Rabbi Dovid Saks
529 Wyoming Ave.
Scranton, PA 18509
108 N. Abington Rd.
Clarks Summit, PA 18411
WHY THE 25TH OF KISLEV
While the Jews were in the desert, traveling from Egypt to the
Land of Israel, G-d commanded them to construct a Mishkan
(Tabernacle) - a large Temple that they were able to dismantle
and transport while traveling, and erect when they encamped.
On the 25th day of Kislev, less than three months after they
began working, the artisans and skilled workers completed all the components of the Mishkan. G-d told Moshe (Moses) to wait until a later date to erect the Mishkan. G-d assured Moshe that the date that they completed the Mishkan would not be ignored. There would be a time in the future, during the second Temple, that the Jews would rededicate the Temple on the same date that they completed the Mishkan in the desert, the 25th day of Kislev. The date would then be celebrated and commemorated as the Holiday of Chanukah.
The Chanukah Miracle occurred in the 214th year of the second Temple’s existence. The Temple stood for an additional 207 years, until it was destroyed by the Romans.
LIGHT VS. DARKNESS
The Talmud refers to the Greeks and their methodology and philosophy as darkness. The Greeks believed that G-d is within nature and not above it, and could not intervene to change nature. This view precludes the possibility of miracles, Revelation, and Divine Providence. It also denies any ultimate purpose or direction for one’s existence. The events of Chanukah provided a dramatic refutation of the Greek’s dark outlook.
The brightness and warmth of the flames of the rededicated Temple Menorah did not only rekindle the physical Menorah, it also restored the spiritual spark in the heart of every Jew who now had the freedom to practice their religion once again.
It is interesting, that once the Maccabees regained the Temple from the Greeks, the ritual of the lighting of the Menorah and the other Temple
services continued for the next 207 years, the same numerical value of the Hebrew word Ohr – light which is 207!
Although the events of the Holiday of Chanukah occurred much after the Torah was completed and given to the Jewish people, we still find a hint and illusion to Chanukah in the Torah.
In the Book of Leviticus in the portion of Emor, the Torah commands us of all the holidays: Pesach, Shavuos, Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Sukkos.
The Mitzvah that immediately follows the observances of the holiday of Sukkos, is G-d’s instruction to Aaron, the High Priest, to kindle the Menorah in the Temple with pure olive oil, each evening. Our Sages explain that the placement of the Mitzvah of kindling the Menorah in the Temple immediately after the Holiday of Sukkos is no mere coincidence.
G-d, whose name connotes past, future and present is not restrained by time. He is All Knowing of the future as well as the past. As Author of the Torah, He placed the Mitzvah of kindling the Menorah directly after the Holiday of Sukkos, because He knew that in the future there would be a miracle in the Temple regarding the kindling of the Menorah, and our Sages would mandate the Holiday of Chanukah, that will follow the holiday of Sukkos.
HOW MANY YEARS AGO DID IT HAPPEN?
How is it that Rabbinically instituted holiday of Chanukah, which occurred over two thousand years ago, is still one of our most celebrated holidays?
An answer that comes to mind is that when the Miracle of Chanukah happened, our Sages instituted that a Holiday of eight days be established the next year and to be celebrated each subsequent year. Our Sages instituted laws regarding where the Menorah is lit, how the Menorah is lit, when the Menorah is lit, how long the candles must burn etc.
More so, our Sages instituted blessings to be recited over the kindling of the Menorah, which include the words ‘V’tzivanu – You (G-d) commanded us.’ Chanukah occurred during the period of the second Temple, long after the Torah was given. How is it possible for our Sages to institute a blessing which contains the word ‘You commanded us,’ when it was not G-d who commanded us to perform the Mitzvah of kindling the Menorah, rather it was our Sages?