Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Hod and the Worship of the External

by Reb Jay

The Zohar Hakadosh writes that the midda of Hod finds its expression in the eight days of Chanuka.

If Klal Yisrael is deficient in a midda, then we are not zocheh to feel that midda as strongly from Hashem (Sifsei Chaim Moadim 2). Before the Chashmonayim fought the Yavanim, there was a deficiency in the Hod of Klal Yisrael.

What is the midda of Hod and how does it connect to Chanuka?

Hod is a very difficult word to translate. Hod is the shoresh of the word l’hodos--to give praise, or thanks. It also relates to the word modeh--to admit. Hod can also mean empathy. How can one word have so many different meanings?

While there are disparate meanings of the word Hod, the underlying concept behind each of these meanings is the same:
The ability to discern the inner reality of the matter at hand.

There are many different ways of giving praise or thanks. What is the ideal way? When the person on the receiving end of a goodness endeavors to appreciate the intent of the nosein (giver), and what the giver has done for him. To see the p’neymiyus and not just give a perfunctory thanks.

Hod is represented by Ahron. Many mefarshim define Hod in relation to Ahron as empathy. What is empathy? Empathy is the ability to strongly identify with the feelings of another. The concept of nosei b’ol chaveiro--to share a friends load--can only be accomplished if a person is emphatic; if he uses the midda of Hod. Ahron is defined as a Rodeph Sholom. The Midrash relates that if Ahron saw people in a machlokes, or a husband and wife experiencing Sholom bayis difficulties, he would make Sholom between them. This is a manifestation of Hod, being able to see other people’s tsar (which can only truly be done through seeing their p’neymiyus) and to share in the feeling, to internalize it; not to give lip service to Sholom--completion, but to actively pursue it.

This trait of Hod was personified by Ahron, and his descendants were zocheh to this midda as well. Although many people in Klal Yisrael were horrified by the acts of the Yavanim and the misyavnim (the Jews who desired to be Greek), it was the kohanim who internalized the chillul Hashem that was taking place and acted upon it. They were thus zocheh to have this ness of Chanuka happen through them.

A Jew is referred to as a Yehudi--one who gives thanks. Our purpose in the world is to have a shaychus with the Ribono Shel Olam (as Dovid HaMelech writes inTehilim: Kirvas Elokim li l’tov--closeness to Hashem is good). That relationship can only be achieved if we appreciate that which Hashem has done and does for us. The Rambam writes (Hilchos Yesodie HaTorah 2:2) that a person should contemplate Hashem and his creations, and he will come to have awe of Hashem, love of Hashem and a desire to know Hashem (and of course, to praise Him). Thus a person must always contemplate the goodness that Hashem does for us, and this contemplation will lead to the ability to see the penemiyus of the beriya, i.e, that not only was the world created, but that it was done for us. That the Ribono Shel Olam is constantly performing chesed with us.

When we integrate these ideas into our being, and see the penemiyus of the beriya, than we are able to l’hodos--to truly give thanks and praise to Hashem.

The Yavanim were the complete opposite of penemiyus. The Yavanim judged reality on a purely superficial and external basis. This idea reveals that the Yavanim were a society based on externals--chitzoniyus. The idea is symbolized by choshech. The second possuk of the Torah states: V’ha’aretz hays sohu vavohu v’choshech al pnei thom. The Midrash tells us that this possuk refers to the four exiles we will endure (Bavel, Parus Umadi, Yavan and Edom). Yavan is symbolized by choshech, because when man is judged on an external level, the world is indeed dark.

Although the Yavanim offered Klal Yisrael the opportunity to be citizens of Greece (a much sought after honor in those times), and although many Jews were nichshol and accepted their overtures, the core group, the Chashmonayim that this gift was in fact a curse of darkness.

When Klal Yisrael fought the Yavanim they showed by their actions that they rejected these ideals of externality.

And on Chanuka when we light the Menora, we literally and symbolically illuminate the darkness of the Yavanim, and their worship of the exterior.

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