Make it Public by Rabbi Yosef Adler


Throughout the days of Chanukah, we recite two Berachot prior to the lighting of the candles: “LeHadlik Neir Shel Chanukah” and “SheAsah Nisim.”  This second Berachah also is recited on Purim prior to the reading of the Megillah.  However, on Pesach night there is no such formal declaration.  What might be the difference between the two?  Furthermore, the Rambam, in his description of the obligation to light the Menorah each night, states that the purpose of the Mitzvah is ”LeHarot UlGalot HaNeis,” “to show and to reveal the miracle.”  What exactly does the Rambam mean by to "reveal" the miracle?  Is it hidden from view or disguised?

At the end of Parashat BeShalach, the Torah describes the battle waged against Amaleik.  After the victory, Moshe builds a Mizbeiach, ”VaYikra Shemo Hashem Nisi,” “And he proclaimed its name ‘God who performed this miracle for me’” (Shemot 17:15).  Moshe had seen Hashem perform dozens of miracles in Mitzrayim.  He never felt compelled to erect a Mizbeiach to thank Hashem for having performed any of those miracles on behalf of Am Yisrael.  Why did he feel compelled to erect a Mizbeiach after the battle with Amaleik?

Perhaps the answer lies in the miracle itself.  In regard to the miracles in Mitzrayim and at the splitting of the sea, everyone recognized the hand of Hashem as being responsible for the events.  Chazal state that a simple maidservant at the splitting of the sea saw the hand of Hashem more clearly than the prophet Yechezkeil.  After the third plague, even the Egyptian lords admitted, "Etzba Elokim Hi," “It is the finger of Hashem” (Shemot 8:15).  Under those conditions, it was not necessary to build a Mizbeiach in tribute to Hashem, because it was obvious to one and all that He was responsible.  That is why Am Yisrael burst into song after the Egyptians drowned in the sea.  However, when battling Amaleik, members of Am Yisrael participated in the actual battle under the leadership of Yehoshua.  They bore arms and waged war physically against Amaleik.  It is possible that one could have concluded that the victory came as a result of his own initiatives and efforts.  It was more difficult to recognize and identify the hand of Hashem in that situation.  Therefore, Moshe erected the Mizbeiach, which would direct the attention of Am Yisrael to the fact that this victory also was a result of divine intervention.

The same is true of the events of Chanukah and Purim.  The battle against the Yevanim was waged by the members of the Chashmonai family.  The name of Hashem does not appear in the Megillah.  Therefore, someone might be led to believe that Hashem did not orchestrate those miracles.  To dispel this misapprehension, we recite the Berachah “SheAsah Nisim,” emphasizing that Hashem in fact was responsible for all of the miracles associated with those days.  It also is for this reason that the Rambam states that it is our obligation to reveal the miracle, because it may not be that obvious that Hashem played the primary role, albeit in a disguised fashion, in the unfolding of these miracles.  The Rambam therefore concludes his description of Hilchot Chanukah, “Mitzvat Chanukah Chavivah Hi Ad Meod VeTzarich Adam LeHizaheir Bah Kedei LeHodia HaNeis UlHosif BeShevach HaKeil,” ”The Mitzvah of Chanukah is very precious, and one should be very careful to publicize the miracles and to add praise unto the Almighty.”

In our own generation, one senses the identical problem.  Hashem has been kind enough to our generation to make possible the creation of the state of Israel, to allow a Jewish government to control its affairs, and to see to the reunification of Yerushalayim.  However, a good segment of the Orthodox community does not perceive these events as emanating from Hashem.  Those in our community that have come to that recognition should make every effort to publicize those miracles, and, perhaps, even recite the Berachah of ”SheAsah Nisim” to accomplish that objective.

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