student-studying-in-tiferet

Chanukah Dvar Torah

When we light the מנורה on Chanuka, we say two ברכות: “להדליק נר של חנוכה” and “שעשה נסים לאבותינו בימים ההם בזמן הזה.” The נסים referred to in the second ברכה are two: the Jewish victory in the war against the Greeks and finding the jug of sealed oil. Not only did we find this jug of oil, but miraculously the oil lasted for eight days. This נס is a true expression of ה’s presence, as only He could have done something like this.

Rav Pam points out that many נסים occurred in the בית המקדש every single day, as listed in the משנה. These נסים include the לחם הפנים never getting stale and flies never touching the קורבנות. Rav Pam therefore asks, why don’t we say the ברכה of “שעשה נסים לאבותינו בימים ההם בזמן הזה” every single day to commemorate the נסים that happened each day in the Beis Hamikdash? Why is the חנוכה נס so special that we only say this ברכה on חנוכה?

Rav Pam’s question can be answered by using the Pnei Yehoshua’s commentary on מסכת שבת. There, the Pnei Yehoshua discusses the concept of “טומאה הותרה בצבור,” i.e., services in the בית המקדש need to be performed in a state of purity, unless the majority of people performing the service are impure. In such a case, the בית המקדש service can be carried out in an impure fashion. Based on this concept, there was no need for the נם of pure oil on חנוכה; since the majority of Jews at that time were impure, any oil was fit for use according to the principle of טומאה הותרה בצבור.

The fact that this was an unnecessary נס teaches us that ה only performed it to show His added love, חיבה יתירה, for בני ישראל.
Let’s take this one step further. The Bach comments that if בני ישראל were subjected to the decrees of the Greeks and the desecration of the בית המקדש, then they must have done something very terrible to deserve such a Divine punishment. He suggests that, since ה punishes בני ישראל via מידה כנגד מידה, these punishments may have been due to בני ישראל ‘s laziness in the service of the בית המקדש. Perhaps their service became routine, without the proper intention or devotion. In light of the Bach’s suggestion, the Pnei Yehoshua is saying that with this display of חיבה יתירה, ה is trying to show בני ישראל that after they did תשובה, their relationship is fully restored. The relationship is just as strong as it was before. The impure oil would have been sufficient, but ה wanted to show בני ישראל that the level of their relationship was equal to what it previously was.
The נס of Chanukah was evidently special – different from all other נסים in the בית המקדש. This נס teaches us a very important lesson: ה does not hold grudges. He will always allow us to return to Him as long as it is through a sincere תשובה!

From a student studying in Tiferet