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                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 1100
                           Copyright (c) 2009
                 Lubavitch Youth Organization - L.Y.O.
                              Brooklyn, NY
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   Dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson N.E.
        December 18, 2009        Miketz            1 Tevet, 5770

                           One Little Candle

Chanuka! The Festival of lights. There's something special about the
small flame shining in the darkness. Traditionally, we put the Menora
("Chanukia," some call it) at the doorpost or in a window so its light
flows into the night.

It's a nice image - it certainly looks inspiring - seen from the
outside, looking in at the Chanuka lights. But really, how much darkness
can one little candle really push away?

Turns out, quite a lot. It's easy to forget in these days of electric
lights, street lamps and massive night-time displays that make
ball-fields as bright as day, just how effective one little candle can
be. But that candle, when all the other lights are out, provides enough
illumination to read, to see a step ahead, to recognize a friend, to
find the fuse box - in short, enough light to push away an overwhelming

With all that, have we ever really looked at a candle, seen what it's
made of?

These days most people use wax and paraffin. But in days gone by, it was
olive oil that fueled the lamps and candles. Even today, many people
prefer to use oil Menoras for Chanuka. A bit messy, perhaps, but Chanuka
is, after all, an "oily" holiday, replete with traditional foods like
potato latkes and sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts) to remind us of the
miracle of the oil!

But what of the candle, or lamp? Let's consider what is it that provides
us light.

First, there has to be something to hold the oil and wick - a lamp.
(Even the wax candles are formed in a mold.) Next, there's the wick.
Then there's the flame which consists of two parts: a darker colored
flame that burns close to the wick and an outer flame. The inner flame
actually burns the wick while the outer, lighter-colored  flame provides
the actual illumination. And finally, there's the fuel - the oil.

Each of these parts contributes to the physical illumination, the little
light that pushes away more darkness than seems possible at first
glance. And each part has a spiritual counterpart, for, as the verse
says, "The soul of man is a lamp of G-d." In fact, Chasidic philosophy
discusses the significance of each section of the candle at great

For now, though, let's look briefly at oil, so symbolic of Chanuka.
After all, we celebrate the holiday because the Maccabees found one
small jar of pure olive oil, with which to light the Menora in the
rededicated Temple.

Oil, Chasidic teachings tell us, represents wisdom. And one of the
essential qualities of wisdom - and oil - is selflessness or humility.
One cannot be both arrogant and wise, as it says in the Mishna, "Who is
wise? One who learns from everyone." True wisdom requires humility, the
ability to put aside one's ego. And oil doesn't "stand apart," remaining
superficial; rather it penetrates, penetrates deeply into the substance.

And that of course is one of the messages of Chanuka: the wisdom of
Torah, the "oil of Judaism," should penetrate deep within us, and with
that fuel we can light the "one little candle" within ourselves, and so
illuminate the darkness - ours, and that around us.

The Baal Shem Tov taught, "In the place where a person wants to be, that
is where he will be found." May we all be found together in the Holy
Temple this Chanuka.

What is the reason for the Jewish people being in exile? What purpose
has been served by almost two thousand years of suffering and hardship?

The answer to this age-old question is alluded to in this week's Torah
portion, Mikeitz, in Joseph's explanation of his choice of name for his
son Ephraim.

"The name of the second he called Ephraim," the Torah states, "for G-d
has caused me to be fruitful ("hifrani" - from the same root as Ephraim)
in the land of my affliction."

In other words, it is precisely through exile "in the land of my
affliction" that Joseph became stronger. Likewise, the entire purpose of
exile is to uncover the Jewish people's hidden strengths, bringing them
to a higher level of perfection.

On a personal level, Joseph had attained the highest rungs of spiritual
service, standing head and shoulders above his eleven brothers; in a
certain sense, he was even superior to his father Jacob. Nonetheless, in
order to attain the very highest levels, Joseph had to undergo exile "in
the land of my affliction."

The Torah alludes to Joseph's exalted spiritual status in its statement
that the brothers "recognized him not." According to Chasidic
philosophy, Joseph's involvement in worldly matters was perceived by
them as an obstacle to spirituality.

The brothers couldn't understand how a person could be worldly and serve
G-d at the same time. Thus they deliberately pursued a life of
contemplation; as shepherds, they were cut off from civilization and the
demands of society. Never in their wildest dreams could they fathom how
Joseph, second-in-command over all of Egypt, could remain connected to
G-d and indeed surpass their level of service. The concept itself was
too radical for them to grasp.

Joseph's superiority to his father is also reflected in the fact that he
was punished for putting his faith in Pharaoh's butler, whereas when
Jacob addressed his brother Esau as "my master," it was not considered a

Jacob, despite his great spiritual attainments, was still subject to the
limitations of the physical world and thus permitted to work within the
natural order; Joseph, however, was above such constraints and therefore
held to a much higher standard of behavior, according to which he should
have placed his trust in G-d alone.

Nevertheless, we see that it was only through the experience of exile
that Joseph was able to attain the very pinnacle of spirituality, paving
the way and setting an example for his future descendants.

For just as the Jewish people merited to receive the Torah after the
"crucible" of the Egyptian exile, so too will we merit the very highest
revelations of G-dliness with the ultimate Redemption.

                   Adapted from Likutei Sichot of the Rebbe, Vol. I

                             SLICE OF LIFE
                           The "Lion of Zion"
                             by Dovid Efune

To witness the making of history is a rare occurrence. On the Saturday
night of November 14, 2009 at the MGM grand arena in Las Vegas, I
watched rabbinical student Yuri "Lion of Zion" Foreman become the first
Israeli world boxing champion of all time and the first Jew since 1978.

Yuri executed a decisive and compelling victory against his Puerto Rican
rival Daniel Santos, and in the words of HBO boxing commentator Larry
Merchant, "He gave the best performance of his career when it mattered

It was about a year ago I met this fascinating, unique and inspiring
young man.

Yuri is originally from Gomel, Belarus, where he grew up in abject
poverty far removed from Judaism. He would sometimes sell goods on the
black market to help his family earn a living. Following some unpleasant
incidents, his mother took him to learn boxing so that he could protect
himself from bullies at school.

After the fall of Communism, Yuri moved with his family to Israel,
seeking a new and better life. As boxing is hardly a popular sport in
Israel (it's not exactly encouraged by most Jewish mothers!) he found it
difficult to pursue his passion and dream. Eventually, however, he found
a way. "I went to the Arab gym. The first time I walked in, I saw the
stares. In their eyes, there was a lot of hatred. But I needed to box.
And boy, did they all want to box me."

After winning virtually every amateur championship in Israel, at the age
of 19 Yuri moved to New York in an effort to take his boxing to the next
level. He trained hard and progressed rapidly. Shortly after arriving in
New York, Yuri began to feel the calling for deeper meaning in his life.
He began to study and eventually practice Orthodox Judaism. He is now
studying to become a rabbi under Rabbi DovBer Pinson at the Iyyun
Institute of Downtown Brooklyn. Yuri describes Judaism as his "pillar of
strength" that is his inspiration in whatever he does.

The Jewish pride that Foreman has brought to many of his fellow Jews is
remarkable. As I exited the arena with Yuri that  Saturday night, we
were mobbed by fans who stopped to take photos and wish us "mazal tov!"
It felt like a huge Bar Mitzva! The host of the event, world's biggest
boxing promoter Bob Arum, was elated and he beamed with Jewish pride as
he ran around the ring, speaking proudly of his Jewish heritage and
saying how it has always been a dream of his to promote a Jewish

Yuri addressed the press conference with his tzitzit swinging, thanking
G-d first and foremost for the victory, mentioning Jewish law and
Talmudic teachings. He quoted the dictum that says " a person can hope
for a miracle but can't rely on one" and then quipped, "I didn't rely on
any miracle for this fight."

Despite the fact that Yuri wasn't relying on miracles, he didn't train
for the entire 25 hours before the fight, as it was Shabbat. He and his
wife Leyla kept quite busy, however. They recited Psalms throughout the
day, observing the Chabad custom of reciting the entire book of Psalms
on the Shabbat that blesses the new month.

Witnessing Yuri's genuine humility in searching for G-dly purpose in his
talents is a great inspiration to many, and with his new status as world
champion his influence and reach grows rapidly. Following the fight,
there were stories in many of the world's major news outlets.

For many Jews, Yuri's success at bridging the secular world with Torah
observance renews their Jewish pride and encourages them to re-discover
their roots.

The well wishes and congratulation left on his Facebook fan page provide
a window to the immense feelings of pride Yuri brings to Jews of all
backgrounds: "I am so proud after watching your fight; it brings tears
to my eyes. Mazal Tov!" wrote a Jew from the UK. "I am so proud! Every
Jew should be." wrote an admirer from Portugal. "Was watching the fight
live from Israel at 5 a.m. You made me feel so proud man!!!! Keep it
up!!!!" posted another fan.

It's interesting to note that many of Yuri's supporters compare him to
the heroes of the Chanuka story - the Maccabees. "MAZAL TOV!!! YOU'RE
THE CHAMP! FIGHT LIKE A MACCABEE!!!" posted a fan from Brooklyn. And
this from Portland, Maine, "Good luck Yuri. You are the Maccabbi of our

Yuri's story is special because it smashes stereotypes and blasts away
some common misconceptions. There are many Jews who are of the opinion
that Orthodox Judaism conflicts with contemporary perceptions of success
and that to live a committed Jewish life is to cut off ones wings in
exchange for reserved seating in heaven.

But in truth, living a lifestyle that combines the past and the present,
taking our rich history and vibrant soul and applying it to daily
living, connects us with something bigger than ourselves and should only
act as an ongoing source of inspiration in maximizing our unique
individual gifts and talents.

Fusing the physical and the spiritual and striving to strengthen one
with the other is a basic principle of Jewish philosophy. Our task is to
uplift the physical world by engaging our surroundings and utilizing it
all in the effort to make this world a better place.

As we tackle the challenges of day-to-day living and thriving, in one
way or another, we are all fighters, whether conquering an industry or
hustling to scrape together a living. Sometimes our challenges are
physical and sometimes psychological:our inhibitions and fears. Often
life's greatest battles are fought within.

Yuri Foreman has shown many the value of balance, and that leading a
life of committed values can bring the inner strength fostered by a
relationship with G-d that inspires unprecedented success.

    Dovid Efune is the director of the Algemeiner and the GJCF and can
    be e-mailed at

                               WHAT'S NEW
                           News from the FSU

News synagogues and Jewish Community Centers in the former Soviet Union
continue to open or undergo major renovations at an incredible rate. In
Baku, Azerbaijan, a new synagogue will be erected on the site of the
city's old synagogue that had fallen into disuse.  A new Jewish
Community Center in Bratsk, Russia (Irkutsk region) recently opened. The
Jewish community negotiated with the city government to obtain a
location and then went into high-gear to turn the facility into a
comfortable place for all of the city's Jews.  In Khmelnitsky, Ukraine,
the Jewish Community Center just celebrated its reopening after a
monumental reconstruction project.

                            THE REBBE WRITES
                        In the Month of Kislev,
                In the Days before Chanukah, 5739 [1978]
        To the Sons and Daughters of our people Israel who are,
               at present, in Correctional Institutions,

Greeting and Blessing:

With the approach of Chanukah, bringing blessing to all our Jewish
people, I extend to each and all of you prayerful wishes for a bright
and happy Chanukah. This is also to acknowledge receipt of your letters,
and to respond to the request of many of you for a word of encouragement
and hope. For various reasons it is impossible to reply to each one
individually, which you will surely excuse.

The Mitzvah (commandment) of kindling the Chanukah Lights is unique in
that it becomes due immediately "after sunset," prior to the other
observances connected with Chanukah (special prayers, etc.). This
pointedly emphasizes the concept of "light" in human life in general,
and in a time of crisis - "after sunset" - in particular.

Although man was, of course, created to be free in all his affairs, with
freedom of will and freedom of action, including personal freedom in the
ordinary sense, without being subjected to external constraints even for
a short period of time - the real bright light in human life is the
ability to see the right path in life, and follow it faithfully in terms
of daily conduct, filling it with all that is bright and good, in a
state of consistent inner peace and tranquillity.

This has to do, and is dependent upon, a person's world outlook,
including a full measure of Bitachon (trust) in G-d, the Creator and
Master of the world, which has to be expressed in appropriate conduct,
in actual practice, for the essential thing is the deed.

And this is largely up to the person himself, regardless of
circumstances. For it is a matter of common knowledge that there are
people who, considering their external circumstances, should be content
and happy, yet they are not; while there are those whose external
circumstances are just the opposite, yet they are at peace with
themselves, are cheerful, and are strong in their confidence that the
external circumstances will also change for the good very soon, the kind
of good that is manifest and obvious.

Moreover, and this, too, is an essential point, this very confidence and
feeling hastens and brings closer the day when the undesirable
circumstances will be over and done with, if not all at once, at least
gradually, and in a satisfactory manner in all respects.

I am strongly confident that the Almighty will bless each and every one
of you in your needs and will fulfill your hearts' desires for good,
particularly - to regain your freedom, in the good and proper way;
freedom from all constraints and distractions, including full personal
liberty in the ordinary sense,

And, at the same time, true inner freedom in the spirit of the Festival
of Chanukah and the Chanukah Lights, which are kindled in increasing
numbers and getting ever brighter from day to day.

May G-d grant that the message of Chanukah and of the Chanukah Lights
should serve as a guiding light for all our Jewish people, and for you
in particular even in your present situation.

To increase and spread the light of the Torah and Mitzvos ("for a
Mitzvah is a candle, and the Torah is light") in all aspects of
Yiddishkeit [Judaism], and G-d, on His part, will increase His blessings
to each and every one of you, and all yours, both materially and

With blessing for a bright Chanukah, illuminating all the coming days
throughout the year,

                            A CALL TO ACTION
                          There's Still Time!

All those who has not yet fulfilled the custom to distribute Chanuka
gelt (money)should immediate resolve to make up for this custom; to
snatch their opportunity in the last days and hours of Chanuka or in the
days following Chanuka - the sooner the better!

    In memory of Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg and the other
    kedoshim of Mumbai

                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
What does Chanuka have to do with Moshiach and the ultimate Redemption?
A lot! Everything is connected to Moshiach and the Redemption. In fact,
the Lubavitcher Rebbe stated clearly that it is natural for a person who
is involved every day in yearning for the coming of Moshiach to look for
a connection to Moshiach's coming in every event or concept which he

This also applies to Chanuka. And since we are in the days of Chanuka it
is appropriate to look at the Festival of Lights with "Moshiach eyes."

Since the Chanuka miracle took place in the Holy Temple, its
commemoration arouses an even greater yearning for the era when the
menora will be kindled again in the Third Holy Temple.

Similarly, there is a connection between the above and this week's Torah
portion, Mikeitz.

When a Jew hears the name Mikeitz, because he is constantly yearning for
Moshiach's coming, he immediately associates it with the word "keitz"
which refers to the time for Moshiach's coming. And on Shabbat, when the
Haftorah is read and he hears the vision for the Menora mentioned, he
once again immediately associates it with the menora of the Holy Temple.

Let us all join together on Chanuka this year in the lighting of the
Chanuka menoras, large and small, public and private. And as we light
the menora let us envision ourselves watching the lighting of the
rededicated menora in the Third and Eternal Holy Temple.

                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
Joseph recognized his brothers, but they recognized him not (Gen. 42:8)

Joseph's brothers never expected that a man as involved in worldly
affairs as the viceroy of Egypt could be their brother. In their world
view, the only way to serve G-d properly was to divorce oneself from
worldly matters and pursue a life of spiritual contemplation, much as
they were able to do in their chosen profession of shepherding. Joseph,
however, was on a higher level of spirituality, able to maintain his
attachment to G-d even while involved in the day-to-day affairs of

                                                        (Torah Ohr)

                                *  *  *

Your G-d, and the G-d of your fathers, has given you a treasure...and he
brought Shimon out to them (Gen. 43:32)

This verse alludes to Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, who would one day reveal
the treasures hidden within the Torah in his holy book, the Zohar.

                                              (Ma'ayana Shel Torah)

                                *  *  *

And behold, seven other cows...I never saw any like these (Gen. 41:19)

"A person is only shown the innermost thoughts of his heart," our Sages
explain. Our nighttime dreams are a reflection of the thoughts we have
during waking hours. Pharaoh was therefore surprised by his dream, for
he had never seen, in real life, cows with such an emaciated appearance.

                                         (Reb Yitzchak of Volozhin)

                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
Most of the people of the shtetl of Roshvenitz were very poor, but,
being Chasidim, poverty could not detract from their joy of life, as it
was derived from their Rebbe, the great Rabbi Avraham Yaakov of

In those days, traveling to the Rebbe was not an easy undertaking. It
cost far more than most of them could afford, and so they established a
special fund to pay the traveling expenses of one person. Each Jewish
family would contribute to the communal pot, and when a special occasion
would arise, a raffle would be held. The winner would travel to the
Rebbe as an emissary of the community.

At the Rebbe's court, the representative was given a private interview
with the Rebbe who would question him about the state of his Chasidim in
the little village. But that wasn't all. When the emissary set off, the
Rebbe always presented him with a pure, silver coin. These coins became
the property of the community and were its prized treasure.

It was a month before Chanuka and a special meeting was called. The
villagers twittered with anticipation of this unexpected event. Finally
the caretaker of the shul began to speak: "My dear brethren, we have
called you here tonight to discuss the matter of the holy coins of our
beloved Rebbe. We have merited to amass many coins, and we have decided
to give them all to a G-d-fearing silversmith who will make from them a
most beautiful menora."

Excitement rose as the congregants murmured their approval to one
another. "The beautiful menora, we will put in our study hall, and each
Chanuka we will sell the honor of lighting it to the highest bidder.
This money will help pay for the many needs of our community - food and
medicine for the sick and poor, dowries for needy brides, salaries for
the teachers." The congregants were all very excited, and each of them
dreamed about the beautiful silver menora made from the Rebbe's holy

The first night of Chanuka arrived and every corner of the shul was
packed tight. At the southern wall stood the Chanuka menora, a
masterpiece of the silversmith's art - intricate in design, glowing, and
sparkling in the lamplight.

The bidding began, and then rose quickly. It wasn't long before the poor
and average homeowners were outbid, leaving only the wealthy to continue
the contest. In the end, Reb Lipa, a wealthy wood merchant won the
honor. With great emotion he approached the menora. He recited the three
blessings, and ignited the wick.

This scene was repeated each night of Chanuka. The same bidding, the
same enthusiasm, and in end, the same result: one of the wealthy
congregants always emerged the winner.

The poor people of the shtetl realized that the coveted honor would
never fall to one of them. They had to content themselves with watching
the lighting and answering "amen" to the blessings.

One of them, however, couldn't accept the situation. Reb Baruch, the
blacksmith, was a Chasid to the core of his soul. His love for his Rebbe
filled his entire being, and he was heartbroken that he couldn't light
the menora even once. Chanuka passed and once again life's dreary
sameness returned to the inhabitants of the little shtetl.

But for Baruch the blacksmith life was different. He had a mission which
filled his nights and days. He began to work a little extra every day,
and he hoarded every penny he managed to scrape together - all this for
his much longed-for Chanuka lighting. Months went by and he managed to
amass a tidy sum.

A month before Chanuka his wife took ill. When all the old remedies
failed to cure her, a doctor was summoned from the big city. The
doctor's fee was tremendous and the medications very costly. When G-d
blessed his wife with a complete recovery, Reb Baruch's entire
hard-earned savings were gone.

Chanuka arrived and Reb Baruch was inconsolable. He had come so close to
attaining his heart's desire, and now it was lost.

As the nights of Chanuka passed by, Reb Baruch watched the successive
lightings with a pained heart. Finally, the eighth and final night came.
The bidding was frenzied, and the poor looked on as their wealthy
brethren bid astronomical sums for the honor. Reb Baruch felt that his
heart would break.

Suddenly all was still. All eyes focused on the figure ascending the
bima. Could it be Reb Baruch, the blacksmith!? With tears running down
his face, he turned to the crowd: "My dear friends, this is the second
year that I have yearned with my whole soul to kindle the holy menora.
All year I saved, but then my wife became ill. G-d has granted her a
complete recovery, but my savings are gone. Believe me, my brothers, I
cannot continue; my soul is expiring from longing. So, I am making you a
proposition. My house is very small - worth about 300 crowns. I am
giving it to the community. I will continue to live in it, but as a
tenant of the community. Accept my plea and restore the soul of a poor

Reb Baruch's heartfelt words touched everyone. Tears flowed freely, and
a great roar came up from the crowd. "Reb Baruch has won the bidding!"
was heard from every corner. When he rose to kindle the silver menora,
there was not one heart which did not tremble at the sight of the flame
that burst forth and rose up from the soul of Reb Baruch, the

                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
The Jewish people is presently in the dungeon of a harsh and bitter
exile; for many years we have been bound and fettered by its shackles.
But just as Joseph, in this week's Torah portion, went directly from
confinement to rulership, so, too, our whole nation will speedily leave
the prison of exile and simultaneously ascend to the status of royalty
with the full and Final Redemption.

                      (The Lubavitcher Rebbe, 28 Kislev, 5750-1989)

                END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 1100 - Miketz 5770

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