04 Dec Chanukah and the Fabric of Time
CHANUKAH AND THE FABRIC OF TIME
One of the brachos we make on the menorah is, “She’osa nisim lavoseinu bayamim haheim bazman hazeh.” We bless Hashem for making miracles in those days of Chanukah, millennia ago, with these days that we are in now. What is the meaning of this benediction? The miracle of Chanukah occurred 2,182 years ago in the year 3597. What do the days that we are in now have to do with what occurred over 2000 years ago? In order to unravel this question, we have to understand the Jewish way of looking at time.
We do not view time as a straight line. Rather, we view time as a spiral and every year we use the same fabric of time as the year before and as thousands of years ago. Furthermore, we believe that different times of the year have different kochos, different powers. Thus, mishenichnas Adar, marbim b’simcha, when Adar comes we increase joy and we are taught that if we need to go to a din Torah, litigation, with a gentile, we should do it in Adar when one’s mazal is strong, for that is embedded in the fabric of time of Adar. So too, we are taught, mishenichnas Av, m’ma’atim b’simcha, during the tragic month of Av we diminish our joy, and we avoid litigation with a gentile for the fabric of time is one that is fraught with danger.
In a similar vein, during Elul and the Yomim Noraim, the texture of time is misugal, has the greater potential for introspection and repentance. During the festival of Pesach, its fabric of time lends itself to strengthening one’s emunah, one’s belief in Hashem. On Shavuos, the fabric of time has extra potential for Torah devotion. And during Sukkos, the fabric of time is all about simcha, being joyous.
Let’s study now our holiday of Chanukah. The Gemora tells us that there was a great miracle when we had only enough oil to light for one day, and to manufacture new pure oil required eight days, or we needed seven more days since we were all t’mei’ei meisim, we needed to wait the ritual seven days because we all had corpse contamination before we could make new, pure oil. Hashem made a miracle and the one day’s oil lasted for eight days. Added to that, was the miracle that we found the one days’ oil even though the Syrian-Greeks tried their hardest to ensure that there would be no pure oil left in the entire Yerushalyim. Yet, miraculously, we found one jug of pure oil with the seal of the Kohen Gadol. Thus, there was eight days of miracles to celebrate.
Yet, the chachamim did not enact Chanukah that year. Rather, the Gemora reveals to us, L’shana Haba, the next year they enacted the festival of Chanukah l’hallel v’hodah, for singing and thanksgiving. Why did they wait until the next year? The answer is that the sages wanted the study the fabric of time when it came around the next year to discern what kochos, power, if any was in the period of Chanukah. With their holy eyes, they were able to discern that these specific days lend themselves to a greater hisororus, awakening of singing to Hashem and thanking Him.
This is the meaning of the blessing, She’osa nisim lavoseinu bayamim haheim bazman hazeh: that Hashem made miracles in those days, 2,182 years ago, with the same fabric of time that we are using now. And, during this time, we should galvanize ourselves to have extra kavanah in saying modim, thanking Hashem for our many gifts such as living in a land of religious freedom, the many opportunities for Torah excellence for our children and grandchildren, and the many other advantages of living in the modern world. And we should say Hallel with great intensity, singing with feeling, Hodu la’Hashem ki tov, thank Hashem for He is good, ki l’olam Chasdo, for His kindness is forever. This Shabbos Chanukah, we should sing our zemiros Shabbos with extra gusto, thanking Hashem for giving us the gift of Shabbos, which he gave to no other nation but us.
May it be the will of Hashem that we merit to serenade Him with a new-founded passion and in that zchus may He bless us with long life, good health, and everything wonderful.
Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss