|Chanuka: The Miracle of Israel's Eternity
Published: Thursday, December 29, 2016 10:56:28 PM
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By lighting the Chanuka Menorah, each and every Jewish home becomes a virtual Bet Hamikdash. We are transformed into virtual Kohanim for the eight days of Chanuka. Thus, the miracle of Chanuka continues forever.
Chanuka is the symbol of the Divine spark in the human soul, as Shlomo Hamelech says in Mishlei, "The candle of G-D" is the soul of the human being.
Why does Rambam call Chanuka the most precious Mitzvah, after all, it's not even a Torah Mitzvah, only Rabbinic? The answer is because the Chanuka miracle happened through the oil - ×©×ž×Ÿ. The word ×©×ž×Ÿ is an acronym for ×©×‘×ª, ×ž×™×œ×”, × ×™×“×” which sum up the entire Jewish religion, which is all about sanctifying time, place, and our body. On ×©×‘×ª we sanctify time by making Kiddush and Havdala. We light the menorah in our home, thereby sanctifying our place. Through the Mitzvot of ×ž×™×œ×” and × ×™×“×” we sanctify our bodies.
The Mishna in Avot, Ch. 4 teaches, "There are three crowns: The crown of Torah, the crown of Kehuna and the crown of monarchy." Corresponding to these three, with which Israel were crowned, there were three crowns on the Temple vessels. The crown of Torah corresponds to the gold crown, which was set on the Ark of Testimony (containing the Two Tables). The crown of Kehuna corresponds to the incense altar, for only regarding the Kohanim does it say, "They shall place incense in Your Presence, and consume sacrifices on Your altar" (Devarim 33:10). Finally, the crown of monarchy corresponds to the table in the Sanctuary, for tables, which in Biblical and later Hebrew can symbolize wealth and bounty (see Psalm 23), may here be viewed as evoking the economic and political power of the State.
However, the Mishnah adds that there is yet another crown, "the crown of a good name," which "surpasses them all." This crown is not enumerated amongst the others. Rather, it is kept separate from them and it stands on its own. To what does this crown correspond in the Temple?
The Maharal MiPrague associates this crown with the fourth vessel of the Temple – the solid pure-gold Menorah. The Menorah has no gold crown encompassing it. Neither is it made of acacia wood inlayed with gold. Rather, the whole Menorah is like a pure golden crown, embellished with golden cups, spheres and flowers. The crown of the Menorah is not something extrinsic to it. The Menorah itself is a crown.
It is the same with a person's good name. It is not an external crown that is placed upon his head. A person's good name touches on his very essence. It includes his whole personality in all its components. It is not an external image, fashioned by public relations professionals, photographers, and newsmen. A person's good name is the reputation that he earns for himself through his whole life's work, all his deeds, and ventures. That is why this crown surpasses all the others.
A person' good name does not find expression at the beginning of his life. Rather, it is acquired through strenuous, daily toil over the course of one's whole life. King Solomon therefore said, "A good name is better than precious oil" (Kohelet 7:1). But however, good it may be, oil is applied externally to a person's body, while a person's good name is that person himself.
Moreover, that same verse in Kohelet concludes, "and the day of death is better than the day of birth." Because only on the day that a person dies is the good name that he acquired for himself during his life fully revealed. Chanuka is a time to reflect on the type of life we are living.