1. Although it is now after the kindling of the second night’s Chanukah lights, there is still an association with the first day, since “in Kodshim [sacrificial matters — literally referring to certain types of sacrifices] the night follows the day.” The first day of Chanukah is similar to the ‘head’ of the festival, and as such, encompasses all the days of Chanukah. Moreover, the miracle of the other seven days was a result
of the first day’s miracle. The miracle of Chanukah is that “they searched and found only one container of oil with the seal of the Kohen Gadol intact; it contained only enough for one day, and a miracle occurred and it lit for eight days.” We see then, that the miracle of the oil lasting for an additional seven days resulted from the first
day’s miracle — the finding of the container of pure oil.
Hence, not only does the first day encompass the other days, but the miracle
of the first day encompasses the miracle
of the other days — since the latter was the result of the former. And since this farbrengen is (as explained before) taking place at a time still associated with the first day, it is associated with all the days of Chanukah.
Halachic authorities state that on Chanukah one should increase in giving tzedakah. Likewise, the Chabad leaders explain that there is an intrinsic connection between Chanukah and giving tzedakah. The connection between the two can be understood simply: Of the Chanukah lights it is stated: “These lights will never be abolished” — they have an eternal element within them. The future redemption is also eternal, for after it there will never be another exile. In the words of the Rambam: “Torah has promised that Yisrael will eventually repent at the end of the exile and immediately they will be redeemed.” Tzedakah is intimately connected with the future redemption, as our Sages said: “Great is tzedakah for it brings closer the redemption.” This is the connection between Chanukah and tzedakah. Through tzedakah we merit the true and eternal redemption, similar to the eternality of the Chanukah lights.
Hence, it is now appropriate to urge everyone to increase in giving tzedakah during the eight days of Chanukah. On Shabbos Chanukah (when it is forbidden to handle money), one may fulfill the mitzvah of tzedakah by giving food and drink, or by giving tzedakah twice on Friday — once for Friday and once for Shabbos.
Although the Chabad Rebbeim did not lay special emphasis on giving extra tzedakah on Chanukah (more than other days of the year), I wish that this should be the only objection people will have to giving extra tzedakah! Especially since we can explain that the Rebbeim did give more tzedakah — spiritual tzedakah. On Chanukah, they delivered more Chassidic discourses than usual, and delivering a Chassidic discourse is giving spiritual tzedakah to the listeners. This type of tzedakah not only gives life to one’s G-dly soul, but also to the animal soul (since the G-dly soul must permeate and affect the animal soul) — to the extent that it translates itself into deed. In the words of the Alter Rebbe in Tanya: “The thing is very near to you in your mouth and in your heart that you may do it” — the goal is to have an effect on one’s deeds.
May it be G-d’s will that everyone increase in giving tzedakah in these days of Chanukah (and also in the ‘magbis’ (special collection) for Yud-Tes Kislev, if people have not already done so). The more given the more praiseworthy it is, and this brings blessings in all things — “children, life and ample sustenance.”
2. Tonight, the second night of Chanukah, is the night preceding the third day of the week, Tuesday. [In the Jewish calendar, the day usually starts from the preceding night. Hence Monday night is really part of Tuesday]. The concept of the third day is that on it (in the seven days of creation) it says “it was good” twice — “good for heaven and good for creatures.” This is the connection to tzedakah. Tzedakah is not only “good for heaven,” but it also affects “creatures” — one gives money to another.
The Chanukah lights teach us that one must always increase in his observance of Torah and mitzvos. This is demonstrated by the Chanukah lights of the second night. Although the mitzvah of Chanukah lights on the first was performed to perfection (by kindling one light), on the second night we add an extra light to perform the mitzvah in the best way possible. In our times, writes the Ramah, it is a “simple unquestioned custom” for all Jews to perform the mitzvah of the Chanukah lights in a way which in the times of the Talmud was considered a custom only of the most pious [i.e. for every Jew to add an extra light each successive night of Chanukah].
This gives strength to one’s general service to G-d, that to perform one’s service in the best way possible should become a “simple unquestioned custom” for all Jews. Hence, in regard to the giving of Tzedakah mentioned earlier, one should do so in the best way possible: not just a tenth (of one’s income — obligatory on one anyway), but to do better and give a fifth. Through this giving of one fifth, one receives G-d’s blessing four times as much.
Moreover, the Alter Rebbe writes in Tanya that (in these times), one may give even more than a fifth to tzedakah. For [although in the times of the Talmud, this was called ‘wasting’ one’s money, today however] since “he does so to redeem his soul ... it is obvious that in healing one’s soul it is no worse than healing one’s body, in which case money is of no account, and a person will give all that he possesses on behalf of his soul.” Especially since (as explained above) tzedakah brings the redemption closer. Then, just as we wish the redemption to come speedily such that G-d leaps over all calculations and reasoning and redeems Yisrael immediately, so too our tzedakah giving must be such that we leap over all calculations of (giving just) a fifth — and give more.
The idea of three (the third day) is associated with the future redemption (and the third Bais HaMikdash), of which it is said: “on the third day He will raise us up and we shall live in His presence.” our efforts in the three areas of Torah, prayer, and deeds of loving kindness — the “three fold bond” — is the proper preparation to the building of the third Bais HaMikdash. Speedily we shall merit the true and complete redemption through our righteous Mashiach, when we shall have the fulfillment of the promise “I will show you the lights of Tzion” — the kindling of the menorah in the third Bais HaMikdash by Aharon and his sons.
There is an extra lesson to be learned from the second day of Chanukah regarding Torah study. The section in the Torah read on this day is “On the second day, Netanel ben (the son of) Tzur, the prince of (the tribe of) Yissachar, offered: He presented his offerings...” Rashi comments that “Because of two things (corresponding to the twice mentioned “offer”) he merited to present his offering second of the tribes: Firstly, because they knew the Torah, as it is stated: ‘And of the children of Yissachar, men that had understanding of (how to reckon) the times;’ and again because he counseled the princes to donate these offerings...” we see then that the second day is associated with Torah study — and hence the lesson from today is that, in addition to giving extra tzedakah, we must also increase in our Torah study.
This is the idea of “mitzvah is a lamp and Torah is light” — that “through the mitzvah of the Shabbos and Chanukah lights, the light of Torah comes.” Indeed, the Rebbe Rashab, after the kindling of the Chanukah lights, was accustomed to sit near them and learn Torah (of course, not using their light, since this is forbidden).
The instruction to increase in one’s Torah study applies also to women, for they too are obligated to study Torah (about those mitzvos which they must perform). Particularly since our Sages said about Chanukah that “they (women) also were in that miracle;” and indeed, “the miracle came about through a woman.” Especially since Chanukah is associated with the future redemption; and it is explained that just as the redemption from Egypt was in the merit of the righteous women of that generation, so too the future redemption will be in the merit of the righteous women in our generation.
Now it is also appropriate to urge everyone to participate in the other Mitzvah campaigns. Starting with those particularly relevant to women — Shabbos lights, kashrus, and family purity. Followed by Ahavas Yisrael, Jewish education, Torah study, tefillin, mezuzah, tzedakah, and house full of Jewish books.
May it be G-d’s will that through these ten mitzvah campaigns we speedily merit the future redemption, when we will sing the tenth Song of Praise.
3. It is now the appropriate time to once again talk of the campaign for Jewish Education. Education is associated with Chanukah, for Chanukah means the rededication of the Bais HaMikdash and the Altar. Dedication of the Bais HaMikdash involved the training (education) of the priests in their holy work, etc. — Hence Chanukah is the fitting time to invest additional efforts in education — of oneself, that one’s service in Torah and mitzvos conform to the lessons of Chanukah (always trying to do better); and of a fellow Jew. This starts with one’s own children, as the Rebbe Rashab remarked, that just as every Jew is required to put on tefillin everyday, so too is he obligated to dedicate a certain amount of time each day to think about his children’s educational needs.
Likewise, one must invest efforts to ensure that all Jewish children receive their education in a truly Jewish school. Although it is difficult to persuade people that students should change schools in mid-year, nevertheless, if one truly wants it, and invests the proper effort, success can be achieved (as has been proven).
It would be better if the school itself could be persuaded to improve its curriculum, to upgrade its education in regard to all matters of Torah and Judaism. Likewise, education given to a child should be such, that even when the child is not in school, he conducts himself as if the teacher was present.
Now it is also timely to again urge every person to do his/her utmost to ensure that all Jews participate in the writing of a Sefer Torah by purchasing a letter; particularly in regards to those who protect their fellow Jews with self-sacrifice (soldiers) This throws fear upon the non-Jews, knowing (or even without knowing) that every Jewish soldier is united with 304,805 soldiers (the no. of letters in a Sefer Torah)! A Jew goes to the front with the strength of all of them — and then, not only do the enemies flee, but do not even venture near the battle front!
Moreover, every Jewish soldier is united with every Jew — including all members of Tzivos Hashem (Army of Hashem) of all generations (past and future); for G-d sees the past and future as one, especially in regards to Jews. Particularly since at Mt. Sinai all Jewish souls for all time were present, all of them united “as one man with one heart.” This knowledge further strengthens the fear of non-Jews.
Great is the merit of they who influence Jewish soldiers to participate in the Sefer Torahs, and they merit the blessing of G-d many times over. And the greatest reward is that through their efforts in uniting Jews, Jew with Jew, and Jew with G-d — we merit the fulfillment of the promise “On that day G-d will be One and His Name One.”
- (Back to text) Commentators ask why we make a blessing over the miracle on the first day, if the oil could have lasted that long without a miracle? Wasn’t the miracle only on the following seven days? One of the answers given is that the very finding of the container of pure oil was itself a miracle.