Moshe Stempel – Presentation of Series Of Short Articles On Chanukah Based On Previous Vaad’s

Tonight R’ Bamberger continued to discuss the importance of feeling joy on Yom Tov. Tonight’s vaad was based on the sefer Michtav Me’eliyahu by R’ Eliyahu Dessler.

The Gemara in Mesechta Shabbos records a dispute between two Tanaim regarding whether we should increase or decrease the number of candles that we light each night of Chanukah. Beis Shamai maintain that we should continually decrease the number of candles, while Beis Hillel hold that we should continually increase the number of candles.

One interpretation of the dispute is as follows: Beis Shamai focus on the number of days that are left in the Yom Tov, while Beis Hillel focus on the number of days that have already passed in the Yom Tov.

Another interpretation of that dispute is the following: Beis Shamai rule that one should continually decrease the number of candles to correspond to the continually decreasing number of cows that are offered as sacrifices during Succos. Beis Hillel rule that one should continually increase the number of candles to reflect the rule that one should continually increase his level of holiness.

Parenthetically, the Beis Yosef asks what the connection is between the sacrificial cows on Succos and the Yom Tov of Chanukah. One possible answer is that the Syrian Greeks tried to abolish the Yom Tov of Succos. Therefore, we commemorate the failure of the Greeks’ designs with the lighting of the Chanukah menorah.

R’ Dessler explains that the dispute between Beis Shamai and Beis Hillel concerns the best way to grow in our service of G-d. Beis Shamai takes a realistic approach. We should always be aware of our tendencies to degenerate and should therefore take measures to prevent that from happening. Beis Hillel, on the other hand, is idealistic. Since every person is capable of reaching great spiritual heights, we should strive to constantly grow in our spiritual levels.

R’ Bamberger noted that R’ Dessler presents two different approaches to chinuch. Some yeshivos admit that their students aren’t holding on the level that they should be, and that they should therefore “water-down” the curriculum to cater to their needs. Other yeshivos recognize the infinite potential in their students and encourage them to achieve the goals of the yeshivah. R’ Bamberger emphasized that he endorses the latter approach.

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