Shabbos Chanukah – Not by Might and Not by Power but Spirit Alone!

There is an optional prayer one can say towards the end of “Shema Koleinu” in shemoneh esrei, for one’s livelihood. Asking Hashem for financial support so that one can do Hashem’s will, engage in learning His Torah and fulfilling His mitzvos, and not needing (or being dependent on) the gift of flesh and blood. The question that comes to mind is: how does one expect to earn his livelihood? From money growing on trees, or falling from heaven?

In a similar vein, it says  we find at the end of this week’s haftorah for Shabbos Chanukah, in the fourth perek of Zechariah it says:

“And the angel who spoke with me returned, and he awakened me as a man who wakes up from his sleep. And he said to me, ‘What do you see?’ And I said, ‘I saw, and behold [there was] a menorah all of gold, with its oil-bowl on top of it, and its seven lamps thereon; seven tubes each to the lamps that were on top of it. And [there were] two olive trees near it; one on the right of the bowl, and one on its left. So I answered and spoke to the angel who talked with me, saying, ‘What are these, my master?’ And the angel who spoke with me answered, and he said to me, ‘Do you not know what these are?’ And I said, ‘No, my master.’ And he answered and spoke to me, saying, "This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbavel, saying: 'Not by military force and not by physical strength, but by My spirit,' says the Lord of Hosts” (Zechariah 4:1-6).

Rashi there says that the olive trees next to the menorah crushed and made oil by themselves, which would and then would flow through a pipe into the lamps of the menorah. This was a sign for Zechariah to assure Zerubbavel  that just as the olive produces oil totally by themselves so to, not with your might nor with your power will you build the second Beis HaMikdash. Rather, I will bestow My Spirit on Darius and he will let you (or really command you) to build and make all the needs for the construction of the Beis HaMikdash from his assets. He will help you with wheat, wine, oil, and wood as explained in Sefer Ezra, and you will not need the help of man. (Click here for Hebrew text.)

Zechariah was shown how a menorah was being fueled by a pipeline from trees which produced their own oil. The message being that just as the menorah was filled by itself without any human intervention so too the Beis Hamikdash will be rebuilt without any Human intervention. The obvious question is that Rashi himself just finished saying that there will be Human intervention because King Darius, (who was the son of Queen Esther) will spearhead and provide for the rebuilding of the Second Beis HaMikdash. Granted Zerubbavel, the Davidic leader of the Jews, would not have to force Darius or use any convincing whatsoever to be allowed to rebuild the Beis HaMikdash because Hashem will implant within Darius the idea to make it happen; but how can one say , “and you will not need the help of man?”

Zerubbavel was the grandson of Yehoyachin, King of Yehudah, before the Babylonian exile. Zerubbavel was also a minister in the palace of King Darius. He had clout and royal lineage but Hashem said: id ‘you won’t have to use any of that, no valor or strength to regain permission to build the Beis HaMikdash for I will plant My Holy Spirit on Darius and he will not only let you, but command you and even help you rebuild the Beis HaMikdash.’  This is called not getting any help from mankind because no one had to use force or to verbally convince anyone to help rebuild the Beis HaMikdash;  rather, Hashem instilled in King Darius’ thoughts to go about getting it done. King Darius was like a puppet in a puppeteer’s hands with Hashem pulling the strings.

When serving Hashem we believe that we have to put in our best efforts and Hashem produces the results. Hashem has, though He has the ability to always create open miracles, something from nothing, bringing the house down from heaven.  However, most of the time He chooses to work within the confines of nature which Hashem Himself created.  Therefore not getting help from mankind does not mean the Beis HaMikdash would appear out of nowhere; , rather,  what it means is that no effort would be needed to ensure that others will help you produce the desired results, rather and instead the help will come by themselves itself out of Divine Inspiration, like a puppet and a puppeteer.

This should be our attitudes about our livelihood as well. Not that we should expect money to appear out of nowhere, right at our door steps or in our bank accounts, but rather we should strive and pray for the ability to serve Hashem, focusing on delving into the depths of His Torah and performing His mitzvos without needing to run around searching for a means of support or spending too much time using our powers and skills to make money. Rather instead  we should be asking Hashem to create situations where us and our families’ sustenance will all come into place with an easy means, a quick but lucrative business deal or some supporter who would like to see us excel, or the like, so that we can put all our focus and energy into Torah and mitzvos, walking in the ways of Hashem, instead of also needing to allocate much of the effort and energy into making a living.