Chanukah: Questions and Answers by Rabbi Herschel Solnica zt”l


The Nerot of Chanukah have a very special and hidden meaning in Talmudic sources.  They are not simply lights of the Temple, and they are more than the miracle of one cask of oil that remained lit for eight days, instead of its expected one day. 

Our Rabbis teach (Ateret Zekeinim): “Kol Hamoadot Yihiyu Beteilim Chutz Michanukah UPurim… Vizeh Anu Mevorchim Lehadlik Ner Shel Chanukah Moreh Gam Al Heatid…Al ‘Hamizmor Shir Leyom Hashabbat’… Leyom Shekulo Tov,”  “At the time of the Messiah, all biblical holidays will be cancelled, except Chanukah and Purim…and therefore we make the blessing to light the Nerot which teaches us to look to the future…to the day where all will be good…”

The Sefat Emet (the Rebbe of Ger) commented that light usually comes at the cost of residue or ash.  However, the light that was created by Hashem, Or Hamaor, is in the category of Meir Ve’eno Soref, that which is lit but leaves no residue.  Therefore, Hashem hid this light for the future reward of the righteous.  “Ukemo Kein Beneis DeChanukah Shehayah Doleik Beli Shemen, Af Kan Hu Bechinat Or Haganuz,” “Similarly, in the miracle of Chanukah, the Nerot stayed lit without additional oil, and this is similar to the light that is the future reward for the righteous.”  This explains why our Rabbis stated that in the time of the Messiah, Chanukah will still be observed: the Nerot symbolize the light of the future. 

This fits very well with the Parsha that speaks of understanding the dreams of Pharaoh’s dreams.  The dreams are not simply examples of the past, but rather are signs and prophetic visions of the future.  This should be a life lesson to each of us.  What we face today gives us the incentive and the inspiration to succeed tomorrow.

This concept of looking to the future permeates every aspect of life.  Our rabbis in Pirkei Avot extol “Haroeh Et Hanolad” one who can anticipate the future.  When daily occurrences do not inspire us to grow and to learn, we are doomed to suffer from their consequences.  In every respect, our daily experiences and existence must focus on the future.

I feel that an entire class of questions begs to be answered but is left out to dry!  The learning of Torah scholarship must lead us to improved values.  Have we started to reach such heights?  Has our outstanding secular education led us to appreciate all that Hashem created?  Has our knowledge given us “food for thought” in planning for life’s lecture?

When will our Torah knowledge and secular background be put together to produce a Jew with a higher level of humanity?  Isn’t this the concept of Or Beli Pesolet (light without residue)?  When will we appreciate the gifts of our good health, loving parents and beautiful pleasures, as God’s presence is a gift to each of us?  When will we truly appreciate the love of our parents, devotion of our teachers and incredibly positive direction of our beloved Yeshiva?  These questions are some of those that Chanukah begs of us to note and then to seek meaningful solutions.  May we be Zocheh to realize the Kedusha (and the message) of the Nerot and to grow in our Avodat Hashem.

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