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Shabbos Parshas Ha'azinu, Shabbos Teshuvah

Tzom Gedaliah

The Blessing to the Shluchim

Yom Kippur, 5751

The Blessing Delivered at the Distribution of Esrogim

First Night of Sukkos, 5751

Second Night of Sukkos, 5751

Third Night of Sukkos, 5751

Fourth Night of Sukkos, 5751

Fifth Night of Sukkos, 5751

Tzivos Hashem

Sixth Night of Sukkos, 5751

Hosha'ana Rabbah, 5751

Night of Simchas Torah, 5751

Shabbos Parshas Bereishis

Yechidus

Shabbos Parshas Noach

Shabbos Parshas, Lech Lecha

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Shabbos Parshas Vayeitze

Shabbos Parshas Vayishlach

Shabbos Parshas Vayeishev

Kollel Tiferes Zkeinim Levi Yitzchok & Chochmas Nashim

Yechidus

Shabbos Parshas Mikeitz, Shabbos Chanukah

   28th Day of Kislev, 5751

Shabbos Parshas Vayigash

Sichos In English
Volume 46

Shabbos Parshas Mikeitz, Shabbos Chanukah
28th Day of Kislev, 5751
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  Third Night of Chanukah, 57515th Day of Teves, 5751  

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1

In connection with Chanukah candles, our Sages relate, "One who regularly [lights] candles will have sons who are Torah scholars." Rashi associates this statement with the verse, "For a mitzvah is a lamp and Torah is light," explaining that the 'lamp' of the mitzvah of Shabbos and Chanukah candles brings the 'light' of Torah."

The commentaries question what is the rationale that associates Chanukah candles with sons who are Torah scholars. Although Rashi cites a prooftext from the Tanach, that prooftext merely indicates that a connection exists, it does not explain that connection. Furthermore, the association with the prooftext is seemingly problematic. How is it possible to say that the "lamp of mitzvah" will bring the "light of Torah," when a lamp is less powerful than light?[287]

A mitzvah is like a lone and single light, limited in its scope. In contrast, the Torah is unlimited.[288] Furthermore, "study is great because it brings to deed." Thus, it is difficult to understand: Why does Rashi explain that the "lamp of mitzvah" leads to the light of Torah. If anything, the opposite is true, the light of Torah brings one to the mitzvos.[289]

There is another difficulty with Rashi's statement: On the surface, the phrase, "a mitzvah is a lamp" relates to all the mitzvos. Why does Rashi limit it to the Chanukah and Shabbos candles?

These difficulties can be resolved through a deeper understanding of the mitzvah of Chanukah candles. Although, on an apparent level, the miracle of the military defeat of the Greeks was a greater miracle, our Sages associated the commemoration of the Chanukah with the kindling of candles to emphasize how the essence of the war and the Jews' victory was spiritual. The Greeks sought to wipe out, not the Jews as a people, but rather, the Jew's observance of Torah and mitzvos, "to make [the Jews] forget Your Torah and make them violate the decrees of Your will."

Similarly, the Jews' victory reflects the victory of "the lamp of mitzvah" and "the light of Torah" as they are reinforced by a commitment of mesirus nefesh. Thus, since the Chanukah candles represent a renewal -- and an enhancement -- of the commitment to Torah and mitzvos as a whole, through the lamp of this mitzvah comes, "the light of Torah," sons who study Torah. This "light of Torah" leads to the fulfillment of all the mitzvos for "study is great because it leads to deed."

Further explanation is, however, required. Ultimately, any mitzvah, even a mitzvah which -- like Chanukah candles -- relates to Torah and mitzvos in their totality, is merely a "lamp" which is limited when compared to "the light of Torah." In particular, this limitation is seen with regard to the mitzvah of Chanukah candles which are associated with a specific time, the eight days of Chanukah, and within those days, with a limited time in which they are required to burn. If so, how is it possible for a limited mitzvah of this nature to bring about "the light of Torah," sons who are Torah scholars.

This difficulty can, however, be resolved by a comparison between the Chanukah candles and the candles lit in the Menorah of the Beis HaMikdash. In regard to the kindling of the Menorah, the Torah commands us to "keep the lamp burning continuously." Although the mitzvah was for the Menorah to burn only at night, "from the evening until the morning,"[290] since it was lit each afternoon, it can be considered as "burning continuously."

We see a similar concept in regard to the korban tomid (the daily sacrifice offered each morning and afternoon). Literally, this phrase means "a continuous offering." In this instance as well, since the offering was always brought in the morning and the evening, it could be considered "continuous."

There is, however, a deeper dimension to the use of this term. The implication is that since these mitzvos are always fulfilled at the required time, their influence is continuous, having an effect throughout the entire day.[291]

There are other examples of this principle: When one wears a garment that requires tzitzis, the obligation to fulfill the mitzvah of tzitzis applies throughout the entire day. The mitzvah is fulfilled for the entire day by donning a garment and reciting the blessing at one particular time and then one continues to wear the garment throughout the day.

A second example: We are obligated to give tzedakah continuously throughout the day, whenever we meet a poor person (even when we meet the same poor person several times a day). Nevertheless, we find that -- to help the poor people -- our Sages established certain times for tzedakah to be given.

A more inclusive example: We are obligated to study Torah every moment of the day and night. Nevertheless, the overwhelming majority of the Jews fulfill this mitzvah by studying at fixed times throughout the day. Only unique individuals like Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and his colleagues are on the level of Torasom Umanosom ("Torah study is their livelihood") and thus, study Torah the entire day. Most people fulfill the charge, "This Torah shall not depart from your mouths" by studying "a portion in the morning and a portion in the evening."[292]

These examples reflect that although the observance of these mitzvos is limited to a specific time, when they are fulfilled at that time, the influence of that mitzvah continues throughout a greater period. The same concept can apply in regard to the entire year; for example, although the mitzvah of dwelling in a sukkah is observed for merely a short period, seven days, its influence continues throughout the year.[293]

The same applies in regard to Chanukah candles. They -- like the candles of the Beis HaMikdash with which they are associated -- are "a constant lamp." Furthermore, the Chanukah candles possess an advantage over the candles of the Beis HaMikdash for as the Ramban explains, "the Chanukah candles will never be nullified and are fulfilled at present even while we are in exile." In contrast, the fulfillment of the mitzvah of lighting the candles of the Beis HaMikdash was nullified with the destruction of that structure.

Thus, although the mitzvah of lighting Chanukah candles is associated with a limited time -- eight days -- and also, a limited time of day -- the half hour when the candles must burn, their influence continues throughout the entire eight days of Chanukah, throughout the entire year, and indeed, throughout the entire continuum of time.

This concept itself requires explanation: Why should a mitzvah which is limited in the times (and places) when it must be fulfilled have an influence which is unlimited?[294]

This difficulty can be resolved within the context of a larger scope: Each Jew's soul, even as it is enclothed in the body, is an "actual part of G-d from above." Just as G-d Himself is unlimited, "the actual part of G-d" enclothed within the body is also unlimited.[295] Therefore, it is difficult to understand: How can a Jew be asked to serve G-d in a limited manner?[296]

The explanation of this concept is as follows: A Jew's service of G-d is by nature unlimited. We should serve G-d with every aspect of our being, in every situation in which we are found. Nevertheless, since we live within a world of limitation, our service of G-d, i.e., performance of mitzvos, also takes on the limits of the world at large. This, however, applies only to the actual performance of the mitzvos, the bond with G-d established through the performance of the mitzvos is above all limitation.[297]

The unlimited dimension of the mitzvos is expressed, not only by the fulfillment of all the mitzvos together, but rather, by the fulfillment of each individual mitzvah. Therefore, "a person who is in the midst of fulfilling one mitzvah is not obligated to fulfill all the other mitzvos" and, indeed, is considered to have fulfilled the other mitzvos as well. This is because G-d's will is expressed in each mitzvah, not as a particular element of a general category, but rather as an expression of the essence which connects one to His essential will as it exists above all limitations.

The infinite dimension of the mitzvos is further enhanced when a Jew fulfills the mitzvah as an expression of his unlimited desire to cling to G-d, to love Him, "with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might."[298] Thus, a Jew's soul which is "a lamp of G-d" is unlimited and it finds expression in the continuous performance of mitzvos whose inner dimension is unlimited.

The limitations of the actual performance of the mitzvah do not confine the unlimited potential of the Jewish soul. From this, we can infer that the influence generated by a mitzvah is also unbounded and therefore, continues even after the actual performance of the mitzvah has ceased.

Nevertheless, the unlimited dimension that exists within the performance of the mitzvos is not revealed on the limited plane of material existence. This is the uniqueness of the Chanukah candles. They reveal the continuous influence and unbounded potential of the mitzvos in an openly perceivable manner.

This is reflected in the perceivable light produced by the Chanukah candles which reveal in a manifest way how the performance of mitzvos contributes light to the Jewish home. Light, even light in this material world, is related to -- and representative of -- G-d's infinite light. This is expressed in the fact that one can continue lighting one candle from another ad infinitum.

Furthermore, each night of Chanukah, we add another candle, showing how we are constantly adding light, transcending even the limitations of holiness.[299] In addition, the Chanukah candles are placed, "at the outside of the entrance to one's home," indicating how the light of holiness should not remained contained within one's home and family, but should shine into the world at large. This shows the unbounded nature of the light of the Chanukah candles, and reflects how they extend beyond the limits of holiness.[300] This is further emphasized by the fact that they are lit at night and shine into the darkness, indicating how the light of holiness shines into the darkness of the world.

The unlimited nature of the Chanukah lights is further emphasized by the fact that eight candles are lit[301] (in contrast to the seven lit in the Beis HaMikdash). Seven represents a complete cycle of the natural world. Eight, in contrast, represents a step above that order. Since the Chanukah candles reflect an unlimited potential, they have the power to draw down the light of holiness into the darkness of the world, into the public domain, the area "at the outside of the entrance to one's home."

The potential for the Chanukah candles to have an unlimited effect stems from the fact that the miracle of Chanukah came as a result of the Jews' mesirus nefesh, their willingness to give themselves over to holiness without reservation. This commitment made it possible for the infinite potential of "the lamp of mitzvah" and "the light of Torah" to be revealed.

Based on the above, we can understand why a person who is meticulous in his observance of the mitzvah of Chanukah candles will merit sons who are Torah scholars. Since the mitzvah of Chanukah candles brings a revelation of the infinite light of Torah,[302] this infinity is expressed in that the light of Torah is revealed, not only for oneself, but also, for one's children. Indeed, in this context, the word "sons" can be interpreted as "descendants," i.e., the revelation of the light of Torah continues in future generations as well.

Furthermore, it can be explained that the mitzvah of Chanukah candles brings out the infinite dimension that exists in all the mitzvos, revealing how they: a) draw G-dliness down into this world; b) follow a pattern of continued growth; c) shine "the lamp of mitzvah and the light of Torah" at the outside of the entrance of one's home, projecting this light into one's surrounding environment.


2

There is a connection between the above and this week's Torah portion, Parshas Mikeitz. The word mikeitz means "At the conclusion of," and thus expresses the concept of limitation. Indeed, Torah Or interprets mikeitz as relating to the limits that exist within Torah study. Yosef who reflects the potential for increase without any limitation allows the infinite dimension of Torah to be revealed. When, however, Yosef is "forgotten," the Torah appears to be limited, and Yosef remains limited, confined in jail.[303] Nevertheless, this is only a temporary situation, and ultimately, Yosef "leaves prison to rule," and is given the potential to reveal his true unlimited nature.

This lesson is relevant for every Jew, for Yosef is also used as a name for the people as a whole. Thus, Yosef's imprisonment in jail can reflect each Jew's confinement in a physical body in this material world. Here, "those imprisoned by the king," i.e., each Jew whose soul is sent into this world by G-d, King of kings, "are confined." This, however, is not a Jew's true place and he can "leave prison to rule," to take control over his environment.

Based on the above, we can interpret our Sages' statement, "One who goes to a city should adopt its customs" as follows: When the soul descends within the limits of the body and the material world, it should accept those limits, but not because they confine the soul, but rather because the soul is on a mission, to elevate and refine the world.

The same applies to the concept of "the law of the land is your law." A Jew must submit to the law of the land, not because it has real power over him, but because by doing so, he can elevate it and use it as a medium to spread righteousness and justice throughout the world, influencing the entire populace to accept the seven universal laws commanded to Noach and his descendants. In this manner, the Jews and Torah will take control of the world at large. It will be revealed how following the laws of the Torah will bring benefit to any country which does so. This will hasten the coming of the time when it will be revealed throughout the world that, "the sovereignty will be the L-rd's" in the Era of the complete Redemption.


3

In this context, a lesson can be derived from the special Torah reading associated with Chanukah, the sacrifices offered by the fourth of the Nesi'im, the Nasi of Reuven. Reuven was Ya'akov's firstborn. A firstborn is by nature, a leader, one who influences his brothers, an example whose conduct they emulate. Similarly, the word Nasi means "prince" or "leader." Thus, a reading connected with the Nesi'im and in particular, the Nasi of Reuven, reflects the leadership potential each Jew possesses, the ability to influence the world at large.

The fourth day of Chanukah also contributes an additional concept. Four alludes to the four corners of the world and makes each person realize that these are his responsibility. His service must encompass all four corners of the world, making the world like a closed mem which will prevent the intrusion of any undesirable elements.

It is human nature that when a person who is involved in a particular issue confronts any new concept, he immediately looks for the connection it shares with the idea with which he was originally involved. A Jew must constantly be involved in the yearning and desire for the coming of Mashiach. "Each day, we must wait for him, that he come." Therefore, it is natural for a Jew to look for a connection to Mashiach's coming in every event or concept which he encounters. This also applies regarding Chanukah. Since the Chanukah miracle took place in the Beis HaMikdash, its commemoration arouses an even greater yearning for the era when the Menorah will be kindled again in the Third Beis HaMikdash.

Similarly, there is a connection between the above and this week's portion, Parshas Mikeitz. When a Jew hears the name mikeitz, because he is constantly yearning for Mashiach's coming, he immediately associates it with the word keitz which refers to the time of Mashiach's coming. Similarly, when he hears the vision of the Menorah mentioned in the Haftorah, he immediately associates it with the Menorah of the Beis HaMikdash.

This is enhanced by the fourth light of Chanukah which alludes to the fourth redemption and heightens our expectation of the time when we will, "kindle lamps in Your Holy courtyard," with the coming of Mashiach. May it be in the immediate future.

Lighting Up The World

(After the afternoon service, children from all over the world recited the 12 pesukim. Chanukah Menorahs were lit in the various cities and the niggun, HaNeiros Hallalu was sung. Afterwards, the Rebbe Shlita delivered three sichos. In the text below, they have been adapted and presented in the form of a single address.)

As is Jewish custom, the Chanukah Menorah has been lit in the synagogue, a place where Jews gather together for prayer. Similarly, in the spirit of Chanukah, whose lights are placed "at the outside of the entrance to one's home," we have witnessed through telecommunication, the kindling of the Chanukah lights "outside," in far removed corners throughout the world.

The Lessons of the Chanukah Lights

The Chanukah candles provide us with a clearly visible expression of the teaching, "A mitzvah is a lamp and the Torah is light."[304] In regard to other mitzvos, the mitzvah's function as a lamp is not as apparent. In contrast, the mitzvah of Chanukah candles produces discernible light and spreads that light throughout one's surroundings.

The Chanukah candles are lit for eight days. This does not mean that the same mitzvah is repeated eight times in succession. Just as in a physical sense, new candles are lit each night, in a spiritual sense too, each night represents a new light: a new mitzvah to be fulfilled with new fire.

The newness of the mitzvah is further emphasized by the custom of adding a new candle every night. Beginning from the second night, for seven[305] successive nights -- once on each of the days of the week -- we increase the number of candles we light. This reflects how we must constantly increase our efforts to spread the "lamp" of "mitzvah" and the "light" of "Torah."

The Chanukah lights also reflect the light of the Jewish soul. As the Tanach[306] teaches, "The soul of man," -- i.e., each and every Jew, young or old -- "is the lamp of G-d." The mitzvah of lighting Chanukah candles enables each person to fulfill the purpose of his soul's descent in the world -- to spread G-dly light, not only in his home, but in his surroundings, and even, as expressed in the Menorah lightings which we have just witnessed, in the furthest removed corners of the world.

Children as Leaders; The Power of Tzedakah

The above is particularly relevant to Jewish children, for they are called Tzivos Hashem, G-d's army. This name implies that they have been chosen by G-d and entrusted with special missions by Him.

Each Jewish child -- boy or girl -- should know that G-d loves him or her like a father loves an only son.[307] As an expression of that love, G-d grants him all of his needs and also gives him extra delicacies. Similarly, He entrusts him with special missions to increase and spread Judaism and Torah among his fellow Jews.

The very name Chanukah points to this concept, for it relates to the word Chinuch, which means "education." We are taught,[308] "Educate a child according to his way [so that] even when he grows older he will not depart from it." Just as we continue to add new light each night of Chanukah, similarly, when the principles of Jewish education are engraved in a child's heart, he will constantly add new light as he grows and proceeds in life.

In particular, the importance of a Jewish child's efforts is expressed through the mitzvah of tzedakah. The tzedakah given by a child is superior in a certain way to the tzedakah given by an adult. An adult works to earn his livelihood, and thus can always replace the money that he has given away. In contrast, a child does not earn his own money and has only what he has been given by his parents. Nevertheless, his nature is not to stint, but rather to give generously when he sees a person in need or a worthy Torah institution.

Furthermore, in keeping with the Chanukah lesson of increasing light, he does not remain satisfied with giving once, but continues to give many other times. And, also, and this is of essential importance, he gives with joy, happy at the opportunity to fulfill G-d's will and do his share in making "a dwelling for G-d in the lower worlds." So happy in fact will he be that his own parents will learn from him how to rejoice in their observance of the mitzvos, and particularly when giving tzedakah.

To enable you to fulfill the mitzvah of tzedakah, in addition to three[309] coins which you will be given as Chanukah gelt, you will be given a fourth coin to give to tzedakah. Our Sages[310] teach that tzedakah brings the future redemption closer.

May the tzedakah we give hasten the fulfillment of the heartfelt prayer of the Jewish people -- and particularly of Jewish children -- that G-d work miracles for the Jewish people as He did "in those days, at this time." May we witness, "at this time," immediately in the present moments -- how G-d will cause the Third Beis HaMikdash to descend from the heavens, and then we, together with the entire Jewish people, will watch the kindling of the Menorah, "in Your holy courtyard." May this be in the immediate future.

   

Notes:

  1. (Back to text) Similarly, in the analog, our Sages relate that "Just as a lamp protects only for a limited period of time, a mitzvah also protects only for a limited period. In contrast... just as the light protects forever, the Torah protects forever."

  2. (Back to text) This is reflected in the fact that the performance of mitzvos is limited to specific times and places. In contrast, the obligation to study Torah applies in all times and in all situations. Thus, even when the Beis HaMikdash is not standing, a Jew who studies the laws of the sacrifices is considered as if he has actually offered them.

  3. (Back to text) This is particularly true in regard to the mitzvah of Chanukah candles which was ordained by the Rabbis and thus, is totally dependent on "the light of Torah."

  4. (Back to text) Even according to the Rambam who maintains that the candles of the Menorah should also be kindled in the morning, greater importance is placed on kindling the menorah at night. Perhaps this can be explained by the fact that, during the day, the light of the candles is obscured by the light of the sun. In contrast, at night, their light is noticed.

    In Or HaTorah, the Tzemach Tzedek explains this concept according to Kabbalah. The seven candles of the Menorah refer to the seven emotional attributes of Malchus. During the day, i.e., while the seven emotional attributes of Atzilus shine, the light the seven attributes of Malchus contribute is insignificant.

  5. (Back to text) The continuous influence of the daily offering is reflected in our Sages' statement that the daily offering sacrificed at night would atone for sins committed during the day and the daily offering sacrificed in the morning atones for sins committed during the night.

  6. (Back to text) In regard to this verse, we find a difference of opinion among the Sages. Rabbi Shimon maintains that the verse should be fulfilled literally; we should devote our entire time to Torah study. Rabbi Yishmael, in contrast, explains that our obligation to study Torah constantly is fulfilled by studying a limited portion of Torah each day. Our Sages conclude this discussion by relating, "Many followed Rabbi Yishmael and were successful. Many followed Rabbi Shimon and were not successful."

  7. (Back to text) The continued influence of the mitzvah of sukkah is reflected in the law which states that whenever one builds a sukkah for the sake of the holiday, even from the beginning of the year, it is acceptable. This shows how the mitzvah of sukkah shares a connection with the entire year.

  8. (Back to text) This question is reinforced by the fact that there is a specific commandment which forbids adding to the commandments of the Torah.

  9. (Back to text) This is because, "when you grasp a portion of the essence, you grasp the essence in its entirety."

  10. (Back to text) A Jew's existence within the limitations of this material world is not as problematic because, as will be explained, in truth these limitations do not constrain him. The difficulty is how can a Jew's service of G-d, a dimension which seemingly should be unlimited, be confined within limitations.

  11. (Back to text) Thus, all mitzvos are part of the Torah which is above all limitations.

  12. (Back to text) This love of G-d and its expression through the observance of the mitzvos is equivalent to mesirus nefesh, "self-sacrifice." Giving over one's will, mesirus haratzon, is equivalent to actual mesirus nefesh.

  13. (Back to text) Although in Talmudic times, this practice was observed only by the mehadrin min hamehadrin, at present, it is common custom throughout the Jewish community to fulfill the mitzvah in this manner.

  14. (Back to text) This extension beyond the boundaries of holiness was also reflected by the Hasmoneans kindling of lights in "Your holy courtyard." The mitzvah is to kindle the Menorah in the Beis HaMikdash itself. When they rededicated the Beis HaMikdash, the Hasmoneans extended that light and "kindled lamps in Your holy courtyard."

  15. (Back to text) Even on the first nights of Chanukah when eight candles are not lit, it is known that ultimately the Menorah will be lit for eight days and that, on the last night, eight candles will be kindled. (The significance of the eight candles is further emphasized by the Pesiktah Rabasi which states that when the Hasmoneans entered the Beis HaMikdash, they found eight iron staves and used them to kindle the Menorah.)

  16. (Back to text) This relates to the principle explained in connection with our Sages' interpretation of the verse, "You made me dwell in darkness," as referring to the Babylonian Talmud. The approach of the Babylonian Talmud is characterized by "darkness," questions and concealment. Nevertheless, it is through this approach that the unlimited nature of Torah is revealed.

    [In this context, it is related that the Alter Rebbe offered to give the Tzemach Tzedek all of his Torah knowledge as a present. The Tzemach Tzedek declined to accept it, explaining that he wanted to labor in Torah study. Afterwards, he regretted his decision because he realized that he could have accepted the Alter Rebbe's gift and then, begun laboring from that level of knowledge. There is ample room for progress since the Torah is truly unbounded.]

  17. (Back to text) Also, this narrative is connected to the dreams of Pharaoh and his butler. This likewise relates to exile which is often described by the metaphor of a dream.

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

  19. (Back to text) These seven days correspond to the number of branches in the Menorah of the Beis HaMikdash. As emphasized by the vision shown to the prophet Zechariah (ch. 4), this Menorah serves as a symbol for the entire Jewish people.

  20. (Back to text) Mishlei 20:27.

  21. (Back to text) Keser Shem Tov, Hosafos, p. 70.

  22. (Back to text) Mishlei 22:6.

  23. (Back to text) Doing something three times constitutes a chazakah; i.e., it establishes a practice firmly. This word also signifies strength. This is especially relevant to the Jewish people who grow in strength from day to day in their observance of the Torah and its mitzvos. This growing strength is reflected in the number of Chanukah lights, which increase from day to day throughout the holiday.

  24. (Back to text) Bava Basra 10a.


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