Haftarah: Shabbat Chanukah II: Achievement
Kings I 7:40-50: King Solomon’s Beit Hamikdash – Temple – was more physically remarkable than the Mishkan – Tabernacle – constructed by Moshe and the Children of Israel. Besides being far larger and elaborate, our Haftarah lists numerous additional vessels in Solomon’s structure: Ten extra Menorot, ten extra Tables, the Yachin U’Boaz columns, ornamentation, pedestals, pools and more.
Despite its magnificence, there were other differences that seem to have diluted the glory of the Beit Hamikdash. The Mishkan was constructed entirely from donations, “From every man whose heart motivates him.” (Exodus 25:2) “The people are bringing more than enough for the labor of the work that God has commanded to perform.” (Exodus 36:5) “Each skilled women wove with her hands.” Every detail of the Mishkan was an expression of “nidvat lev,” – a heart that desired to participate.
Solomon, on the other hand, “Imposed a levy from all of Israel. Adoniram (my master is exalted) was in charge of the tax.” (Kings I 5:27)
The Mishkan was the work of the Children of Israel, performed with great awareness and a sense of sanctity. The Temple was built with the help of Hiram, King of Tzur, as part of a treaty between him and Solomon.
The Torah repeatedly describes the work of the Mishkan as, “As God commanded Moshe.” However, regarding Hiram’s work on the Temple the verse says, “Hiram finished doing all the work that he did for King Solomon,” (Kings I 7:40) it doesn’t mention God.
Perhaps all these differences between the Mishkan and the Beit Hamikdash is why we read Zechariah’s vision of the Second Temple as the primary Haftarah of Chanukah rather than this selection that describes the First Temple. (Ran, Megillah Chapter 3)
Persian royalty funded the Second Temple, but the work was done at great sacrifice by a small group of Jews that had returned from Babylon. The Second Temple had more in common with Moshe’s Mishkan than did Solomon’s Temple.
Who was the Hiram who begins this Haftarah? His father, a skilled craftsman had died, and the verse stresses that he was the “son of a widow.” (Kings I 7:13) The Talmud (Kiddushin 31a, as explained by the Tosafot Ri Hazaken) teaches that his need to assume financial responsibility at a young age helped him develop his mind and skills at an accelerated pace. The master craftsman of King Solomon’s Beit Hamikdash was a person with great drive and ambition. Shlomo HaMelech wanted such drive to be part of the House of God. The King was concerned that people would lose their sense of self in his magnificent structure, and he wanted to remind them that its holiness could only be derived from human ambition and reach.
Shlomo added ten Menorot to the Beit Hamikdash, five on each side of Moshe’s Menorah. He placed a reminder that we can nourish the light of the heavenly Menorah and Sefirot through our actions.
“And Hiram finished,” – “Vayichal,” as in, “Vayichal Moshe,” “And Moses completed the work,” (Exodus 40:33) and as in, “And the Lord completed His work,” (Genesis 2:2) of the creation. God created the world, “la’asot,” – for us to do something with it, as did Moshe and the Children of Israel, as did Hiram, and as did the heroes of the Chanukah story.
It was the Chashmonaim who fulfilled Shlomo’s vision of our being the ones who would fuel the great Menorah. When we light the Menorah of the Chashmonaim, we are also lighting Shlomo’s ten Menorot.
When we acknowledge how much we can accomplish and illuminate the Upper and Lower Worlds, we are completing the work that God did “la’asot,” – to make use of His creation in the most profound ways.