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The best of both worlds

By Rabbi Aharon Gabbay
January 5, 2017

There are two events in Klal Yisrael which seem very similar on the surface, but when analysed in depth, they are clear to be far from the same. The stories of Chanukah and Purim tell of the attempt to annihilate the Jewish people, Chanukah by the Greeks and Purim by the Persians. Both nations with their military power sought to destroy the Jewish nation and heritage. Religious practice was forbidden and the Jews succumbed to oppression. Haman poisoned the mind of Achashverosh misleading him to believe Jews hated the Persians. He claimed they would remove a fly from their wine and drink it, but would dispose of it if it were touched by the king himself. The Greeks attempted to remove the cornerstone of Judaism by preventing the Jews from keeping their calendar; disorientating them from their religious way of life. In both events a terrible battle took place and the Jewish nation was successful in their counter attacks and their opponents perished.

However, when we take a deeper look, there is more than meets the eye. Purim teaches us the events  around one man (Haman) seeking mass genocide against our nation. Haman was. A massive battle took place and the Jewish nation was victorious. The Purim story is portraying all things physical, there are four Mitsvot which all entail physical activities  and when the Jewish people are attacked they respond with a full skirmish. Purim is when the physical world has the driver seat and in turn the spiritual world will react accordingly. When we want to drown out the name of Haman we use a “gragger” which all the effort is done underneath and the result is above, signifying the work being down here in the physical world and the result being a wondrous outcome in the world above.

In contrast, on Chanukah, the Greeks sought to displace the Torah and religious activities and not to physically harm us. They wanted to sever the spiritual connection that the Bnei Yisrael have with their Creator. The battle that took place was with a small battalion of Jewish warriors against an entire Greek legion. The story of Chanukah evidently signifies all things spiritual and teaches us that when there is a decree against the Jewish religion, the response is a spiritual one where the Torah is stood by and Mitsvot are still performed. We use fire to light the Menorah which is a spiritual element, something that cannot be touched. With the Dreidel that we spin, the work is done from above and the outcome is below signifying the spiritual world taking lead, spiralling down into a physical world causing great effect.

Chanukah is a unique time of the year where there is a specific bond between Bnei Yisrael and Hashem. There is endless kedushah pouring into our world. We should take advantage of this opportunity and utilise more of our time for Torah and Mitsvot.



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