Connecting to the Holy Presence in Our Holy Land
“והיה האוכל לפקדון לארץ לשבע שני הרעב”
“Satisfy us with Your goodness, and gladden our hearts with Your salvation, and purify our hearts to serve You truly…” (Shabbos Amida)
Our Rabbis teach us that satisfaction does not come from the physical nature of food itself, but rather from the spiritual ‘sparks’ hidden in food that give satisfaction to the soul in order to continue to dwell in the body and give it life. Just as one’s body is enlivened with one’s soul, so too the Land of Israel is enlivened and is cultivated in spiritual energy with the presence of Israel within it. With the same token, in the latter instance too, food and sustenance is needed to bind the People to the Land to settle permanently in this Land, as we see in this week’s parsha that when Josef’s brothers lacked food they were forced to leave the Land for Egypt.
In this way we can see why halacha so severely regards one who causes commercial havoc in the Land of Israel by storing produce extensively to be sold later at higher prices, comparing him to one who lends in interest to Jews, which is compared elsewhere to denying God. The apprehension that proper sustenance of the People is crucial for the general livelihood of the People and the greatening of the Holy Presence in the Land can be seen in more laws as well.
One example, is the prohibition, in the Land of Israel, to buy and store staple products such as flour, etc in order to sell it a greater price when the market is in more need for these products. Even in time of famine, one is not to store produce for more than what is needed for his household for a year’s period. Another law in this matter is the prohibition to make profit on staple products needed for basic livelihood (flour, etc.). However, a place where oil is abundant, one may make profit on oil.
When it comes to Hanuka, the concepts of “market” and “oil” suddenly echo in additional contexts. Just as the light of Zion – the Land of Israel penetrates even to the mundane conduct of the marketplace as just explained, so too the light of Hanuka, echoing the light of the Menora, the light of Jerusalem – the Bais HaMikdash, must penetrate even to the marketplace, as halacha determines that, at least by principle, one may kindle the Hanuka lights only till ‘the feet of people leave the marketplace’ to whom the miracle of Hanuka must be publicized. This miracle is that of the ‘oil’ that seemed insufficient but became abundant (either in quality or quantity) signifying also the improvement of status for Jewish settlement and sovereignty in the Holy Land, as clearly codified by the Rambam.
A few weeks ago we noted how the Arizal links Hebron to Zion, while the concept ‘Jerusalem’ refers to Jerusalem itself. The laws of Hanuka candles appear in the Talmud in context of the laws of Shabbos candles. Both these candles are lights of mitzvah upon which the Midrash, in context, talks about all mitzvah-candle-lighting: ‘If you observe the lights of Shabbat, I (HaShem) shall show you the lights of Zion”.
Real Stories from the Holy Land #99:
“One day, I deviated from my regular learning to study the relationship between the Canaanite tribes and the Philistines. I ‘happened’ to ask one of my friends about a ‘hidush’ I had on this topic, and it ‘turns out’ that he too ‘happened’ to deviate from his regular learning to study about the Cananite tribes at just the same time…” (RM and MG)
Sources: Baba Batra 91a, Hoshen Mishpat 231, 23-26, Yalkut Shimoni Bamidbar 719, Rambam Hanuka, 3, 1.