Chanukah: Purifying The Oil V
“Then I will make their waters settle and cause their rivers to run like oil.” (Ezekiel 32:14)
Rabbi Chanina said: The Son of David will not come until a fish is sought for an invalid and cannot be procured, as it is written, “Then will I make their waters deep, and cause their rivers to run like oil,” and it is written afterward, “in that day will I cause the horn of the house of Israel to bud forth.” (Sanhedrin 98a)
Rabbi Yonatan Eibushitz (Ahavat Yehonatan, Haftarat Eikev) bases his explanation of this Talmudic saying on another idea presented in the Talmud (Yevamot 62a): For R. Assi49 stated: The Son of David will not come before all the souls in Guf (Literally, ‘body’, the region inhabited by the souls of the unborn.) will have been disposed of, since it is said, “For the spirit that unwraps itself is from Me etc.” (Isaiah 52:16) The Ari Hakodesh taught that all the souls contained in Adam were dispersed after his sin, many of which became other living things such as birds and fish. The fish that we search for to heal someone ill, is the fish that contains the missing spark of his soul. The Talmud is saying that the Messiah will not come until there are no more such “fish” sparks waiting to be perfected and healed.
The Chashmonaim, having ignited the full force of their souls by their willingness to wage battle against the powerful Syrian-Greek war machine to protect their Jewish observance, immediately went on a search after a great victory in which they recaptured the Beit Hamikdash. They were making a statement that they would battle for each soul, no matter how lost or distant. God responded with two miracles: 1) They found a single sealed jar of pure oil, and 2) the oil burned for eight days. The first miracle was a response to their search for the lost souls, the second miracle was a statement that each soul would shine to its full potential.
We light our Menorah in a public display of the Chanukah miracle, but it is not enough to display the Menorah. We must also search for the oil, so to speak, the lost souls. The search must begin with a sense of our souls burning brightly with passion and clarity.
Personal Note: I suggest that the Talmudic saying was actually a statement that the religion of the sign of the fish, Christianity, would fail so that the real Messiah could come. It was Rabbi Chanina’s statement against Christianity.