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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.
At the end of this week's parsha, Moshe is told to go to the mountain where he is to pass away. The pasuk states the reason(s) why he is dying here (32:51): "Al asher me`altem bi... al asher lo kidashtem osi," (Concerning the rock-hitting incident) because of that which you trespassed against me... that which you did not sanctify me. Why is it that two reasons are given? The GR"A on Pirkei Avos 3:1, "lifnei mi ata atid litein din vecheshbon" writes that din, judgement, refers to the direct judgement of a person's deeds. Cheshbon, calculation, refers to what that person could have been doing at that time. So, one is judged not only for their bad deeds, but for the good deeds they could have been doing at that time. This, suggests Meshech Chachma, is the meaning of this pasuk. "Al asher me`altem bi" refers to the din, that which they did. "Al asher lo kidashtem osi" refers to the cheshbon, the judgement on what they could have done at that time. Had Moshe not hit the rock, there would have been a kiddush HaShem.
Meshech Chachma explains at the end of parshas Nitzavim that this concept is a very important one to keep in mind on Yom Kippur. The gemara (Yoma 20a) says that the gematria of haSatan is 364, to hint that every day of the year the satan is allowed to do his "work." But on one day of the year, Yom Kippur, he is not. This day is set aside to allow us to do a full teshuvah without having to battle the satan. When we say the berachah of shehecheyanu at the beginning of Yom Kippur, we must say it with total and utter happiness, in appreciation of this opportunity that HaShem has given us. But if we don't use this time to do teshuvah, the time that HaShem has specifically set aside for teshuvah, how much greater of a transgression it is, that we have actively rejected this opportunity.
Have a good Shabbos and a gemar chasimah tov(ah).