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Dec. 3, 2021

Rhode Island and Providence Plantations (Miketz/Chanukah)

Did you know that Rhode Island is the smallest state in the United States of America? Fascinating, right? But wait, it gets even better. Rhode Island’s claim to fame is not just that it is the smallest state in the U.S; it also happens to have the longest name out of all U.S. states. The official name, used on all state documents, is “Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.” This is actually crazy. I’m telling you. You cannot make this stuff up. As it turns out, Rhode Island is the smallest state with the longest name!

There is a valuable insight and lesson to be learned from here. That is, the greatness of being small. The Jewish people are promised in the Torah to be “the smallest of nations.” Yet, despite our smallness, the Jewish people have prevailed time and again in the face of tremendous adversity from the surrounding nations. The Jewish nation may be the smallest, but our impact and effect on this world is incredibly great. The Jewish people are small, but our name is extraordinary great.

The holiday of Chanukah teaches us this idea. We may be small and outnumbered, like we say in davening and bentching of Chanukah, רבים ביד מעטים – many in the hands of the small – however, we don’t let our small numbers dictate the outcome of our battles. Rather, we fight hard and remain steadfast in our Judaism, and connect ourselves to the core values of Hashem’s Torah. And this boosts us forward and allows us to overcome all types of challenges.

The Vilna Gaon points out that Parshas Miketz pretty much always falls out on the holiday of Chanukah. He points out that at the end of every Parshah in the Torah, the בעלי המסורה recorded the number of pesukim, however, only by one of the Parshios – namely, Parshas Miketz – did they also record the number of words. That number is 2,025.

The number 2,025, says the Vilna Gaon, is very connected to Chanukah; it is an allusion to the נר חנוכה. How so? Are you ready? Buckle up. This is going to be epic.

The numerical value of נר (candle) is 250. If you multiply 250 times the 8 days of Chanukah (250x8), it equals 2,000. The holiday of Chanukah starts on כה כסלו, the 25th of Kislev. If you add the number 25 to 2,000, you get a grand total of 2,025.

By all means, you can dance, cry, or do whatever you usually do when you are dramatically inspired.

The Chanukah candles teach us many things. One of the messages of the Chanukah candles is that one simple and little flame can shine through intense darkness. Think about it. There is no such thing as darkness that is too dark for light to make an impact. Light is one of those magical aspects of creation that can outshine any darkness.

One simple and small light. My friends, this is the Jewish people. We are that simple and small light. We are the “smallest of nations” in the vast darkness of the global frontiers, yet, ironically, Chazal tell us that we are “a light unto the nations.” We – despite, or maybe because of our smallness – can provide a tremendous amount of light and positive change to the world in which we live. Just like Rhode Island may be the smallest state, remember, it has the longest name. Similarly, the Jewish people may be the smallest of nations. But always remember and never forget (yes, that’s the same thing) that the Jewish people have the “longest” name. We are the light unto the nations and provide so much to the world.

Have a holy Shabbos!