1. Chanukah is of eight days duration, and therefore there must be at least one Shabbos among them. Moreover, sometimes there are two days of Shabbos — as this year, when the first and last days of Chanukah are Shabbos. No other Yom Tov has this distinction (of containing two Shabbosim): Shavuos is only one day, and therefore may not even have one Shabbos (when it falls on weekday). Moreover, nowadays, when the dates of the festivals are fixed by the calendar, Shavuos cannot fall on Shabbos. Pesach and Sukkos, which are of seven days duration, contain only one Shabbos. Thus Chanukah, which contains two Shabbosim, is in this respect loftier than other Yomim Tovim.

Shabbos Chanukah indicates the synthesis of the two concepts of Shabbos and Chanukah — a loftier level than when each is separate. For besides each adding extra dimensions to the other, the fact that they can be synthesized indicates there is a concept loftier than both of them which has the power to unite and synthesize these two separate concepts. This must be understood in its plain meaning by all Jews, and such that it provides a lesson in actual deed — for “deed is essential.” As stated in Iggeres Hakodesh (ch. 9): “In these times ... the principal service of G‑d is the service of charity (i.e. deed). Our Sages did not say that ‘the study of Torah is equivalent to the performance of good deeds’ except in their own days. For with them the principal service was the study of Torah and therefore there were great scholars: tannaim and amoraim. However, with the advent (‘in the footsteps’) of Moshiach, when ‘the sukkah of David (i.e. the Divine Presence) has fallen’ to a level of ‘feet’ and ‘heels’ — which is the level of ‘action’ there is no way of truly cleaving to it (the Divine Presence) and to convert the darkness into its light, except through a corresponding category of action — the act of tzedakah.” And since deed is associated with the plain meaning of Scripture, everything must be understood in its plain meaning — and be translated into actual deed.

The plain meaning of Shabbos Chanukah: Shabbos and Chanukah are both the idea of rest. Our Sages said that when “Shabbos comes, rest comes;” and Chanukah derives from the words “Chanu chof hey” — ”they rested on the 25th.” That is, the Chashmoneans rested on the 25th of Kislev after their fight against the Greeks. Thus Chanukah is the idea of resting after the war.

The difference between the rest of Shabbos and Chanukah is that the former is the rest from work — ”all your work is done.” On Chanukah however, work is permitted, and the rest was from war. These different types of resting contain a separate distinction. The rest from work on Shabbos is not merely that one does not work, but also that “all your work is done” — not only does a Jew not worry that he is missing work on Shabbos, but in reality there is no work missing, for “all your work is done.” Moreover, as Rashi states, “What was the world lacking (after the six days of creation)? Rest. When Shabbos came, rest came.” In other words, the resting on Shabbos was the final touch to make the creation of the world perfect. Thus the distinction of Shabbos is that then there is rest which transcends work and weekday matters — the idea of sanctity.

On Chanukah, it is true, work is permitted. On the other hand, it possesses the advantage of converting darkness into light — for the resting on Chanukah followed the darkness and exile of the wicked Greek regime. Although the Bais Hamikdosh existed even before the victory of Chanukah — and therefore there was seemingly no exile — nevertheless, in one aspect it was a greater exile than after the destruction of the Bais Hamikdosh. The Greeks had entered the Bais Hamikdosh and defiled the oil — they endeavored to pervert the idea of the Bais Hamikdosh. This is worse than actually destroying it. Thus the rest which followed the victory against the Greeks was in the nature of converting darkness into light — which is a service lofty in the extreme.

This is also the connection between Chanukah and the future redemption (which will be never followed by another exile — eternal). Through the conversion of darkness into light, the element of eternality (“the Chanukah lights will never be abolished”) is effected even in exile.

This is why it is permitted to do work on Chanukah. Work in weekday matters is considered “exile” for the true status of a Jew. Therefore a Jew will not need to do any work in the future redemption. Since on Chanukah it is permitted to do work, it follows that the revelation of Chanukah affects even weekday matters — the idea of conversion of darkness (“exile”) into light.

This then is the difference between Shabbos and Chanukah. Shabbos is the idea of sanctity, transcending mundane affairs. Chanukah is the idea of conversion of mundane matters into sanctity.

The concept of the type of resting done on Chanukah is alluded to in this week’s parshah, Mikeitz, which talks of the greatness of Yosef. The beginning of Mikeitz talks of the time Yosef was in prison — the idea of exile. Immediately after it tells us of how Yosef was released from prison and became the viceroy, second only to the king. From imprisonment Yosef went straight to royalty. This is similar to the idea of rest on Chanukah: victory following darkness and exile; conversion of darkness into light.

To return to our point: the difference between Shabbos and Chanukah. Shabbos is rest from work, when a Jew is engaged only in holy matters, elevating himself. Chanukah is to elevate mundane matters — to illuminate the world. Thus the difference between Shabbos and Chanukah is similar to the difference between “home” and “outside.” The service of Chanukah is to affect the world — “outside.” Shabbos is to elevate oneself — “home.”

The distinction of Shabbos Chanukah then is the synthesis of these two concepts — the synthesis of one’s personal service and also to work to elevate the world. Thus, although Shabbos and Chanukah are two opposite concepts (“home” vs. “outside”), nevertheless, the fact that every year Chanukah must contain a Shabbos teaches there is a synthesis. And not only do they not detract from each other, but they give extra dimensions to each other, elevating each other.

A Jewmay think that on Shabbos (sanctity) he may rest from work. Since he already worked on the Chanukah campaign — and likewise the other mitzvah campaigns: Ahavas Yisroel (and unity), education, Torah, tefillin, mezuzah, tzedakah, house full of Jewish books, Shabbos lights, kashrus, family purity, and uniting all Jews through the general Sifrei Torah — a Jew may claim that he is on the level of “Shabbos” and need not increase in his work. On weekdays, he claims, he understands that he must pray and unite with G‑d to know that even engaged in mundane matters he must remain united with G‑d. But on Shabbos, when it is recognizable that G‑d created the world, and he is anyway united with G‑d — why need he pray to unite with G‑d?

Such a Jew is told that the principal service of Shabbos is prayer. This is learned from Chanukah: Even service in holy matters (elevating oneself) on Shabbos must be in the manner of work (the idea of Chanukah). The resting on Shabbos is only in relation to weekday matters. But in holy matters, one must work even more on Shabbos.

Shabbos also gives extra dimension to Chanukah. It teaches that a Jew must bring the sanctity of Shabbos into the work of elevating mundane matters.

2. We explained above that to synthesize two opposites, we must have a third thing which transcends both of them. Since it transcends them, it can unite them. So too with the type of spiritual service to G‑d symbolized by Shabbos and Chanukah. Although each symbolized a general category of service — “home” and “outside” — they contain many levels and details. There is however a service which transcends them all: that which comes from the essential point of Judaism — the level of “yechidah” in the soul (the highest of all levels).

When a Jew’s service stems from his abilities, service can differ. Some people may naturally gravitate to service connected with themselves (in holy matters, the idea of Shabbos), and others to service in the world (in mundane matters, the idea of Chanukah). But when a Jew’s service is not from his own natural tendencies, but comes from the essence, the level of “yechidah,” it makes no difference to him which type of service is most appropriate to his natural abilities. From the viewpoint of the essence of Judaism within him, his desire is only to fulfill G‑d’s will. Thus, when G‑d’s will is for a Jew to concentrate on service for himself, he does so; when it is G‑d’s will to concentrate on elevating the world, he does that. For service from this essence transcends all external categories and levels.

This then is the third level which transcends both services symbolized by Shabbos and Chanukah: service from the essence. And through it a Jew synthesizes both categories of service.


3. In addition to the above lesson derived from Shabbos Chanukah, there is a special quality to Chanukah this year — the first and last days of Chanukah are Shabbos. That is, Chanukah opens and concludes with Shabbos. Since Shabbos is the idea of rest and peace the above is associated with the idea of opening with peace and concluding with peace.

The lesson from this in man’s service to G‑d: When a Jew leaves Shabbos and enters into weekday work, it is a spiritual descent for him (although he knows that Shabbos gives blessings for the coming week). The solution to this is the knowledge that after the weekdays, Shabbos comes once again. Therefore, weekday work is a preparation to Shabbos (that follows). It is therefore not a descent — it is a preparation to the coming Shabbos in a loftier manner, for “we rise in sanctity.” This knowledge ensures that the weekday work itself is done in a loftier fashion — commensurate with it being a preparation to Shabbos.

The above is greatly emphasized when the two Shabbosim (the one before weekdays, and the one after) are in the same category of service — in our case, when the two Shabbosim are both days of Chanukah.

In addition, Shabbos (last day of Chanukah) this year comes immediately after Rosh Chodesh. Thus the preparation to the Shabbos which is also the last day of Chanukah is made on Rosh Chodesh. Rosh Chodesh, although it is permitted to do work then, is nevertheless not counted as “days of deed” as other workdays. We find other cases when although something is a “deed” it is not considered “work.” For example, it is prohibited on Shabbos to carry something from one domain to another (private to public and the reverse), for it is considered a “melochoh” — “work.” According to the Scriptural law, it is only considered “work” when the thing carried has a certain specific size. Less than this, it is prohibited only through Rabbinic decree.

When someone carries a liquid that is less than this minimum size in a vessel which is the minimum size from one domain to another, he is not considered to have transgressed the prohibition of carrying (according to Scriptural. law). Although one must normally use a vessel to transport liquid, nevertheless, since his whole intention and purpose is to carry the liquid and not the vessel (which is only to transport the liquid, and he does not need it for itself), the vessel becomes secondary to the liquid. Since the liquid has less than the minimum size, the person is not guilty even for carrying the vessel.

Thus we see that although a person performed the deed of carrying, it is not considered “work” for the purposes of Shabbos — since his intent and purpose was the liquid not the vessel. If he would need the vessel itself, then the vessel could be counted as something being carried.

So too in the case of Rosh Chodesh. Although one may do work on Rosh Chodesh, it is not considered a workday, since the work is not considered a proper deed.

It follows from this that Rosh Chodesh is the intermediary between Shabbos and Chanukah. On Chanukah one is permitted to work, and the days of Chanukah are considered workdays. On Shabbos it is prohibited to do work, the exact opposite of workdays. The intermediary is Rosh Chodesh, when work is permitted, but it is not considered a workday.

This year, when Shabbos immediately follows Rosh Chodesh, there is no interruption in the sequence of Chanukah, Rosh Chodesh and Shabbos.


4. In parshas Mikeitz we learn of Yosef’s interpretation of Pharaoh’s dream that there will be seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine. Pharaoh then appoints Yosef as viceroy, and puts him in charge of storing up food in the seven years of plenty. Ch. 41, verse 48 states: “He collected the food of the seven years which were in the land of Egypt, and he put the food in the cities; the food of the field surrounding the city he placed inside.” Rashi, on the words “the food of the field surrounding the city he placed inside,” comments: “For each land produces its (own distinctive) fruits. And they put inside the grain some of the earth of that place (where it was grown), and it preserves the grain from rotting.”

Rashi is telling us two things. 1) the food collected from the fields surrounding each city was placed specifically in that city, for “each land grows its (own) fruits.” 2) In addition, “They put inside the grain some of the earth of that place and it preserves the grain from rotting.” That is, in addition to putting the grain in the city adjacent to where it was grown, they also put earth from that place into the grain to preserve it.

There are some puzzling points in this Rashi.

1) The verse states “the food of the field surrounding the city he placed inside.” This clearly means that he put the food into the city. Where, then in the plain meaning of the verse, does Rashi derive that it means he put earth into the food?

2) Rashi’s source for this comment is Bereishis Rabbah (8:5). However, the Bereishis Rabbah brings the two points Rashi makes as two separate interpretations. Why does Rashi bring them as one interpretation (which contains two points)?

3) Rashi switches terms. He states “Each land produces its own fruits. And they put inside the grain some of the earth of that place, and it preserves the grain from rotting.” Rashi makes two changes in his comment.

(i) First he says “land” and later changes to “place.” (ii) First he says “fruits” and later changes to “grain.” Why?

The explanation:

When we learn the verse “the food of the field surrounding the city he placed inside,” a question arises: Why does Scripture say “the food of the field surrounding the city,” and not just “the food of the city?” Surely it is self-understood that the food grows in the field surrounding the city and not in the city itself?”

Rashi therefore explains that Scripture teaches us that they did not collect just the “food,” but also some of the “field surrounding the city.” That is, “they put inside the grain some of the earth of that place.” The verse “the food of the fields surrounding the city he placed inside” thus means he place both the “food” and (some of) the “field” inside the city.

The reason they did so is because the earth of the place where the food is grown “preserves the grain from rotting.” To explain this, Rashi first says “For each land produces different types of fruit, suitable to its soil.” Since the particular soil of a land produces its particular type of fruit, we understand that soil also has the property to preserve its fruits from rotting.

Now we can understand why Rashi switches terms. He writes “And they put inside the grain some of the earth of that place,” and not “some of the earth of that land” (despite using the term “land” in the beginning of his comment), for the verse states that they collected both the “food” and part of the “field” where the produce was grown. In other words, to preserve the grain they did not put in any type of earth of Egypt, but were careful to put in soil from the particular area in which the grain was grown. And that he writes in the beginning “For each land produces its (own distinctive) fruits,” is only to explain that just as each particular land produces particular fruits, so too each region in a land has the property to preserve its own gain.

This is also why in the beginning Rashi writes “fruit” and later “grain.” In the beginning Rashi is interested in telling us that each land produces different types of “fruit” — and therefore we can learn that each soil preserves its own produce. Later, Rashi is talking about actually preserving the crop — which in the case of Yosef was “grain” and not “fruit.”

There are lessons to be learned from this Rashi. Rotting is prevented by putting earth or dust in the grain. In spiritual terms, this refers to the idea of humility, self-nullification — “My soul is as dust to all.” It is the preparation to “Open my heart in Your Torah.” For Torah study to be proper, one must be humble, thereby ensuring the Torah studied will endure.

It is emphasized that one must place “earth of that place” to prevent rotting — and not from another place. Humility, self-nullification, must be practiced on oneself (“that place”). One cannot practice humility by humiliating others! — My soul is as dust to all.”

Deeper still, the emphasis on the earth having to come from “that place” teaches that humility must be in regard to the same subject (Torah study) and not in regard to other things. For example: Someone announces that he is a “Torah great” and therefore all must render honor to him. Simultaneously however, since he knows he should be humble, he lets everyone know that while he is great in Torah, he isn’t strong enough (for he is “humble”) to fight against non-Jewish ideas, or to help another Jew in his spiritual battles. His humility is expressed in other areas, not in the Torah study itself.

“Earth of that place” teaches that humility must be in the area being dealt with, not in other areas. He must announce that honor should not be paid to him for he is not as great in Torah as others think. When humility is thus in its proper place, then his Torah study will endure (“it preserves ... from rotting”).