The Flask of Emunah

When the Bnei Yissaschar came to live in Hungary — where he was to spend four years before returning to Poland — he requested of a resident who had merited to bask in the presence of Harav Eizek, the Kaliver Rebbe, zy”a, to relate something he had witnessed.

“Before lighting the Chanukah lecht, the Kaliver Rebbe related a story,” the Yid recalled. “I don’t understand what possible connection this story has with Chanukah — but this is what he told:

“There was once a simple villager named Levi, who was a great ignoramus, but highly successful in his business ventures which, in turn, made it possible for his older daughter to marry a ben Torah. He went on to become extremely wealthy, and he desired for his second daughter to wed a famous iluy.

“Accompanied by his son-in-law, Levi traveled to a city which hosted a large yeshivah and asked the Rosh Yeshivah to arrange a shidduch with the top bachur in his yeshivah. The Rosh Yeshivah agreed, and the shidduch was duly arranged.

When the two sides decided to sign a tena’im, Levi became worried. The custom was that the parents sign this document — and he had never learned how to write!

“His son-in-law calmed him down.

“‘I will teach you how to sign your name in a way that no one will be able to discern that you don’t know how to write,’ he told his father-in-law. ‘Your name is Levi, so first make a longer line [which will suffice for a lamed], followed by a medium size line [for a vav] and finally a dot [for the yud].’

“When it came time to sign the tena’im, Levi wrote it in reverse. He first put a dot, followed by a medium length line and then the long line.

“This is the story that the Kaliver Rebbe told,” the Yid concluded.

“In this story lies hidden all the concepts of Chanukah,” the Bnei Yissaschar revealed. “For the villager was named Levi, but when he reversed the letters of his name, he wrote the opposite — yud, vav, nunYavan!” [A long line is usually used for the nun that appears at the end of a word.]

The Shoproner Rav, zt”l, explains that this story symbolizes the fact that a Yid is constantly required to work on his humility and turning a “long line” (representing haughtiness) into a dot, a yud.

The evil inclination — symbolized by the ancient Greeks, Yavan — seeks the precise opposite: to increase a person’s arrogance, to turn the humble into the haughty, the small dot into a long line.

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Emunah and bitachon go hand and hand with humility. Only with true humility does one recognize that man has no power of his own — and that all that happens is from Hashem.

Deep within every Jewish soul exists an inheritance from Avraham Avinu, a reservoir of emunah which can never be sullied. This, the Chiddushei HaRim teaches, is symbolized by the flask of oil found by the Chashmona’im.

It was a time when the powers of impurity had managed to contaminate all the “oils” — and the alien Greek culture had inflicted terrible harm on the Jews of the time. But one flask remained pure and untainted — the “flask” of emunah which exists within every Jew.

As we sit and gaze at the lights of the menorah, let us recall that a key element of this mitzvah is for us to reflect on the miracles that Hashem wrought for our ancestors and tap into this “flask” to strengthen our emunah and bitachon.