AIMeM wishes all its subscribers a wonderful Chanuka!
We are told that the origin of the name “חנוכה” comes from the phrase, “חנו-כה” “they rested on the 25th”, referring to when the Jews in the desert finished working on the Mishkan (Tabernacle) on the 25th of Kislev, the same day that the miracle of Chanukah took place one thousand years later. Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berdichev in his sefer, Kedushas Levi, asks why this is worthy to name a holiday after? If this is the reason, why didn’t they call Purim “חנו-יד” since the Jews rested on the 14th day of Adar?
Reb Levi Yitzchak explains that first we must understand what the purpose of a chag is. There is a concept in kabbalah that time does not go in a straight line, but rather in a circle. This means that whenever Rosh Hashanah comes around, the events and miracles that happened on previous Rosh Hashanahs are brought to light again. The same is true with Chanukah, Purim, Pesach, and the rest of the chagim. Whenever we light the Chanukah candles, all the miracles that happened to the Chashmonaim are “revealed” to us.
So how come certain miracles were picked as holidays and not others? For instance, why didn’t the Rabbanan decide to commemorate the miracle of Sancheireb (see Sanhedrin 94) or Sisrah (see sefer Shoftim Perek 3)? The answer is that only miracles which had an effect on our good character were picked. These miracles are the ones strong enough to be renewed by us every year on their anniversary. However, these other miracles happened without us having to undergo any major character changes, so they won’t have as much power.
This, by the way, will answer a halachic question. The brachah, “שעשה ניסים לאבותינו בימים ההם בזמן הזה” “…who performed miracles for our forefathers in those days, in these times”, is a little strange. How come it sounds as if the miracle is still continuing? It should read, “ובזמן הזה” “and in these times”? According to this, the reason is because the miracles are still in effect until this very day!
In summary, every year on the anniversary of an important miracle, we celebrate because in reality, that day is really the renewing of the same miracle many years later. Based on this, the Kedushas Levi answers that since Chanukah is the first chag after Rosh Hashanah (and Succos, but he includes all the Tishrei- Chagim together), it has an additional point of renewing the entire year full of miracles. The word “חנוכה” is the same as “חנוכת”, which means dedication or inauguration. Because this chag dedicates the whole year of holidays, it is called “חנוכה”.
May we all work this Chanukah to make it truly the beginning of a new year of miracles, where the anniversaries of these great events are renewed nowadays and we will have the same hashgachah today as we did then.
For any questions, comments, or to subscribe to our email list, please email us at AIMeMtorah@gmail.com.
Please check out our other AIMeMTorah project, Nation's Wisdom!