10 Kislev 5781 / Thursday, November 26, 2020 | Torah Reading: Vayeitzei
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The Perfect Salvation    

The Perfect Salvation

Chanukah - coming soon - is our personal holiday, not just national. Sometimes we're overwhelmed by forces that we can't possibly deal with. Weak and outnumbered, do we give up?


Translated by Aaron Yoseph



Chanukah has two sorts of salvation, and in some ways is even greater than the exodus from Egypt. In Egypt we had a General – Moshe Rabeinu, but he never said to us, “Yidden, turn around, attack the Egyptians and kill them all.” Even if he had, our victory wouldn’t have been so miraculous, because there were millions of us. At the time of Chanukah, five people took on and beat the Greek armies! This was a perfect salvation in this world. This was on the physical level. What it also revealed, though, was that everything depends on how much you encourage and strengthen yourself spiritually. Because we were very far away at that time. The Greeks had done terrible damage to the Jewish people. There almost wasn’t a minyan of frum men left! Everyone had become Hellenists, professors. It was impossible to live in the cities. The Jews who wanted to keep Shabbos and Milah had to hide in caves. It was a terrible time.


This was the time when recorded history began. History begins with the Greeks – whatever happened in Persia before that is called the history of the “Ancient World”, and not much is known about it. The main recorded history we have begins with the Greeks and the Romans. To this day the non-Jews claim that they are the descendants and the continuation of the Romans. And what should have happened at the beginning of this history of the world was that the Jewish people should have been broken and then disappeared? How could we have any strength? We were finished. The non-Jews had broken into the Holy Termple. We had had ritual sacrifices, no prophets and no Torah. Once, the Torah once shone so brightly, but then the Greeks came with their physical might and their false honor and nullified the honor of the Jews. This is how it should have been – the world would have been desolate, Heaven forbid.


But then Hashem gave us this miracle – the miracle of Chanukah. It was the greatest miracle there ever was – physically and spiritually. In the midst of the darkness, when Klal Yisroel had almost been extinguished – they were a few people living in caves, like the situation after the holocaust – there were a few Jews trying to come back to Yiddishkeit. It was a terrible time.


Even today, you can find this situation by each individual in his life, too. A person sees all the falls he’s had, and all his negative character traits – he goes through hard times. It all feels too hard to bear. He can’t learn, he feels far from the Torah, he’s far from having any peace of mind and being able to think straight. He has no motivation, he doesn’t open the Rebbe’s books, nothing uplifts him and he can’t pray. And life goes by like this. On top of all this, things happen that bring him grief, he needs to make money, there are day-to-day problems and general chaos that discourage and overwhelm him. He’s fallen so far he’s almost in the ground, and he can’t see any way to pick himself up and encourage himself.


Then Hashem performed this miracle. We came back into the Holy Temple and we needed to light the Menorah. The truth is that they could have lit it with impure oil, because impurity is allowed when the whole congregation is impure – but they needed one miracle which would arouse people to come back to theHoly Temple. Because they were all busy playing football! They didn’t believe. Like when you reveal great things to the world, but people are too broken to hear it. But when they lit the menorah – there was this miracle that they found a small jug of pure oil. At first, people may have thought, “So what? What’s it worth?” But then they heard the next day that it was still burning. What was this? It really was continuing to burn! People started running to the Beis HaMikdash to see it. Thousands of people came, and they started crying before Hashem. “Abba! Now we know that You really do love us. You are purifying us, in the midst of our impurity!”


They found one small jug of oil – this is the Rebbe, the Tsaddikim. The light of the Torah is a small jug that shines the awe of Hashem on us. If a person says, “But I don’t want just a small jug – I want a whole big jerry-can!” he doesn’t get anything. Take the small jug that the Rebbe shines to you – the knowledge that Hashem is with and by you, the knowledge that you are good, you are serving Hashem. You’re mitzvos go up to Heaven and bring Hashem great delight. This is a little bit of pure oil. True, you want more – patience. In the meantime, enjoy the sweetness of Torah and talking to Hashem. Be happy, for the glory of Hashem rests on us, it’s right by us. Encourage yourself with this and pick yourself up. Happy Chanuka!

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