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Chanukah: Women Miracles

We recite a blessing, “Who performed miracles for our forefathers,” on Chanukah and Purim, but we do not do so on Pesach, even though the Exodus too was accompanied by miracles. The reason for this seems to be because the miracles of Hanukkah and Purim were accomplished through the activities of women.


Moreover, these miracles were performed by natural means, unlike those accompanying the Exodus, when the Egyptians were struck by the Ten Plagues, and the Sea was split; all miracles beyond natural means. In contrast, the miracles of Hanukkah and Purim were accomplished naturally.

In the case of Hanukkah, Judith said the Syrian governor milk, and killed him while he lay sleeping; as to Purim, at first Achashveirosh loved Hayman and then transferred that love to Esther. These miracles were thus performed in time, a natural phenomenon, and we therefore recites the blessing, “Who performed miracles for our forefathers in those days at this time.” The miracles of Pesach were supernatural, and thus we do not recite the blessing.

The miracles of Hanukkah and Purim were thus accomplished through the activities of women, who represent the world which is the passive recipient of God’s abundance.

The incident involving Judith during the miracle of Hanukkah can be explained as follows: When the righteous wish to raise the sparks of holiness, they must at times transgress the words of the Torah. For example, in the case of Gideon, as the Talmud records (Temurah 28b-29a), 7 laws were violated in regard to the altar on which he sacrificed his father’s young bull (judges 6:23–27). The reason for these violations is that the Children of Israel at that time were guilty of idolatry, and so the righteous among them who wished to ascend to God had 1st to perform some act which was parallel to an idolatrous one, thereby to break the power of the “shelves.” So too, in the case of the miracle of Deborah, which involve the relationship of Yael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, with Sisera, the Canaanite general, as the verse states, “Between her legs he knelt, he fell dead (Judges 5:27).”

However, since, in truth, at that time the Children of Israel of that generation were not, God forbid, idolaters, as the Talmud states on the verse, “Deborah sat under the palm of Deborah (Judges 4:5),” ‘just as the palm tree has but one heart, so too, the Children of Israel of that generation had only one heart, turned to their Father in Heaven (Megillah 14a).’ But they were in need of redemption.

In the time of the Chanukah miracle, too, the Jews were not idolatrous; the intention of that wicked man was to initiate illicit relations with Judith, so she served him cheese and killed him in his sleep, as Yael did Sisera, because the Jews of that time required redemption, which occurred without the violation of the Torah. (Kedushat Levi; Derushim l’Chanukah)

Spiritual-Kavanot-ChanukahApplication: When reciting the blessing of, “Who performed miracles for our forefathers in those days at this time,” have intention that God should continue to guide us through time and its natural occurrences as He did for Judith and Esther.

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