos 63a, see Ein Yaakov,) say that a thief calls upon G-d before breaking in to a home. On one hand, his power of faith is aroused as reflected in his calling upon G-d. Simultaneously, this arousal does not effect his revealed powers.

    A similar concept can apply with regard to mesirus nefesh. It is possible that a Jew who gives up his life al kiddush HaShem, sanctifying G-d's Name, may be lax in the observance of a particular mitzvah, for his revealed powers have not been affected. {[Tanya (ch. 18) states that even the most base and unrefined individuals are prepared to sacrifice their lives al kiddush HaShem. Inspite of their self-sacrifice, they] may remain base and unrefined from the standpoint of their revealed powers.} (See also Kuntres HaAvodah, ch. 5.)

  50. (Back to text) Sanhedrin 44a.

  51. (Back to text) Sanhedrin 74a; Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De'ah 157a.

  52. (Back to text) Shabbos 21b.

  53. (Back to text) Trans. note: Even at times when gentiles would attempt to stamp out the observance of the mitzvah of Chanukah lights, one could fulfill the mitzvah (on its most basic level) by lighting a single candle on the dining room table. Nobody could object to a person sitting down to a candlelit meal.

  54. (Back to text) Musaf service for Festivals. Siddur Tehilat HaShem, p. 258.

  55. (Back to text) At the beginning of his commentary to Parshas Behaaloscha. See the previous references to these statements.

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