Torah Tidbits

23 July 2014 / 25 Tammuz 5774
Issue 1024
Shabbat Parshat Vayeishev
December 06, 2012

Lead Tidbit

Bayamim Haheim, Bazman Hazeh

No, BAZMAN is not a super-hero or a super-villain; it is pronounced BAH-Z’MAHN - so forgive the way it first looks as an English word.
In those days, at this time. So goes the plain translation of the phrase that we find in two places - the SHE’ASA NISIM bracha for Chanuka candles and Megilat Esther, and at the end of the opening passage of AL HANISIM, again, on Chanuka and Purim.
In those days for Purim would be around 2370 years ago. For Chanuka, more recently - only about 2180 years ago.
At this time means mid-Adar for Purim and the end of Kislev for Chanuka.
That’s the plain meaning of BAYMIM HAHEIM BAZMAN HAZEH.
There is another way of understanding this phrase. BAYAMIM HAHEIM, in those days - of the past, and BAZMAN HAZEH, in these days - in the present. When we acknowledge G-d for the many miracles He has wrought for the People of Israel - both open miracles as well as more subtle, hidden miracles, we included an implied prayer that He continues to favor the People of Israel with miracles and victories in our own time - BAZMAN HAZEH.
We can think of things as a subset of MAASEI AVOT SIMAN LABANIM, the deeds of our ancestors serve as models for their descendants - us.
Another element that inputs into the idea of the other meaning of BAZMAN HAZEH. At the Seder we declare that in every generation a person has to see things as if he himself came our of Egypt. We don’t view the story of the Exodus as a Once-upon-a-time, a-long-time-ago story. Rather, we tell our children, because of this, G-d did what He did to me, when I was coming out of Egypt.
So too with the Sinai Experience - Matan Torah. In the third month following the Exodus, on THIS day, we came to Midbar Sinai. THIS day? It should say THAT day, if you are telling a story of what happened a long time ago. No, say our commentaries, the experience of and learning of Torah should be fresh in your eyes as if you received it TODAY. Every day!
What goes for Pesach and Shavuot, must go for every date on the Jewish Calendar. Nothing in our history is a long time ago, because we relive it in every generation.
In fact, let’s modify something from the front page. We made reference to an implied prayer that we would also appreciate G-d’s miracles today. But it is more than that.
We relive and experience the miracles of BAYAMIM HAHEIM in our BAZMAN HAZEH. Maybe that’s why we don’t say UVAZMAN HAZEH - and in our time, but BAYAMIM HAHEIM BAZMAN HAZEH - the victories and miracles occurred then as now, or now, just as then.
It is not enough to tell the Chanuka story to our children and grandchildren. We must help them relive the experiences.
We must appreciate - and engender that appreciation in the next generations - our ability to learn, study, and teach Torah and keep the Mitzvot without the hindrance of the Greeks and their ilk.
We don’t have to go back to far to find Jews who were not allowed by the ruling governments in their countries, to learn Torah and keep mitzvot. Speak to a Yosef Mendelevitch and others and they will tell you what it was like to be arrested and imprisoned for studying Hebrew.
And if most of us today have not had personal negative experiences, then we have to empathize with those who have, and we have to internalize and personalize all the lessons of Jewish History, so that BAYAMIM HAHEIM becomes BAZMAN HAZEH.
We can light of Chanuka lamps with the pride of Pirsumei Nisa and we can truly celebrate Torah and Mitzvot because of the partnership between G-d and certain tenacious Jews who lived BAYAMIM HAHEIM and, B"H, BAZMAN HAZEH.

In This Issue of Torah Tidbits

Candle Lighting and Havdala

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