Rabbi Shmuel Brazil
"WATT" is the Meaning of the Chanukah Miracle | Parshas Mikaitz - Chanukah
The famous question of the Beis Yosef on Chanukah is that if they found enough undefiled oil to light the menorah for one night, why did our Chachamim establish the Yom Tov of Chanukah for eight days when the miracle was only for seven? The following answer is said over in the name of Rav Chaim from Brisk ztl that the nature of the miracle of the menorah was that the oil of that one flask was super charged into a fuel eight times its normal burning power. Therefore every night it burnt down only 1/8th. According to this even the first night was a miracle whereupon 1/8th of the physical oil burned the time length of an entire flask.
From this interpretation we learn that the nature of the miracle was in quality rather than in quantity. In fact the entire Yom Tov of Chanukah revolves around this principle that demonstrates that the spirit which is the real quality of life, can overpower the quantitative objects and possessions with which we are preoccupied to ensure they surround us. We say in Al Hanisim מסרת גבורים ביד חלשים רבים ביד מעטים You handed over to the few and weak, the mighty and the many. As Rashi writes (Devarim 33,11) that only 13 Chashmonaeem defeated the entire Greek Army consisting of hundreds and thousands of well equipped trained soldiers. Here too, we must understand that what truly transpired was that Hashem's super energized the spirit of these thirteen Kohanim by empowering these few and weak to suddenly possess 100's of times greater and mightier force, way and beyond their normal unskilled fighting power.
At Matan Torah we see such a concept of super charged quality where one person is deemed equal and worthy compared to the many. Hashem tells Moshe Rabbeinu that he must warn the nation not to ascend HarSinai in order to see Hashem's presence, lest ונפל ממנו רב many will perish (Shmos 19,21). On these words Rashi comments כל מה שיפול מהם אפילו יחידי חשוב לפני רב. Even if one person dies he is considered to Me as many.
In Birkas Kohanim we find the same concept of the "Supercharged Yid". כה תברכו את בני ישראל אמור להם יברכך ה' וישמרך וכול'. The passuk begins in the plural form אמור להם and say to them. Yet the actual beracha is in the singular format יברכך פניו אליך וישם לך? This teaches us that part of the beracha of the Kohanim to Am Yisrael is that even though you are a single individual with limited energy and capabilities, nevertheless you should merit to have the power and mighty spirit of the multitudes.
We can understand this interpretation much clearer when we realize that the source of Birkas Kohanim is from the beracha that Avraham Avinu received from Hashem. (Bereishis 15,5) Hashem took Avraham outside his tent and said "Please look heavenward and count the stars, if you are able to count them. That is how numerous your descendants will be". What does this beracha mean? Science tells us that in the observable universe alone there are a 125 billion galaxies. Each galaxy such as the Milky Way consists of 100 billion stars each star bigger than the sun. You do the Math, 125 billion times 100 billion! And this sum of stars to which Yisrael is compared to is derived only from the observable and countable universe alone! How then can Hashem promise that the number of Am Yisrael members will be more than this number of stars plus the uncountable ones?
The answer is that we don't begin to realize the power of one Yid upon on whom Chazal say בשבילו נברא העולם . He who saves the life of one Yid is deemed an act that saved the entire world. Every Yid has the super charged quality to achieve greater feats way above the number of people corresponding to the gazillion stars in the cosmos. We are told by Chazal that our actions and thoughts build and move worlds. Each neshama contains more energy than an Atom Bomb to say the least. It merely is miraculously suppressed and contained inside the body by the Ribbono Shel Olam.
Even more so! Until now we only talked about man power. Let us think for one second of light power. The measure of brightness and power of a star is called luminosity the amount of energy (light) that a star emits from its surface. It is usually expressed in watts and measured in terms of the luminosity of the sun. For example, the sun's luminosity is 400 trillion trillion watts.
Every star you see in the night sky is bigger and brighter than our sun. Now try to do this impossible math. How much watt power does a Yid possess in his neshama? The power of light that the Yid has is just unimaginable and unfathomable and Hashem says to Avraham כה יהיה זרעך so will be the qualitative power and light of your descendants.
Chazal say that the Birkas Kohanim that also begins with the word כה originates in the beracha of כה given to Avraham Avinu. In both scenarios we find the power of the individual being equal to unfathomable masses. That is why the people who bestow Yisrael with this beracha to be super powered in the form that one individual equals the power of the masses are called כהן which contain the first two letters of כה.
In a deeper thought, כה is gematriah 25 and it alludes to the twenty fifth word written in the Torah which is אור found in the passuk ויאמר אלקים יהי אור Hashem said let there be light. This light created on the first day of creation does not refer to the light of the sun and the moon since these luminaries were created on the fourth day of creation. This first light was a spiritual light by which a person could see from one end of the world to the other. This light would pierce through any object or solid and reveal its contents. It was this light that allows for the supernatural to enter the natural and super charge it to be many times its normal power. That is why the gematriah of כה is spelled with its inner letters כף הה equaling נס - miracle.
Our sefarim tell us that this miraculous light was revealed in the daily lighting of the Menorah in the Beis Hamikdash. Likewise Am Yisrael gleaned from that same light during Chanukah transforming the regular oil of the Menorah to burn with the quality of the supernatural. Chanukah is therefore on the 25th כ"ה day of Kislev alluding to the revelation of the אור הגנוז, this concealed light. The thirty six lights that we kindle during the eight days of Chanukah also allude to the thirty six hours that Adam Harishon benefited from this light until it was concealed from humanity and found only accessible through the learning of Torah. The Torah itself contains greater lights than the overwhelming math above which you haven't yet even attempted to compute.
Let us talk about an unsung hero when it comes to Chanukah. The Megaleh Amukos writes that the Greeks were against the powers of Yosef. אנטיוכס the ruler of the Greeks during the time of Chanukah is the same gematriah of יוסף just as the gematriah of מלך יון . In this week's parsha on the words וטבוח טבחוהכן (Berieshis 43,16) that Yosef prepared food for his brothers, the letters of חנוכה appear. Of all the 12 Shevatim, Yosef possessed supernatural qualities. The prophecies of Yosef concerning the celestial bodies bowing down to him, was fulfilled in his descendant Yehoshuah, who while fighting the Pelishtim, he halted the sun and the moon from their normal cycles. Likewise, when Am Yisrael were attacked by Amalek as soon as they left Mitzrayim, Yehoshuah was the individual chosen to lead the battle. The meforshim explain that Amalek came to fight Yisrael at the time when their mazal was at its peak point and they could not be naturally defeated. Only a descendant of Yosef who possessed supernatural qualities was able to defy the strongest natural forces.
Yosef had access to this Hidden Light revealed to Adam Harishon for 36 hours. This could be hinted to in Yaakov's special love to Yosef as it is written that Yaakov loved Yosef because כי בן זקונים הוא לו ויעש לו כתנת פסים that he received all the Torah that Yaakov learned in the yeshivos of Shem and Ever (Targum translates זקונים as חכים). The words of הוא לו seem superfluous. It would have been sufficient just to write ויאהב יעקב את יוסף מכל בניו כי בן זקנים הוא. The extra word לו refers to the אור הגנוז of 36 hours to which Yosef was privy to. His quality of זקנים Torah wisdom was הוא לו that he had access to the 36, to the supernatural.
Chazal say that the Greeks decreed, that everyone must write on the horn of an ox that they have no longer a relationship with Hashem. Yosef is the only Shevet that is described as an ox (Devarim 33,17). Their decree was to eradicate the notion that they possess this supernatural power which Hashem gifted to Yosef and after whom Klal Yisrael are named )Amos 5,15 שארית יוסף Rashi).
Yosef embodied the supernatural in another sense. For the ability of a single Yid without any other family or Jewish support, to be sold as a slave at the age 17, to literally overnight suddenly rise to power and take total control of a such a decadent country, and still remain the tzadik of his youth all these years, demonstrates a נס גדול היה שם a tremendous miracle happened in Mitzrayim. The words נס גדול (counting the two words and kollel) is gematriah יוסף. The words גדול and שם add up to במצרים (counting the word).
Yosef implanted in Pharaoh and Mitzrayim the Hashgacha of Hashem in the universe. Pharaoh even acknowledged this as he said (Bereishis 41,39) אחרי הודיע אלקים אותך את כל זאת אין נבון וחכם כמוך. Further on passuk 42 it says ויסר פרעה את טבעתו מעל ידו ויתן אותה על יד יוסף Pharaoh removed his ring from his hand and he gave it on the hand of Yosef. In a deeper sense the word טבעת contains the first three letters of טבע nature. Pharaoh thought that up until now nature was in his hands to control and manipulate through magic etc. With Yosef's appearance, he realized that Yosef who is supernatural and is the ambassador of Hashem, is the true individual who is in charge of טבע.
From all of the above we see that Yosef's supernatural infusion into the powers of Klal Yisrael made him a partner in bringing about the Yom Tov of Chanukah. No wonder why Chanukah always falls out on the reading of the parshiyos of Yosef's נס גדול.
Chanukah is the period of the year when we can be easily inspired to upgrade every mitzvah we fulfill and make it more qualitative, more kavannah and meaning, slower and precise, increased body and heart involvement, more awe and love of Hashem, increased preparation before fulfilling it etc. In the Maoz Tzur we say בני בינה ימי שמונה those with understanding realize that these eight days are "days of eight" ימי שמונה. Eight is the number which symbolizes the supernatural (natural associates with the number seven - Maharal). In these supernatural days let us synchronize our avodas Hashem with the same qualitative heartbeat and spiritual energy of these miraculous moments in time.
- Rabbi Shmuel Brazil