Friday, December 14, 2012


Several years ago I overheard a girl telling her boyfriend in Tower Records (now gone) as he was buying CDs that he was "so old school." This illustrates how quickly we grow tired of things that were exciting when they were new.

Following the dedication of the Mishkan Aharon was sad because all the tribes brought sacrifices and gifts, except for his family of Kohanim. G-d cheered him up - according to Rashi - by telling him that he and his would light the menorah. The Ramban says that the consolation rested in the fact that G-d was hinting to the lighting that would happen in the time of the second Temple, by the Chashmona'im. I think the idea that G-d was teaching Aharon was that he should be happy that his children would still be excited about G-d at a time when most Jews had lost their enthusiasm and assimilated.

The Rabbis tell us that as The Jewish People were on their way to exile all of our great ancestors prayed on our behalf, but it was only Rachel whose words G-d heeded. As the Medrash has it, Rachel told G-d about the merit she had in having given the secret signs to her sister on her wedding night. She then added that she was not jealous for all the years that followed. She was telling G-d that not only did she do one amazing act, but that she followed through, stayed on that level for the rest of her life.

Her first born son inherited this trait. He is our one ancestor that we refer to consistently with the title of tzadik. He was righteous as a child, chosen as his father to be a leader. He had tremendous piety, and also great love for his brothers. When asked what he was searching for he replied, "I seek my brothers." And that never changed. Years later he tells them that he is still that same brother that they sold - he loved them and wanted unity with them and that never changed. We know the tremendous tests he passed in relation to temptation and straying from faith. There is also a story here of a brother who never strayed from his wish to be close to his bothers.

When Yosef tells the brothers that they are spies, perhaps there is truth in his words. A spy seeks out the negative. That's what they had done in how they looked at him, they took anything they could frame as harmful and honed in on it. He helped them to see what he had seen all along, what he never wavered on. They tell the viceroy of Egypt that they had one brother who disappeared ("einenu"). He shows them that he never seized to be there for them as a brother, and that he was also always righteous, Yoseif HaTzadik.

The Ramban explains that the point of the Mishkan and then the Beit HaMikdash was to keep the experience of Har Sinai alive. That excitement that filled everyone when we heard visions and saw voices, as G-d presented His Holy Torah was meant to last. It was to be perpetuated forever by the Beit HaMikdash and lives on in every Schul - every Mikdash Me'at.

It is ironic that secular Jews celebrate the victory of "Fundamentalists" over Hellenists. We the few, who get it have a right to be a little bit proud. May G-d bless us with strength to continue to rekindle the flames inside us as we continue to light the candles of this Chanukah.


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