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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.
The beginning of this week’s parsha briefly recaps the exodus of B’nei Yisrael from Egypt before going on to tell the events that followed. One previously unmentioned incident is recounted. Before leaving Egypt, Moshe Rabbeinu seeks out the body of Yoseif so that it may be carried to Eretz Yisrael for his eventual burial in Shechem. The midrash (Shemos Rabbah 20:19) says of this deed: "On him (Moshe) the pasuk (Mishlei 10:8) says, "The wise hearted grabs mitzvos," for when all of B’nei Yisrael were busy collecting silver and gold, Moshe was involved in the collection of Yoseif’s bones."
There is a commonly raised difficulty with this midrash. It’s not as if the rest of the nation was not also immersed in the fulfilment of a mitzvah. They were commanded by HaShem, through Moshe, to collect the silver and gold from the Egyptians. Why is Moshe singled out here as a "grabber of mitzvos" when the entire nation was involved in a mitzvah as well?
Rabbi Ephraim Eisenberg, zt"l, in a eulogy for his mother, offered a beautiful approach to this dilemma. Moshe’s action deemed him worthy of the title chacham leiv, wise-hearted, not simply because he was involved in a mitzvah. The wise-hearted is one who has the perception and the insight to sense which mitzvos need to be focussed on under the circumstances. A chacham leiv gains his title not simply with his performance of mitzvos but rather his choice of mitzvos. The entire nation was involved in the "cleaning out" of Egypt and the collection of Yoseif’s body was a job that needed to be done. Moshe realized that this was his job to do. He is therefore praised by Chazal for picking the right mitzvah.
This concept is easily applied to the Jewish outreach setting. There are 613 mitzvos but it takes a chacham leiv to sense where to begin, in which area to initiate growth in order to achieve maximum results. In the building of small communities, in which R’ Eisenberg’s parents were greatly involved, one must devote extra attention to the areas that are the foundations of such communities such as the construction of a mikveh and establishment of Jewish schools. This is the way of the wise-hearted.
Have a good Shabbos.