Classics and Beyond Chanukah – Jars With a History:

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    Chanukah – Jars With a History:

    ויותר יעקב – And Yaakov remained (Bereishis 32:25).

    In parshas Vayishlach, Rashi (based on Chulin 91a) explains that Yaakov remained behind because he had forgotten pachim ketanim, small jars, and he returned for them.

    When discussing the miracle of Chanukah, the Gemara (Shabbos 21b) says, “Badku ve’lo matzu ella pach echad shel shemen – They searched and found only one jar of oil.”

    Many years ago, I made a small observation that has panned out to something rather golden. Many seforim point to the same word in both instances: pachim ketanim by Yaakov and a pach shel shemen by Chanukah, as a means of connecting the two events. As the Shelah HaKadosh writes, “There is certainly great symbolism and meaning behind the pachim ketanim of Yaakov, and with it we can understand the secret of the pach shemen of Chanukah.”

    I then suggested that the one untouched pach that was found – which served as the basis for the miracle of Chanukah – was from one of the pachim ketanim that Yaakov Avinu went back to retrieve. The basis for this would seem to be from the shared use, in both the story of Chanukah and the story of Yaakov, of the uncommon word: pach, pachim.

    If we take it as a given that those pachim ketanim, those small jars, were the ones that contained oil, let’s speculate further on where that oil came from. The dove returned to Noach with an olive leaf in its mouth: “Ve’hinei alei zayis taraf be’fihah – Behold, it had plucked an olive leaf in its mouth” (Bereishis 8:11). The Midrash (Bereishis Rabbah 33:6) cites one opinion that this leaf came from Gan Eden. We are suggesting that this leaf – whose provenance is from Gan Eden – was subsequently planted by Noach.

    From the olives that grew, he extracted oil, which he then used in his offerings to Hashem. After a time, Noach passed this oil on to his son Shem, who was also known as Malkitzedek, the Kohen Le’Keil Elyon. Malkitzedek, in turn, gave the oil to Avraham Avinu, who gave it to his son and spiritual heir, Yitzchak. And finally, it was given to Yaakov where it was kept it in those pachim ketanim, which Yaakov went back to retrieve.

    In discussing why Yaakov returned for the pachim ketanim, Rashi says that the money of tzaddikim is dearer to them than their bodies, because they do not stretch out their hands at robbery.

    However, we may suggest a different reason why Yaakov was willing to risk his life for those jars. They were not mere kitchen utensils; they had Gan Eden oil in them. This was meyuchasdika oil! It was if he were saying, “This oil belonged to my forebears; of course I’m going to risk my life for this.”

    And it is with this oil that the miracle of Chanukah occurred.

    As I stated above, all this was speculation on my part. When I shared my ideas with Rav Nachum Lansky of Ner Yisroel, he took me over to a shelf of sefarim, removed and opened a Tikkunei Zohar, and showed me where the Zohar states that the first stirrings of the miracle of Chanukah began at the very moment that the dove had the olive leaf in its mouth (Tikkunei Zohar 13).

    I believe the most compelling point in this historical excursion are the words of the Shelah (parshas vayeishev…Torah ohr) regarding which Kohein Gadol had his seal on that one remaining pach shemen. While we may imagined it belonging to one of the recent Kohanim Gedolim, perhaps even from the family of the Choshmonaim, the Sheloh alludes that the seal relates, (“b’sod”),to none other than Malkitzedek, who as mentioned above, was both Shem, the son of Noach, as well as a Kohein in his own right –the Kohen Le’Keil Elyon. How strange that a Kohen who lived nearly a thousand years prior to the building of the Beis Hamikdash, would be the one to have sealed that special pach unless the oil in fact originated with Noach his father receiving the olive leaf from Gan Eden.

    While not proof positive that the oil is actually from the olive leaf, the dots are there for a connection to be made.

    Reb Eliezer

    The oil was found in a small pitcher compared to the one required for eight days when new pure oil will be available. So, do not demean a small pitcher because by Chanukah it will be required. That is what Yaakov Avinu symbolized. It also teaches us to fight the yetzer hara who wants to discourage us from using it saying, what is the use when it will not be enough. We never know when a neis will happen.
    Also when fighting the yetzer hara (satan), according to the Shlah Hakadosh, ותקע כף he converted the כף, which is no good because it indicates a כף קמוצה, clenched fist and פה פשוטה and a open mouth, to פך a פה קמוצה, a closed mouth and a כף פשוטה and an open hand.
    שלום רב לאוהבי תורתך ואין למו מכשול says the Rav Chida that שלום has the same letters as מכשול with a כף in the middle.

    Reb Eliezer

    Chanukah emphasizes the importance of learning and not forgetting it. The gemora says that the leaf of olive tea is dangerous for forgetting our learning. There is an antidote for it by uttering with the mouth our learning. I heard from from my rebbi, the Mattersdorfer Rav, Rav Shmuel ztz’l the implication of ועלי זית טרף בפיה the effect of the olive leaves can be undone through the mouth.

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