||A HAPPY AND SPIRITUAL RELATIONSHIP FOUNDATION
- Thursday, June 7, '01 - Parshas Behaaloscha 5761
There were two miracles on chanuka. The first was the victory of the Chashmanoyim (the outnumbered Cohanim) who were at war with the Greeks, who, at the time, were the greatest military power in the world. After a fifteen year war, the Chashmanoyim were victorious and kicked the Greeks out of the Holy Temple and Israel. Second, after they went in to clean up the Holy Temple, they found only one container of kosher oil (for the menora), which was enough to burn the light of the menora for one day. They lit it, going beyond the strict requirements of the law. Unkosher oil is technically permitted when the majority of the community is spiritually impure from war. Nevertheless, the Chashmanoyim went out of their way for the service and love of G-d. They searched the Holy Temple through and through and found one vial of oil with the Cohanic seal that meant its oil was pure. Because they went out of their way, Hashem made a miracle. One day's supply of oil lasted for the eight days that it would take to make new kosher oil.
We have a major question on these two miracles. Why was the war, the defeat of the Greeks, commemorated by a paragraph being added in the Shmoneh Esray (the silent standing prayer), which is a spiritual commemoration, and why is the burning of the oil commemorated with a physical candle and action?
In both cases, Hashem was responding to "masiras nefesh (extra effort, self-sacrifice for the service and love of G-d)." What is more materialistic than a war (death, weapons, blood)? This is the most earthly, mundane, physical activity you can think of. But, the Chashmanoyim were devotedly using brutal war for the service of Hashem with pure intentions. The Greeks went into, took over and defiled the Holy Temple, where the Cohanim did their holy work, so they had the most at stake. In the case of the menora, the Chashmanoyim were engaged in an altogether spiritual activity, lighting the menora of the Holy Temple with its pure, kosher oil. In essence, once they lit the one day's oil, which they found after their strenuous search, Hashem basically took the one day's "burning power" and extended it miraculously for the seven additional days that it would take to manufacture new pure oil (to provide continual lighting exclusively from kosher oil).
By the way the sages legislated the holiday's observances, we see that we can use the physical world in the most mundane and physical way - a violent, bloody war - but WHEN USED FOR THE LOVE AND SERVICE OF HASHEM, the most earthly and physical thing is spirituality, Torah and holiness. The war is commemorated in prayer, a spiritual manifestation. When the Chashmanoyim were using a clearly spiritual activity, the lighting of the Holy Temple's menora, we show that a most spiritual purpose has to be brought down to a concrete, earthly manifestation to be meaningful. We commemorate the spiritual menora with a material act: lighting a physical candle.
Therefore, we see a balance. The earthly, physical war is commemorated in a spiritual prayer. The spiritual light of the menora is commemorated in a physical act of lighting candles. This shows that in this world, the physical and the spiritual have to be tied, when it comes to serving Hashem. The mundane must be elevated by being tied to spirituality and G-dly purpose and service, while the spiritual has to materialize in practical, physical life.
This is a vital message in marriage. It is taking something that can be relatively earthly and mundane, something that is potentially rooted in a person's most deeply selfish, egoistic and physical aspect; but, by elevating it to holiness and spirituality, it is devotion to, and union with, Hashem. The material world is raised to the spiritual and holy. The spiritual must be concretized and concentrated into practical, physical every day life.
Rambam writes that the mitzva of Chanuka is a most beloved mitzva. The Rishonim describe how Hashem's having done the miracles for us at the time of the Chanuka story were a demonstration of His love for us. Because of love and masiras nefesh (exertion, self-sacrifice) in the service of G-d, Hashem (mida kinneged mida - measure for measure) "exerts Himself" by changing the laws of nature on our behalf with miracles. Both Hashem and the Jewish people "go beyond themselves" for one another, us in self-sacrifice and elevation of the mundane physical aspects of existence, and Hashem in giving us miracles. There is an exchange of love between G-d and the Jewish people.
In seeking a mate and conducting a marriage relationship, a person may seek after physical and material goals and values. The Chanuka story and mitzvos teach us that we must always tie the physical and spiritual, concretizing the spiritual in practical life and elevating all things of the physical world. In marriage, when the husband and wife obey G-d's spiritual laws and ethics, perform their practical duties, practice good midos, and EXTEND THEMSELVES SO AS TO BRING OUT HOLINESS AND SPIRITUALITY IN THEIR DAILY LIFE AND RELATIONSHIP; they also create from a potentially physical situation an elevation that is exalted, holy and based on the exchange of love; and this spiritual marriage unit brings love between G-d and His people Israel.