1. This year, the unique aspect of Chanukah is that it contains two Shabbasos. Both the first and the last day of the holiday fall on this holy day.1 Both these days possess a dimension which includes all the other days of Chanukah. In potential, all the days of the festival are included within the first day as reflected by the fact that on this day, the cruse of oil which burned for all eight days was found. The eighth day contains the influence of all eight days as they have been celebrated. This dimension receives greater emphasis according to our practice of lighting eight candles on the eighth day, each candle representing one of the days which has been celebrated.

Similarly, the Torah readings of these two days reflect their all inclusive nature. The Torah reading of the first day of Chanukah describes the princes’ decision to bring the sacrifices, thus containing the potential for all the further readings and the Torah reading of the final day describes the sum total of those sacrifices, including them as they had been actually offered. The all-encompassing aspect of these two days is emphasized by the Midrash which states that it is considered as if “all the princes offered their sacrifices on the first day” and as if they “all offered their sacrifices on the final day.”

Since the first and final days of Chanukah include within themselves the entire holiday, the fact that they fall on Shabbos implies that there is a Shabbos-like2 quality to the entire festival.3 Furthermore, the lessons that can be derived from this fact are of general relevance regarding the totality of our service of Torah and mitzvos throughout the entire year.

Our Sages state: What is Chanukah (i.e., in commemoration of which miracle was the holiday instituted)?... They searched and were able to find only one cruse with the seal of the High Priest. It contained enough to burn for only a single day. [Yet,] a miracle occurred with it and it burned for eight days.

The Bais Yosef questions: Since there was enough oil in the cruse for the Menorah to burn for a single day, the miracle lasted only for seven days. If so, why is the holiday celebrated for eight days?

Among the resolutions offered is that the discovery of the oil was itself a miracle. Nevertheless, other commentaries object to this answer, explaining that the discovery of the oil cannot be compared to the miracle of the oil’s burning. The latter miracle transcended the laws of nature. In contrast, the discovery of the oil can be described as a natural occurrence. It was hidden, buried in the ground — hence, it was ignored by the Greeks. When, however, the Jews needed oil desperately, they searched carefully and found it.

Despite this objection, the resolution offered is not rejected. Accordingly, we must understand this sequence: Why is the miracle of the first day of Chanukah a matter that is contained within the natural order and the continuation of the miracle on the following seven days, a miracle that transcends nature’s laws? If G‑d wanted the miracles of holiday to be characterized by a quality that transcends nature, the oil could have become available in a totally miraculous way (descending from heaven or the like). If He wanted the miracles of the holiday to be contained within the laws of nature, He could have enabled the Jews to find an amount of pure oil sufficient to burn eight days.

This concept can be explained on the basis of the following story. Once during the imprisonment of the Alter Rebbe before his redemption on Yud-Tes Kislev, he was being taken by ship from one prison to another. In the process of the journey, he asked the ship’s captain to stop the ship so that he could recite the prayers connected with the Sanctification of the Moon.

The captain refused to comply with the Alter Rebbe’s request. The Alter Rebbe told him that if he continued to refuse, he would stop the ship by himself, but the captain would not listen. In response, the Alter Rebbe stopped the ship himself and recited the Psalm introducing this prayer. Afterwards, he allowed the ship to continue and then, asked the captain to stop it. Realizing that he had no alternative, the captain agreed to stop the ship and the Alter Rebbe recited the appropriate prayers.

A question — similar to the question raised above in regard to Chanukah — can be asked: Since the Alter Rebbe was capable — as he indeed, proved himself — of stopping the ship through a miracle, why did he ask the captain to stop it? Furthermore, having performed the miracle, why did he recite only the introductory Psalm? Why did he allow the ship to continue only to ask the captain to stop it again?4

The explanation for the above is that mitzvos must be performed within the context of the natural order and not through miracles which transcend that order. Furthermore, the preparation for the fulfillment of the mitzvos should also be carried out within the context of the natural order. Therefore, the Alter Rebbe desired that the captain stop the ship on his own volition so that even the preparatory steps for the fulfillment of the mitzvah would have been carried out in this manner. Even when he was forced to perform a miracle to stop the ship, he allowed it to proceed so that the captain would stop it on his own volition.5

A similar concept can be explained in regard to the Chanukah miracles. The entire miracle of the Menorah was not absolutely necessary. According to Torah law, it was permissible for the Jews to light the Menorah with impure oil since, when there is no alternative, the laws of ritual impurity are waived regarding communal offerings. The miracle was thus an expression of the dearness with which G‑d holds the Jewish people to allow them to fulfill the mitzvos with pure oil.

Since the mitzvos — including the kindling of the Menorah — have to be performed in a natural manner, even when G‑d performs a miracle to show the dearness with which He holds the Jewish people, He performs a miracle in a manner that allows the mitzvos to be fulfilled in the fullest manner, i.e., within the context of the natural order.

Therefore, the manner in which the miracle began was a natural occurrence. The oil did not descend from heaven, rather it was found buried in the ground. Even when it continued to burn for eight days, which was an outright miracle, that miracle involved natural oil.6

This principle can be related to the totality of Torah and mitzvos whose connection to Chanukah is emphasized by the expression, “the candle of mitzvah and the Torah of light.” We find that G‑d made the world’s nature in a manner which is appropriate for the fulfillment of Torah and mitzvos.

To explain: It is written: “If you follow My statutes, observe My commandments, and fulfill them, I will provide you with rain in its season and the land will bear its crops.” The Rambam interprets this and the other promises of material success in the Torah as follows: “[G‑d] promised us in the Torah... that He would remove all factors which prevent us from observing it... and would provide us with all the benefits that will strengthen our fulfillment of the Torah, e.g., plenty, and an abundance of silver and gold, so that... we can be free to study wisdom and observe the mitzvos.”

This implies that the nature of the world itself facilitates the Jewish people’s performance of Torah and mitzvos.7 This concept applies even in times when the world is characterized by darkness and concealment.8 Thus, even when “the wicked Greek kingdom rose up against Your people Israel to make them forget Your Torah and violate the decrees of Your will,” and the Greeks entered the Bais HaMikdash itself and made the oil impure — i.e., the situation in the world appeared to oppose Torah and mitzvos — it was revealed that these negative aspects were only superficial. The Hasmoneans conquered the Greeks, negating all conflicting influences. Furthermore, the miracle of the oil openly revealed how the very nature of the world allows for the performance of Torah and mitzvos since as explained above, the oil was found in a natural manner and even continued to burn in a manner which did not alter its basic nature.

The association of this lesson with Chanukah teaches a further concept. As mentioned above, it was not absolutely necessary to kindle the Menorah with pure oil. Thus, the use of such oil can be considered s a hiddur mitzvah, the fulfillment of the mitzvah in the most complete and perfect fashion. Thus, we see that the natural order allows for and makes possible even this level of fulfillment of Torah and mitzvos.

Furthermore, this does not apply only to a person who is on a high rung of Torah observance. Chanukah is associated with the word Chinuch, meaning “education.” This implies that even one who is at the initial stages of the service of G‑d — he is merely being educated — still has the potential, not only to fulfill Torah and mitzvos according to the law’s minimum requirements, but even to reach the level of hiddur mitzvah.

The above relates to our service within the exile. Despite the darkness of exile, G‑d gives each and every Jew the opportunity to fulfill Torah and mitzvos in a manner of hiddur and, furthermore, the nature of the world leads toward this goal. G‑d grants every Jew all that he requires in the realms of children, health, and earning a livelihood so that he can fulfill Torah and mitzvos in a state of both spiritual and physical composure.

2. The above also relates to the Messianic age, the era when we will have the opportunity of fulfilling Torah and mitzvos in a complete fashion. At present, because we are in exile and living in the diaspora, there are many mitzvos which cannot be fulfilled. This, however, does not contradict the principle that the nature of the world is structured in a manner which enables a Jew to fulfill Torah and mitzvos easily.

Exile is an abnormal situation for the world and for the Jews. The world was created “for the sake of Israel and for the sake of the Torah,” i.e., to enable the Jews to fulfill all 613 mitzvos. “Because of our sins” — acts which run contrary to a Jew’s very nature, for as the Rambam states, each Jew, “desires to be part of Israel... to observe all the mitzvos and separate himself from all the transgressions” — “we were exile from our land.”

This change in nature on the part of the Jewish people effects a change in the nature of the world at large and, temporarily, rather than fulfill the mitzvos that revolve around Eretz Yisrael and the Bais HaMikdash in actual deed, it is sufficient that “We will render [the prayers of] our lips in place of bullocks.” Through prayer and study, we can compensate for our inability to perform these mitzvos in actual deed. This compensation is, however, complete and fulfills our obligations in regard to these mitzvos in the fullest manner possible.9

The miracle of Chanukah, however, teaches a further concept, that ultimately, the nature of the world will be elevated to a level of perfection in the Messianic age. To explain:

Rashi states that the portion of the Torah describing the Menorah was placed next to the portion describing the princes’ sacrifices (as was read in today’s Torah reading) because: When Aharon saw the dedication [of the altar] by the princes, he was shaken that neither he or his tribe were included.... The Holy One, blessed be He, told him, “Rest assured. Your portion is greater. You will light... the candles.”

The Midrash explains that the kindling of the Menorah is on a higher level than the sacrifices because, the sacrifices will be offered only during the time the Bais HaMikdash is standing, while the candles will always shine the Menorah.

The Ramban questions that statement, noting that, in a simple sense, the kindling of the Menorah is — like the sacrifices — dependent on the existence of the Bais HaMikdash. When there is no Bais HaMikdash, the Menorah also may not be kindled. Accordingly, he explains that the Midrash is alluding to the candles of Chanukah which are kindled even in the time of exile.

Furthermore, the candles of Chanukah do more than compensate for the kindling of the Menorah in the Bais HaMikdash — as “[the prayers] of our lips” compensate for the sacrifices — they allude to and reflect the kindling of the Menorah which will take place in the Messianic age. Our Sages associate the number eight — the number of candles lit for Chanukah — with the Messianic age. In that era, we will kindle the Menorah in the Bais HaMikdash in a manner which will never be nullified.

Thus, the miracle of Chanukah — a miracle of eight days — reflects how, and contains the potential for the era when, the world will be elevated to its ultimate level of perfection in the Messianic age. At present, the natural order is represented by the number seven, reflecting the seven days of creation. In the Messianic age, the nature of the world will be lifted to a higher level, eight, which is symbolized by the Chanukah festival.

The effect of the Chanukah miracle in elevating the nature of the world to the level of perfection it will reach in the Messianic age is brought about through the service of “spreading the wellsprings of Torah” — the aspect of Torah related to oil — “outward.”

The latter service is required in the present age. The AriZal stated that, “in these later generations, it is permitted and it is a mitzvah to reveal this wisdom (the teachings of Pnimiyus HaTorah).” Surely, this applies after the revelation of the teachings of Chassidus by the Baal Shem Tov and the Maggid and the revelation of Chabad Chassidus by the Alter Rebbe — in particular, after the redemption of Yud-Tes Kislev — and the Rebbeim who followed him, including the Previous Rebbe who declared that the “spreading of the wellsprings outward” is the “obligation of the moment” in the present age.

Conversely, the service of “spreading the wellsprings outward” will bring the coming of Mashiach. The “spreading of the wellsprings out” is, itself, a beginning and a reflection of the revelation of Pnimiyus HaTorah which will accompany the Messianic redemption.

These qualities are reflected in the Chanukah lights which we are commanded to place “at the entrance to our homes, facing outward” and shine “until the feet of the Tarmudites (representative of the quality of rebellion) disappear from the street;” i.e., they effect the lowest levels of existence and prepare them for the revelations of the Messianic age.

3. The preparation of the world for the Messianic era through the service of spreading the wellsprings outward shares a particular connection with the arrival of the Previous Rebbe in America. America is referred to as “the lower half of the world.” The Torah was given in “the upper half of the world.” Nevertheless, through the efforts of the Previous Rebbe after coming to America, the wellsprings of Torah were spread in such a manner that the entire world — even those portions in which “the Torah was not given” — becomes a fit receptacle for “the wellsprings of Torah.”

There is a further point to the spreading of the wellsprings of Chassidus in this country. In America, in contrast to the Jews’ situation in Eastern Europe, the Jews live — by G‑d’s grace — in affluence. Indeed, this situation has become accepted as natural to the extent that in all aspects — food, clothing, and accommodations — we have become accustomed not to be content with the minimum, but rather to expect comfort.

Needless to say, the reason G‑d has granted such affluence is to facilitate the service of Torah and mitzvos, to allow for the fulfillment of mitzvos b’hiddur and the study of Torah with a broad-minded perspective so that one can “know the G‑d of your fathers and serve Him with a full heart.”

In the previous generations, the Chassidim were involved in the study of Chassidus and the spreading of the wellsprings outward while living in a state of poverty. Thus, the Alter Rebbe writes, “It is not hidden from me the difficult times when your livelihood has become constrained...” Nevertheless, he charged his Chassidim not to cut back their gifts to tzedakah. In the Mitteler Rebbe’s time, the Chassidim’s situation was even more hard-pressed to the extent that some of his Chassidic teaching were not printed in their entirety in a single cover for were they to have done so, the Chassidim would not have been able to purchase them. Despite these difficulties, Chassidus was revealed in a manner of “the broadening of the river.”

In these later years, beginning from the time the Previous Rebbe came to America, the study of Chassidus and the spreading of the wellsprings outward has been carried out amidst affluence. As we draw closer to the coming of Mashiach, the wellsprings have become spread out to further frontiers than ever before. The affluence of our environment has enabled us to spread the wellsprings further and to so with a broad-minded perspective.

This is also one of the new dimensions of service expressed by the Previous Rebbe. It reveals how the world itself has become prepared for the spreading of the wellsprings of Chassidus outward. Therefore, material wealth and affluence is granted to the Jews to be used for the sake of spreading the wellsprings of Chassidus outward.

The latter concept is also connected with the fact that the first and last days of Chanukah fall on the Shabbos. Shabbos is a day when “all your work is completed,” i.e., the work which involves the refinement and elevation of the nature of the world. Accordingly, the nature of the world is on a higher plane.

The influence of Chanukah — and its connection with Shabbos — has an effect on all the days that follow, elevating them to a higher level, a rung on which all matters associated with “the candle of mitzvah and the light of Torah” can be fulfilled in the fullest degree possible. This will lead to Messianic age, “the era which is all Shabbos and rest for eternity.”10

Added influence for all the above is granted this year, תש"נ, “a year of miracles.” To summarize, these are days when each Jew should take on resolutions to increase his involvement with “the candle of mitzvah and the light of Torah,” in particular, to study Chassidus in abundance, stealing from the time he would devote to his business for that purpose. G‑d, in turn, will surely shower him with all the wealth he needs. Indeed, this money already exists. All that is necessary is to go and get it.

In this context, it is worthy to hold a Farbrengen after the minchah prayers and another one at night — as a melaveh malkah — to influence people to accept good resolutions in regard to the study of Pnimiyus HaTorah, the spreading of the wellsprings of Chassidus outward, and all other matters of Torah and mitzvos. Also, at this time, it is worthy to mention that all those who have not fulfilled the custom of giving Chanukah gelt to the extent desired should compensate for this in the days which follow.

May all these activities hasten the coming of the time when we will dedicate the Menorah in the third Bais HaMikdash. May it be now, immediately.