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Just scratch the surface of anything and you find out what it really is. Like furniture, for instance, is it solid wood, or veneer? Are those shoes vinyl or leather? Is the jewelry 14 karat gold or vermeil?
Just scratch the surface of Chanuka and you find out what it really is--Moshiach!
"Oh come on, now," you're thinking. "I know the story of Chanuka pretty well and there's no mention of Moshiach in it. You're just so Moshiach-minded that you can't think of anything else."
If that's what you're thinking then you're absolutely...
Because, in essence, everything is Moshiach.
Let's take Chanuka as a prime example.
First of all, you're right that Moshiach is not explicitly mentioned in the story of Chanuka or any of the Chanuka customs, blessings or traditional prayers.
But, to prove a point, let's recount that story of Chanuka you know so well, in a nutshell.
It's the story of the Jewish people when they live under the domination of the Greeks. The Greeks encourage the Jews to assimilate, enact decrees against the Torah, and desecrate the Holy Temple.
Many Jews are content to accept the Greek lifestyle.
But one proud Jew, Matithias, wise and learned, a leader of the people, calls upon his brethren to fight G-d's battle, saying, "Whoever is for G-d, join me!"
Together the small army fights under the holy banner that proclaims "Who is like You among the mighty ones, O G-d?"--a phrase whose Hebrew initial letters form the word "Maccabee."
The Jewish army manages to miraculously conquer their bitter enemy, purifies and rededicates the Temple, relights the menora and renews their commitment to G-d and the Torah, etc., etc., etc.
So again, you're wondering, what does Moshiach have to do with the story?
Maimonides tells us that Moshiach will fight "G-d's battles." Sounds pretty much like what Matithias did.
He also explains that the only difference between exile and the times of Moshiach is that we won't be under the yoke of foreign governments: the Maccabees conquered the Greek army and threw off their rulership, at least temporarily.
When Moshiach comes, he will rebuild the Holy Temple; when the Jewish army purified and rededicated the Holy Temple it was as if they rebuilt it, since it was not usuable in its desecrated state.
Also, with the complete Redemption, may it come speedily, we will once again fulfill all the various observances of the Holy Temple, like lighting the menora as our ancestors did on Chanuka.
Lastly, our Sages teach us that when Moshiach comes the world will be filled with the knowledge of G-d and G-dliness and we will pursue this recognition. That is exactly what the Jews did when they renewed their commitment to G-d and the Torah.
Just scratch the surface of Chanuka, or anything for that matter, and you find out what it really is--Moshiach! Why? Because the ultimate reason for the creation of the entire world was the completion of the world which will only be realized when Moshiach comes.
Based on a talk by Dr. D.S. Pape.
At first glance, this week's Torah portion, Vayeishev, chronicles the circumstances leading to Joseph's appointment as second in command over Egypt, subordinate only to Pharaoh. Yet, upon examination, we find that Joseph's story is synonymous with the history of the Jews.
Joseph, the pride of his father, at the age of 17 is suddenly plucked from his secure environment, family, and his country. Sold into slavery and finding himself in a foreign land, he must now cope with the most adverse and cruel of circumstances. Worst of all, Joseph is not to blame, for all this has come about through no action of his own.
A lesser individual would have surely succumbed to bitterness and depression. Another might have become indifferent. But Joseph realized that he must deal with the reality which presented itself. As the servant of Potifar, he fulfilled his duties to the best of his ability. It soon became apparent even to Potifar that it was in Joseph's merit that his household enjoyed its material blessings.
This, then, is the task of every Jew: No matter how adverse the circumstances, each Jew must live up to his full potential and fulfill his duties to the best of his ability.
But how was Joseph repaid for his loyalty? He was thrown into prison! Why? Because he refused to betray his master by succumbing to the advances of the master's wife. Not only didn't Joseph's honesty and integrity bring him any positive benefits, these very qualities caused him to be incarcerated. Was Joseph discouraged? Did he reject his lifestyle and renounce his high standards? Joseph's response to adversity was to continue in the same path, acting honestly and in good faith. Eventually his behavior and virtue drew the attention of his jailers.
This is the history of the Jew as well: No matter how depraved and corrupt his surroundings, he remains undeterred from his faith in G-d and His Torah.
When Joseph noticed that two of his fellow inmates, Pharaoh's chief butler and chief baker, were distressed for some reason, he rushed to their aid, without thought of rejoicing at their misfortune or of taking revenge for the role they played in his downfall. Joseph could not bear to see people in need, and so he immediately offered his assistance. He was able to bring them relief by interpreting their respective dreams.
In return, Joseph did not ask for monetary payment or special treatment. He merely requested that the chief butler mention his name to Pharaoh when he was freed, which he didn't do. In his unbending faith in the goodness of man and in ultimate justice, Joseph believed that fairness would prevail if only Pharaoh was presented with the facts.
This theme has been played out time and again in Jewish history. Joseph unfortunately learned the hard way that this world is full of lies and deception. Yet when he later found himself in a position of almost unlimited power, he refused to exact revenge on those who had harmed him. This is not the way of the Jew. Joseph faithfully used his office to steer the Egyptians and the whole world from potential catastrophe during the years of famine, enacting, for the first time, the historic role the Jews have played during their exile among the nations.
Adapted from the works of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.
ALL THE WORLD
by Yitzchak Levin
Boris and Luba are relatives who moved to Israel from Russia two years ago and live in Cholon. Last year, when Chabad started publicizing the special "Chanuka Live" program--a simultaneous, intercontinental satellite broadcast that would be seen around the world--my wife suggested that we invite ourselves over to them to see the program. They were delighted.
On the first night of Chanuka we showed up at their door. They greeted us with big smiles. We chatted, sang Chanuka songs, and ate. Grisha, Boris's father, reminisced about Chanuka in his father's house. Tears rolled down his cheeks.
Close to 10:00 p.m., Boris started to adjust the television antenna to pick up the broadcast clearly. We sat there utterly amazed as we contemplated today's technology which turns the whole world into one village. At exactly 10:00 p.m., "Chanuka Live" began. I told our cousins that in the United States alone, this broadcast was being televised on 40 T.V. stations and hundreds of cable stations in addition to the stations in Europe, Israel, and cities throughout the world. But the most amazing thing, we all agreed, was that millions of Jews and tens of millions of non-Jews who were watching were participating in the largest, to date, realization of the instruction from our Sages to "publicize the miracle" of Chanuka!
On the screen, the anchorman together with two Chabad rabbis, explained the significance of Chanuka and a little about the remarkable life of the Rebbe, shlita. The camera zoomed in on the Rebbe turning around to look at the children at the end of the afternoon services.
All of a sudden, I heard Luba say, "I don't believe it! That is the congressional hall in the Kremlin," We could not possibly fathom the greatness of the miracle that saw Jews gathered in the Kremlin to light the Chanuka candles and to participate freely in a live broadcast throughout the entire world.
But we were not just in Moscow. Soon we were at the Eiffel Tower where 25,000 people were gathered.The international dialogue continued. We were now at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.
Cut to Melbourne, Australia. It was morning there and the sun shone brightly. A huge crowd had gathered in a tremendous hall. They, too, were connected to this international telecast.
A second later we were in Hong Kong, in a hotel with a small group of Jews gathered there. The whole world was indeed one small village. "Chabad is all over the world," Boris said in simple amazement.
The camera returned to "770." The gathering now began in earnest with the recitation of the 12 Torah verses that over a decade ago the Rebbe encouraged all Jewish children to learn by heart. They were said in rotation. The first in New York, the second one at the Wall in Jerusalem by a child from Chernobyl who added a word of thanks to the Rebbe for his initiation of a campaign to save them. A child in Moscow said the next verse. The fourth one was said in Paris, the fifth in Hong Kong and the sixth in Australia. The rotation continued until all 12 verses were recited.
The actual lighting of the menoras commenced. Moscow was first. An elderly chasid, Rabbi Avrohom Genin, who lived a fully observant, Chasidic life in Communist Russia, was honored with the first candle. As he stood there reciting the blessing "Shehecheyanu," with great emotion, another drama unfolded right in front of us in the living room. Grisha raised his hands to the heavens and cried out, "Shehecheyanu--who has granted us life and sustained us and enabled us to reach this occasion." His eyes streamed with tears and his wife cried together with him. "I don't believe it," he said over and over.
In Jerusalem, the Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, lit the menora and described the great efforts and success of the Rebbe in spreading Torah and Chasidut in the world.
From there to France where the Chief Rabbi of Paris lit the menora. The crowd in Paris broke out singing "Ha'aderet Vehemuna" to the tune of the Marseillaise and suddenly the Rebbe swung his arm over and over again, faster and faster to encourage the singing. "How much energy this man has!" Boris said in amazement.
Thus the candle-lighting passed to Australia, Hong Kong and then back to "770." All over the world they were singing the verses following the menora lighting. In every place they were singing the same tune, the same words. With a wave of his arm the Rebbe encouraged everyone to sing, and Jews all over the world responded simultaneously.
The Rebbe spoke for about a half an hour, and the whole world listened. He spoke about what we had just seen, that when a young Jewish child kindles a light in one corner of the world the entire world sees it. The physical broadcast is just a reflection of the spiritual energy of the light that illuminates the world from one end to the other. The Rebbe called for the light of Torah and holiness, the light of kindness and righteousness, to be spread throughout the world.
Luba said that she now understands why people talk about the Rebbe so much.
On the way home, we talked about the impact that satellites have and how certain we are sure that very soon, Moshiach will come, and he will be revealed to the whole world via live satellite.
Reprinted from the Kfar Chabad Magazine.
Ed. note: Chanuka Live this year will be at 3:00 p.m. est on Sunday Dec. 20. Call 1-800-LUBAVITCH or (718) 771-2100 for more info.
WORLD'S LARGEST CHANUKA MENORA
Join thousands of Jews on all eight nights of Chanuka at the World's Largest Chanuka Menora at Fifth Ave. and 59th St. near Central Park in Manhattan. The first candle will be lit on Sat. night, Dec. 19 at 8:00 p.m. Sun. - Thurs., Dec. 20-24 at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 25 at 3:39 p.m. and the last night of Chanuka, Sat., Dec. 26 at 8:00 p.m. On Sunday there will be free latkas, dreidles, and Chanuka gelt for the children. For more info call (718) 778-6000. Over 2,000 Chabad Centers throughout the world have similar public menora lighting. Call your local Chabad-Lubavitch center for more details.
AS A NEW DAY BREAKS
The latest addition for Sichos in English's subscribers is a series called, "As A New Day Breaks." These essays take a look at Moshiach and the Redemption from a secular view. For more information call Sichos in English at (718) 778-5436 or write to them at 788 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, NY 11213.
THERE IS NO LIMIT TO GOODNESS
Adapted from a letter of the Lubavitcher Rebbe
I was pleased to receive the good news that you began lighting a candle for Shabbat. No doubt you will do the same also, for Yom Tov.
Although, as you mention, you have not yet reached the age of Bat Mitzva, you surely know that the mitzva of chinuch--training in the practice of mitzvot--begins quite early in Jewish life. It not only prepares for Bar Mitzva and Bat Mitzva, but lays the foundation for a person's entire life. This is what the wisest of all men, King Solomon, meant, when he said, "Train (chanoch) the youngster in his right way, so that he will not depart from it also when he grows old." (Proverbs 2:6) Needless to say, though the verse speaks of a boy (na'ar), girls are included, as in many similar verses in the Torah.
A mitzva should, of course, be fulfilled for its own sake, because G-d commanded it, and without thought of reward. Nevertheless, each mitzva contains many lessons and carries with it G-d's blessings in many ways. This is especially true in the case of the mitzva of Shabbat candles, as explained by our Sages (in the Talmud Shabbat 23b, and elsewhere), that it is connected with the verse, "Ner mitzva v'Torah Or," meaning that lighting the Shabbat candles brings the light of Torah--the whole Torah-into the home.
A further point about Shabbat candles has to do with the "practical" reason of lighting up the house so that no one might stumble in darkness and get hurt, G-d forbid. But in a deeper sense, the Shabbat candles light up the house and every member of the family with the light of Torah, [enabling them] to walk safely through the path of life which is full of dangerous pitfalls.
In addition, lighting a candle in honor of Shabbat and Yom Tov betokens the lighting up of one's mazal, to be blessed by G-d [not only in spiritual matters, but] also in all material needs.
May G-d grant that all the great spiritual and material blessings that go with Shabbat candles be fulfilled in you and shared by everyone in your home.
It is especially gratifying to receive the good news, and to acknowledge it, in these days close to Chanuka. For Chanuka further emphasizes the significance of candle-lighting in Jewish life. One of the important details of the Chanuka lights is that they should be seen also outside, so that those who are still "outside" may also be inspired by the lesson of Chanuka.
Another important detail about the Chanuka lights is that, although the mitzva of the Chanuka candles is fulfilled to perfection by lighting one candle the first night, we are called upon to light two candles the second night, three the following night, and so on, adding one more candle each night. This teaches us that however satisfactory our religious observance is today, we must do better tomorrow, and better still the day after, for there is no limit to goodness and holiness.
In light of the above, I trust that you will not only go from strength to strength in all matters of Judaism in your personal life and daily conduct, but will also be a shining example to other girls, especially those who are not as privileged as you, and know little or nothing about the mitzvot. A good way of helping those underprivileged girls is by starting them on candle-lighting in honor of Shabbat and Yom Tov, and gradually kindling many other "mitzva candles." For such is the beauty of light, and that a little flame of a candle can ignite many candles, and the light can be shared by all who are within sight.
What are some of the requirements of the Chanuka menora?
All eight branches or candleholders of a Chanuka menora must be in a straight line, at the same height. There must be a distinction between the place for the shamash and the other lights. A Chanuka menora can be made out of any kind of material.
The farbrengen--Chasidic gathering--in Lubavitch World Headquarters this Shabbat last year is still remembered as the "French Farbrengen" for its unique content and ambiance.
The Rebbe departed from his usual style and started the farbrengen with words of welcome to a group of guests from France. They, in turn, each raised their glass to the Rebbe and wished him "L'Chaim"--"to life."
The thousands of people assembled there began singing words from a particular prayer to the tune of the French National Anthem, a custom which began when the first large group of visitors came from France nearly a decade ago.
In the talk which followed, the Rebbe explained that there are various approaches to involvement in mundane matters. The approach comprised of refining the world and revealing the G-dliness invested within it is called "tziruf." The Hebrew word tziruf, the Rebbe pointed out, is directly related to the Hebrew word for France, Tzarfat. Whereas at one point in history, the main approach of the French population toward the world was a self-oriented approach of seeking material pleasure, the approach of refinement of the world is currently on the ascendancy. This is most certainly due to the influence of the visits of the Rebbes of Lubavitch beginning with the fourth Rebbe in the 1800's, the fifth Rebbe and the Previous Rebbe who established the Lubavitcher Yeshiva in Brunoy, France.
It is, of course, interesting to note that the Rebbe, shlita, lived in France together with Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka (of blessed memory) from 1934 to 1941.
Throughout this most special talk, the Rebbe mentioned Moshiach and the Ultimate Redemption numerous times. The final connection to the Redemption, however, was a quote from the previous week's Haftorah portion (read just days before this special group from France arrived) which the Rebbe quoted: "The exiled host of the children of Israel as far as Tzarfat... will take hold of the cities of the south. And saviors will ascend Mount Zion... and sovereignty will be G-d's."
May the fulfillment of this prophecy, and the words of all the prophets, to our very own days, be fulfilled now, with the coming of the Redemption.
The followers of Rabbi Dov Ber, the Maggid of Mezritch, awaited his entrance into the synagogue for the lighting of the Chanuka menora on the first night of Chanuka. For the past few years, Reb Zushe, one of the Maggid's greatest disciples, had been honored with lighting the shamash candle. Reb Zushe would then hand it to the Maggid who lit his menora from it. But Reb Zushe was nowhere to be seen and the chasidim wondered if his absence was the reason the Maggid had not yet lit the menora.
Minutes, then hours ticked by, as the chasidim waited for their Rebbe to emerge. Finally, at about midnight, the Maggid emerged from his room and walked towards the menora. As if to himself, the Maggid said quietly, "Reb Zushe will not be with us tonight. We will light the menora now."
The Maggid honored another of his chasidim with the privilege of kindling the shamash for him, the blessings were chanted and the one, solitary wick was lit. Then all of the holy assemblage joined together in singing the traditional Chanuka hymns.
The next morning, just as the Maggid and his chasidim were finishing the services, Reb Zushe walked in. Weary from traveling, Reb Zushe shuffled over to his customary place and dropped down on the bench. His friends came over and gave him a hearty welcome. One of them reported, "The Rebbe waited a long time for you last night. What happened?"
"After we light the Chanuka menora tonight," promised Reb Zushe, "and with the Rebbe's permission, I will tell you what happened."
All of the chasidim gathered around the Maggid's menora on the second night of Chanuka. After the Maggid lit the menora they eagerly listened to Reb Zushe's story:
"As you all know, immediately after the High Holidays, it is my custom to travel throughout the small villages and hamlets near Mezritch. I go from town to town, speaking with the adults and teaching the children about the wonders of our heritage. I also speak to them about how G-d loves each and every single Jew and that they are all important to Him. I tell them about our Rebbe and explain some of the Rebbe's teachings.
"Each year, I plan my schedule so that I can return to Mezritch in time for Chanuka. Yesterday, I was on my way back to Mezritch when a terrible snowstorm started. I pushed on through the storm, though many times I felt I could not continue. Knowing that I would soon be back in Mezritch near the Rebbe was what kept me going.
"The storm worsened and I soon realized that I would have to stop and rest a bit before continuing, if I wanted to make it to Mezritch at all. And so, I stopped at the home of Yankel in a village not too far from Mezritch. By this time it was already quite late in the afternoon. I pounded and pounded on the door until finally, someone called out, 'Who is it?'
"'It is I, Reb Zushe,' I said loudly.
"Yankel's wife opened the door. She looked absolutely terrified as she bid me inside. I noticed that the children, too, looked frightened.
"The poor woman burst out, 'Yankel left the house early this morning to gather firewood. He promised he would come back early, for even then he saw we were in for a terrible storm. It is late already and still he has not returned,' she wailed.
"For a split second I hesitated. If I went into the forest now, who knew if I would come out alive? But I knew I had no choice. I put on my coat and scarf once again and set out toward the forest.
"I passed a few rows of trees when I saw the upright form of a man covered with snow. Only his face was visible in that white blur. I saw right away that it was Yankel, and I thought for sure that he had frozen to death. But when I came very close, I noticed to my surprise, that he was still breathing. I brushed Yankel off and tried to warm him up.
"Somehow I managed to drag and carry Yankel back to his house where his wife and children greeted us with cries of joy. With my last ounce of strength I deposited Yankel on the bench near the stove and fell to the floor myself. Miraculously, Yankel's wife was able to "thaw" him out. She brought us a bottle of strong mashke which we drank eagerly to warm our insides. At about midnight we felt sufficiently strong enough to stand up and light the Chanuka menora. As we said the prayer, 'who made miracles for our ancestors, in those days at this time," we knew without a doubt that G-d had made a miracle for us now, too.
"As soon as the sun rose in the morning I set out for Mezritch and arrived when you saw me this morning."
Reb Zushe finished his story. The Maggid looked deeply into Reb Zushe's face. "Know, Zushe, that in Heaven they waited--as it were--to light the Divine Chanuka menora until you lit the menora together with Yankel. In the merit of your saving a Jewish soul from death, the Heavens awaited you."
And Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age (Gen. 37:3)
Why is this cited as a reason for the special bond which existed between Israel and his son Joseph? Did he not have other children who were born when he was already an old man? Issachar and Zebulon were the same age as Joseph, and Benjamin would be born even later.
The phrase "son of his old age" is therefore interpreted to apply to Joseph himself; his actions were those of an old and wise individual who had already acquired a lifetime of wisdom.
And Joseph was brought down to Egypt (39:1)
"He reigned over them," the Midrash relates, explaining that the word "brought down" is linguistically related to the word "reign." As proof of this, the Midrash cites a verse about Moshiach, "And he shall reign from sea to sea."What is the connection between Joseph's descent into the cesspool of ancient Egypt, and the rule of Moshiach?
The Jewish history of exile actually began when Joseph was brought down to Egypt, and, as the prototype of all other exiles to follow, its true purpose was the elevation and ascent of the Jewish people which would follow its suffering. The objective of our present exile is likewise the coming of Moshiach and the ultimate Redemption.
Joseph was handsome in form and handsome in appearance (39:6)
"Handsome in form"--scrupulous in the performance of positive mitzvot. "Handsome in appearance"--equally scrupulous in keeping the negative commandments.
On the verse concerning the birth of Peretz, the progenitor of Moshiach, our Sages comment, "This refers to the Moshiach, as it is written, "The one who breaks through--haporetz--shall ascend before them." This is the task of Moshiach--to break through the barriers of exile and spread holiness throughout the world, as it is written, "And you shall spread out vigorously (UFARATZTA) west, east, north, and south."