By: Rabbi Moshe Goodman, Kollel Ohr Shlomo, Hebron
Inviting the Holy Presence in Our Holy Land
‘God be gracious unto you, my son.’
Parshat Miketz and Hanuka always occur together. Is there any hint to Hanuka in this parsha? One verse in the parsha reads ‘God be gracious unto you, my son,’ where the word for ‘be gracious’ is “יחנך”, which is strikingly similar to the word חנוכה (even though they have different verb-roots). Also, the numerical value of this word +1 for the word itself (an accepted method of gematria called “kollel”) is equivalent to the word Hanuka (89). The Kabbalists note that when saying the blessing להדליק נר חנוכה one should have intent that the initials of these words spell נחל, which is a holy Name signifying the initials of Hashem’s attribute נוצר חסד לאלפים, “He retains kindness for thousands (of generations)”. Here too, when we take the word נחל +1 (for the word itself as above) we yet again reach the numerical value of Hanuka (89).
Returning to the word יחנך in this parsha, we see that these letters appear together in only one other place in the Torah “יאר ה’ פניו אליך ויחנך“. Fascinatingly, this verse talks about the “lightening of Hashem’s Countenance”, which can allude to the light of the Menora, indicative of the lightening of the Hashem’s Countenance, the Holy Presence, in the Beit Hamikdash. Also, the verse “יאר ה'” is one of the first verses read on the Torah-reading of the first day of Hanuka, and the last word of this verse ויחנך strongly resembles the חנוכה of the Mishkan mentioned in this reading immediately after. What does all this mean?
The Midrash (Pesikta Zutreta Naso 92b) notes that the blessing ויחנך connotes a blessing for offspring, as Yakov tells Ezav “these are the children that Hashem has “חנן “ (of the verb root of ויחנך) – given me graciously.” This may be explained by saying that not only is the ability to bear offspring through the “Grace of God,” but also that the ability to rear, “train,” and educate this offspring so that they continue on our good values is through the attribute of “graciousness.” Indeed, the actual verb root for “training” is h.n.k, the verb root of Hanuka, and this root is used in the context of Avraham’s “trained men (“hanihav”), born in his house” (Breshit 14, 14) that fought with him to save Lot. According to our Sages, one’s students that one “trains” are considered to be like one’s offspring “born in one’s house. Also, the terms “hanukat hamishkan/mizbeach” and also “hanukat bayit” used in the Torah imply an initial “training” towards the continued usage of something afterwards, either the altar (hanukat hamizbeach), in the first instance, or a house, in the second instance (hanukat bayit). When we “train” someone or something for the future we essentially build the essentials for the initial “kindness” used in the training process to be “retained for thousands [of days/years/generations].” This is the secret of emulating Hashem’s attribute of “retaining kindness for thousands,” so identified with Hanuka according to the Kabbalists. This matter also explains the acronym נחל of this attribute (as explained above), for “nachal” is a river, and just as a river continues on the sources of water and life begun at the spring, so too proper “training” and education has the potential to be continued for “thousands” of generations after us. Our Sages teach that the light created on the first day of Creation was hidden from this temporary World in order to be manifest in the Eternal World to Come. This matter may also explain why the “lightening of Hashem’s Countenace,” i.e the spiritual light associated with the Light of the Eternal World to Come, is associated with the term ויחנך in the Kohanic blessing, for, as we explained, ויחנך is associated with the continuous, “river-like”, power of graciousness that can only be truly appreciated in an eternal world, the World to Come. Indeed, our Sages explain that from the Hanuka lights emanates, to a certain extent, this light saved for the World to Come!
All this said, we should remember that the raising of Avraham’s battalion of “trained men” – “hanihei beito,” occurred in Hebron, and also this was the first battle a handful of Jews fought in history against entire armies, with great bravery of spirit. Of course, all this can be seen as indicative of the Hanuka miracle where the Macabees braved and defeated the Greco-Syrian army, just as our Sages teach us that “the actions of our forefathers are indicative signs to their offspring.” Also, Hebron’s numerical value (266) + 1 for the word itself (as explained above) equals the sum of the three identical numerical values (89) that we mentioned in our first paragraph ( (נחל, חנוכה,יחנך) 89*3=267). Indeed, let us “continue on” the brave spirit of Hebron, “training” ourselves with the gracious spirit of our forefathers, “enlightening” the world with the supernal light of the Holy Presence.
Real Stories from the Holy Land #292
Rabbi Jacob ben Yosephia came to Rome and stood by the Arch of Titus. He stood and wept until he made a vow, for if the Holy One, blessed be He, brought us up to the Holy Land, his house would be built in the City of the Patriarchs. When Rabbi Jacob ben Yosephia arrived in Hebron, he set up a lintel with three carved ashlar stones on the gate of his house. But they would ask: Why are two standing upright while the third, the middle one, is the opposite? And there were three answers: a symbol of the three towers that were built at the time on the graves of the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. But when the Crusaders came and approached the Cave of Machpela, the wrath of Isaac our father struck and smote those who came with blindness. The Crusaders left and their eyes opened again. When they returned for a second time, he struck them with blindness again, but when they dared to enter the cave, Yitzhak’s tower fell on his face, leaving only the other two towers of Abraham and Jacob, who were merciful and forgiving. Standing on the ground to this day. And so are the three menorahs on a lintel in the Kasba in Hebron: the first and last stand upright while the middle – upside down with its head down. (see attached picture).”
Sources: Or Hanuka, article 10. Sefer Hebron p. 323.
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