This letter was addressed to R. Shlomo Palmer, an active communal leader in Chicago.

B”H, 15 Kislev, 5705, Brooklyn

Greetings and blessings,

My revered father-in-law, the Rebbe Shlita, is feeling better. May G‑d send him a complete recovery in the near future.

In response to your correspondence from Nov. 28: In general, it is difficult to secure a large quantity of Chanukah menorahs. If we can obtain such a quantity, the minimum cost will be between 27-35 cents per menorah.

If you agree to this price, please inform us as soon as possible. Also inform us if you are willing to accept less than 200 pieces if it is not possible to receive the entire quantity of menorahs.

Among the noteworthy elements we find with regard to the Chanukah miracle: The Gemara (Shabbos 21b) relates that the cruse of pure oil which was found was sealed with the seal of the High Priest. For proof that the cruse had not been touched, it would have been sufficient to know that it was sealed. What purpose is served by the Beraisa telling us that it was “sealed with the seal of the High Priest”?

From this, however, we can learn [a lesson that applies in times] when it is dark, heaven forbid, in a material and spiritual sense for the Jewish people and there are those who wish “to make them forget Your Torah and cause them to deviate from the statutes of Your Will.” For oil to be safeguarded so that it will remain pure and can therefore be used to kindle the entire Menorah, it must be protected with the seal of the High Priest, i.e., a Jew who — to quote Rambam (Mishneh Torah, Hilchos Klei HaMikdash 5:7) — stays in the Beis HaMikdash for the entire day, going home only at night or for an hour or two during the day.

We find another noteworthy matter with regard to the High Priest: The Gemara (Yoma 18a) interprets the phrase:1 “And the priest who is exalted over his brethren,” [to mean]: “His priestly brethren exalt him,” [granting him wealth]. If it is necessary to provide the High Priest with his expenses and give him wealth, why must this burden be borne by his priestly brethren?

[To explain:] It is not necessary for the Torah to tell a simple Jew this concept. If someone would approach a simple Jew and tell him: “The High Priest needs his expenses paid. Do you want to take part in this endeavor? Do you want to see whether all your acquaintances want to participate as well?”, [the simple Jew] would not think of going to a Rabbi and asking what the Shulchan Aruch says about this matter. He would be frightened to think that he might lose the opportunity to merit to participate in a matter concerning the High Priest. Since “I have never seen a righteous person forsaken,”2 G‑d will certainly provide the High Priest what he needs. It is, however, possible that he will not be the medium. Therefore he will grab the opportunity and not risk losing it, doing everything that he can, with others and with himself, to see that he will be the one to exalt [the High Priest].

When, however, we approach a priest, it is possible that he will offer arguments:

a) Why are you coming to me? I am holy regardless. I do not know what I can do. Give others the opportunity to merit.

b) You want me to become involved with the expenses of the High Priest and to involve others. Don’t you know that I am also involved with Divine service in the Beis HaMikdash? Ask the High Priest himself; he will also tell you what’s most important. If I become involved with the High Priest’s [expenses], it is possible that the Divine service of the Beis HaMikdash will be nullified. Are you telling me to do that? What would the Rabbinic authorities say about this? Your words are destroying the Beis HaMikdash. I certainly will not let that happen.

Therefore the Torah teaches: His priestly brethren must exalt him. (And even so, this warning is not always effective.)

In this context, the Chanukah narrative offers us a relevant lesson. The Greeks were able to reach the Beis HaMikdash. They destroyed the altar and made the Menorah impure. But the small cruse of oil which lay hidden away and which the High Priest looked after, remained intact. And it was used to light candles that have continued to burn for thousands of years.

“Immediately to teshuvah; immediately to Redemption,”

Rabbi Menachem Schneerson
Executive Director