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Beit Midrash Shabbat and Holidays Articles about Hanukkah

Torah, Light, and Chanukah

The Chanukah lamp represents the Torah. Although the sun, the moon, and the stars illuminate and unveil the presence of God, the Torah is above even them. The perfect Torah testifies to God's greatness more than any other aspect of creation.
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"The mitzvah is a lamp, and the Torah is light" (Proverbs 6:23).

A mitzvah, divine commandment, is likened to a lamp, and the Torah is likened to its light. The commandment to light the Chanukah lamp is unique, and, in the words of the Rambam, "it is very dear." This is because it is a divine commandment that hints at the Torah - the light of the Torah. The Sages say: A lamp provides light temporarily, but the Torah illuminates forever. And the Chanukah lamp, according to the Sages, is a divine commandment that symbolizes wisdom and Torah.
Explaining the words, "When you kindle the lamps" (Numbers 8:2), the Sages say: Aaron was downcast because he did not offer any sacrifices in the dedication of the Altar. Then God consoled him, saying, "Your participation will be greater than theirs, for you will light and trim the lamps."
The Ramban explains: Aaron was promised that his kindling would be a matter that continued for generations, not a temporary practice, and this is the idea behind the expression "Torah is light." In the words of the Midrash, "Aaron's lamps are dearer to me than the stars in the sky," for these lamps are a manifestation of the light of the Torah. The manifestations wrought through the Torah are greater than the constellations, greater than the sun and the moon.
Psalms 19 says, "For the Leader, a Psalm of David: The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows His handiwork," and following this it says, "The Law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul." On the face of things, the latter verse seems out of place. The chapter deals with the glory of God revealed via the sky and its numerous legions. Why, then, do we have this verse about the flawlessness of the Torah in the middle of the chapter? The Meiri and Ibn Ezra explain that this verse is meant to teach us that although the sun, the moon, and the stars illuminate and unveil the presence of God, the Torah is above even them. The perfect Torah testifies to God's greatness more than any other aspect of creation.
The more we cling to the Torah and those who teach it, the more we merit seeing existence as it truly is, no imitations and no uncertainties. May God help us all to be among those who ascend the rungs of sanctity, Amen.
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