The encrypted future code - between Israel and the nations
Rabbi Eliezer Shenvald – Parashat Vayeshev - Chanukah 5780
The opening of our Parasha should be analyzed as a continuation of the end of the previous one. Eisav goes from Yaacov, from Eretz Yisrael to the hill country of Seir in the land of Edom. This concludes the historic meeting between Yaacov and Eisav. Eisav came to confront Yaacov, when his army had a considerable quantitative advantage, and finally he retreated to his house. This meeting is the model for the future, the relationship between the people of Israel and Eisav's descendance.
וַיֵּ֣שֶׁב יַעֲקֹ֔ב "Now Yaacov was settled"
"הַפִּשְׁתָּנִי הַזֶּה נִכְנְסוּ גְמַלָּיו טְעוּנִים פִּשְׁתָּן, הַפֶּחָמִי תָמַהּ אָנָה יִכָּנֵס כָּל הַפִּשְׁתָּן הַזֶּה? הָיָה פִּקֵּחַ אֶחָד מֵשִׁיב לוֹ נִצּוֹץ אֶחָד יוֹצֵא מִמַּפּוּחַ שֶׁלְּךָ שֶׁשּׂוֹרֵף אֶת כֻּלּוֹ, כָּךְ יַעֲקֹב רָאָה אֶת כָּל הָאַלּוּפִים הַכְּתוּבִים לְמַעְלָה, תָּמַהּ וְאָמַר מִי יָכוֹל לִכְבֹּשׁ אֶת כֻּלָּן? מַה כְּתִיב לְמַטָּה, אֵלֶּה תּוֹלְדוֹת יַעֲקֹב יוֹסֵף, דִּכְתִיב וְהָיָה בֵית יַעֲקֹב אֵשׁ וּבֵית יוֹסֵף לֶהָבָה וּבֵית עֵשָׂו לְקַשׁ (עובדיה א') – נִצּוֹץ יוֹצֵא מִיּוֹסֵף שֶׁמְּכַלֶּה וְשׂוֹרֵף אֶת כֻּלָּם:
And Yaacov abode: The camels of a flax dealer once came into a city laden with flax. A blacksmith asked in wonder where all that flax could be stored, and a clever fellow answered him, “A single spark caused by your bellows can burn up all of it.” “So, too, when Yaacov saw (heard of) all these chiefs whose names are written above he said wonderingly, “Who can conquer all these?” What is written after the names of these chieftains? — and in this may be found the reply to Yaacov’s question: These are the generations of Yaacov — Joseph. For it is written (Obadiah 1:18) “And the house of Yaacov shall be a fire and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Eisav, for stubble: one spark issuing from Joseph will burn up all of these (descendants of Eisav) (Bereshit Rabbah 84:5). (An old Rashi text on Bereshit 37:1)".
The quantitative advantage of Eisav is daunting, he might not be able to win and survive against him, but in the course of time it becomes clear that Eisav's quantitative power is like a flax-laden camel, and Yaacov's small descendance, which is a just a small spark, will win and beat him!
This message is encrypted in the Chanukah message.
גמל שהיה טעון פשתן ועבר ברשות הרבים ונכנס פשתנו לתוך החנות ודלקו בנרו של חנוני והדליק את הבירה בעל גמל חייב הניח חנוני נרו מבחוץ החנוני חייב רבי יהודה אומר בנר חנוכה פטור:
"In the case of a camel that was laden with flax and was passing through the public domain, and its flax extended into a store and the flax caught fire from a lamp in the store belonging to the storekeeper, and as a result of the burning flax the camel set fire to the building together with all its contents, the owner of the camel is liable. But if the storekeeper placed his lamp outside, thereby causing the flax on the camel to catch fire, and consequently the building was set on fire, the storekeeper is liable. Rabbi Yehuda says: In a case where the lamp placed outside was a Chanukah lamp, the storekeeper is exempt, since it is a mitzva for a Chanukah lamp to be placed outside". (Mishna Bava Kamma 62b, Shabbat 21 2:12).
It is no coincidence that the Mishnah chose to conceptualize the halacha with the Chanukah candle that burns the camel and the flax. The Chanukah candle is intended to announce the wonderful miracle of the triumphant few and weaponless Hasmoneans with very minimal military knowledge over the defeated most powerful army in the world at the time, which had the finest equipment and best military training.
This victory restored political independence to the people of Israel "over two hundred years until the second destruction of the Temple". (Rambam Chanukah 3:1). The future message of Chanukah is that the small Am Israel who has been exiled into many nations, and has suffered under their rule, will eventually win them and return to be an independent nation.
This principle is also encrypted in the Beit Shamai comparison between the Chanukah candles and the Sukkot sacrificed bulls.
מן המהדרין בית שמאי אומרים יום ראשון מדליק שמנה מכאן ואילך פוחת והולך
"And the mehadrin, i.e (those who are meticulous in the performance of mitzvot), adjust the number of lights daily. Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel disagree as to the nature of that adjustment. Beit Shammai say: On the first day one kindles eight lights and, from there on, gradually decreases the number of lights". (Shabbat 21b).
One of the interpretations of this in the Gemara is because the number of lights corresponds to the bulls of the festival of Sukkot: fourteen were sacrificed on the first day and each succeeding day one fewer was sacrificed. The seventy bulls stand for the seventy nations of the world which are supposed to be reduced and whose strength will diminish in the future.
In the book of Hasmoneans, it is described that after the triumph over the Greeks they celebrated the triumph in the Temple, instead of Sukkot of that year that was not possible to celebrate. The Hasmonean priests celebrated it with their Lulavim (the spine of the palm branch) and Etrogim (citron) (Aroch HaShulchan).
Hence the connection between the Chanukah laws and the Sukkot holiday laws. (The height of the candles, A Chanukah lamp that one placed above twenty cubits is invalid, just as a sukka whose roofing is more than twenty cubits high, the eight days of the holiday, the saying of the Complete Hallel as during the Sukkot holiday, and the duty to tell the story full of miracles in Chanukah, similar to the law
לְמַעַן֮ יֵדְע֣וּ דֹרֹֽתֵיכֶם֒ כִּ֣י בַסֻּכּ֗וֹת הוֹשַׁ֙בְתִּי֙ אֶת־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל בְּהוֹצִיאִ֥י אוֹתָ֖ם מֵאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרָ֑יִם אֲנִ֖י ה' אֱלֹקיכֶֽם׃
"in order that future generations may know that I made the Israelite people live in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt, I Hashem your G-d "(Kitzur Shulchan Aruch).
The Lulavim and Etrogim in Sukkot are the people of Israel's signal of victory over the nations, similar to bayonets, swords and war tools. (Midrash Tehillim 17, Tanchuma Emor 27). For the nations hang their confidence and victory on iron weapons only and the people of Israel use iron weapons but put their trust in G-d and the spirit of war.
Throughout the generations, this message had to be encrypted as it was feared that the nations of the world would be harassing the people of Israel, see it as a challenge to their rule, and suspect that the people of Israel were looking forward to the day to be victorious.
Therefore, a special tractate for Chanukah was never written, and its halachot and messages were concentrated in the Shabbat Tractate and other places in the Gemara. And throughout the exile, Chanukah emphasized the miracle of the oil jug which overshadowed the miracle of war victory. (Or Haganuz Lanazir).