On Tuesday, November 27, the community gathered to hear an inspiring shiur given by Rabbi Eli Mansour at the Lander College for Men. The shiur was sponsored by Chazaq and Lander College. Rabbi Moshe Bamberger, Mashgiach Ruchani at Beis Medrash L’Talmud/Lander College for Men, greeted everyone. He noted that Shabbos and Chanukah neiros are a s’gulah for having children that are talmidei chachamim. He posed a question: Why is it a s’gulah for children as opposed to the father who is lighting?
The answer, he shared, is that for the father the one way to become a talmid chacham is to sit and learn Torah. For children, it is important to create an environment of harmony and limud Torah. Learning Torah she’b’al peh is symbolized by the Chanukah candles. The days of Chanukah increase our ability to have Torah in our lives.
Rabbi Mansour taught that “one of the greatest preparations for any chag is to learn about it and to try to understand the essence of the chag.” He noted that Chanukah is not mentioned in the Mishnah. Every other holiday has its group of mishnayos. Purim has a section, as well; but Chanukah doesn’t have a masechta. The laws of lighting are in the Gemara.
The Chidah teaches that the laws of Chanukah are in a sefer called Megillas Taanis and that preceded the Mishnah. So, Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi felt he didn’t need to mention it in the Mishnah.
The simple answer is that every mishnah is based on a source from a text that is in the Tanach. Every mishnah can be traced to a Tanach source. There is no source in Tanach for Chanukah. The pasuk in Parshas Emor mentions the Menorah but that is only a remez.
Rabbi Mansour went on to explain that during the time of Chanukah, Jews were lax in the observance of the oral tradition. The words of the rabbis were belittled in the time of Chanukah.
When the Torah was translated into Greek during Teves, the sun didn’t shine for three days. The world went dark because without Torah the world is worthless. He explained how a drash cannot apply without a Hebrew word. The Syrian-Greeks wanted to take away the oral tradition of klal Yisrael, which is the soul of the Jewish people.
He taught that the oil had to have the seal of the kohen gadol because the Rabbis had to be extra stringent on rabbinical law. “The whole essence of Chanukah is to reinforce the traditions of Chazal. We have to listen to the rabbis of our time.”
He shared a teaching by Rabbi Frand that an onein is exempt from mitzvos because the first feeling an onein has is that he may not have shown enough respect. He explained, “We only appreciate something when it is taken away.” Rabbi Mansour emphasized that “the whole holiday with the punishment of the Syrian-Greeks came because of our weakness in Torah she’b’al peh.”
Torah she’b’al peh had to be taken away from us so we could appreciate the true value of it.
Rabbi Mansour pointed out there are 36 mesechtos, so we light 36 candles on Chanukah.
by Susie Garber