For the week ending 9 December 2017 / 21 Kislev 5778

A Chanuka Thought from the Rosh Yeshiva

by Rabbi Nota Schiller
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Yehuda HaLevi (1075-1141) described Greek culture as “a flower but without fruit.” Pleasant, aromatic, aesthetic, yet lacking in the spiritual nutrients that provide soul nourishment.

Early on in the Torah our Sages teach that the Creator’s initial plan was for the fruit and the tree to have the identical taste. Somehow the Divine imperative included the option that allowed for this not to be fulfilled. This was the first departure from the “preferred” Divine Plan. Perhaps then we could posit that the ultimate Tikun (“restoring to perfection”) for generations would be to have that perfect congruency, coalescing of means and ends — i.e. where means already tastes of ends.

We are taught that mitzvot are the strategies for perfection of the soul. Learning Torah is about knowing how to fulfill mitzvot — which bring that perfection of soul. Ideal Tikun is then when the learning and the mitzvot already merge the taste of the fruit of growth, when juices of joy actually titillate the taste buds of our souls, providing that nourishment while still biting and chewing on the words and ideas of our root existence.

Such is the sweetness in the feasting of learning Torah and the festivity of mitzvot.

Happy Chanuka!

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