Please learn the following for the iluy Neshama of Shmuel ben Daniel v'Hadassah and continue to learn and daven, she'Tehiyeh Nishmato Tserura beTsror haHayim.
Fill in the blank. ‘The of Hanukka ’
Chances are, one of you answered ‘The Miracle of Hanukka’ (Okay, ‘Festival’ is good too). But what is so miraculous about Hanukka? So big deal, we won a war and the oil took a little longer to burn. Why do we need to institute eight entire days of the year to commemorate and celebrate this miracle?? One day would surely suffice! If you think about it, Hanukka is the longest holiday of the year; Pesah and Succot only last seven days according to the Torah!
What is Hanukka? The sages learned that on the 25th day of Kislev, the days of Hanukka are eight ... (Talmud Shabbat)
The Sefat Emet points out the emphasis on the word eight. If we can understand the significance of this number, we unravel the secret behind the miracle that transpired on this day.
To understand the essence of the number ‘eight’, first let us learn what the meaning of ‘seven’ is so we can create a firm basis on which to build upon.
The Ancient Greek civilization revolved around a logical and systematic perfection. Their culture commended the cultivation of humans to their most natural form. This is why much focus was given to athleticism, the arts and philosophical reasoning. Beauty was translated into symmetry and proportion; everything had to fit into a rigid mold, otherwise it was deemed imperfect and unnatural. The Greeks’ vision of reality was limited to what the human eye can perceive. They maintained the notion that nothing can be accepted if it cannot be proven by logic. Only things that can be seen or measured were valued; there was no above and no beyond.
According to Yehadut, revolving around the number seven is the system of nature. The seven day week, the seven year crop cycle, the seven missvot of Benei Noah, all revolve around how we have limits in this world. Within nature, there are limits in the form of time and space (think gravity or not having enough time to read as many Divrei Torah as we would like). We cannot extend past these functions and must learn to accommodate them; we cannot go above and we cannot go beyond them.
Nature is predictable (if I plant a seed, it will grow) and therefore can be repeated; it is bound to a system, it is trapped in a cycle. Nature will always remain the same, it cannot become something it never was before; there is no above and no beyond what once was.
If seven connotates a repetitive cycle, eight signifies breaking free from this cycle. Eight signifies going above and beyond the pattern of nature. The word for eight in Hebrew is ‘Shemonah’ if we rearrange the letters, this spells out the word ‘Neshamah’. Our Neshama, our Soul, is certainly not bound by the laws of nature; it lasts forever, it goes above and beyond life as we know it. Let’s keep going with this idea. The word ‘Mishnah’ is the building block of the Torah she’Be’al Peh (the Oral Torah). Is it not the extension of the Torah she’Biketav, the Written Torah? If we take the root of the word ‘Shemonah’ we are left with ‘Shemen’ – Oil, the very core of our festival of Hanukka! Again, olive oil is an extension of the olive, it is more than meets the eye, the hidden essence behind what we think we see.
The concept of eight, of Neshama, of the Oral Torah, of oil, rises and rides high above and beyond the confines of nature. Eight encompasses the sphere by which are enriching and extending things that exist in the form of nature, in the form of seven. Eight is above and beyond, it is an extension of the natural, a step above seven, above nature.
The Sefat Emet maintains that the threat of the Greeks was not the physical worship of idols; it was rather the philosophy that nothing is sacred. Their secularist world view was that only the physical was important, not the metaphysical. This was a spiritual war, not a physical one. We learn from the miracle of Hanukka that there is a world that completely transcends that of the natural world we live in. We must strive to become the supernatural beings we are given the potential to become.
If you noticed, on Hanukka we spin the sevivon, the dreidel, from the top, as opposed to the raashanim, groggers, we use on Purim, which we spin from the bottom. This signifies our desire and motive this time of year to reach upwards, into the realm above nature, beyond logic and reason. We must prepare ourselves to be receptive of miracles coming from above, from HaKadosh Barukh Hu, and not from below, from our own efforts. Sure, winning a war and oil staying lit may seem like the natural way the world may take its course, but it is exactly in these moments we must realize they are truly products coming from a place way above nature.
Be’Ezrat HaShem Yitbarak may we all develop the sensitivity to realize that we are constantly receiving miracles from a Source way above us and may HaKadosh Barukh Hu continue to send many many more in the form of berakha and sheaf for all of Kelal Yisrael!
Wishing everybody a super festive Hag Hanukka!!!! Hanukka Sameah!!!
Ariella Samimi :D
Inspiration: Rabbi Doniel Katz and Rabbi Label Lam