Rabbi Milevsky's Thought of the Week: Vayeishev - 5781

PIRSUM HANNES

On Chanukah, we desire to do more than just fulfil the Mitzvot of the day.  When kindling the Menorah, we try to publicize the miracles that occurred or, in the words of rabbis, we try to perform a Pirsum Hannes.  The Talmud notes that the ideal location for the Menorah is one where it can be seen by others, and thus create a Pirsum Hannes.  We want it to be seen, by Jews and non-Jews alike, and to share with all the miraculous events that took place during the second temple period due to the mercy of Hashem and the heroics of the Chashmonaim.

In general, Jewish holidays are for internal growth, with no emphasis on advertisement to the world.  Yet, on Chanukah we are told to broadcast.  One possible explanation for this is the fact that Chanukah has its roots in the Torah holiday of Sukkot.

On the first day of Sukkot, we read from the book of Zechariah.  In it, we are told that a time will come when all the nations of the world will be expected to come to Yerushalaim for the holiday.  The prophet warns us that, "Any of the earth’s communities that does not make the pilgrimage to Yerushalaim to bow to the King, Hashem, shall receive no rain.”  Thus Sukkot, the time of thanksgiving and gratitude, is for all of humanity.

In the Books of the Maccabees, we are told that when they arrived in Yerushalaim and rededicated the temple, they celebrated for eight days in lieu of the holiday of Sukkot, which had taken place a few weeks earlier.  Since during Sukkot they were not able to celebrate, as they were hiding from the Greeks in caves, the 25th of Kislev became like the eight-day festival of Sukkot for them.

As a result, just like Sukkot, Chanukah is a time to welcome humanity and inspire them, by communicating our role and values, by placing the lights in a public location.

Chanukah Sameach and Shabbat Shalom