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During the Second Temple, the Greek empire reigned (over Israel),1 and they (the Greeks) passed decrees against the Jews and (tried) to erase their religion, and did not allow them to carry out Torah (study) or the commandments. They put their hands on their property and their daughters. They entered the Temple, destroyed and made the pure unclean. The Jews were in great distress because of them and were much oppressed, until the G-d of their fathers had mercy on them, delivering them from their hands and saving them. Then overcame, the sons of the Hasmonean High Priest, (the Greeks) and killed them and saved the Jews from their hands. They appointed a king from the Priests, and the kingdom of Israel was restored for more than 200 years until the destruction of (the) second (Temple). When the Jews overcame their enemies and destroyed them, it was the 25th of Kislev2 when they entered the Sanctuary (inner room) and did not find pure (olive) oil in the Temple, except one jar sealed with seal of the High Priest, and it did not contain enough to light except for one day only. But they lit from it the lamps of the Menorah3 for eight days, until they could crush olives and produce a (new quantity) of pure oil. For these reasons, decreed the Sages of that generation that these eight days that begin on the 25th Kislev, will be days of joy and praise. One lights on them lamps at evening at the entrance to the houses, every evening of the eight nights to show off and demonstrate the miracle. These days are called ''Hanukah'' that is to say ''they rested'' (chanu) on the ''25'' ('th of the month) because on the 25th they rested from their enemies. and also because of those days they (re)-dedicated the house (Temple) which their foes had defiled. Also some say that it is a commandment to increase slightly the festive meals on Hanukah. Another reason is because the work of (building) the Sanctuary (in the desert) was completed in these days. One should tell one's children the story of the miracles that were done for our fore-fathers in those days, (see Josephus) However, these meals are not considered as part of the commandment unless one says at the meal songs of praise. One should increase charity in these Hanukah days, for this can help mend any defects in our souls. This charity, should be given particularly to poor Torah scholars. (KSA 139:1)
1) 352 BCE until 70 CE
2) 139 BCE
3) The Menorah was made of gold and had seven branches.
This weeks Parsha relates one of the most difficult stories which took place in the Midbar. With Bnei Yisroel complaining about the lack of water after the death of Miriam, Hashem instructs Moshe to “speak” to the rock and it would yield water. (Chukas 20:8) Instead, Moshe Rabbeinu “strikes” the rock. The rock does in fact yield water but Hashem tells Moshe that on account of his not “believing in him”, he would not be Zoche to lead Bnei Yisroel into Eretz Yisroel. (20:12) This leaves us to deal with the age old question – How could Moshe Rabbeinu hit the rock. Why on this singular occasion did he deviate from Hashem’s instruction?
In order to properly answer this question, it is helpful to understand some basic tenets of the Rambam. The Rambam teaches that every Midda a person should have in moderation, not too little not too much. As an example, the Rambam states that even generosity can be had in too great a quantity where one would give everything he has to others and be left with nothing to eat. The Rambam cites his conviction about moderation in many other contexts as well. (See the Rambam’s discourse on the Shemoneh Parakim as well as numerous references contained in Hilchos Daus). Curiously, the Rambam makes one very specific exception to his rule of moderation. This exception is with respect to the mida of Ka’as – Anger. The Rambam states that this mida one should not have at all, not even in moderation. The Rambam explains that anger causes people to lose control of one’s self and can cause them to say and do things that they do not mean. In effect, he describes anger as allowing us to do things out of character since at that moment we are not in complete control of ourselves.
With this Rambam, we can begin to understand what may have caused Moshe Rabbeinu to be Nichshal this one time. In the Pasuk after Hashem instructs Moshe how to deal with the outcry from B’nei Yisroel, Moshe picks up his Mateh and says to B’nei Yisroel, “Shimu Na Hamorim – listen to me you rebels!!”. He then proceeds to strike the rock. (20:10) In that one moment, whether out of frustration for the repeated rebellions by B’nei Yisroel or something else, Moshe Rabbeinu got angry. He scalds B’nei Yisroel as “rebels” as he prepares to once again demonstrate Hashem’s majesty. Even Moshe Rabbeinu, in a moment of justified anger, did something he was not told to do.
It’s no wonder that the Rambam places this mida by itself in solitary confinement. As he states, no good can come from it. When one considers the ramifications of anger, it is painfully obvious how damaging it can be, with no redeeming benefits. In our parsha, it was a solitary act, but it also can cause us to say something in a moment of reduced self control where the damage can be long lasting. The wrong thing spoken in a fit of anger can cause long term hurt to another and can never really be taken back. If we learn this lesson from this week’s Parsha, we can understand in practicality the Rambam’s instruction to avoid this most dangerous Mida.
 The Rambam even discusses how the mida of jealousy can be a good thing if one is jealous of someone else’s Torah knowledge and uses that to motivate himself to learn more.