Forget About The Candles, It’s All About The Torah She’be’al Peh
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Forget About the Candles, It’s All About the Torah She’be’al Peh
We all like to celebrate Chanukah for the “nes pach ha’shemen” and focus on the candles. So much is stressed on this miracle, that in fact we are commanded to light by the window so we can advertise this to the general public. I would like to suggest another aspect of Chanukah that perhaps we should look into more, and possibly start a new minhag.
The Jews at the time of the Yevanim were commanded to not perform three very specific mitzvot- milah, Shabbat and chodesh. These three are what separate us from the other nations. However we should take it one step further. The tfilla “Al hanisim” alludes to the fact that Chanukah is not simply a time when we celebrate our religious freedom, rather celebrate the importance of the Torah She’be’al Peh. We see this first when it says “al amcha Yisrael” as opposed to just Yisrael. This emphasis is that the Yevanim tried to uproot our strong connection to God, being His nation. This connection is exemplified through our performing of His mitzvot, which of course our expanded upon in the Torah Sh’be’al Peh. The second time we see this in al hanisim is when it states “le’hashkicham Toratecha”, which can be explained as the Torah She’be’al Peh whose very existence relies on people not forgetting it. Furthermore, in masechet Shabbat, a question is brought down in the G’marah, why we say “asher kidshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu” if we are not commanded by Hashem? The answer the Gmarah gives is that we should not stray from what we were taught, along with reference to following what was passed down to you by your father. We learn from this the importance of following what was passed down through the generations. This was taught specifically here as opposed to with regards to any other mitzvah d’rabanan, to show the connection between Chanukah and the Torah She’be’al Peh.
So perhaps we should all be learning some more halacha or whipping out a masechet or two this Chanukah. Maybe we should do it by a window. (Or fill a Beit Midrash with learning...)
After all, the mitzvah may be with the candle, but the Torah has the light!