Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Preparing for Chanukah

Since the light of Chanukah is already beginning to descend, I am going to try and post a piece of "the Spirit of the Law" each day.
The Kotzker writes that we attain the spiritual illumination of the chag in direct accordance with how much we learned about it before hand. Rav Nosson of Breslov addis that it also depends how much we live the teachings by davening to fulfill them. Hashem! Please help us glimpse the radiance of the light of Chanukah!

Based on Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, 139:1
1) “…One should give an abundance of charity on Chanukah because these days are propitious for rectifying blemishes on one’s soul through charity, especially if one gives to poor people who learn Torah.”

Through giving charity, it is possible for a person to break his unhealthy desire for money. This avariciousness, which has the power when unchecked to overwhelm a person completely, is actually symbolized by the ancient Greeks. We can see this alluded to in the verse, “Tavati b’yavein metzulah”—“I have sunk into a deep mire.”[1] The word yavein (the mire of the lust for money) can also be read Yavan (Greece).[2] Although this world is full of many beautiful things, as soon as a person places a coin or his hand in front of his eye, he isn’t able to see anything at all. Similarly, if a person’s entire existence is focused on pursuing money or ego-driven pleasure, he cannot see the light of spirituality and holiness.[3]

In addition, giving charity draws down the light of Providence upon the giver, and it happens middah k’neged middah—measure for measure. The giver demonstrates his trust in Hashem to provide for his needs despite the fact that he is sharing some of his material wealth. This reliance on Providence draws the light of Providence down upon the giver. This is one way to understand the significance of the light of the menorah—it represents the light of Providence. Especially when things are dark and we cannot fathom the ways of Hashem, the illumination of Providence lights up the darkness. The miracle of the menorah fills us with the vision that especially when things are difficult, during the depth of a spiritual winter, Hashem is always right here with each and every one of us.[4]
[1] Tehillim 69:3

[2] Likutei Halachos, Hilchos Aveidah U’metziah 3:8

[3] Likutei Moharan I:133

[4] Likutei Halachos, Hilchos Shluchim 3


Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this important limud. In addition to the direct gains of charity, through this mitzva one can change the way they view their avodas Hashem. As Rav Nosson writes in the begining of Likutei Halochos one must view themselves in a positive manner. By giving charity with the understanding that the person in need has positive attributes and can be learnt from, helpes the giver to realize that even though they have chesronos in their avodah and may be very ``poor`` in closeness to Hashem they too have positive attributes that they may not see or phathom at first glance. A person who seems to be needy of anothers monetary assistance can awaken the givers to realize their own needines whatever form it may take. Just like it is important to view others neediness positevly it is of similar importance to view our neediness the same way.

Micha Golshevsky said...

My pleasure. Thank you.