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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.
After a full accounting of all the donations that were given and of the various materials and vessels that were constructed, was concluded, the Torah describes the details for the actual setup of the Mishkan.
Targum Yonoson reveals how each of the vessels correspond to four divisions of our people.
The wealthy who are provided with the means to distribute their bounty to others are symbolized in the Table upon which the Showbread were placed, twelve specifically, alluding to the twelve tribes. The Elevation-offering Altar symbolizes the offerings they distribute to the poor.
The Menorah reflects on the righteous who illuminate the world with their protective merit.
The Gold Altar, whose incense gives off an exquisite scent, reminiscent of the Torah scholars' wisdom that enthuses our senses.
The Laver, the washing station that supplies the cleansing waters for the ritual washing of the hands and feet of the Kohanim in preparation for the daily service, represents the pouring out like water the crookedness within our hearts, that permits us to do Teshuva — repentance, and return.
The Targum also corresponds the anointing of these vessels to the leadership of our nation.
The general anointing echoes the anointing of the Jewish Kings, the descendants of Yehuda.
The Altar being anointed intimates the anointing to leadership of the Aharon and his children, as well as Eliyahu HaNavi.
The Laver points to Yehoshua who would lead the nation to the promised land and divide it amongst them, and whose descendant, the Mashiach Ben Yosef, will lead the victory in the end of time against Gog and Magog and herald the final redemption.
This last parallel leaves us perplexed. Is a simple washing station which serves merely in a preparatory role, so significant as to embody the notion of Teshuva and the final redemption? In what way is Yehoshua specifically the paradigm for this great concept?
Rav Yitzchok Reitbord, a student of the Beis HaLevi and the school of those who nourished from the Torah of the Vilna Gaon, cites a fascinating Gr'a and offers a stunning explanation of the deeper understanding of this unique vessel based on it.
The Kiyor — Laver, was constructed from the copper mirrors the women generously donated, despite it being a woman's prized possession.
The only specific reference of a 'reflected image' in Torah, is found in a verse in Proverbs.
As in water, a face reflects a face, so the heart of man to man. (27 19)
Many liquids reflect a man's image, why is water selected?
The Vilna Gaon points out that the word for water — מים, is unique. Every letter in the Alef Bais is expressed by its full pronunciation. An מ is therefore more fully —מם . A י is יוד. Again, the מ is displayed as מם.
Each of these letters have a 'revealed' essence, and a 'concealed' one. That which is part of the full word for water is their evident persona, that which is not expressed, but the inner aspect of a letter, is the 'hidden' part. Each letter has a numerical value, the letter mem is forty, yud is 10, and mem again is forty. The hidden letter in mem is mem so they are equal. Similarly, the yud's invisible letters are vov and daled, 6 and 4 respectively, thus 10 in total!
King Solomon incorporated the lesson of a person reflecting positivity towards someone else and effecting a reciprocal response specifically with water. In order to initiate a cycle of warmth one must be תוכו כברו — sincere externally and internally. One who feigns sincerity will be instinctively repelled, because only one who adheres to truth fully, within and without, can behold this law of nature, that informs us that just as it is a reality to see one's own reflection in water, so too can one instill a rebounding of genuine love from the one we confront purely and honestly.
Rav Reitbord extends this brilliant insight to explaining the greatness of the Laver.
The Laver was constructed from the copper mirrors the women utilized to beautify themselves. Sometimes this is done to glorify oneself for one's own validation or to flaunt one's beauty. Yet, these women used them to draw their dejected husbands in Egypt to return to family life. It was done with extreme and pure devotion for the sake of their husbands and to courageously mother Jewish children in the most trying of circumstances and times. They succeeded in cajoling their husbands to positivity, initiating the bond of noble love that was in danger of being extinguished.
The Laver, he notes, had both an external reflection — the polished copper, and an internal vehicle of reflection — water.
The hard outside represents man, the pliable hidden — modest water, symbolizes the woman.
This vessel of service is the key to all our relationships, man and woman; man and G-d, man and himself.
We all talk the talk of our allegiance to the word of G-d, to follow His directives that assure us happiness in life and closeness to His Presence.
But do we really follow through from our innermost drives, desires, and objectives?
Are we committed to the truth and nothing but the truth, never allowing our selfish ambitions to cloud what we know we must truly do?
Yehoshua was the exemplar of humility and adherence to the word of his teacher, Moshe, and the word of G-d. He was so genuine in everything he did to be in total consonance with the will of G-d, he couldn't feign as Kalev did to his cohorts, the Spies, his true intention, and displayed his resistance to their devious plan without hesitation!
We deceive our spouses, friends, teachers, by following the 'playbook' but so often permitting our own interests to weaken true and unadulterated resolve to carry out the will of Hashem.
We live in a world where at least superficially there appeared to be some notion of true care and concern for one another, despite some differences. But the drive for self-expression, and entitlement to personal pursuits and pleasures that contradict any notion of an absolute truth and system of morals, has eroded any possibility of repair.
The descendants of Yehoshua, will lead us back to sincerity in all our relationships that will be the pinnacle that will bring the world to a common allegiance to the sole Power in creation.
It starts from within us. It is the key to full repentance. It is critical to the repair of all relationships. It is the only way we will begin to see Hashem reflected in everything that we do.
It is a time to reflect!
צבי יהודה טייכמאן