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The History of Chanukah

The Menorah Files

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Light 7: The Battle

Light 8: Darkness Shines

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 Light 7: The Battle How to Celebrate Chanukah

The Menorah Files

Light 8: Darkness Shines
Published and copyright © 1997-1999 by by Tzvi Freeman
In memory of Rabbi Yosef Y. Kazen o.b.m.

The Sar turned with an imposing glare, but the scientist meekly continued.

"We don't use philosophy. We are empiricists. Meaning that we accept the data, whether it fits our current conceptions or not. Once we have the data, we try to make sense of it - not the other way around."

"As a matter of fact," the scientist grinned slightly, "we have observed certain phenomena very basic to the common reality that appear to counter common sense altogether."

"But they are measurable, nonetheless."

"Yes, but with a caveat. You see, as soon as we start measuring anything, the reality is impacted by our act of measurement. After all, just by saying that we are going to measure something, we are already bifurcating the reality. We're saying, 'there's us, and there's the thing we are measuring - and then, of course, there's our act of measurement, which is a third thing."

"So therefore?"

"So nothing can really be known in an absolute sense. That leaves a lot of room for what they call miracles - when you are dealing with unknowable states, well just anything could happen. There's no absolute rule of cause and effect, as you Ancient Greeks like to believe."

The Sar now demonstrated his mastery of sophistry, able to debate even on another's ground. "But it is measurable none-the-less - perhaps not precisely, but measurable."

"Everything, to be a something, must have some sort of measure to it," the scientist conceded.

"Idiot!" The Sar shouted. "Is then what these Jews believe empirically observable in measurable terms?"

The scientist was unperturbed. "A scientist's job is to measure according to what he is able to perceive with the tools available to him," he observed. "The job of the rabbi is to heighten the consciousness of the observer so that the inner world also becomes perceptible."

"And therefore?" insisted the Sar.

"In a strictly material world it is true there is no perception of ritual impurity or purity in the oil. But up here, in the inner world..."

"But they believe in things that are inherently immeasurable!! Not in their world and not in any world! Because they implicitly deny measurement!"

"Such as?"

"They themselves admit that this G-d of theirs is immeasurable. And they believe in a Beginning! Creation ex nihilo! Now, go ahead, tell me you can measure and observe that the entire cosmos came out of nothing!"

"Nothing is immeasurable."

"Precisely. And now, have him tell you about the Holy Ark they claim to have, that is 2.5 cubits wide but takes up no space whatsoever in the 'Chamber of the Holy of Holies'."

The court members looked at each other with widened eyes. They knew about that room, and on occasion certain beings were permitted entry. But they were never allowed to measure. That place was strictly His territory.

"But you have lost!" retorted Yosef Karo. "The Maccabees did not fall for your ploy! They refused to do the rational and searched instead for the impossible - for an untouched flask of pure oil!"

"One more small defeat in battle," the Sar sighed. "But the war I shall still win. For you have gone too far. You are attacking the very basis of logic, and that battle you cannot win."

"Let me explain something, since I am the master of mathematics and logic. In our world, one plus one is two. I am ready to accept that a world could have been created where one plus one could be three, or five, or seventeen, or whatever its Creator wishes it to be. I can even accept a world where two conclusions, or even more could be drawn from one equation, as your friend the quantum physicist here wishes to posit. As I said, as long as there is a logic, whatever that logic might be. As long as there are true statements and false statements, there is logic and there is reality."

"But what I cannot accept is that one plus one should equal two and the same one plus one should not equal two. That a statement should be both true and false at once. That is a denial of logic. If that could be so, then you and I and all our world and all that exists has no true substance!"

Now he began to scream again, in a maddened, desperate shrill tone. "And that is precisely what you are demanding! You want that oil should burn, yet not be burning! That the laws of nature be preserved, yet a miracle occur! You are demanding darkness to shine and yet remain darkness! But it cannot be!! You cannot defy the very binary foundation of reality, of being!!"

"Yes," the scientist piped in. "Reality is definitely binary. The whole cosmos is built on 'is' and 'isn't'. If the Rabbi wants us to abrogate that to have his miracle, well, it just can't be done. Not even by Heaven, Inc.."

Yosef Karo swung about to face and command the court in royal form. "Esteemed masters of judgement! Empowered to do the work of the Infinite Master of All Being! Could it be that the hand of heaven is limited in any way? Perform the Miracle of Chanukah in utmost perfection as the Torah so demands!"

Quietness was all he received in response. Quietness, the echo of his own voice and a room of pale faces. His eyes flashed from one angel to the next, to the next, this one in tears, another's face covered with shame, some shaking their heads in sorrow, wings drooping, the glow of heaven all but gone from their countenance. Finally, the ChairAngel spoke up.

"Illustrious Rabbi," he forced out his words, as though reading from a script. A glistening tear rolled down over his cheek as he spoke. "We thank you very much for coming today, and enlightening us with your unique perspective. It is with deep regret, however, that we inform you we are unable to process your request. However, we assure you we will do our best to hire the applicant who comes closest to fulfilling the requirements you have laid out before us."

For a moment, Karo was still. He bit his lip, perhaps he shivered - it would be hard to tell. Then he turned ever so deliberately towards the center of the assembly and stepped in awe and trembling towards that point in the epicenter that transcended place, time and consciousness. The Divine Spirit of the Infinite Light And Beyond overcame and enveloped him, as he raised his hands and cried out in a piercing, mighty voice, like the massive waves of a storm crashing upon the shore, "You Who dwells in darkness as You do in light, Who is found in concealment as in revelation! Beyond Being and Not Being, You who unites all things and for whom all things are one!"

And then, even louder, unbearably, tortuously... "Almighty Father in Heaven, have compassion upon your children who have given their lives to the slaughter for the sake of Your Great and Awesome Name!"

The echo of his voice pounded the walls of the chamber, shaking them to the ground. The supernal beings of the heavens stood in their places as though stunned. All mouths were closed, all wings held their place in readied stillness.

And then the glory of the Holy One, Blessed be He rose in all worlds. A light that shone with equal intensity in all places, in all realms, for it knows no place or time.

"It is the Ohr haGanuz!" exclaimed the ChairAngel in reverence. "The light of the first day of Creation that was hidden until the Time to Come! We must all descend below to see from whence comes this light!"

So it was that the entire Supreme Court of the Heavens descended into the Holy Chamber of the Temple in Jerusalem - the physical one on this earth - to witness the miracle of the Menora, as the oil burned to produce a flame, but did not burn; combustion occurred, but did not occur; oil was consumed and none was consumed; transforming darkness into light while remaining darkness.

Silence reigned. And the silence was also Light.

"This is my G-d," whispered Yosef Karo, "and I will praise Him."

And all the heavenly court and the whole host of heaven, indeed all of G-d's creation and infinite emanations burst into the song of Hallel, the praise of the Ultimately Infinite.

Including, noted Rabbi Karo, the Sar Shel Yavan.

Darkness shone.

Sources: See Mai Chanukah, Kehos Publication Society, NY, 1994
Tzvi Freeman is author of "Bringing Heaven Down To Earth"
-now published by Adams Media, 800-872-5627
Visit Tzvi's new site at
 Light 7: The Battle How to Celebrate Chanukah

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