A Message from the Temple Institute
The Festival of Chanukah begins tomorrow night (the 25th of Kislev) at the commencement of the Sabbath. As they kindle the first light, Jews the world over will recall the miracle of the single vessel of pure oil that lasted for eight days. This was the oil that was designated for use in lighting the golden Temple Menorah...the only vessel that had not been rendered impure by the invaders.
In reality, the festival of Chanukah revolves completely around the concept of the Holy Temple. It is the holiday which commemorates the rededication of the Holy Temple by the Chashmonean priests, and it was established to begin on the 25th day of the month of Kislev, the day that the Divine service in the Holy Temple began. In fact, the word "Chankuah" itself is derived from the dedication of the altar in the Temple.
One of the most important themes of this holiday is the aspect of the "hidden light," the special primorial light from the Seven Days of Creation, which is revealed anew each year through the lights of the Chanukah menorah. The Greek invaders who temporarily defiled the Temple and stopped its service, sought to bring darkness upon the world...the spiritual darkness caused by the concealment of the Divine Presence. But as demonstrated by the miracle of Chanukah, a little (spiritual) light goes a long way to repel that darkness and illuminate the whole world through the knowledge of G-d's presence.
In the Sanctuary of the Holy Temple, the light emanating from the golden seven-branched Menorah (Candelabra) represented the spiritual light of the Shechina, the Divine Presence of G-d. This is why the windows in the building of the Sanctuary were unlike any other windows in the world. Normally, the task of a window is to bring the light into a room. However, the windows in the Sanctuary were narrow on the inside and wide on the outside...for their function was to allow the light, the spiritual light emanating from the Menorah, out into the world, to shine forth with the Presence of G-d.
It is a fundamental principle of our belief that in each holiday season, we have the potential to relive the experiences of our forefathers, and connect with the same miracles that occurred for them...for these miracles are being wrought for us, even now, in every generation, all over again...this is why the expression used in our prayers, in commeration of these observances, marks that these miracles occurred "in those days and in this time." True, they took place a long time ago--"in those days"--but it is happening once again, potentially, "in this time."
And so it is today, in our own generation, that we witness a modern-day miracle of Chanukah. On Sunday evening, Dec. 5th, at the time for the third Chanukah candle to be kindled, the Temple Institute of Jerusalem, with G-d's help, will unveil the first Golden Menorah constructed in 2,000 years, since the destruction of the Holy Temple. This Menorah, made with 42 kilo of gold and kosher for use in the Holy Temple, will be unveiled in the ancient "Cardo" passageway in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City. A special glass enclosure has been built especially to house the breathtaking Menorah in this public area, so that all of Israel, and all those who visit, will be able to share in the joy of seeing that a Menorah has been constructed for the Holy Temple. With the unveiling of this vessel, the research, labor and diligence of over ten years will come to fruition.
And just as "in those days" our forefathers faced enemies who challenged their very right to exist, so too, "in this time" we witness the efforts of our modern-day enemies who challenge the Jewish people's historical rights to Jerusalem. Jerusalem, which has never been a capital for any people other than the Jews, and which has never been an Arab capital. And in their continuing effort to rewrite the history of Jerusalem, it was just reported yesterday that the Islamic authorities on the Temple Mount have perpetrated yet another act of illegal construction, by opening up another entrance to the large underground mosque they have constructed underneath the Temple Mount complex. This act was labeled "a grave archeological crime" by the head of the Israel Antiquities Authority, precisely because of the destruction it has wrought on the original structures dating back to the Second Temple Period. Such actions are designed to create new facts, and revise history, so that Jerusalem is emptied and ransacked of all Jewish connotation.
May the light of Chanukah shine for us once again, and may we merit to the highest revelation of the "hidden light," speedily and in our day...through the kindling of the new Golden Menorah, in the rebuilt Holy Temple, amen.
Rabbi Chaim Richman