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Shabbat Parashat Miketz 5776

Ein Ayah: The Light of the Soul Surviving Through History

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 2:12)

Gemara: When the Household of the Chashmonaim defeated [the Greeks], they checked and found only one flask with a seal of the Kohen Gadol, and there was only enough to light for one day. A miracle occurred with it, and they lit from it for seven days. 

 

Ein Ayah: The contamination of the oil represents the harming of the characteristics and philosophies, the most extreme calamity that affected the essence of the Jewish nation, which befell it when the Greeks ruled. The Greeks weakened the belief in such basics as the unity of Hashem. However, just as a kohen’s status indicates that he is to teach the laws of the Torah and sanctity to the nation, so too every Jew has an element of kehuna within him, as a member of the “kingdom of priests.” The inclination for a life of sanctity, Torah knowledge, and its fulfillment is hidden in the depths of the Jewish heart. We have explained that the idea behind the owner eating ma’aser sheni in holy surroundings is the idea of inspiring every Jew to find his soul’s priestly element. 

The element of kehuna that encompasses a Jew’s activities throughout life was susceptible to being defiled by the Greeks. However, deeper in the heart dwells the light of the Jewish soul, which connects to the basic belief in Hashem, the G-d of Israel, and the strong desire to cling to the vestiges of his religion despite all pressure. This sacred part of the Jewish soul is parallel to the Kohen Gadol’s entrance into the Holy of Holies to serve on the holy day on which we are separated from the physical world. That small flask with the Kohen Gadol’s seal was impervious to Greek impurity. In other words, the most powerful men could not uproot from Israel their inner connection to Hashem, as is written (Shir Hashirim 8:7): “Great waters could not extinguish the love, and rivers could not wash it away.”

However, when the flask is small, i.e., when the belief is hidden well and does not exhibit its existence in regard to one’s practical life, it is difficult for it to survive. After all, life has gone in a direction that is contradictory to this belief. Thus, the flame could be extinguished under the pile of burnt out materials that prevent it from spreading. This is the wonder of the special concealed light. Even when it encounters a lifestyle and philosophies that are antithetical to it and the person is unaware of the light within him, it is not extinguished. Hashem will arrange a reawakening of the nation that He chose and the spark will lead a process that will uproot the foreign influences that threatened to choke and extinguish it. The growing flame will spread among the hearts of Bnei Yisrael and return them to their Father in Heaven. This will prevail until the powers of practical life, which already are following a Torah lifestyle, will revive Israel and return the people’s light until the present era ends and a new light will shine over Zion, through the geula shleima.

At the time of the great confusion caused by the Greeks, whose lifestyle spread throughout Eretz Yisrael, leaving just a spark deep in the hearts of Israel, the flask of oil characterized the situation. Indeed, there was oil that survived, pure with the kohen gadol’s seal. The question was whether that oil would be able to provide light, when it was not supported by enough other oil, i.e., proper Jewish lifestyles. Ostensibly the oil could only last for one day, i.e., for the direct period in which the reawakening had occurred. Without a connection to practical observance, it would certainly die down. However, there was a miracle, and the light of belief in Hashem did not leave His people. Even without preparation for strong observance, it lasted for eight days. This hints at the long period until that future day when knowledge of Hashem will fill the world like the waters cover the ocean bed (see Yeshaya 11:9)
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Dedication

Mazal tov to

Shemaya Yehuda Heller

on the occasion

 of his bar mitzvah.

Mazal tov also

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and grandparents,

George & Riki Freudenstein

(proofreader of Hemdat Yamim)

 

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Orit bat Miriam

 

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