As of Now
by HaRav Dov Begon, Head of Machon Meir
The essence of Chanukah and Purim is to publicize the miracles and wonders that G-d did for us in those times, and that He does for us in our own times as well.
On Purim we publicize the miracle of G-d’s having saved the Jewish People from physical destruction. Wicked Haman sought to annihilate all the Jews, young and old, women and children, the way the Nazis did to us in the horrible Holocaust, yet G-d protected us, nullifying their plot. Quite the contrary, Haman and his sons were hanged. To remember this physical salvation, we eat and drink on Purim, thereby publicizing that the Jewish corpus lives on and endures despite “Hamans” in every generation.
On the other hand, the wicked Greek regime wished to extinguish the soul of the Jewish People. That is, they sought to “make them forget G-d’s Torah and to make them violate the laws expressing G-d’s will” (Al HaNisim prayer). G-d protected us in our time of trouble, handing over the “evildoers into the hands of the righteous and the wicked into the hands of those who study Your Torah” (Ibid.). To remember the miracle of G-d’s having saved the Jewish soul, we light Chanukah candles, for “man’s soul is the candle of G-d” (Proverbs 20:27). We thereby publicize that the soul of the Jewish People shines forever within every Jew and within every Jewish home. Thus, the Talmud states, “The mitzvah of Chanukah consists of a candle, a man and his home” (Tractate Shabbat).
Those same forces that operated in the past are operating right now as well.
Unfortunately, there are still anti-Semitic forces lifting their heads in the world. Their goal is akin to that of wicked Haman and the Nazis — may their name be blotted out! We are commanded to defend the Jewish People from them, not just in Israel, but throughout the whole world, by means of a strong army, and by means of our all uniting together and standing strong on behalf of our national and Jewish survival.
It is a mitzvah to publicize the miracle of G-d’s having saved Israel in our generation. First of all, He established the State of Israel. Second of all, our enemies have attacked us a number of times, with great and mighty forces, but with G-d’s help we have defeated them.
Yet also the Greek threat to extinguish the soul of the Jewish People by distancing the Jews from Judaism, by “making them forget their Torah,” unfortunately still exists as well. Millions of Jews in Israel and throughout the world are far from Judaism and from the Torah. This weakens their identity and their link to the Jewish People and to the State of Israel.
Yet a miracle was performed for us, like that performed in the Second Temple. At that time, the Greeks contaminated all the oils. Then a single jar of oil was found with the stamp of the High Priest, and it sufficed to light the Temple candelabra for eight days even though it only had enough in it for one day. The same has occurred in our own generation. We bear witness to how that pure jar of oil hidden within the heart of every single Jew, whoever he may be, and which foreign influences have not succeeded in contaminating, is more and more being revealed, is more and more shining light upon our souls. The soul of man is the candle of G-d, and tens of thousands of Jews from all walks of life are returning to their roots, returning to the Torah, returning to the synagogue and to Jewish tradition.
Also the symbol of the State of Israel, the seven-branch candelabra, hints to us about the miracles and wonders that G-d is performing for us in our generation on the pattern of the Chanukah miracle. The day is not far off when the Temple will be rebuilt and we will merit the actual Temple candelabra, which will shine for us and for the whole world.