Thursday, Jan 26, 2023

Taanis 18: The Light of Chanukah

On this daf, we find that fasts must not be declared for the community on Chanukah.

The Mekor Chaim imparts deep insight into why we do not fast on Chanukah: “The Zohar writes that we struggled against the Greeks during Bayis Sheini because it was not shaleim, unlike Bayis Rishon. Yovon represents the orla, the foreskin, concealing G-dliness. This is why they prohibited bris milah, keeping Shabbos and declaring Rosh Chodesh so that we could not establish when Yom Tov is. They also decreed against learning Torah. Torah and mitzvos, especially the ones they opposed, illuminate the world much like oil gives light. They defiled all available oil, hoping to snuff out any holy light since they preferred the darkness of a meaningless life of materialism. The miracle of Chanukah shows the primacy of Torah and mitzvos and that we will always bring light into the world due to divine assistance. No matter how outnumbered we are or what we face, Hashem helps us transcend nature until our enemies are gone.

“In general, we fast to subdue the material body so that we will be able to focus on the spiritual, even though it is usually harder to really rejoice while fasting. This is inappropriate on Chanukah, a time when materialism is subdued from on High and we should especially rejoice in Hashem’s miracles for the Jewish people at all times” (Mekor Chaim, Hilchos Chanukah).

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