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The Miracle of Hanukkah

Article No. 07, Tav-Shin-Mem-Zayin, 1986-87

In the Hanukkah poem, we say, “Greeks,” etc., “and from the one remnant of the jars, a miracle was made for the roses. Sons of Bina [understanding], eight days, established song and chanting.” The interpreters ask, “Why did they make the days of Hanukkah eight?” After all, they had oil for one night, and the miracle was that it burned seven more days. Therefore, according to the miracle, they should have set it only for seven days.”

They explained that since there remained on the first night from the oil that was needed for the first night, so the miracle on the first night was that not all the oil burned, but rather some of the oil burned and the rest remained seven more days.

This means that their finding the oil jar that was sealed with the seal of the High Priest is not regarded as a miracle, although it was a miracle that the Greeks did not see the oil jar. Instead, he regards a miracle as that which was unnatural, and that which was done above nature is regarded as a miracle, since the oil jar was in the world but they did not see it.

This is not so with the oil. Of the measure required for lighting during one night, only a small part of the oil burned. That small part, which was blessed, burned longer. This was unnatural. That is, it is not according to nature to burn longer than predicted. It follows that what was left of the first night, the fact that not all the oil burned, this is called “a miracle,” since this did not exist in the world.

We should interpret in the work the meaning of the Greeks, the oil jar, and the eight days of Hanukkah—that they established specifically eight days. That is, what do the eight days imply? In other words, why was it not nine or ten days, but rather the miracle lasted only eight days? In the literal Torah, it is said in the name of Rokach that the reason why the miracle lasted only eight days and not longer was because the place of the olives, from which the oil is brought, was four days’ walk there, and four days’ walk back, thus eight days. This answers why the miracle did not last longer than eight days.

It is known that our work, in which we need to exert in every way, is only to achieve equivalence of form, called Dvekut [adhesion]. Only then is it possible to achieve the purpose of creation—to do good to His creations—meaning to revelation.

But before the creatures obtain the Kelim [vessels] of equivalence of form, the purpose of creation cannot be revealedto everyone. Rather, it is concealed and we must merely believe that it is with the intention to do good.

What was revealed to everyone contradicts the good, since each one always feels deficiency in his life, and always lives with grievances against the upper guidance. He finds it difficult to say that he is enjoying his life and say all day long, “Blessed is the Lord.” That is, I am grateful to You for dealing with me benevolently.

Instead, a person’s life is always full of lacks and pains. He always sees that there is no meaning to his life, when he begins to think about life’s purpose, namely the benefits he gains while suffering the war of life.

This means that only when he tastes some pleasure, the pleasure intoxicates him and he loses his mind and reason and forgets to think about life’s purpose. But when the pleasure in which he is immersed departs from him, for whatever reason, he immediately begins to ponder life’s purpose.

Only when one has nothing with which to nourish his body, meaning when he does not feel pleasure, he immediately begins to think about life’s purpose. That is, a person asks himself “What is the meaning of my life? For what purpose was I born in the world? Was creation made so there would be creatures that suffer torments and pains in the world?”

That state causes one to begin to contemplate life’s purpose—what is it and what is it for. This is regarded as a person raising his head from the currents of life, where all the creatures are, and they have no time to think about what they are. Rather, they go with the flow where the water goes. And there is no one who can see the end, meaning where the flow of life is leading.

Only he, because the lack of pleasure causes him to raise his head up in order to look at life’s purpose, at that time he sees and hears as though a clarion from above tells him that the world was created with the intention to do good to His creations. But in order to taste that benefit, he is told by books and authors that there are conditions in order to achieve that good, called “the purpose of creation.” The Creator demands that they first meet these conditions, or He will not want to give them the delight and pleasure.

However, it is not that He requires these conditions, meaning that the Creator’s demands of man are for the sake of the Creator, and if the creatures do not abide by these conditions He will not want to give to them. With flesh and blood, if we want the seller to give us something then the seller sets the conditions for the customer, which, if he meets them, the seller will agree to give, but the conditions are in favor of the seller.

Conversely, the Creator is not deficient or needs the lower ones to meet the conditions required of them, as it is written, “If he is right, what will he give you?” Rather, these conditions that the Creator sets before them are for man’s sake.

We can see that this is like a person telling his friend, “I want to give you much silver and gold, but you must meet one condition or you will not receive anything from me.” His friend asks: “What is it you require that I will give you so that you will give me the silver and gold?” So he tells him, “Bring me large and small sacks so you can fill them with silver and gold. But you must know that for my part, there are no limitations on how much you will take. Rather, the amount of silver and gold depends on your limits. That is, as many Kelim [vessels] as you will bring me I will fill, not more and not less, but exactly that. This is the condition I am setting before you. Certainly, there is no doubt that the conditions that his friend requires are not for the sake of the giver, but everything is for the sake of the receiver.

Here, in the work of the Creator, where one must meet the demands that the Creator demands, they are only for man’s sake. However, a person thinks that they are for the sake of the Creator. And since man was created with a will to receive, he cannot understand anything of what needs to be done unless he sees that it is to his own benefit. But here he is told that the Creator wants us to work for Him and not for our own benefit. For this reason, the body resists these works. This is our work—we must go against our nature. This is called “work.”

But when one works and feels the reward he is receiving from the work—that it is for his own sake—he does not feel that this is called “work,” meaning that he wants to be rid of the work, since this, too, exists in man’s nature: He does not want to eat the bread of shame because our root is not receiving or deficient.

For this reason, when one feels that he is receiving something without anything in return, there is the bread of shame there and he is ashamed to receive. Therefore, a person does not resent having to work. Rather, one can regret being paid less than he thinks he is worth.

It follows that if a person knows he will be rewarded for his work, this is not considered “work.” But in the work of the Creator, it is regarded as work because he is required to work without any reward, which is called “working not in order to receive reward.” This is not in our nature, which is why this is called “work.” This is why our body resists these works and always has grievances with the Creator for giving us such hard work that we must work against our nature.

Thus, what do we need in order to be able to work in order to bestow? It is one thing: If we believe that although we do not see it right away, since our bodies do not show us the truth, if we exert to believe that working in order to bestow is in our favor, since that we need these sacks, as said in the allegory, that the sacks we are preparing are all of our Kelim for reception of the delight and pleasure, it follows that all the work that is with the aim to bestow makes part of the Kli [vessel] that is fit to receive the abundance. Also, every effort joins into the complete amount until we have a complete Kli fit for reception of the light.

However, it is difficult to believe and tell ourselves that what He gives is our vessels of reception to receive in it the delight and pleasure that are in the purpose of creation to do good to His creations.

Accordingly, we can interpret the matter of the governance of the Greeks, which is the opposite of the way of Judaism. The matter of the Greeks is that we must go only within reason in both mind and heart. Naturally, when Israel wanted to go above reason and not consider what the outer mind necessitates, they could not.

This is called the war against the Greeks. This is when the real work begins, namely that the people of Israel wanted to mount the track that leads to Dvekut [adhesion] with the Creator. This path is called “faith above reason.” The Greeks wanted to control the body so it will not relinquish anything unless the reason agrees to it. Once this prevailed, and once that prevailed, and this caused one to have ascents and descents.

This, the reason, is the reason and the cause. That is, once a person has decided that he must go with faith above reason, as a result, an awakening from above comes to him and he begins to feel a good taste in the work of the Creator. At that time, it is human nature, since he loves to rest, for this reason he says, “Thank God that now I do not have to work with myself and assume the work of the Creator in the form of faith. Rather, now I feel good and my reason agrees to take upon itself to engage in Torah and Mitzvot [commandments] since now I feel contentment.”

He accepts this awakening as a basis and a foundation for the work of the Creator. That is, the basis of the flavor that he feels now, on this he builds his entire Judaism. It therefore follows that now he is blemishing the faith and says, “It is a shame that this awakening did not come to me right away, when I began the work. Then, I would not have to go above reason, meaning against the view of the body. Rather, I would need to believe what is received from books and from authors—that we must assume the burden of the kingdom of heaven although the body disagrees that this is good for me, and to believe that only in this state, when the body disagrees, is the best way for me.”

In other words, he believes above reason that only the path of working with mind and heart is good for him, meaning that then he will find the happiness that the Creator has prepared for him. It is very hard to believe this. But now he does not need to believe that this is so. Rather, he feels that indeed, observing Torah and Mitzvot will bring him happiness, since he feels that this is so, and he does not need to believe it.

It turns out that this is the real reason that later causes his descent, since his foundation is built on pleasure rather than on bestowal. If he remains with this foundation, he will never achieve Dvekutwith the Creator because as long as he is on this path, everything will fall into the Klipot[shells/peels] of the will to receive for himself.

Baal HaSulam said that when a person receives feeling and reason from above, when the body, too, begins to say that it is worthwhile to engage in Torah and work, one should be careful and say that he does not take this feeling and reason as a basis and foundation, “as the reason why I have decided that now it is worthwhile to work, since the body agrees to this work because of the pleasure I am receiving.”

Instead, he should say, “Now I see that this path, which is above reason, is a true path, since I see that it has granted me with being favored in the eyes of the Creator, that He is bringing me closer. For this reason, now I am fond of the Kedusha [sanctity/holiness], as well, and I feel the importance of the Kedusha—that it is worthwhile to work only for the sake of the Creator. For this reason, what should I do now? Brace myself and walk only on this path called ‘faith above reason,’ for by this I will be rewarded with permanent Dvekut with the Creator.”

It thus follows that specifically by being granted some good taste in the work, from this they took support for the path of faith. It follows that the basis of the faith grows stronger through the delight and pleasure that he now feels in the work.

Now we will explain the miracle of Hanukkah, as well, that they defeated the Greeks, meaning that they were rewarded with faith and felt good taste in this work, and did not go and take the delight and pleasure as a basis and foundation for work within reason, which is regarded as Greeks. On the contrary, they said that being rewarded with good taste in the work is a testimony that the path of faith is the true path, unlike the view of the Greeks.

Had they gone by the way of the Greeks, meaning that delight and pleasure would henceforth be their basis and foundation, that this would be their support to sustain their work, they would immediately descend from their degree, as this is the main reason why a person suffers a descent from his state. This is to his benefit, so he will not fall into the Klipa [shell/peel] of the Greeks. It follows that this descent is a great correction. Otherwise, everything he adds would only build the Klipa of the Greeks.

Therefore, there are two ways when coming to that state called an “ascent”:

1) To say that now he is liberated from the burden of faith. That is, until now he suffered because each time he had to assume the burden of the kingdom of heaven, the body always resisted it.

For example, when one must rise before dawn to go to his regular lessons, as soon as he opens his eyes and wants to get up, the body promptly comes and asks, “But you are enjoying the rest, you are lying in bed, and you must give up this pleasure!”

This can be as is done in commerce. That is, we relinquish the pleasure of money in order to obtain something that will bring us a pleasure that we need more. In other words, we will receive greater pleasure than money.

It is known that the value of every pleasure is measured by the need. For example, a person loves rest, but relinquishes rest for money. A person loves money but relinquishes it in favor of eating and drinking, etc. A person loves to eat and drink, but sometimes he avoids it if he knows it is bad for his health. It follows that he has relinquished eating and drinking in order to obtain health.

For this reason, the body asks the person, when he wants to rise before dawn to serve the Creator, telling him: “What do you think you will gain now if you relinquish the rest?” When he tells it, “I want to gain the next world by observing the King’s commandment,” the body replies, “Fine, you can get up in the morning like all other people. Why are you rushing to rise sooner than others? You have the whole day to observe Torah and Mitzvot!”

At that time the person says to his body: “Know that there is the world in general, called ‘ordinary people,’ and there are people who do not go with the flow, but want to be exceptional. That is, they want to be rewarded with the goal for which they were created, which is called ‘Dvekut with the Creator,’ ‘Torah Lishma [for Her sake].’ Our sages said that we can be awarded this by learning Torah after midnight, as explained in The Zohar, and this is also accepted among those who want to obtain anything in their lives.”

At that time the body comes with strong arguments and says to him: “You’d be right if this were as you say, that you have a lofty goal in your life, and you want me to assist you in your role. But, you see how much work and efforts you have put into this work in order to come to work Lishma, and you see that you have not moved an inch, meaning to have more desire to work in bestowal. If you calculate honestly, you will see the opposite—that you regressed by ten degrees! That is, now you have a greater will to receive than before you began the work on bestowal. Therefore, you see that you are not exceptional. You are like everyone else! Therefore, it is better if you enjoy the rest of staying in bed, and don’t tell me nonsense, that you are better than everyone else.”

With these arguments, which are true arguments, meaning that reasonably speaking, he calculates and sees that it is one hundred percent correct and there is nothing to reply to it. At that time, he does not always manage to overcome with faith above reason and tell the body: “Although you are correct with your arguments and common sense dictates following your way, I will go above reason.”

This is a lot of work because at that time a person suffers bodily torments as the body pricks him with slandering the work above reason. For this reason, when some awakening comes to him and he begins to feel some flavor in Torah and Mitzvot, when he feels a little bit of an ascent, he says, “Thank God I don’t have to go by the path of faith above reason, but that reason, too, says it is worthwhile to observe Torah and Mitzvot.” And as soon as he blemishes faith, saying, “Now I am relieved from the burden of faith,” this is the reason that he soon suffers a descent from his state because he has blemished the faith.

2) The second way is to say, “Now I see that the real way is to go above reason and not take feeling delight and pleasure as a basis on which to take upon myself henceforth to engage in Torah and Mitzvot. Rather, I want to work without any basis of delight and pleasure, since the idea is to work in order to bring contentment to the Creator. Therefore, how can I rely on the basis of delight and pleasure to build my Judaism? Thus, what should I do when I feel good taste in the work?”

At that time he should say what Baal HaSulam said, that he can receive his good feeling not as a basis, but as a testimony. That is, he should say, “Now I see that the path of above reason is the real way by which the Creator wants to be served. And the evidence of this is that I see that He has brought me closer by removing His concealment from me and I have been granted feeling His kindness and mercy—that He wants to bestow delight and pleasure upon the creatures, for this is the purpose of creation.”

However, in order not to come to separation by receiving from Him delight and pleasure, since reception of pleasure is in disparity of form from Him, this is why He has made the Tzimtzum[restriction] and concealment. But when we go by faith above reason, the body has no contact, but to the contrary, the body resists the work above reason. But now that I have gone above reason, He has removed from me some of His concealment. Thus, henceforth I will grow stronger and walk only in the path of faith above reason.

By this he will not fall into the trap of self-reception, called “separation from Kedusha.” On the contrary, now he will begin to work more forcefully with mind and heart, and the Creator will not throw him once again into the bottomless pit called “receiving in order to receive.” Rather, he will remain in a state of ascent. Moreover, he will ascend to a degree of greater revelation because he is not blemishing the faith, which is the keeping that one will not fall into the vessels of reception.

It therefore follows that in a state of ascent he has two ways. But how can a person win and walk in the path of the people of Israel and not in the path of the Greeks, which let him see that within reason they will be greater servants because reason agrees with this path more than with the path of faith?

Baal HaSulam explained the quarrel between the herdsmen of Abram’s cattle and the herdsmen of Lot’s cattle (Genesis 13:7). He said that “cattle” means possessions. Abram’s possession was only faith. This is the meaning of the word Av-Ram [Abram (High Father)], meaning that the father in heaven is high, above reason. “Herdsmen” means that he was sustaining only the possession of his faith. That is, he always sought sustenance—how he could sustain the faith so it has power and might, and not fail in the reason.

This is not so with the herdsmen of Lot’s cattle. The Zohar says that Lot comes from the [Aramaic] word eltlatia, meaning “curse.” That is, the herdsmen of Lot’s cattle were sustaining the possession of knowing and receiving. From this there cannot come a blessing, only a curse, for it is the opposite of bestowal, while blessing is only where one engages in bestowal.

In other words, the Kelim with which we can receive the upper abundance are specifically Kelim that give. With these Kelim we can receive. But with Kelim that want to receive, the upper abundance cannot enter due to oppositeness of form. Now we can understand the two ways that a person has when he has received some ascent in spirituality.

Yet, with what can we decide toward the good, called “faith,” meaning to be in the state of “the herdsmen of Abram’s cattle”? Baal HaSulam said in the name of The Baal Shem Tov that when one can do two opposite things and he cannot decide between them, the advice is to choose that which demands of him more effort. This is what he should choose for himself, since where there is labor, where the body disagrees, this is certainly Kedusha. He should hurry and do this, and take upon himself to do. It follows that here, too, he has two ways: 1) the way of faith, 2) the way of knowledge.

He should choose for himself the way of faith since the body does not agree to this, as it is toward Kedusha, meaning toward the desire to bestow, while the body wants the exact opposite. Therefore, it turns out that what is the determining factor? It is that the body rejects and regards the matter is redundant and superfluous. That is, he has no need for this and does not know why it is required in the first place. For this reason, it always wants to get rid of this matter of faith.

It therefore follows that the miracle that happens to a person, that he can decide for the side of Kedusha, is not a matter of intellect. Rather, it is something that the body deems redundant, which is the labor. The body loathes it and regards the whole matter of labor as redundant. But precisely from this redundancy, meaning what a person leaves and does not want or crave, from here comes to him the miracle remaining in Kedusha.

This is the meaning of “From the one remnant of the jars, a miracle was made for the roses.” A jar is as it is written, that Rabbi Meir purified the vermin with one hundred and fifty flavors. It means that in every thing there are views both ways. With what can we scrutinize? It is with what remains, meaning with what the body deems redundant, what it regards as nothing. This is faith above reason, and only by this can we be saved from falling into the trap of the Klipot.

This is the meaning of the jar of oil that they found, which was sealed by the seal of the High Priest. A Kohen [priest] is called Hesed [mercy/grace]. “High” means Hesed that became Hochma, meaning abundance of Hassadim, called “Priest.” The priest is the quality of Hesed, and Hesed indicates faith above reason. This is the meaning of Abraham, the quality of Hesed, being the father of faith.

The Greeks cannot see faith because they see only through reason, and not above reason. Therefore, when they walked above reason, the Greeks could not govern them. This is the meaning of the Greeks not seeing the oil jar.

And concerning the miracle that it burned eight days, it is an indication that it illuminated the Hassadim in Bina. From Bina to Malchut there are eight Sefirot, but Hochma of Hochma did not illuminate. This is why they established it as eight days, since it illuminated only in eight, as it is written, “Sons of Bina [understanding], eight days, established song and chanting.”

Inapoi la pagina 1987 (ŞLAVEY HASULAM (TREPTELE SCĂRII) – link

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