I was in a store yesterday when I began to hear some familiar music which I haven’t heard in many moons, “Walking in a winter wonderland….” I was getting a kick out of it, and I wondered if the owner knew what he was playing. So, I went up to him and asked him. He listened for a moment, shrugged, and admitted he didn’t understand it, since it was in English. I laughed and explained to him what it was; he immediately frowned and ordered a worker to turn it off.
On one hand, it’s good he turned it off. On the other hand, I liked the song.
Okay, on to Torah!
The Chofetz Chaim states that in the epic of Yoseph and his brothers, the brothers must have been totally bewildered by the series of strange events that were happening to them. Why were they being unjustly accused of being spies? Why was the viceroy insistent on their bringing their youngest brother to Egypt? How did the viceroy know their ages? When Yoseph revealed his identity to them and said, “I am Yoseph,” these few words explained everything. There was no need for any further elaboration.
Similarly, says the Chofetz Chaim, we cannot understand what has happened to us throughout our history, but when the Redemption occurs and Hashem reveals Himself to us, we will understand everything with perfect clarity.
There are periods in our lives where we are going through a living hell. Day after day, week after week, month after month, we struggle through certain issues which won’t go away. Sometimes we are fortunate, and in the end, we are able to see why things happened the way they did. Sometimes, we are not so fortunate to see the “whys.” However, both on a personal and national level, when the time is right, we WILL have an understanding.
Rav Avraham Twersky writes that Chassidic lore has many stories of tsaddikim who refused to give certain brachos that their students asked from them. They explained that the chossid was asking for something which he thought would be beneficial, but the tzaddik understood that it would really be to his detriment.
Of course, we should continue to daven for our needs and salvations. However, we should mainly daven that Hashem takes care of us for our good, and that no matter how dark times are, in the end, we will be given a light to understand why things happened the way they did.
What’s the connection to Chanukah?
As we know, Chanukah is a time of darkness, in the middle of the winter, when the night is long. The time that Chanukah took place was also very dark. The spiritual state of the Jewish people was at an all-time low. Many openly sided with the Greeks, and the future was uncertain. Nonetheless, and despite the situation, the Maccabees took it upon themselves to march into certain death to do what they needed to do, and some of them did not survive. However, in the end, even in times of darkness, they were able to bring forth light. How were they successful? The ignored the darkness around them, and focused on what they needed to do. That is the secret of surviving dark periods—focusing on what your job is and always moving forward.
Have a great Shabbos and a wonderful Chanukah!