By Stephen Kirschenbaum
The Bayis Chadash tells us how Chanukah came to be. Our enemies are always looking to seize upon some weakness and use that to their advantage. He explains what weakness Klal Yisrael has that our enemies were trying to exploit. The reason the Yevanim were able to cause destruction to our Beis HaMikdash was because the Kohanim, who oversaw the Beis HaMikdash and are usually described as being Zrizim, as dedicated, passionate, and committed, ‘Hisrashlu Ba’avoda.’ They became apathetic and weren’t excited about their Avoda. So, HKBH said if this is getting boring and tedious for you, I’ll take the Beis HaMikdash away. The Braisa states that the Tamid, the consistency with which they performed the Avoda, was becoming stale, so G-d said if you don’t like it anymore, I will simply take it away from you. The enemy said they have one Mitzva that if we could just stop this one Mitzva, we will be able to take over the whole place. The Mitzva to light the Menorah, to light the Ner Tamid. They were targeting things of Temidus. Klal Yisrael did things with a sense of consistency, but without excitement and passion. Therefore, the enemy said as long as they light the Menora constantly, they can stand. So, they came and violated the Beis HaMikdash. When the Kohanim realized the mistake they had made, they became passionate with Mesiras Nefesh to fight for the Beis HaMikdash. Those same Kohanim who previously had no Ratzon to serve Hashem, all of a sudden found tremendous Kochos, Mesiras Nefesh and Ratzon; they were able to bring about this remarkable miracle of the Neiros. The same Neiros that they had been bored with, they now fought for. The root of Chanukah came from a sense of apathy and laziness that had set in. This is why the Menora, the Aish, represents Hislahavus, serving G-d with fire. When we become bored and stuck in our ways, HKBH takes away the gifts that He gave us.
The name of Yavan is related to a word in Tehilim 40. ThePpasuk reads ‘Vaya’alaini Mibor Shaon, Mitit Ha’yaven.’ Yaven means mud. Rav Chaim Vital explains in his Shaarei Kedusha that of the Daled Yesodos of Aish, Ruach, Afar and Mayim, Afar represents mud or earth which represents laziness. Therefore, it’s not by chance that our enemy at this time was Yavan, from Lashon Yaven, mud; the one who we were sunken in to. Even the letters of Yavan, yud, vav, and nun, each letter goes further down, sunken in the mud. The Trisker Maagid wrote a Sefer called Magen Avraham. In there, he says that of the Daled Yesodos, the only one that doesn’t move is Afar. We became stuck like the mud; we become complacent. We were stuck in our places. Therefore, HKBH said you don’t appreciate My Avodah, you go through the motions but you look like you are asleep or dead, there is no fire, so G-d says I will take away the Beis HaMikdash.
How do we recover? The way to correct the Rifyon, the Hisrashlus, to quote the language of the Bach, is to respond with tremendous passion and Ratzon. The Gemara Shabbos asks ‘Mai Chanukah?’ The Gemara goes on to explain that the 8 days beginning with the 25th of Kislev, we don’t fast and don’t make Hespedim, because when the Yevanim entered the Haichal, they destroyed all of the Shemen. Then, the Chashmonaim gathered their strength and they conquered the Greeks and won the war. They searched and found one Pach Shemen with the signature of the Kohen Gadol. The Achronim ask, why does the Gemara seemingly contradict itself? One sentence says the Yavanim destroyed all the oil and then the next sentence says one pure Pach Shemen was found. So, it wasn’t all ruined? The answer is that we would have walked in to the Haichal we would have said it’s all ruined. The whole place was Tamei, there was no sign of any Tahara. The whole place was completely ruined and defiled. Most people would have said it’s not worth even trying; there is nothing left. Teemu kol HaShemanim. Yet, there were a couple of brave Chashmonaim who searched anyway. Tosfos say they were digging up the earth and dug the Pach Shemen out of the ground. They were saying there has to be something here and continued to search. Even after they found, it was tremendously courageous to even try and light the Menora. They could have said it’s not going to last anyway, so let’s wait until we have enough oil. What’s the point of starting if we will just have to stop again? Yet, they said we have to at least try. This is how they fought back against the Rifyon. Rafu Yedaihem Min HaTorah. The response to this weakening of our Avoda was with this tremendous Ratzon. They could have said Klal Yisrael is all assimilated, so what’s the point in trying? Yet they searched and didn’t give up. Badku, says the Gemara. They searched and they found. As a result, they were able to achieve Nissim V’niflaos. This shows how powerful and how far the Koach HaRatzon goes. Rav Avraham Schorr in HaLekach Vehaleebuv teaches that Rifyon is Gematriya Ratzon; they turned that weakening, Rifyon, into passion and desire, Ratzon. They dug up the earth and found the Pach Shemen.