Reb Shmuel, the wealthy merchant, was reviewing the details of his upcoming
trip.The wagon would be coming to pick him up shortly. His lodging and
meals should be fully arranged. His money, to cover his expenditures, was
neatly apportioned and budgeted: eight valises carried large and specific
sums he needed to purchase different sorts of goods. He hoped that this
trip to the fair would enable him to stock up on enough good-value
merchandise so that he would not have to make this long journey again.
The wagon picked him up as he expected. The journey, over a few days, was
peaceful and uneventful. As they neared the city, the driver noticed a man
on the side of the road calling for attention. The wagon driver slowed the
horses to a halt. Reb Shmuel took a look to see what was occurring. The
next thing he knew, he was sitting in the wagon with a knife to his neck.
The man on the side of the road had been a set up. A group of bandits
ransacked the wagon, and made off with its contents. Reb Shmuel was
contemplating the gravity of his loss when he noticed that one of his
valises remained. He still had a sizable sum of money, and that gave him an
Reb Shmuel ordered the wagon driver to head toward the city at top speed.
Once he arrived, he ran to speak with a business associate he had known for
years. He asked his friend for specific assistance, and his friend pointed
him in the right direction. Reb Shmuel ran to the local pub and asked for
the individual whom his friend recommended. This gentleman was more than
happy to assist Reb Shmuel. This man, a local hooligan, was willing to
assemble a few of his comrades to recover the stolen property from those
whom they suspected might have taken it, for a sizable fee, first
installment paid up front. Reb Shmuel took the money out of the one valise
he still had, paid the ruffian, and left him with the location of the inn
where he would be staying.
Reb Shmuel then headed to shul. He arrived a few minutes before Mincha, and
started to daven aloud. "Hashem, you have given me much success over the
years. I, thankfully, have been able to make a good living. I have been
able to devote time to Torah, and to assist the poor and local Torah
institutions with the charity they need. Hashem, if you miraculously return
my goods to me, I will donate one tenth of the money to charity." By that
point, more men had assembled to pray, and they heard Reb Shmuel's
comments. They davened Mincha,and Reb Shmuel then went to his lodging place
to eat and get some rest.
After dining and getting settled, Reb Shmuel returned to the shul to learn
a bit before davening Ma'ariv. He studied, prayed, and as the congregation
was filing out the door, some surly-looking men barged in, looking for Reb
Shmuel. In their hands, they had 7 valises, with the contents fully intact.
Reb Shmuel had been carrying the one remaining valise at his side, and he
opened it and paid off the gang for recovering his cash. At this point,
representatives of the local charities who had been in shul started to
gather around Reb Shmuel. "Reb Shmuel," they said, "It is time to make good
on your promise to give a tenth." Reb Shmuel opened each of the seven
valises, one by one, and counted out the money. He then separated a tenth
from each and put it aside. When done with this task, he looked up at the
charity collectors, counted their numbers, and gave each an equal portion
of the sum. They, in return, said, "Reb Shmuel, you are not done!" Reb
Shmuel was perplexed: he had given them a tenth of each of the seven
valises; what more could they want? The collectors explained. If the eighth
valise had not been miraculously left behind, Reb Shmuel would not have had
any money readily at hand to pay the search crew. He would not have had the
ability to rescue evenone cent. The fact that he was left with one valise,
a "miracle" in it of itself, enabled the greater miracle, the return of the
remaining seven, to happen. Therefore, they argued, Reb Shmuel should pay
one tenth of the eighth valise as well.
Why is Chanukah eight days long? After all, as there was enough oil found
to light the Menorah for one day, the miracle really only occurred for
seven days! So goes the famous question of the Bais Yosef.
The Kometz Mincha explains that above parable is exactly the reason why we
celebrate for eight days. Had one flask not been miraculously left
untouched and undefiled, there would have been no oil for the greater
miracle to occur.To remember this initial miracle, the first step leading
to the spectacular miracle of one day of oil lasting eight days, we
celebrate a day as well. Chanukah, therefore, appropriately lasts for eight
We have to appreciate every link in a chain of events that leads to
wondrous occurrences. It is often difficult to recognize how special a
small event is, especially when it leads to something greater and
spectacular that overshadows the initial event. Chanukah is a time when we
can reflect on how special every event is, to appreciate the hand of Hashem
in all that occurs to us.
Have a Happy Chanukah!
This issue is dedicated in memory of Rivka Levitin, Ita Rivka bas R' Yosef
a"h. May her family be comforted, and her memory be a blessing.