Posted on | December 18, 2009 | By Mark Frankel | 1 Comment
I’ve been working on understanding the necessity of a miracle on Chanukah and I achieved a little clarity that I wanted to share. I want to thank my friend and teacher Moshe for spending some time to help me with this topic.
Chanukah Brings Forth the Light of Man’s Connection to G-d through Torah
In Derech Hashem, the Ramchal states:
“The significance of Chanukah and Purim is to bring forth the particular light that shone at the time of their original miracles as a result of the rectification they accomplished.
On Chanukah, the Kohanim prevailed over the wicked Hellenists, who wanted to disuade Israel from serving G-d. These Kohanim overcame them, and thus brought all Israel back to devotion to G-d. This especially involved the concept of the Menorah, since the Accusers were against what it stood for. The Kohanim, however, were able to restore everything to its rightful state.”
The Greeks Wanted to Eliminate the Spiritual Realm
Man relates in four ascending realms, the physical, the emotional, the intellectual and the spiritual. The Greeks advanced the intellectual realm but they did not recognize a spiritual realm beyond that. They tried to eliminate all spiritual practices involving G-d, because they contradicted their man-centered orientation. The Greeks sought natural explanations for everything in an attempt to explain away G-d. Although the Greeks recognized the Torah as a great work of wisdom, and even had it translated into Greek, they wanted to sever the Torah from its source, G-d.
The Macabees Restored Our Connection to Torah to Its Full Light
The Macabees clearly understood that the Jewish people (and the world) could not exist without man connecting to G-d through the Torah. The Macabbes defeated the great Greek army even though they were greatly outnumbered. They subsequently rededicated the temple and lit the Menorah which symbolizes man’s connection to G-d through Torah. The miracle of the oil burning for eight days occurred in the course of this rededication.
The War Was Also a Miracle
The Maharal of Prague teaches: “The main reason that the days of Chanukah were instituted was to celebrate the victory over the Greeks. However, so that it would not seem that the victory was due only to might and heroism, rather than to Divine Providence, the miracle was denoted by the lighting of the Menorah, to show that it was all by a miracle, the war as well …”
Nature, Hidden Miracles and Revealed Miracles
According to the Ramban and others, the essential difference between nature and miracle is that natural events occur frequently while miracles are unexpected. Miracles can be divided into two categories: those where Divine control is openly revealed; and those where Divine control is hidden and the miracle is made to appear as a natural occurrence. But, clearly, Hashem is behind nature, hidden miracles and open miracles.
If we know that everything emanates from G-d, what is the significance of the Maharal’s explanation of the re-categorizing the Macabee victory as a hidden miracle as opposed to a natural event?
The Need for Intellectual and Emotional Integration
Although we know that everything is from G-d, if that knowledge remains solely in the intellectual realm, it doesn’t transform who we are. The regularity of nature can obscure the fact that G-d’s hand is behind everything. To affect who we are, intellectual knowledge has to been transformed into emotional intelligence, because the heart/emotion controls our actions and the actions of man are integral to defining him. The integrated person uses his intellect to focus his emotions to perform appropriate actions.
Necessity of the Miracle
Seeing G-d’s hand in the open miracle of the oil and the hidden miracle of the military victory enables us to effect the spiritual changes necessary to reconnect to G-d through the Torah. This clear spiritual signal enables us to transform our intellectual knowledge of G-d to the emotional and, subsequently, to action in the service of G-d. After the Greeks had tried to disconnect the intellectual from the spiritual, G-d’s spiritual signal enabled us to re-integrate all four realms of man.
Miracles Lead to Praise and Thanks
In the normal Modim prayer of Shomoneh Esrai, we thank G-d every day for the miracles in nature that He performs as He sustains us each day. When G-d performs a greater miracle, a hidden miracle, greater praise and thanks is required. When we reclassify the miracle of the victory as a hidden miracle, we are obligated to praise and thank Hashem in a more recognizable fashion and thus we have the Al HaNissim addition to Modim on Chanukah as well as the recital of Hallel. This praise and thanks should be on a higher emotional level than normal and should prompt us to focus our actions more acutely on Torah and mitzvos.
- Man has four ascending realms: physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual
- The Greeks wanted to eliminate the spiritual realm and it’s accessibility through Torah
- The Macabees realized the impossibility of a world with Torah
- They won the war and G-d performed an open miracle of the oil burning
- The open miracle clarified that the military victory was a hidden miracle and not a natural act
- Although we know nature is also G-d directed, its regularity can obscure G-d’s presence
- Intellectual knowledge must affect the heart so that it can direct the actions of man
- The open miracle revealed the hidden miracle enabling us to reconnect the spiritual leading to action
- Miracles require higher levels of thanks and praises which is why we have the extra Tefillos of Hallel and Hodaah on Chanukah