The Syrian Greeks and their Hellenistic Jewish allies tried to eliminate our nation’s commitment to the Torah, and the holiday of Chanukah celebrates our renewal of this commitment. As we know, this renewal took place within the Land of Israel. In this letter, I will review with you the following teaching of the Chofez Chaim which can give us a deeper and holistic understanding of why this renewal of our commitment to the Torah needed to take place in our land:
The soul of Israel is the holy Torah, and the body of Israel is the Land of Israel. (Chofetz Chaim on the Torah, Parshas Bo)
Just as the soul needs the body in order to fulfill its purpose in this world, so too, the Torah needs the Land of Israel in order to fulfill its purpose in this world. This is why the Chofetz Chaim reminds us that many mitzvos of the Torah can only be fulfilled in the Land (ibid).
“But the Land of Israel without the Torah,” stresses the Chofetz Chaim, “is a body without a soul” (ibid). The Chofetz Chaim finds an allusion to the connection between our nation’s body and soul in the following statement where Hashem proclaims that He is the One, “Who firmed the land and its produce, Who gave a soul to the people upon it” (Isaiah 42:5).
As Moshe and all the Prophets of Israel indicate, the ultimate fulfillment of our nation’s universal mission requires the holistic interaction of our soul and the body – the Torah and the Land of Israel. To strengthen our ability to reach this goal, we needed to experience the “Chanukah” renewal of the Torah in the Land of Israel.
Have a Good and Strengthening Chanukah,
Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen