There are two popular holidays in the Jewish calendar that can be celebrated even as we perform our ordinary weekday activities. Even though they have no special Yom Tov or Shabbos requirements they do much more than just commemorate events in history. Purim, in which wine is the drink of choice and Chanukah with its lighting of the menorah with ideally olive oil, have concealed within these days of joy, like quality olive oil that is extracted from olives and vintage wine whose transformed juice exudes from the grapes, heretofore untapped hidden powers that can aid us to help to rectify and elevate the entire creation.
[How is this achieved and why is it necessary? When Adam and Chava ate the forbidden fruit, violating the specific commandment of the Creator, the yetzer hara became internalized causing an admixture within all mankind of tov vi-rah. Since four of the five senses of hearing, tasting, seeing and feeling (touch) acted as “accomplices” to the primordial sin, we need to now use those very same senses, in the performance of mitzvos and acts and chesed, to rectify this cosmic error which continues to reverberate throughout the generations.] (this par. not pub.)
Partially because of a lack of enough sensitivity and an increase in senseless enmity (sinas kinom), that was a major cause of the destruction of the Bais HaMikdash, our Sages wisely gave us specific additional mitzvos that focus on strengthening our sense of awareness thereby reawakening our sensitivity in our relationship others. How can this best be achieved?
Purim is a holiday that offers us an opportunity to become extraordinarily sensitive listeners through fulfilling the mitzvah of hearing every word of the Megilla. This unique mitzvah of focused rapt attention thereby teaches us how to truly listen to others, so as to better understand how to best help them. How is this achieved? We accomplish this through the other three mitzvos of the day which are giving charity generously, sending gifts of food to friends and opening the “doors” of our homes and hearts for a tasty meal which is a flavorful experience for all of us.
Now that our hearing has been attuned and our taste buds enhanced we can look into the lights of Chanukah to see how to best rekindle the proper feelings between each other. How is this achieved? Just as we bend over – lower ourselves – as the naros are ideally below ten
tefakim, so as to be able to light – ie. touch – the Chanukah naros until they are lit up by the “helper” candle known as the shomus, so too in our relationship with others, we should be willing to metaphorically “bend over”,when necessary, in order to share our soul’s “flame” to help kindle our fellow brethren including those who are still out in the shuk – ie. – the marketplace of spiritual obscurity.
There is an interesting possible correlation between Purim with its wine and Chanukah with its olive oil and two of the pillars of our avoda: Torah and tefillah. Just like the juice of the grape needs a transformational period of time of fermentation in order to become quality wine, so also, as was in the Purim episode when our nation prayed and fasted, do we sometimes need to pray over and over until our teffilos become transformed into a vintage quality that is able to mi-hapik the decree. The olive tree, on the other hand, which takes decades before producing quality olives and its olive oil can be likened to the extensive time it takes for a Torah student to develop into a true Torah scholar who is from then on able to produce chiddushim that adds spiritual “lights” to the world. Chanukah therefore symbolizes victory of Torah over teva with the olive oil of the Menorah symbolizing the wisdom of the Torah – as it is said: ner mitzvah, Torah orh.
A final insight found within the holiday of Purim is alluded to through the mitzvah of sending readymade foods to friends. Since during the course of the year some event might have caused others to feel that they have not lived up to our standards, the sending of specifically prepared foods expresses a profound message that just as this food needs no preparation, we are always ready and prepared to accept you just as you are.
May we through these beautiful mitzvos, which help us to realign our sensibility (feelings) of proper love and respect for all of our brethren, merit the final Bais HaMigdash soon in our days.
All articles appearing on this blog are copyrighted by Rabbi Yehoshua Binyamin Falk. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to share/download/copy this information as long as it is accompanied by the copyright. Separately authored/copyrighted materia
- DAVENING AT THE TZION OF THE RASHBI-THE BURIAL SITE OF RABBI SHIMON BAR YOCHAI
- PURIM – SEEING BEYOND THE MASK