Torah Fax
Friday, December 8 , 2006 - 17 Kislev, 5767

Torah Reading VaYishlach (Genesis 32:4 - 36:43)
Candle Lighting Time 4:10 PM
Shabbat ends 5:14 PM

You Are Not Alone
As Jacob was traveling to meet his brother Esav after a 20 year hiatus, our Parshah tells us that Jacob suddenly reminded himself that he had left something behind. Jacob then proceeded to retrieve his lost belongings - a few simple jugs -  and found himself in a wrestling match with an angel, identified in our Oral Tradition as Esav's guardian angel. The angel tried to kill Jacob, but Jacob prevailed sustaining only an injury to his thigh, from which he healed quickly.
It follows from this unusual story that Jacob, in effect, risked his life to retrieve a few jugs. Why would he do it?
One answer to this question lies in the way the Torah describes how Jacob remained alone. The Torah states "and Jacob was left alone (levado)." With just a slight change of one letter, the phrase reads: And Jacob was left to [retrieve] his jug (lekado)." In other words, he put his life in danger to retrieve a mere jug.
According to a Midrashic interpretation, this jug was none other than the jug of oil that was discovered several millennia later in the Temple that miraculously lasted for eight days. Thus, the entire Chanukah story began thousands of years earlier when Jacob, realizing the incredible value of that lone cruse of oil, risked his life to ensure that it would be around to bring the light of Chanukah to his descendents.
How are we to understand this remarkable jug of oil? And how do we apply the message of Jacob going to great lengths to retrieve it. Furthermore, the text actually states that he was left alone. Using Midrashic license (the license given to the rabbis by the Torah to uncover hidden layers of meaning embedded and encoded in every word and letter of the Torah) our Sages revise that to read "for his jug." But even when the Midrash discovers a new layer of meaning, it does not negate the simple and straightforward meaning of the text. Indeed, the multiple layers of a given text are meant to complement each other. In light of this, we must understand how Jacob being alone ties in with the fact that he went to retrieve this special jug of oil.
As discussed in previous Torah Fax messages, there are many times when a Jew can feel that he is left alone. Even within the Jewish community, there are times when we fight for a certain cause, and we discover that all those whom we thought were on our team are suddenly nowhere to be found. It is reminiscent of the story of Moses when he went to Pharaoh with the elders. But by the time he finally arrived at Pharaoh's throne, all of the elders slipped away one by one. If pursuing a noble goal becomes a thankless and lonely job, one might eventually think that it isn't worth the bother.
And here the Torah tells us that this situation is not a new one. It started with our forefather Jacob who found himself to be all alone. And it was at this time that Jacob realized that there was a G‑dly spark (represented by the single jug of oil) within him that would accompany him wherever he would go. From that time onward it has been said that a Jew never goes alone. Whenever we are in a rut, we must realize that the G‑dly spark within us accompanies us. In the words of the Psalmist: "I am with him in his distress." This realization can be a source of great comfort.
In the time of Chanuka, our ancestors discovered that they were standing alone. The Syrian Greeks tried to stamp out their adherence to pure, unadulterated Judaism; the Jewish Hellenists tried to foist their ways on their co-religionists. And the loyalists, the Macabees, were just a handful of stubborn Jews, who must have felt abandoned and forlorn.
And the question arises: Where did they get their strength to carry on? Where did they get the inspiration to fight, risking their lives for their beliefs?
The answer was: Jacob had already demonstrated that when you are all alone in your struggle for good, you are not truly alone. As Jacob retrieved that lone jug of oil, he realized that there is a G‑dly flame that burns in the heart of every Jew that accompanies us in all of our positive efforts. We are never alone.
In other rabbinic sources we are informed that the lone cruse of oil that lasted for eight days had an even earlier source. The light that this cruse of oil generated was the same light that was created on the very first day of creation before the sun was created. That light was a spiritual light, so powerful and holy, that it was preserved for the future Messianic Age. However during the miracle of Chanukah, G‑d revealed this primordial light, and gave us a sample and taste of the future Messianic Age when this light will be revealed for the entire world for eternity.
This light that was created and introduced into the world on day one of creation was accessed by Jacob and transmitted to the heroes of Chanukah. With the establishment of Chanukah as a Jewish Holiday, this light has become accessible to every Jew, especially now as we are poised to enter into the final Age of Redemption.

Moshiach Matters
"Three things come unawares, namely, Mashiach, a found object, and a scorpion" (Talmud Sanhedrin) This teaching does not mean that a person should not (G‑d forbid) think about the Redemption and anticipate its coming. It means that though his reason sees no possibility for Redemption, a Jew persists with an intense belief that transcends his reason. This meaning springs directly from the Hebrew idiom b'hesech hada'at (here translated "unawares"), which literally means "with one's reason set aside." (Likutei Sichot)

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