The “Genesis” of Hanukkah

Too many of us are satisfied to make do with the same superficial understanding in the areas of Tefilah/Prayer, Yomim Tovim/Holidays, etc. that we acquired early in life. Let us dig deeper.

Rabbi Yehuda Levin, | updated: 19:00

Judaism Chabad Hanukkah candle lighting at NBA game in Brooklyn
Chabad Hanukkah candle lighting at NBA game in Brooklyn
INN:YL

With the advent of Hanukkah I find myself questioning how in our professional lives we always upgrade our knowledge in order to remain pertinent.  Yet, too many of us are satisfied to make do with the same superficial understanding in the areas of Tefilah/Prayer, Yomim Tovim/Holidays, etc. that we acquired early in life.

Too many of us apply too much time, effort, and money towards enhancing the externalities of the holiday, such as, ‘presents’ and gourmet donuts.  We should be endeavoring to enrich and increase our connection to Hashem through the spiritual opportunity provided to  us by these the eight Holy Days.

In a prior Hanukkah column I emphasized how Hanukkah was also the celebration of the victorious civil war against our fellow Jewish Misyavnim/Hellenists.  It was far more than a revolutionary war against our Syrian Greek interlocutors.

Let us now dig a little deeper.  Reading Parshas Valishlach we question how Esau’s spiritual agent managed to wound Yaacov Avinu, the “B’chir ShebeAvos” (outstanding Patriarch), replacement value of Adam HaRishon, whose very visage is carved into the Mercavah/Throne of G-d Himself.  To answer this, let’s go back to the creation of Chava (Eve).

The Medrash Rabbah posits that the limb from which Hashem crafted Chava was from Adam’s inner thigh bone/sinew.  This is because the inner legs are usually together and covered connoting tznius/modesty.  As Hashem constructed every limb, He enjoined it to be tzniuah/modest.  One may suggest this yerech/thigh bone was actually the Gid Hanasheh or adjacent to it.  Thus, as the Zohar teaches, when Chava betrayed Adam by having an intimate relationship with the snake and then coercing Adam to eat from the forbidden fruit, she turned her greatest asset into a cosmic liability.  For Chava was supposed to be the “legs”/support system of her husband, who was to be the Prince of the Torah and spirituality.  Instead, she virtually cut him off at the “legs”, betraying him and causing his spiritual collapse.  She thus implanted into the very Creation a weakness relating to the Gid Hanasheh/thigh bone.  Thus, Yaacov, as the spiritual replacement of Adam inherited an intrinsic weakness in that area of his physicality and the Angel capitalized on it.

The nachash/snake represents all of the various stages of Golus/Exile including Eisav/Edom and yes, Yavan/Greece.  We find in Sefer Daniel that Yavan is associated with nechoshesh/copper.  Thus, what the snake did to Chava was an example of the horrific decree that whomever marries must first be intimate with the local hegman/governor.  This precisely describes the relationship between the snake/Yavan (Greek culture) and the first crossover Hellenist/ Misyavani, Chava, who then utilized her newfound “misyvaneekeit” to betray her husband and cause his downfall.

The Yavanim intended to physically contaminate the sanctity of the Jewish woman while also injecting anti-holiness into the very essence of the spiritual genetic code of Klal Yisroel.  They largely succeeded in diminishing the amount of truly holy and loyal Jews. Thus, Rashi informs us in Parshas Vzos Habracha, that a super minority of Matisyahu and a handful of his progeny triggered the Hashmonaic Revolution and by extension the civil war against the Helenists.

Now, let us explore the Gid Hanasheh-Hanukkah connection. The Shach Al HaTorah informs us that the reason Yaacov went back for the pachim ketanim/small flasks was because the pach contained the miraculous shemen/olive oil with which Yaacov anointed the Matzaiva/Monument, the location of the future Bais Hamikdash, when he left to travel to Lavan.

This miraculous oil was the same oil which would consecrate/anoint priests and kings, and would be a miracle source throughout the ages.  Thus, the Shach (not the one who wrote a gloss on the Shulchan Aruch) says that this is the mysterious correlation of the caf of Yaacov’s thigh and the pach/flask of oil; both are the letters chof/peh.

The healing of Yaacov as the sun rose indicates and prognosticates that the antidote to the choshech/darkness of Yavan during that Golus/Exile will be by the sun/light and the flask of shemen representing the shining of the Oral Law/Mishnaic period.  This was the spiritual spoils of war, the intellectual wisdom surrendered by the Greek antagonists co-opted by Shimon Hazadik and subsequent generations. This metamorphasized into the Chochmas HaTorah Shebaal Peh.

We now understand more deeply the reason for not eating the Gid Hanasheh.  It’s because Chava, the very product of Adam’s Gid Hanasheh/thigh bone betrayed Adam by causing him to EAT the forbidden fruit.  So, the Gid Hanasheh is forever associated with forbidden EATING.  To elaborate further regarding the Hanukkah connection and Chava’s creation from the Gid Hanasheh/thigh.  Kabalistically, the two legs are Netzach/victory and Hod/glory.  Chava was surely created from the leg of Hod and maybe from both legs. This is related to the attribute of Hodaah/thanking and viduy/confessing to Hashem that we don’t deserve all the largesse that He constantly bestows upon us. 

This aforementioned approach answers a question Rav Chaim Kanievsky shlita asked his father, the Steipler. Why according to the Zohar is Gid Hanasheh the commandment, which corresponds to Tisha B’Av?  The Chidushei Harim also raises this issue.  He responded, “the 365 laavin/negative commandments each correspond to one day of the solar year and thus the Zohar says one who eats from that sinew is as if he ate on Tisha B’Av”.

I humbly suggest that the Bais Hamikdash symbolizes Hashem residing amongst us collectively and individually.  It is nirvana/utopia and harkens back partially to Gan Eden before Adam’s sin.  The Churban of the Bais Hamikdash, like the sin of the Golden Calf and every other transgression is ultimately sourced in the original sin of the Gid Hanasheh/Chava’s betrayal of Hashem and of her husband.

Hanukkah is a time to recharge our spiritual batteries during our prayers, particularly, Hallel and Al Hanisim.  We should petition Hashem to enlighten us so that we may fully perceive and combat the outside and inside forces of Hellenism, secularism, materialism, and reading material, etc.  We must fully realize that all that is touted as orthodox isn’t necessarily so.

On Hanukkah, unlike the rest of the year, Hashem descends to below asara tefachim (ten handbreadths) to be with us and enlighten us in the midst of the darkness of the Diaspora in manifold ways including helping to perceive and identify the Misyavnim in our own camp.

Let us be inspired by the Nashim Tzidkunious throughout history. The Bnei Yisoscher  says, every redemption was triggered by righteous women such as Yocheved, Miriam, Rus, Esther, and Yehudis.  Thus, we see that the righteous women of the Hanukkah epic led the men in instituting the Hashmonaic rebellion, that began with Yehudis, the daughter of Matisyahu the quintessential Jewish heroine named with Hod/Hodaah as an antidote to that which Chava cast asunder.  She challenged her father and brothers to rebel against the Syrian Greek decrees, particularly in opposing the violation of the brides.  Recall the Jewish women who circumcised their sons when it was punishable by death and then threw themselves off the ramparts of Yerushalayim (see Rav Eliyahu Kitov).

So too, the women of today, particularly during Hanukkah can channel their spiritual antecedents helping them eschew the aforementioned impediments to timeless holiness and to inspire their menfolk to an unsullied (shemen tohor) relationship with Hashem.

As we peer at the candles recall Chazal’s adage: “He who seeks wisdom should turn in the direction of the Menorah (Yadrim)”.  Remember the famous Ramban, which states that the Menorah’s light is a virtual throwback to Aharon’s menorah.  And therefore, we should pray for enlightenment, wisdom, and uncompromising Torah values for ourselves and our families.

Although it may seem difficult, Hanukkah is a time of Hodaah/Viduy, expressing gratitude and confessing our shortcomings. It is an auspicious time when it is made easier to effectuate Teshuva/repentance.  Just as the Jews returned to Hashem because of the miracles, Bayomim Hahaim/in those days, may we merit to do so B’zman Hazeh.  He will then truly light up our lives.

Rabbi Yehuda Levin has entered his 5th decade of Torah activism, as he continues to represent his various mentors, the Gedolei Torah of yesteryear.  He can be heard weekly on 620 AM Radio Thursday evenings at 11:00.  He can be reached at rab`bilevin@gmail.com. You can join his provocative chat by ‘what’s aping’ (718)469-6999. 

Anyone wishing to coordinate a weekly free shiur for men or women, kindly contact Rabbi Levin.





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