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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.
Parshas Korach is filled with mussar and lessons which literally flow out of every pasuk. One of the more perplexing psukim comes after Hashem performs this unbelievable giluy Shechina and the ground swallows up Korach and his followers, who were rebelling against Moshe and Aharon. Indeed, Moshe warns Bnei Yisroel to separate themselves from Korach, Dasan and Aviram because Hashem will “create a Nes, the ground will open up and swallow them alive”. (Korach 17:30) Upon seeing Hashem’s Nes, prophetically foretold by Moshe to demonstrate that all of Moshe’s teachings and directives were from Hashem, the very next day they are rebelling against Moshe again. (17:6)
Specifically, the pasuk says “the entire Bnei Yisroel complained that Moshe had killed the people of Hashem”. How can this be happening? Literally, the day before, when people claimed Moshe was acting on his own, Hashem swallowed up the rebels into the earth. Had they not seen this? Had they learned nothing? This is not the way of people. Ordinarily if a child, student or other person commits a wrong and is punished, there is a lull of at least some days before they do the exact same thing again. Let alone in the presence of the same leader, teacher or whoever is in the position of authority. Did the entire nation really believe that Moshe had killed these people? Were they angling to be the next group to be disciplined?
This question troubled me for some time until last year. I was discussing this quandary with my son Chaim and he answered quite directly that “Bnei Yisroel had reason to believe this was true – that Moshe not only had a hand in the rebels being killed but had even dictated the method in which it would happen”. As we discussed this further he pointed out that not only had Moshe foretold the precise manner in which Hashem would punish Korach and his followers but there was a much stronger suggestion of Moshe’s role in last week’s Parsha, Parshas Shelach. Recall that in Shelach when the Meraglim brought back their slanderous report and Hashem told Moshe he would destroy them, Moshe’s plea was “the nations will claim you lacked the ability to bring them to Eretz Yisroel so you slaughtered them in the desert”. (Shelach 14:16) Immediately after which, the Yud Gimmel Middos are recalled and Hashem pronounces “Vayomer Hashem, Solachti Kidvarecha”, I forgive them – according to your words. (14:20) In fact Hashem had fashioned an Onesh, a punishment precisely responding to Moshes plea – Don’t destroy them because the other nations will say Hashem lacked the ability to bring them into Eretz Yisroel. And what Onesh did Hashem decree? I will bring the nation into Eretz Yisroel (so the other nations cannot say I lacked the ability) but this generation will die out entirely in the dessert over the next 38 years. Bnei Yisroel saw that Hashem responded and conformed the Onesh exactly to Moshes words.
Fast forward to Korach and again Bnei Yisroel see the Onesh exactly as Moshe had foretold – that the ground would swallow Korach and his followers. They assumed based on what they had seen that even if Hashem was performing the Nes, Moshe’s words mattered. What he pled and foretold impacted the precise decree from Hashem. So, they blamed him. Accusing him of having killed Hashem’s people. Thinking that if Moshe had asked for them to be spared, perhaps that would have worked. Instead, with Moshe promising that they would be swallowed up, their fate was sealed, by Moshe. Faced with a choice of accepting responsibility or fostering blame, it’s always easier to blame others for our missteps. Instead of seeing Moshe as Hashem’s messenger carrying out divine decrees, it was easier to blame the messenger for their plight. We all have this innate ability to see things through our own eyes or with wishful thinking. But we cannot blame the world, anything or anyone else for our challenges – be it antisemitism, war or a pandemic. We must understand that these are Divine decrees, and our actions are factors in bringing about both the decree and the Refuah.
I was coming down Bonnie Ridge and I got a call from my son. He was frantic, screaming on the phone, 'Hurry, get home, there's a shootout.' And I didn't understand what he was saying.Robin Mosley said she found the shooting victim leaning up against anothe...