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Concerning the Hanukkah Candle

Article No. 09, Tav-Shin-Mem-Vav, 1985-86

It is written in Masechet Shabbat (23b): “Raba said, ‘Clearly, between ‘a candle for his house’ and a ‘Hanukkah candle,’ a candle for his house precedes because of domestic peace.” RASHI interprets that “candle of his house” refers to Shabbat [Sabbath], and he is poor and cannot afford to buy oil for two candles. As for domestic peace, it is as is said below, “My soul has been devoid of peace.” This is the lighting of the candles on Shabbat, when his household regret sitting in the dark.

However, a Hanukkah candle is not for domestic peace because it is forbidden to use its light, as we say after lighting Hanukkah candles, “These candles are holy; we have no permission to use them but only to see them.”

We should understand the following: 1) He explains that a Shabbat candle precedes a Hanukkah candle because of domestic peace. This requires explanation. Is this a good enough reason to cancel the Mitzva [commandment] of Hanukkah candles, which is so important because of the sanctity in them, to the point where our sages said that it is forbidden to use their light, as we say, “These candles are holy; we have no permission to use them but only to see them”? Do we cancel this Mitzva because of domestic peace, which is a corporeal matter? 2) We need to understand the connection between a Shabbat candle and domestic peace, which we learn from the verse, “My soul has been devoid of peace,” which is the lighting of candles on Shabbat.

To understand the above we must first explain the three above matters: 1) What is Shabbat? 2) What is domestic peace? 3) What is Hanukkah?

Our sages said that Shabbat is a similitude of the next word (Berachot, 57). Also, it is written in the Shabbat Evening Prayer: “You have sanctified the seventh day for Your name, the purpose of the creation of heaven and earth.” “Purpose” means that this is the purpose for which Heaven and Earth were created.

Also, it is known that the purpose of creation is to do good to His creations, meaning for the creatures to receive delight and pleasure, and this is called “the purpose of creation.” What precedes the purpose is the time of work. This brings up the question, “If the purpose is to do good, why this work?”

The answer is that in order to avoid the bread of shame we were given work, which is called the “correction of creation.” This means that through this correction we will be able to receive the delight and pleasure because we will already have equivalence of form with the Creator in the sense that the creatures wish to bestow upon the Creator as the Creator wishes to bestow upon the creatures. It turns out that working in order to bestow eliminates the bread of shame.

According to this, the work that we were given refers to the correction of creation and not to the purpose because the purpose is to enjoy and not to work. Thus, our need for correction does not refer to the pleasure, since the Creator gives it, as it is the purpose. But in order to receive the complete delight and pleasure—and complete means that we can receive the delight without feeling unpleasantness—we were given work because the work is that we have to change the Kelim [vessels] we have received by nature, and obtain different Kelim, called “vessels of bestowal.” When we receive the delight and pleasure in vessels of bestowal there is no place for unpleasantness upon receiving the abundance.

Two states explain to us the two discernments we described concerning achieving the complete purpose of creation: 1) The order of correction of creation that we work in Torah and Mitzvot [commandments] in order to bestow is regarded as using vessels of bestowal. This means that since there are deeds and there are intentions, in that state we use acts of bestowal, regarded as Torah and Mitzvot. These acts are regarded as engaging in the form of, “As He is merciful, so you are merciful.”

That is, man wants to bestow upon the Creator as the Creator wants to bestow upon the creatures. Therefore, if he acts like the Creator, meaning follows His ways, then the person wants the Creator to pay him for his work for the created beings. However, here there is also the work of the intention, which is to aim that the intention will be similar to the action because sometimes, although the act is giving, the aim is otherwise. That is, the reason he gives is in order to subsequently receive reward. This is called Lo Lishma [not for Her sake].

For this reason if a person wants to perform an act of giving there is a lot of work. And the reason that compels him to engage in giving is that he has a reason that causes him to give and not receive, meaning that usually, when we love someone a desire awakens in the heart to give to the loved one, since this expresses our love for that person.

Alternatively, an important person also awakens in our hearts to disclose love for him by giving him a gift. This is called “His mouth and heart are the same,” meaning that the act and the intention are the same and his heart does not harbor a different intent from the act of giving because the reason is the intention to bestow. This is called Lishma [for Her sake].

It is explained that in the second state, which is the purpose of creation, we can use the vessels of reception. This means that we engage in reception of pleasures but the reason we want to receive pleasure is not to satisfy our wishes, that we crave pleasures and this is why we now want to enjoy. Rather, there is a completely different reason here—the opposite of our action.

We crave to bestow upon the Creator, and for ourselves, we do not want to receive into our will to receive because it would separate us from the Creator. However, what can we give to the Creator so He will enjoy it? What can we say, so to speak, that He needs? There is only one thing we can say: Since He has created creation in order to delight His creatures, we want to receive the delight and pleasure because we want to satisfy His wish, which is to do good.

Now we can explain the question, “What is Hanukkah?” As we explained the first state, it is the work of correction of creation, which is to obtain the vessels of bestowal, with which we can then achieve the purpose of creation. We can call this “spirituality” because we do not want to do anything for ourselves, but only for the Creator, as our sages said, “An offering, meaning a burnt offering, is all for the Creator, completely spiritual.”

The miracle of Hanukkah was about spirituality, as we say (in the blessing “On the Miracles”), “When the wicked kingdom of Greece stood over Your people Israel to make them forget Your law and move them from the laws of Your will, You, with your many mercies, stood up for them at the time of their plight.”

According to what we explained, “spirituality” means using vessels of bestowal. The domination of the Greeks is expressed in forbidding anything that has to do with vessels of bestowal because there was control over the work of Torah and Mitzvot there, as well.

This was on the outside. It is far more so in the thought—they would govern the thought so they would be unable to aim anything for the Creator. Rather, they wanted the people of Israel to be immersed in self-love, by which they will be separated from the Creator. All the thoughts of the Sitra Achra [Other Side] are only about removing them from the Creator, and remoteness and separation come only by disparity of form, known as “self-love.”

Baal HaSulam said about what our sages asked ( Shabbat, 21b), “What is Hanukkah?” He explained that the answer is Hanu [parked] Koh [here/thus far], meaning that they parked here. This means that Chaf– Hey [ Koh/25th] of Kislev [the date when Hanukkah begins] was not the end of the war, but only a pause. It is like an army that wants to start a new, major assault, so it lets the soldiers rest and regain their strength so they can continue the war. He said that there are fools who think that they received the order not to go forward into enemy territory but to rest because they have finished the war and there is no need to defeat the enemy anymore.

It turns out that Hanukkah is still not the completion of the goal, but only the correction of creation. It completes the vessels of bestowal, meaning acts of bestowal, and this is why it is forbidden to use the light of Hanukkah, since using is an act of reception, and the miracle was only on acts of giving—that they can do them and aim to bestow, which is called Lishma.

The miracle was that they emerged from the domination of the Greeks and could go with faith above reason. But the Klipa [shell/peel] of the Greeks was governing Israel so as not to do anything unless he knows why and what purpose this work will bring him, and especially to aim everything above reason.

According to what we explained, it follows that although a Hanukkah candles implies a spiritual miracle, which is that the people of Israel were liberated from the dominion of the Greeks, it was only half a thing. That is, only the vessels of bestowal were corrected by the miracle of Hanukkah, and this is regarded as correction of creation, but still not the purpose of creation.

But Shabbat, which is a similitude of the next world, is regarded as the purpose of heaven and earth, regarded as the “purpose of creation,” meaning the completion of the final purpose. That is, a likeness of what will appear at the end of correction illuminates on Shabbat.

Therefore, Shabbat is the time for reception of pleasure, meaning that we are using vessels of reception and only need to aim in order to bestow. This is regarded as all the people in the world having to achieve this degree, as it is written, “For no outcast shall be outcast from Him.” Rather, everyone will achieve the goal in full, meaning to receive, but in order to bestow.

Now we will explain what we asked about the connection between Shabbat and domestic peace. It is known that “house” is called Malchut, who is the receiver of the upper abundance in vessels of reception in order to bestow. However, Malchut has many names, and the name “house” indicates wholeness, as it is written in the Sulam (Ladder commentary on The Zohar, Noah, p 88, item 249): “You should know that when a person is in full wholeness, he is regarded as dwelling in the house. The word ‘house’ implies Nukva de ZA, who illuminates in Mochin de GAR, as it is written, ‘A house shall be built with wisdom.’ Therefore, those who receive from her are regarded as dwelling in the house. However, when a person needs corrections because he is incomplete, he needs keeping so the outer ones do not grip him and make him sin. Therefore, he must come out of the house because he is forbidden to receive these high Mochin for fear that the outer ones will suck from him. He must go out to the path of the Creator, meaning receive the corrections he needs. At that time he is permitted to receive Mochin from the Zivug of ZA and Leah, for because they are Ohr Hassadim that is covered in Hochma, there is no suckling from them to the outer ones. These Mochin are called ‘hostel’ because they are intended for travelers. Therefore, although Noah was righteous and wholehearted, he compares him to a traveling guest.”

Thus, we see that we should make two discernments in the order of the work: 1) a state called “house,” 2) a state called “traveling guest.” When a person is still incomplete, he must come out and be in a state of traveling guest, which is the path of the Creator, in order to receive corrections, by which he will achieve wholeness. This is why these people are called “traveling guests,” for they are still in the middle of the way and have not achieved the goal they should achieve.

Although they are righteous, like Noah, who was righteous and wholehearted, he was still deficient because he corrected only the vessels of bestowal, called “spiritual vessels.” As mentioned above, this is called the “correction of creation,” since he can already bestow in order to bestow, which his called Lishma.

By this we understand what the Hanu-Koh [Hanukkah] candle comes to imply—it is only a pause and not the end of the work. For this reason, it is forbidden to use the light of the Hanukkah candle because the miracle was on spiritual vessels, and vessels of bestowal cannot be used so as to enjoy the light. This is why they are only to be seen.

But a Shabbat candle—where Shabbat is regarded as “the purpose of heaven and earth,” which is a similitude of the next world—is called the “purpose of creation,” to do good to His creations: that they will receive delight and pleasure. Hence, this light is received in vessels of reception, called “receiving in order to bestow.” That is, they are using the vessels of reception.

This is called a “house,” as in “A house shall be built with wisdom,” where Malchut is the root of the souls, called “assembly of Israel,” and receives abundance for the souls. When the lower ones are fit for reception of Ohr Hochma [Light of Wisdom], it is called Mochin [light/pleasure] de Shabbat, meaning Mochin de Hochma, and Mochin de Hochma is the light of the purpose of creation. It follows that Hanukkah candle and Shabbat candle imply two dissimilar discernments.

Now we will explain what we asked about the connection between domestic peace and Shabbat, for which our sages said that it precedes the Hanukkah candle. The Sefira [sin. of Sefirot] Yesod is called “domestic peace” because it bestows upon Malchut, since Malchut is the root of the souls. When Malchut is as a dot, meaning that it illuminates only as a tiny dot, the souls do not have the abundance they need. This is called “Shechina [Divinity] in exile.” At that time the Klipot [shells/peels] prevail and wish to control matters of sanctity, and there is a lot of work for the lower ones. This created the division between Kedusha [holiness] and Tuma’a [impurity].

Upon the arrival of Yesod de Gadlut [adulthood/greatness], it imparts the upper abundance to Malchut, meaning imparts upon her the light of Hochma. At that time domestic peace is made, as it is written, “When a man’s ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies be at peace with him.” This is why Yesod is called “peace,” since it makes domestic peace, when the powers of Klipa are cancelled, as it is written, “When Shabbat begins, it becomes unique and separates from the Sitra Achra, and all are crowned with new souls” (Kegavna [a prayer] on Shabbat Eve).

It follows that when the “house,” which is Malchut, receives the abundance of Shabbat, peace is made, and then all the judgments are removed from her. This is why the Shabbat candle implies the abundance of the end of correction, while the Hanukkah candle indicates the light attained in the middle of the work, which is in order to be able to continue and complete the work. This is why a Shabbat candle is called “domestic peace,” after the abundance that comes from Yesod to Malchut.

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