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Thought for the Day: Diaspora in Eretz Yisrael and Avoda Outside of Eretz Yisrael

So why am I listening to a shiur now about Chanuka?  The long answer is that I recently started listening to shiurim on t'fila by the rosh kollel of Kollel Zichron Eliyahu in Peterson Park.  The shiurim were suggested to me by a close friend and I started listening to them recently because I had run through my other sources.  (R' Fuerst only has one shiur recorded a week, I need shiurim during exercise at least four to 10 times a week; so I am always looking for more shiurim.)  Those shiurim (which include a shiur that was the basis/inspiration for the TftD on אשר יצר) started a few weeks before Chanuka (apparently), and there were two shiurim on Chanuka in the middle.  I, of course (being a pretty boring guy), just listen in order.

The short answer is, as always, hashgacha pratis.

Of course we all know that Chanuka celebrates the triumph of the Chashmonaim over the Assyrian-Greeks.  So far, so good.  Two questions: How can it be called גלות יון/"the Greek Exile" when it all happened in Eretz Yisrael?  Aaron haCohen was promised an avoda that would outshine all the gifts brought by the 12 tribes when the tabernacle was first dedicated: the lighting of the menorah at Chanuka by the Chashmonaim.  That promise including that it would function even when we didn't have the Beis HaMikdash.  We all know, however, that the lighting of the menorah is one of the daily avodos and we all also know very well that those can't function outside of the Beis HaMikdash.  So... what is going on?

As to the first question, the answer is simple and a bit chilling.  Eretz Yisrael does not belong to any individual, nor even to any group of people.  Eretz Yisrael was given to the nation who accepted to keep the Torah and who keeps the Torah.  The first condition means, of course, that no nation has rights to Eretz Yisrael except Klal Yisrael.  The second condition says that Klal Yisrael only has rights to Eretz Yisrael when it is Torah observant.  The Greeks knew very well what they were doing when they let the Jews stay in there homes and communities and even retain the Beis HaMikdash... as long as the oil is tamei and there are breaches in the wall to allow free cultural exchange.  For us, that's called exile; and we are still in exile no matter what our address.

To answer the second question, we need to ask another question (that's how Jews work, ya know): Why did the Sages decree a yearly observance just because some oil burned longer than physically possible?  Undoubtedly a miracle, but a pretty small one on the scale of miracles we've experienced.  How about Avraham Avinu coming of the fires of Uhr alive?  Or Yehoshua stopping the sun?  Or the splitting of the Yam Suf, for goodness sakes?  Big, big, and public miracles, but not a cause for yearly celebration.  We celebrate the physical salvation of the Jewish nation.

And that's the answer.  Chanuka is really established on the military victory, as the name of the holiday itself says explicitly: חנוכה/Chanuka -- חנו כ''ה/the rested (from the military actions) on the 25th (of Kislev).  So what's with the oil?  Without the miracle of the oil, we could have thought that the military victory was a natural occurrence; little nations sometimes win against giant oppressors.  The miracle of the oil, however, was HaShem's imprimatur, if you will, on the miraculous existence of Klal Yisrael.  That's the lighting Aaron haCohen was promised; they Greeks light a torch at their games -- their celebration of the physical.  We light our torch at the triumph of spiritual over physical.

They are gone; we still light... year after year after year.  עם ישראל חי/The Torah Nation lives forever.


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