Pachad Yitzchak: Chanukah & Covenant
The 20th of Kislev is the Yahrtzeit of Rav Yitzchak Hutner, Rosh Yeshivas Rabbeinu Chaim Berlin, author of Pachad Yitzchak (1907-1981). His uncle, R’ Benzion Ostrover, had been a disciple of Rav Mendel of Kotzk, and was instrumental in providing his young nephew with a direct link to the world of Chasidus.
At the age of 15, he went to Slobodka and was directed by the Alter, Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel. In 1925, he entered the new Slabodka branch in Chevron, where he also met and learned from Rav A. I. Kook. He remained until 1929, after which he returned to his parents in Warsaw. He became a personal tutor for Rav Moshe Solevetchik’s son, Aharon.
In 1932, he published his Toras HaNazir, a commentary on the Rambam’s Hilchos Nazir. In 1933, he married Masha Lipshitz and moved to Eretz Yisrael. Despite his great attachment to the Land, they left for America one year later, not to return for 30 years. He built Yeshiva Chaim Berlin to his specifications with his famous blend of Torahphilosophies.
Among his colleagues at Slobodka were R’ Yitzchak HaLevi Ruderman, R’ Reuven Grozovsky; R’ Yaakov Kamenetsky; and R’ Aharon Kotler. In 1949 he began publishing his discourses on morals and ethics which he subtitled, Divrei Torah B’inyanei Hilchot Deos V’Chovos Halevovos. He wrote a profound commentary (Kovetz Heaaros) on Rabbeinu Hillel on the Safra. His discourses on Yomim Tovim and Shabbos (Pachad Yitzchok) are collected in seven volumes.
There is a well-known Talmudic saying that there are some words of Torah that were given to be written, and there are other words of Torah that were not given to be written.
People believe that this refers directly to Torah and nothing else. However, the Talmud (Yoma 29) describes Esther as the end of all miracles. The Talmud asks, “What about the Chanukah miracle?” The answer is that Esther was the last miracle that was given to be written. It is the miracle that was not given to be written, not the Torah.
What is the difference between a miracle that is given to be written and one that is not?
There is a Covenant between God and Israel, described by Hosea, as embodied by the Oral Law, which may never be written. It must remain oral.
The Vilna Gaon explains that the blessing, “Who chose us,” refers to the Revelation at Sinai. The second blessing, “Who gave us the Torah,” refers to the Torah and the Covenant of the Oral Law, which can never be shared.
The Chashmonaim battles for the Covenant of Torah. They understood that there is an aspect of relationship in studying Torah that can never be shared outside the parties to the covenant. They fought for this and were willing to die for this aspect of Torah.
(Pachad Yitzchak Chanukah I)