Zos Chanukas Hamizbeach, This was the dedication of the Mizbeach. In my head, I imagine this being proclaimed just as the Jeopardy announces “This is Jeopardy.” We always seek to finish strong with something we’ve started, whether it’s a workout or a school project. The eighth and final day of Chanukah is an auspicious time indeed, arguably one of the most powerful days of the entire holiday, according to many of our sages. Many Chasidic commentaries record Zos Chanukah, the last day of Chanukah, as being the day in which our gmar din is sealed for good (there even exists a minhag among Chasidim to greet others with “gmar chasima tova” or “gmar tov” on this day). The Ruzhiner Rebbe, one of the most regal Chasidic leaders of the 1800’s, is quoted that the holiness and splendor that is imbued in Zos Chanukah is parallel to that of Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur. The word “zos” from today’s Torah reading parallels two pesukim which, to me, can help crystalize this connection of the holiness of the Days of Awe with Zos Chanukah. The first comes from Yeshayahu “zos yechupar avon Yaakov”, with this shall Jacob’s iniquity be atoned for. Rabbi Gavriel Zinner, in Nitei Gavriel on Chanukah, bases this idea from passages in the Bnei Binyamin, and works of Rabbi David of Dinov and the Bnei Yissaschar. By reading of Chanukas Hamizbeach, we strengthen ourselves and our commitment to the Almighty, a step which grants us atonement for our iniquities.
The second pasuk that Zos Chanukah connects to comes from Tehillim (27:3) “Bezos ani boteach, In This I trust.” The Medrash Rabbah points out that the “zos” here refers to God, that, as our currency tells us, In God I Trust. The Chashmonaim fought valiantly against the mighty Greek militia. By no means did anyone around them think they would win. The Chashmonaim, with their intense devotion to Hashem, knew they had to fight as hard as they could in order to stand up to their aggressors. Their belief in God springboarded a religious renewal for the Jewish people following the victory over the Greeks. It’s a renewal that we can channel into this day contemporarily.
May this Zos Chanukah be one that strengthens our emunah, as well as our ability to turn back to Hashem in teshuvah, even after the Yamim Noraim. Gmar tov!