The story of
Chanukah is well known, but little understood. On Chanukah we celebrate
our victory over the Greeks and the rededication of the Bais Hamikdash.
But why is this cause for celebration? After all, the Romans eventually
destroyed the Temple and we are now in exile, so what was accomplished
by defeating the Greeks?
see a much deeper meaning in the story of Chanukah in that the Greeks
represented the very opposite of what Judaism stands for.
were descendants of Yefas the son of Noach. Yefas means beauty.
The Greek culture was all about physical pleasure and a superficial
outlook on life. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the Jews are
descendants of Noach's son, Shem, which means name. One's name represents
his true essence, paralleling the Jewish worldview which embodies
depth and spirituality.
When the Greeks
conquered Eretz Yisrael, they brought with them their superficial
cultures and beliefs and succeeded in influencing the vast majority
of Jews. It was only a handful of Jews who remained loyal to the
Torah,led by the Chashmonaim. Against all odds, this group prevailed.
But, beyond their military victory, in what way did the Jews emerge
lies in the miracle of Chanukah. After the Temple had been ransacked,
only one jar of pure oil remained. Halachically, the Jews were permitted
to use impure oil, however Hashem put it in their hearts to use
only pure oil at this very important time and leave the rest up
is clear. The menorah represents Torah and as long as Torah remains
pure, it will grow. The Chashmonaim were able to preserve the Torah
in its most pristine form and, as a result, a new generation of
Torah-true Jews descended from them, guaranteeing the continuity
of Klal Yisrael.
When we light
the Chanukah menorah and increase the light every night, the spirit
of Torah enters our hearts, and as the Gemorah (Shabbos,23b) says,
"One who is habitual in lighting [Shabbos and Chanukah] candles
will merit to have children who are talmidei chochamim."
In our days
we witnessed how a handful of talmidei chachamim emerged from the
ashes of Europe, and, led by Rav Aharon Kotler ZT"L, succeeded
in replanting Torah in its purest sense on these shores. Their success
was a result of their unwillingness to compromise the purity of
They are an
example of a modern day "jug of oil'' through which Torah was