Hakhel Email Community Awareness Bulletin
DECEMBER 2007 DAILY EMAIL ARCHIVE
Short Quiz on Adon Olam:
1. What does “L”Hamshil Lo
2. Later on in Adon Olam,
what does “V’Hu Nisi U’Manos Li” mean?
Special Note One: In last
week’s Parsha, Rashi (to Shemos 2:14) writes that Moshe Rabbeinu wondered as
to why the Bnei Yisroel--like no other nation--was being subjected to such
hard labor. When he witnessed the Doson-Aviram beating and tried to stop
it, he received the response of “Who appointed you…Do you propose to murder
me, as you murdered the Egyptian?” Rashi writes that Moshe now understood
the reason for the harsh servitude--it was BnaiYisroel’s use of harsh words
and their improper use of the tongue. While other nations may improperly
use their fists--for that is their tool, the parallel for Bnei Yisroel is
improper use of the tongue, for which Hashem must punish and redirect them.
We list below seven
quotations, which we can constantly review, to remind us to keep our mind
and tongues in check, so that we can finally, once and for all, get out of
the Galus are in.
Whoever guards his mouth and tongue is
enveloped in a spirit of holiness (Zohar).
Devote greater consideration to uttering a
word--than to spending your money (Orchos Chaim of the Rosh).
For every moment that a person remains
silent, he merits reward that is beyond the comprehension of even angels
(Vilna Gaon from Midrash).
The primary means of obtaining Olam Habo, is
guarding one’s tongue. This is of greater value than the entire Torah
and good deeds, for the mouth is a Holy of Holies (Igeres HaGra).
Nothing purifies the soul as much as the
sealing of one’s mouth (Yesod V’Shoresh HoAvodah).
He who guards his mouth and tongue, guards
his soul from suffering (Mishlei 21).
[Ultimately,] life and death is in the hands
of the tongue (Mishlei 18).
Let’s make a special effort
this week to let the appropriate phrases above ring and chime within us, to
move ourselves--and all of Klal Yisroel--closer to the Geulah!
Special Note Two: In a recent
Hakhel Shiur, Rabbi Yosef Viener, Shlita, showed that, even if there is a
huge block of ice separating the Torah Jew from his secular and uneducated
friend, one can readily melt that ice by demonstrating the beauty and depth
of Torah in a touching way. As an example of this, Rabbi Viener noted the
well-known but moving Dvar Torah about the chasida (stork). That is,
although the chasida (“kind ”) bird is known by that name because it
displays kindness toward others of its species by sharing food with them--it
is still an unkosher bird. Why is that so? After all--since you are what
you eat (no carnivorous animals are kosher)--why would one not want to
consume a chasida in order to improve upon his midah of Chesed?
The Rezhiner Rebbe (quoted by
the Artscroll Chumash, Stone Edition) responds that this is because the bird
displays its kindness exclusively towards its fellows, but will not help
other species. To the Torah Jew, this is not an acceptable characteristic.
Poignant lessons such as these
can be derived from every Parsha, and can be related to co-workers and
neighbors and other acquaintances in the course of the regular conversation,
or in providing a Torah thought at a friendly meal.
There are many English books
that are available which can help in this regard, such as Rabbi Zelig
Pliskin’s Growth Through Torah or Love Your Neighbor. If you
have had particular success with another sefer or book in this regard,
please feel free to share its title with us. When together with the secular
or uneducated, we should demonstrate our love for them by constantly
thinking about how we can put them on the path that will guide them through
Olam Hazeh--and get them to a wonderful and noble position in Olam Haba!
Special Note One: We are
providing a link which lists the Bikur Cholim organizations associated with
each particular hospital in the New York area. This list is available on
the Medical Referral Associates website
by clicking here.
Special Note Two: Several
days ago, we had referred to the opinion of HaRav Shternbuch, Shlita, that
40 consecutive days of Tefillah for something will work not only at the
Kosel HaMaaravi, but could also work outside of Yerushalayim and even in
Chutz L’Aretz if one specifically went to a holy place such as a Bais
Medrash daily for the sake of his particular request, and stated that he is
going to daven there for that specific purpose. An astute reader who read
through the Teshuva noted that Rav Shternbach also writes that one should
first give “18 Prutos to Tzedaka to Amalei Torah”--to those who toil in
Torah, before each dedicated prayer.
Special Note Three: With the
conclusion of Sefer Bereishis and the commencement of Sefer Shemos tomorrow,
we take leave of the Avos, and even of Yosef, whose life took a good part of
the last four parshios. What was the special quality, the unique aspect, of
Yosef which made him so deserving of our attention--as the successor to
Yaakov Avinu, and the Avos, and as the fitting person with whom to conclude
Sefer Bereishis--which is also sometimes known as Sefer HaYoshor (our
Guidebook for Proper Conduct)?
There are obviously many
different aspects of Yosef’s tzidkus--his righteousness. HaRav Matisyahu
Salomon, Shlita, however, recently focused on a common theme which extends
through various events described in the Torah about his life.
First, we find that Yosef was
taken down to Mitzraim in a “bed of roses”--not in the typical slave-trade
manner, but amongst sweet smelling spices. Why? Because Yosef, even in his
forlorn state, could still appreciate a pleasant aroma or a calming scene.
Later, we find that Yosef, while muddled in a deep-and-dark dungeon kind of
setting (the Torah states that he was in a bor--a pit--not exactly like the
prisons of today) asks the ministers placed there with him: “Why do you not
look good?” Is Yosef’s line of questioning a logical one? The answer seems
to be a resounding--Yes, to Yosef, it was quite logical--because of Yosef’s
true equanimity, his presence of mind, and his clarity of thought. He was
simply telling those ministers--do not sulk over your state; do not
overindulge in self-pity, for it will get you nowhere. Maybe I can help you
in some way…
Then, when Yosef is taken out
of the pit/prison to be admitted to Paroh’s presence after not one, two, or
even three or four--but twelve--years, Yosef does not start running head
first towards the palace. Instead, despite the fact that “VaYeritzuhu--they
rushed him” from the pit to bring him to Paroh, nevertheless “VaYegalach
VaYechalef Simlosav” (Bereishis 41:14)—Yosef--by himself and for
himself--shaved and changed his clothes, for, as Rashi (ibid.)
teaches, it would simply not have been “Kavod HaMalchus”--the proper respect
due to a king, if he had presented himself before Paroh in his prison garb
and appearance. Yosef’s clarity of mind and spirit once again triumphed
over his erstwhile instinctive reactions.
What follows next is--rather
than Yosef ingratiating himself to Paroh, or accepting any form of
aggrandizement--he tells Paroh “Biladai--it is not me” whom you should
attribute anything to, I am truly only a Hebrew slave--it is all up to
Hashem. I have no special secrets, powers or even sagacious
advice--anything and everything I do or say will not come from me. Once
again, his menuchas hanefesh overcame any of the easily-attainable ambitions
Finally, in the end, Yosef
explains to his brothers that he is not angry with them; as it is obvious
that Hashem directed them in their mission to send Yosef to Mitzraim--and,
in Yosef’s words “Al Tirau…--fear not, I will sustain you and your young
ones. He spoke to them and comforted their hearts” (Bereishis 50:20, 21).
The Menuchas HaNefesh, the
calmness and clear thinking Yosef exhibited even in difficult situations,
is, HaRav Salomon states, the hallmark of true bitachon--faith. A wonderful
by-product of this bitachon is that Yosef is able to keep his hopes and
spirits up in all situations--ranging from the dark dungeon to the viceroy’s
With the opening of Sefer
Shemos, we quickly find ourselves as “The Jew in Galus.” It is apparent
that the Torah, by providing us with the model of Yosef, is teaching us how
to best survive the ordeals of suffering and exile. The Ramban (in Parshas
Vayechi) writes that our current Galus, Galus Romi, is a mirror of Galus
Mitzraim, and explains why (see there). We should, then, take some time out
from the lessons of Yosef’s life to help us better manage our current Galus
Romi, as well. Perhaps one can try to take a seemingly “negative” event
that has occurred, and try to look at it in a calm and reasoned
light--recognizing the positive--the sweet aroma or the silver lining--that
may be found in Hashem’s guiding hand. If this is difficult to do on your
own, one can attempt to do so with a relative or friend.
May the lessons from Yosef in
bitachon building help to bring us out of the Galus--and into the Geula that
we will B’Ezras Hashem be witnessing--as the parshios of the coming weeks
unfold upon us!
How do you say the word “I” in Yiddish?
What do you think the onomatopoeia is teaching us if you say this word
How do you say “You are welcome” in Lashon
HaKodesh (not modern Hebrew)? Why do you think this is the case?
More on Happiness:
We received the following
comment on happiness from a reader:
“The other day, I passed by a
young shaven-head not well-dressed (to say the least) youth, who was making
dance motions in the street as he was walking while listening to his iPod.
This man is happy, I thought to myself--but for what and over what!? I
looked down into my right arm and stared at the talis and tefillin bag that
I was holding, as I was walking home from Shul after having davened
Shacharis and learned the Daf Yomi. Didn’t I have much, much, much, more to
be happy about than that fellow? I didn’t want to start dancing in the
street--but I began to sing in my mind “Ashreinu Ma Tov Chelkenu U’ma Naim
Goraleinu.” I have direct access and a direct relationship with my Maker
through tefillah, and am connected to Him and to eternity through Torah--how
great is my lot--even in this world!”
Thank you. We welcome your
beautiful thoughts and comments.
Even More on Happiness:
It is interesting that we only
recite Hallel at certain times or periods during the year. One would think
that Hallel should be the cornerstone of our daily life--after all, does not
Dovid HaMelech teach us in the last Pasuk of the entire Sefer Tehillim: “Kol
HaNeshama Tehallel Ka Halleluka--let all souls say Hallel to Hashem!”
Chazal to this Pasuk comment--“Al Kol Neshima”--on each and every breath
that I take Hashem should be praised.
Thus, the language of “Hallel”
applies, as Dovid Hamelech teaches, to all souls, and as Chazal further
expound, to every breath.
So, why is it then that we do
not recite Hallel every day of our lives? The preliminary response might be
that we would simply get “too used” to its recitation and it would not have
the forceful effect that it is intended to have. However, we do, in fact,
recite Shema at least twice a day, and Shemone Esrei at least three times
daily, and we are enjoined and expected to have the proper thoughts and
feelings in its recitation. Why should Hallel be any different?
Perhaps the answer lies in the
following: Hallel begins with the word “Halleluka”. One would expect that
Hallel would end with this word, as well. However, in fact, Hallel ends
with the Pasuk “Hodu Lashem Ki Tov Ki L’Olam Chasdo (Tehillim 118:29)--give
thanks to Hashem for He is Good; for His Kindness endures forever.” Thus,
we conclude, we walk away, from Hallel not with the word Halleluka but with
a thought that is to be impressed upon our minds and in our hearts on a
daily basis. It is not Hallel that we are to achieve daily, but Hodu Lashem
Ki Tov Ki L’Olam Chasdo--not an expression of intense exuberance, but a
steady and consistent appreciation and understanding.
As we go through the winter
months, when life seems more tedious and difficult, when even daily chores
and responsibilities appear to be more of a struggle, we should try to keep
that Pasuk that we left the portal to winter, the last Hallel of Chanukah,
with: “Hodu Lashem Ki Tov…”, foremost in our minds. Whether it is the green
light or the red light, the broken phone or the new computer, the compliment
or the criticism--it is all for my good--and Hashem, thank You for it!!
A New Project:
A recent email that has been
making the rounds worldwide, which you most likely have received, is
entitled “101 Ways to Annoy Someone”. Obviously, if you have not received
it, we will not supply it to you. Instead, we would like our readers to
join forces together so that we can produce a new item for circulation
entitled “101 Ways to Make Someone Else Happy.” Please consider this a
personal invitation to provide us with at least one submission. You may
want to consider what makes you happy in order to get your mind going. We
will start things off with a simple suggestion:
“Provide a friend or
acquaintance with a specific, detailed compliment relating to something they
have just done or said, or relating to their appearance--especially if it is
clear that they have made an effort to look good.”
We look forward to hearing
Rabbi Moshe Goldberger, Shlita,
provides the following meaningful suggestion:
Four words that sum up the
secret to being happy: The last four words in Chapter Two of Tehillim read,
“Ashrei Kol Chosei Vo--Happy are those who trust in Hashem.”
Try saying this phrase (in
Hebrew or in English) ten times from time to time with thought and feeling.
According to Rabbi Goldberger, you should feel inspired, and more ready to
accept and meet life’s tests and challenges.
More on Happiness: This past
Sunday, the 14th of Teves, one of the oldest members of Klal
Yisroel, Mrs. Miriam Dier, A’H, passed away in her sleep at the age of 103.
Her grandson explained that he believed the secret to her longevity (“Arichus
Yomim”) was based upon following attributes that she possessed:
She would not be critical of another person
not of her mindset, and instead would be accepting of others;
She would greet everyone with sever ponim
yafos--with a smile that made you feel good; and
She possessed an imitable Simchas HaChaim--a
joy of life, despite the sufferings and illnesses that she had
experienced in her life. She had once visited a doctor, who after many
attempted treatments, suggested that her big toe be amputated. When she
came home from the doctor her grandson asked her what the doctor had
said. She responded, “Well, my big toe had served me so well for many
years--and I still do have another nine toes to work with!”
It would seem appropriate,
based upon the workings of Midah Kineged Midah, that if one feels Simchas
HaChaim--the joy of life--he will be rewarded by Hashem with more life--to
feel more joy! May her memory be for a blessing and an inspiration to all
the following Kashrus Alert from the Chicago Rabbinical Council:
It has come
to our attention that produce from Israel, in particular, sweet peppers, is
once again being sold in the stores. The produce that is exported to the
United States usually does not have any hashgacha. Normally, this would
only create a slight inconvenience to the consumer, since Maaser would need
to be taken in order for it to be used. Since we must assume that the
product does not have any hasgacha (unless you know otherwise) and we are
now in a Shmittah year, the produce can not be used at all.
All produce should be marked with the country of origin, so be careful when
making your purchase.
HOW TO “BUY LIFE”
Yesterday was Asara B’Teves,
the date on which Yerushalayim was besieged before the destruction of the
Bais HaMikdash. Chazal (Medrash Tanchuma, Vayikra 9) teach that it was
already fitting for the Bais HaMikdash to be destroyed on this day, but
Hashem, in His incredible mercy, pushed things off to the summer, so that we
would not have to be exiled in the cold. We should take this as an
important lesson and be especially considerate and helpful to those who are
standing outside at your door, walking when you are driving, or even those
who are suffering from colds and cold weather-related illnesses. When you
make sure that your family and friends are properly dressed, have soft
tissues and the like, you are likewise demonstrating a middah of rachmanus,
of special mercy and care, which warms those around you.
Along these lines, Chazal (Rosh Hashana 18A) teach us that, according to one
opinion, Naval was granted an additional ten days of life because of the ten
meals he fed to guests--Dovid’s men. Doing the easy math, this means that
Naval “bought” a day of life for each meal he served a guest. Oh, how we
should treasure the opportunities of doing a simple and seemingly short-term
kindness to someone else, for it results in nothing short of life itself.
Interestingly, the last Pasuk we read in Kriyas Shema concludes with the
phrase “Ani Hashem Elokaichem--I am the L-rd your G-d”, mentioned
twice--once at the beginning of the Pasuk, and once at its conclusion. Rashi
there (Bamidbar 15:41), obviously troubled by the seeming repetition,
concludes that it is to teach us that Hashem is faithful to punish those who
do evil--and faithful to award those who do good. As we leave Kriyas Shema
(which provides us with a strong daily dose of the basic tenets of our
faith) every day and notice the dual recitation of Ani Hashem Elokaichem, it
should remind and spur us to “buy” life with our proper middos and conduct.
TESHUVA AND THE TENTH OF TEVES
Today is the ninth day of Teves, which connects the eighth day of Teves (the
tragic day upon which the Torah was translated into Greek, the Septuagint,
which is marked as a Ta’anis Tzadikim) to the national fast day of Asara
B’Teves. Actually, today is also the yahrtzeit of Ezra HaSofer (see
Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 580, Mishna Berura, Seif Katan 13), and is also
a Ta’anis Tzadikim.
Chasam Sofer in one of the drashos that he gave on the eighth day of Teves
approximately 200 years ago provides the following insight, which will
answer two of the questions that we had posed prior to Chanukah:
jog your memory, the questions we raised were:
Which of the Avos was buried on Chanukah?
When was Esav buried?
may have answered that since: (i) according to tradition Yaakov Avinu was
niftar on the first day of Sukkos, and (ii) that the Torah records in this
week’s Parsha that the Mitzri’im embalmed him for 40 days and mourned him
for 30 days, that the 70-day period ended with his burial on the day which
is 70 days (See Bereishis 50:3) after the 15th day of Tishrei
(the day of his petira)--which is the 25th day of Kislev, or the
1st day of Chanukah.
would follow from this (erroneous) conclusion that since Yaakov’s brother (Eisav)
was beheaded by Chushim the son of Dan on the date of Yaakov’s burial (in
Eisav’s attempt to prevent Yaakov from being buried in the Me’aras
HaMachpeila), that Eisav was killed on the first day of Chanukah, answering
the second question as well. The symbolism would have been latent and
However, the Chasam Sofer suggests that in fact, **after** the 70-day period
of mourning in Egypt ended, the Bnei Yisroel **then** traveled to Eretz
Canaan and eventually buried Yaakov Avinu on Asara B’Teves. The date of
Eisav’s death is then--yes, Asara B’Teves as well.
There is much to learn from the Chasam Sofer’s conclusion, as Maaseh Avos
Siman L’Bonim--that which occurred to our forefathers is a sign for future
generations. Firstly, Chazal teach us that “Yaakov Avinu Lo Mais.” That
is, even though it may appear to us that Yaakov passed away, in fact, he
lives on--most certainly so in spirit. We, too, having experienced the
devastating blow of the events of Asara B’Teves more than 2,500 years ago
have not rolled over and died as scores of other nations have in the
meantime. Moreover, what ultimately happened on Asara B’Teves was the death
of Eisav. This, the Chasam Sofer writes, is symbolic of Asara B’Teves in
the end being turned from a date of sadness to a day of “Sasson V’Simcha”--joy
missing link to bring us to what Asara B’Teves is supposed to be is Teshuva.
We all know that this is the shortest fast of the year, so it should be the
easiest. That is a gift in and of itself. However long or short the fast
is, in order to be meaningful, it must be accompanied by Teshuva. We must
do something. We must make a move to revitalize Yaakov, and to once and for
all, put Eisav away.
recent shiur, HaRav Shlomo Pearl, Shlita, suggested that the Teshuva be as
basic and simple as possible. He recommended that once a day--yes, just
once a day, we, b’li neder, take it upon ourselves to recite one (1) brocha
a day--as short as SheHakol Neheye B’Dvaro--slowly and with Kavannah for the
meaning of the words while making the brocha. This determined effort, while
ever so small, is a clear demonstration of your determination to come closer
to Hashem. With this, Rabbi Pearl suggests, you have fulfilled your minimal
mandate for this Asara B’Teves.
note that, just last week we had suggested that you undertake this for the
40-day period between the end of Chanukah and Tu B’Shvat. If you have not
already done so, perhaps Asara B’Teves is the day to start, as Rabbi Pearl,
final, but important comment: Rashi explains that when Yosef and Binyamin
fell on each other’s necks in last week’s Parsha (Bereishis 45:14), it was
to symbolize the destruction of the two Batei Mikdashos, and the Mishkan of
Shilo, which were located in their respective territories in Eretz Yisroel.
The Avnei Nezer explains that the “necks” symbolize the Bais HaMikdash and
the Mishkan, because just as the neck connects the head (which is the
resting place of the soul) to the rest of the body, so, too, does the Bais
HaMikdash (and the Mishkan) fully and finally connect our physical lives to
our spiritual existence. When we yearn for the Bais HaMikdash, we are
yearning to connect our corporeal life to the highest spiritual plane it can
achieve. By making a brocha (the spiritual) over food (the physical)
properly, we demonstrate that we are sincerely preparing--and awaiting--for
the day when we truly can connect our bodies to our souls in the most
absolute and outstanding way that we can!
Special Note One: We received
the following comment from one of our readers:
“Regarding the Note about the
names Matisyahu and Yochanan, you can add to that list the word
‘Chashmonaim’ itself, as seen in Tehillim 68:32 (which I ‘happened’ to be
reading last night) ‘Ye'esoyu chashmanim mini Mitzrayim,’ which in the
English translation in my Tehillim meant “Gifts will be brought from
Special Note Two: Yesterday,
we referred to the Pnei Yehousha’s question--why did we need the miracle of
finding a jar of pure olive oil--after all, tumah (or service in the Bais
HaMikdash in a status of impurity), is “hutra b’tzibur”--permissible in
circumstances where the majority is impure? The Chashmonaim could simply
have used impure oil?!
HaRav Yaakov Neiman, Z’tl,
provides an insightful answer. He writes that with this one pure jug,
HaKadosh Baruch Hu is teaching us that we should not search for “heteirim”
for leniencies, in order to accomplish our goals, because if one does so,
doing so will become part of his character. In a recent Hakhel Shiur, Rav
Yosef Viener, Shlita, noted that in the course of a work day or even while
attempting to draw a friend or acquaintance closer to Torah Judaism, one may
believe leniencies are in order, or even required, in order to properly
accomplish one’s goal or task. Rav Viener averred that in many cases one
need not exercise the leniency, and his caution will in many cases be
respected and even rewarded.
Let us remember that little
jug of pure oil the next time we are about to say this, eat that,
watch this, participate in that...
HASHEM'S HAORAS PANIM
Special Note One: Today, Zos
Chanukah, is the last day of our celebration of “Chanu-Kah”--our resting
from war on the 25th day of Kislev. While other nations may
celebrate victories in war, we celebrate our rest from the war--the
**result** of the victory--which is for us to return to our Avodas Hashem.
The Sefer Taamei Dinim
U’Minhagim brings that today is the last Day of Judgment from the Din
that began on Rosh Hashana more than three months ago. Hashem is a very
gracious Father and allows us tremendous opportunities to return to Him. We
should spend some time today contemplating how we can complete this process
of judgment on a positive note--how we, too, can celebrate this period in
which we rejoice in the result of the victory--with a renewed Avodas Hashem.
Some introspection and renewed commitment is certainly within the order of
Special Note Two: Many of us
may be familiar with the famous question of the P’nei Yehoshua--if the
Halacha is that “tuma hutra b’tzibur”--impure objects are permitted to be
used by the tzibur--then what was the problem using all of the oil rendered
impure by the Greeks? The menorah had to be lit for all of Klal Yisroel
and, accordingly, the impure oil was perfectly permissible for use by the
tzibur. Succinctly stated, the miracle of the oil was simply not necessary
according to Halacha! There is a beautiful answer to this question; given
by HaRav Chaim Shmuelevitz, Z’tl (whose Yahrtzeit is today, 3 Teves). HaRav
Shmuelevitz asks why we place such a great emphasis on the miracle of
finding the oil--even over and above winning the wars against the Greeks
themselves. After all, it is much easier to find things one would not
expect to find--than for a handful of people to defeat the mightiest
warriors in the world! Furthermore, with the finding of the small jug of
oil, a miracle happened for only an additional seven days. Yet, because of
the successful wars, the Jewish people and their fulfillment of the Torah
were saved forever.
To answer this question, HaRav
Shmuelevitz notes that the Torah goes out of its way to teach us that when
Yosef was brought down to Egypt by the merchants, they were carrying all
kinds of fine-smelling spices, rather than the odorous items that they
usually carried (See Beraishis 37:25, and Rashi there ). At first glance,
it is difficult to understand why what they were carrying mattered at all. Yosef
is at the nadir of his life. A few days ago, he had been learning Torah
with his father, the Gadol HaDor, and now he was surrounded by idol
worshippers who are going to sell him into slavery in a morally bereft
country. In a time of darkness such as this, would it make any difference
at all what the odors were around him?
The answer is a most
definitive “Yes!” The sweet smell of the spices and fragrances were
intended to be a sign to Yosef that even in his darkest hour Hashem was with
him, and that he was not lost or forgotten. Yosef now understood that there
was purpose, meaning, and a plan to what was going on around him. Every
miracle, large or small, indicates a “Haoras Panim”--a light from Hashem
which shines upon the person and reminds him that he is at all times in
So, too, here, the miracle of
finding a jug of pure oil does, in fact, pale in significance to the
miracles that took place during the incredible wars, and the glorious result
for the Torah and the Jewish people. Nonetheless, we celebrate the small
jug because it demonstrates Hashem’s “Haoras Panim”--His singular love, His
unique care, His special concern for us as His children at all times and in
A parent who does not
appreciate his child will only provide him with the absolute essentials that
he really needs. On the other hand, a parent who truly loves his child will
go beyond what the child absolutely requires, and will, in fact, go
overboard and indulge the child. If the miracle of Chanukah had only been
to give the “mighty into the hands of the weak” or the “many into the hands
of the few”, this would have exemplified Hashem providing for our absolute
needs only, for He had assured our forefathers that we would continue to
exist as a Torah people, and His word must be kept. But the miracle of
Chanukah went well beyond that--it reached to the jug of oil. It is this
Haoras Panim that we celebrate--that Hashem’s affection for us is so great
that it extended to that little jug.
Yes, tuma may be hutra
b’tzibur--but His love for us goes so much beyond that, and we can and
should reciprocate this feeling.
Special Note One: we received
the following wonderful thought from a reader:
“In the Al HaNisim, we recite
‘V’Hidliku Neiros B’Chatzros Kodshecha--and they kindled lights in the
Courtyards of your Sanctuary.’ There is an obvious question regarding this
statement. The Menorah in the Bais HaMikdash was regularly lit in the
Heichal, the Sanctuary inside the Bais HaMikdash. Why then do we say that
the Chashmonaim lit the Menorah not in the Sanctuary, but only in the
Courtyards outside the Sanctuary? The Chasam Sofer answers that had the
Menorah been lit in its usual location in the Sanctuary, only the Kohanim
who were allowed to enter there would have been witness to the miracle of
the lights. The Chashmonaim, however, wanted to publicize the miracle by
lighting the Menorah in full view in the Courtyard for everyone to see.
From this, we see the importance of Pirsumai Nisa--of publicizing the
miracles of Chanukah. We should make it a point to talk to others, and
discuss with others what transpired on Chanukah--details and explanations as
to how the oil miraculously lasted for eight days, and details as to how a
few Kohanim battled the mighty Greek army which had assembled in Eretz
Yisroel. One can read and review with others details about the wars found
in the Megillas Antiochus (published in the Snider Otsar Hatefillos among
other places). If the Chashmonaim deemed it important enough to move the
Menorah, we should deem it important enough to go out of our way to spread
the word and thank Hashem for all of His miracles!”
Hakhel Note: We always welcome
readers’ important comments!
Special Note Two: In the
recently published “Rinas Chaim” on the Shemone Esrei, HaRav Chaim
Friedlander, Z’tl, makes several important points relating to the Al HaNisim
Tefillah, as well:
The leader of the Chashmonaim was Matisyahu
Ben Yochanan. Interestingly, and non-coincidentally, the name of both
father and son essentially mean the same thing in Hebrew--a gift from
Hashem. Since a person’s name is indicative of his character (see Yoma
83B), we must surmise that both Matisyahu, and his father Yochanan,
lived by the guiding principle that everything in this world was, is and
always will be, a gift from Hashem. HaRav Friedlander writes that a
person who lives with this feeling--that everyday life, that even
“natural” events and occurrences, are Hashem’s gifts--is worthy of
having extraordinary, or “unnatural” gifts, otherwise known as nisim or
miracles, performed for or on his behalf, as well. It is for this
reason that in the Al HaNisim text Chazal wrote “V’Ata B’Rachamecha
HoRabim--and You, in Your great mercy”--for Matisyahu recognized that
the salvation from the 52-year long Greek oppression would not come by
military strategy or genius, but only come by and through Hashem’s
outstretched hand. Indeed, in the Al HaNisim, Chazal do not glorify or
even praise the Chashmonaim, but instead focus only on thanking Hashem
for fighting the battle in oh so many ways. With this text, Chazal
teach us that the essence of Chanukah is to recognize what the
Chashmonaim themselves recognized--the outstretched and giving hand of
Hashem in all aspects of life and at all times. It is once again,
non-coincidental, that the Greeks were of the completely opposite
philosophy. They believed that man himself was the master of wisdom,
and through his own power and prowess he controlled and governed over
his own successes and achievements. It was, therefore, their ultimate
goal “L’Hashkicham Torasecha--to cause Bnei Yisroel to forget” the
divine and infinite nature of the Torah, and “U’LiHaaverum Maychukei
Ritzonecha--to cause them to violate the chukim, the G-d given laws”
which we as mortals do not understand but which we merely practice
because they are “Ritzonecha--the Will of Hashem.” Chanukah, then, is
the victory of man’s eternal recognition of Hashem over man’s fleeting
recognition of himself. Al HaNisim is placed into the regular Modim
prayer to reinvigorate and reestablish our connection and reliance, and
our faith and belief that from Hashem come both our nature and our
nurture. Now is the time to begin a “special efforts” program in our
Modim Tefilla three times a day.
In the second brocha over the neiros, we
thank Hashem for making miracles for our fathers BaYamim HaHeim--in
those days and BaZman HaZeh--at this time. Similarly, in the Al HaNisim
we once again thank Hashem for the miracles… “BaYamim Haheim BaZman
HaZeh”--at this time. What is the significance of the words “BaZman
HaZeh” both in the Brocha and in the Al HaNisim? The Eitz Yosef
explains that every year in these days the neis, the miracle, is once
again revealed, and, accordingly, Hashem instills in these days the
power of salvation and redemption for His people. We still have a
little while left to utilize the power inherent in these days for
yeshuos for ourselves--and for Klal Yisroel! Let us do our utmost to
fulfill this mandate of the bracha and the Al HaNisim which we have
recited so many times over Chanukah--and bring the BaYomim Haheim--those
days--into BaZman HaZeh--our very own lives and times!
Today is Rosh Chodesh Teves.
As we all know, the Greeks attacked Shabbos, Bris Milah and Rosh Chodesh as
the classic examples of Torah Judaism. As we light the Menorah this
evening, having passed through the sanctity of today's Rosh Chodesh, we
should increase our appreciation of the Mitzvah in tonight’s Hadlokas
HaNeiros. To gain a greater and deeper feeling and appreciation of the
neiros of Chanukah, we present below a selection from the Sefer Kav Haashar,
as so recently beautifully translated by Rabbi Avrohom Davis, Shlita (Metsudah,
2007,Volume 2, p.455-456):
“…In commemoration of this
miracle the Jews of every generation must observe the festival of Chanukah
for eight days during which they must also kindle lights. These lights have
the status of mitzvah lights. In many places we find that such lights are
very precious in the eyes of Hashem. Thus it states, "BaUrim Kabdu Hashem--Honor
Hashem with lights” (Yeshayahu 24:15).
“Any lamp that is lit for the
sake of a mitzvah has wondrous and immeasurable sanctity. If we merited
Ruach HaKodesh, we would recite the blessings over them and immediately
attain understanding and insight into the future by means of their
kindling--for a mitzvah light causes an outpouring of prophecy completely
analogous to that of a prophet prophesying by the command of Hashem!”
upon these words, we cannot begin to fathom the sanctity of our act when
kindling the precious Chanukah lights, we present at
a Tefillah found in the Siddur Bais Yaakov by HaRav Yaakov Emden, Z’tl, to
be recited prior to kindling. Its recitation, if possible, could put one in
the proper state of joyous awe, as we bask--and indeed illuminate
ourselves--in the Mitzvah over the last nights of Chanukah. If you cannot
recite this Tefillah, do your best to contemplate the moment!
received many requests for the answers to the questions in preparation for
Chanukah previously submitted.
The responses to the first two
questions are provided below:
The Tur (Shulchan Aruch, Orach
Chaim 118) writes that the Anshei Knesses HaGedolah (the Men of the Great
Assembly) provided for exactly 24 words in the bracha of V’LiYerushalayim.
The Aruch HaShulchan (Orach Chaim 118) actually writes that, based upon
this precise count , the correct Nusach within the bracha is “V’Chisei
Dovid Meheyra” and not “V’Chisei Dovid Avdicha Meheyra”, as the word
“Avdicha” would constitute a 25th word, which is not part of the original
nusach established with Ruach HaKodesh by the Anshei Knesses HaGedolah. We
suggest that these 24 words are then followed by the next Brocha of Yeshua,
or salvation (Es Tzemach), for the 25th word, very much like the 25th day
(of Kislev), brings salvation to Yerushalayim and the Jewish people.
The response to the second
question posed regarding the number of letters in Baruch Shem Kevod… is
quite similar: There are 24 letters in Baruch Shem, which are followed in
Shema by “V’Ahavta”--our expression of love to HaKadosh Baruch Hu. In order
to arrive at the 25th letter, the first 24 letters raise us to a
degree of love that we were previously unable to obtain.
From all of this, at the very
least, we should appreciate the words of our Tefillos which are imbued so
accurately with Ruach Hakodesh.