Cleaving to the Holy Presence in Our Holy Land
אחרי הודיע א-הים אותך את כל זאת אין נבון וחכם כמוך
“Please let me know Your ways, so that I shall know You, so that I find favor in Your eyes, and You shall see that this nation is Yours…”
Our Sages explain that Moshe Rabeinu prayed in these words that the Holy Spirit of Ruah Hakodesh be pronounced among the People of Israel, that we should all know God at this high level of divine inspiration. Indeed, we hope that this divine inspiration be so pronounced that Israel realize its potential in being a Godly “light unto the nations” (Isaiah 49, 6), so all nations shall proclaim as Pharaoh proclaimed upon Yosef in our title quote, “after God has acknowledged you of all this, there is no clever or wise man like you.”
The concepts of “knowledge of God” and “light unto the nations” seem to come together so naturally in the Hanuka story, “the story of light”, which is strongly connected to the city “Modiin”, which means “acknowledging”. Modiin/m is mentioned in a halachic context in the Mishna Psahim (ch. 9) as being the farthest extent from which one is obligated to travel to Jerusalem to offer the paschal offering on the 14th of Nisan and does not harbor the Torah’s exemption of being “far distanced”.
The reason for Modiin being a landmark for this rule is because it lies 15 miles away from Jerusalem, considered the average day-walk for the average man according to halachic standard. Therefore, a person who lives farther than this walk is considered “far-distanced” in regard to the paschal offering. However, this ruling does not seem to fully explain why “Modiin” was singled out to exemplify this rule, for it seems that there are numbers of cities in the Land of Israel at this distance from Jerusalem that could have exemplified instead. However, when we contemplate the name “Modiin” we find a startling resemblance to some of the internal meanings of the Bait HaMikdash in Jerusalem. Our Sages teach that “anyone who has knowledge it is as if the Bait HaMikdash has been built in his lifetime, for both (knowledge and Mikdash) are written between two names of God” (Brachot 33a).
To understand this teaching more deeply it is necessary to understand the depths of the concept “knowledge”. “Daat” in Hebrew does not only mean cognition, but rather signifies a more general concept, synthesis or unison, as the verse says “and Adam knew (“yada”) Hava his wife”. Therefore, “knowledge appearing between two names of God” signifies that “daat-knowledge” signifies a synthesis between two names of God, or two different ways of relating towards God. The Bait HaMikdash also poses this very synthesis, as the Bait HaMIkdash signifies where Heaven and Earth meet in the light of the Holy Presence. Therefore, one who truly has this spiritual “knowledge” is considered to be connected to this same spiritual light of the Bait HaMikdash in his lifetime. Thus, we may say that Modiin represents the extent of this “light of knowledge stemming from the Bait Hamikdash” to a level that man can act and “walk” (see above), and perhaps even fight as in the Hasmonean War, upon this spiritual illumination.
The power of synthesis and the illumination of courage to fight for the ideals of Israel are also strongly connected to Hebron, which means unity and synthesis and is also the origins of the first battle mentioned in the Torah fought by Avraham from Hebron to save Lot. If so, why doesn’t Hebron take such a dominant place in the Macabee story? We may say that, just as in embryo the fetus is mainly distinguished by its functioning heart and brain stem without developed organs, so too at the Patriarchal stage of Israel almost only Hebron (heart) and Jerusalem (brain – this analogy is based on the teachings of the Arizal) were distinguished. However, at later stages we find the development of other organs/cities as well. This said, we still find how the origins of these other cities stem from Hebron and Jerusalem, each in their own distinct way.
Real Stories from the Holy Land #147
“My father suddenly became ill, and as I am an experienced medical practitioner I noticed from his symptoms that he urgently needed a specific medicine. I went to the pharmacy with no prescription with the hope that maybe they will provide the medicine even without the prescription. To my surprise they gave me the medicine and also other medicines that I usually carry with me in case of emergencies. I returned to the hotel where I had been residing, and then I got a call from a girl calling me urgently to help her younger brother who had stopped breathing. ‘It turns out’ that this boy needed one of the ‘extra’ medicines I had just gotten at the pharmacy, and b”h we were able to save him. ‘It turns out’ that the girl planned to call the front desk of the hospital by extension #61, but by ‘accident’ added 1, calling me at extension #161…” H.S.A.