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Parshas Mikeitz and Chanukah

Rav Sholom's Treasures

אוצר רב שלום

Parshas Mikeitz

In last week's parsha Yosef was sold by his brothers, served as a slave in Mitzrayim and finally ended up being in prison for 12 years [one year for each of the twelve brothers- including himself]. This week B"H, Yosef is getting out of jail and rises to power. He is appointed to be the Viceroy over all of Egypt. By devising a wise strategy, he saves all of Egypt from the certain death that would have resulted from the seven years of 'great famine'. The famine also reached the Land of Canaan where Yaakov Avinu dwelt with his family. Word had spread that there was food for sale in Mitzrayim. Yaakov Avinu sends his ten eldest sons to purchase food in Mitzrayim and finally the brothers meet again. Only Yosef recognizes his brothers but they do not recognize him – not yet. There is still a lot of work to be done before Yaakov Avinu's 'ruach' – spirit will be restored, to be 'alive' again.

Yosef's Last Night In Prison

The Ishbitzer Rebbe draws our attention to Yosef's last night in prison. Surely Yosef constantly prayed for Hashem's salvation, but the prayers of that last night are the ones that opened the Gates of Salvation. The Torah tells us that Hashem was with Yosef and therefore he was successful in all that he did. And Yosef, was constantly conscious of Hashem's presence. Thus Hashem was always with him even in prison.

Though Yosef did never stopped trusting in Hashem throughout his imprisonment, the last night was different. This time Hashem answered his prayers. On this last night, says the Ishbitzer, Yosef was on the verge of giving up, 'chas v'shalom', and he had to gather all his strength and faith not to give up. That night he found, in the deepest depths of his heart, the pure oil for his lamp – to give light and to bring Hashem's light into the darkest land, the land of Mitzrayim.

B"H we are in the midst of Channukah and we are lighting candles. The Lubavitcher Rebbe zt"l often emphasized, that on this holiday as we celebrate the rededication of our Holy Temple in Yerushalayim, we should remember to rededicate our personal temples, the temples in our hearts. Like Yosef Hatzaddik we must never give up. We must continuously bring much more of Hashem's light into this world, for it is still so dark.

"My G-D, My G-D Why Have You Forsaken Me?"

Consider, besides receiving the holy gifts and blessings of Chanukah, besides making the blessings and lighting the candles with ‘kavanah’ focused attention, you may try, as you are looking at your Chanukah meditating on bringing the light into yourself. Observe yourself within; in this light find and ‘see’ your innermost essence, your neshamah. Let it speak to you and listen to it with an open heart. Allow your heart to receive its holy illuminated and healing words and breaths. Welcome the holy light and allow it to heal your heart. Listen to hear your deepest and truest רצון desire. Let us be blessed to believe with perfect faith that all our light, strength, courage and healing are coming from Hashem alone. Let us be blessed to be true and joyous servants of Hashem. Let us be ever grateful for Hashem’s kindness and for the gift of opportunity to bring Hashem’s light into this darkest of worlds. And may we be blessed to see this manifest very quickly and pray for Moshiach Now!

And what about all the times that we have been so deeply inspired to give ourselves over completely with all our hearts, beings and love to Hashem, to His Torah, to our families and friends and to all of Israel, only to find ourselves once again losing our inspiration and even forgetting that we ever wanted to do that? Rebbe Nachman explains that the seven years of plenty in Pharoah’s dream relate with the supernal pleasantness of Eretz Yisrael, whereas the seven years of famine relate to the spiritual terrorists from ‘chutz la’aretz’ who come to attack. And again and again they try to extinguish the supernal pleasantness נועם עליון of Eretz Yisrael.

In Pharoah’s dream he saw the seven years of famine swallow up the seven years of plenty. This alludes to our forgetting the moments of deep arousal and commitment to Hashem. Yosef Hatzaddik teaches us how to deal with this. During the years of plenty be aware that we must also prepare for the years of the famine. We must devise plans to not perish in the years of famine. We must learn to remember all our moments of being so very close with Hashem, in His nourishing holy light- but not only in our minds, but also in our hearts, in our bodies, in all our senses, and especially with the sense of fragrance.

The spiritual terrorists are attracted when we are spiritually aroused. On a deep level they are coming to us because they want to be fixed, and somehow they sense that we can do it and that it is our obligation to the world.

Though we must be aware of what's happening and we must take all the necessary steps to secure our safety and well-being, nevertheless, I believe that the most important thing that we can do is to discover our own innermost holy lights and shine them into the world.

We bless you and please bless us too, that every word, every letter of the holy Torah, will illuminate in the deepest depths of our hearts.

We wish every one of you a wonderful Rosh Chodesh Teves, and a wonderful Shabbos Chanukah. May the miracles of Chanukah be alive within every one of you and in עם ישראל the People of Yisrael; discover your light and illuminate the world. We hope to see you all here in Eretz Yisrael, very soon together with Moshiach, joyously celebrating the final and ultimate redemption.

Have a wonderful Shabbos

Bahavah ubivracha

Sholom

The Rebbe on Chaukah

In The Rebbe's Chambers - Saving a Jewish Life

We share a wondrous account sent in by Rabi Moses Hayyim Greenvald, translated from the Yiddish.

________________________________________

My father, Rabbi Abraham Zvi Greenvald, was born in Lodz, Poland, and was orphaned from his father at the age of 8. His mother was left with seven little orphans, and she worried much about the education of her eldest boy, whom she sent to live with a cousin, the exalted scholar Rabbi Menachem Zemba, may G-d avenge his blood.

It was he who raised my father with great self-sacrifice. Understandably, he was concerned about my father's studies and even tutored him personally.

My father was almost 17 years old when there took place in Warsaw "The Great Wedding" -- the nuptials of the daughter of the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Joseph Isaac (Schneersohn) with Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, who would later become the seventh Rebbe. My father used to tell about this wedding almost as a spiritual exercise -- both regarding the wedding itself, in which participated the cream of Polish Hasidic leaders, and also that my father was able to meet personally with the young bridegroom. This meeting, my father would later realize, would portend much in the future.

A youth of about 17, my father arrived at the wedding together with his relative and teacher, Rabbi Menachem Zemba. On the morning after, Rabbi Zemba told him he was going to visit the bridegroom in the hotel, and if my father wished, he could accompany him. Understandably, my father agreed.

My father could not remember and repeat all that the two spoke about, but he did remember well the end of the conversation, before these two personalities parted ways. The Rebbe turned to my father and said,"In another few days, it will be Hanukkah.

Do you know why many small synagogues hold festivals on the fifth day of Chanukah?" My father did not know what to answer, and he recalled that Rabbi Zemba just looked at the Rebbe waiting for an answer. Then the Rebbe, turned to my father and said,"The fifth Hanukkah candle signifies great darkness because this day cannot fall on the Holy Sabbath. And through the Hanukkah candles, the greatest (spiritual) darkness of the world is illuminated. And for this reason, the potential of Hanukkah comes to fruition specifically through the fifth candle, which signifies the darkness. And this is the function of every Jew, in every place -- in Warsaw or London -- to illuminate the darkest place."

As mentioned earlier, my father did not remember what the Rebbe and Rabbi Zemba spoke about during their long conversation. But he said he would never forget that all the tractates of the Babylonian Talmud flew around the room. When they left the hotel, my father recalls, Rabbi Zemba was extremely excited and didn't stop speaking about the meeting to everyone with whom he conversed for several days.

After that meeting, nearly 10 years passed. My father survived the Holocaust, first in the Ghetto, and afterwards in the Extermination Camps. His first wife and their five little children were slaughtered in front of his eyes. When the war ended, and he was left alive by the grace of G-d, he experienced a mental and physical breakdown. For two years, he moved from displaced persons camp to displaced persons camp, trying to learn if there were relatives -- close or distant -- who survived. In the end, it became clear that all his brothers and sisters -- each one of them -- was liquidated by the oppressor, may its name be blotted out.

In the year 5708 (ca. 1948), he traveled to the United States, to Philadelphia. There lived his uncle, Rabbi Moshe Hayyim Greenvald of the Amshinov Hasidim; he had never met his uncle who had immigrated to America before he was born. But the uncle arranged my fathers travel to the U. S. and received him with great love, and did everything to make it easier for him and to comfort him after the portion of awesome suffering he underwent . . . Under pressure from his uncle, with the intervention of the Amshinov Rebbe,my father decided to put his life back together, married a second wife (my mother, of blessed memory).

She was a child of Karkov, daughter of Rabbi Zushya Sinkowitz, may G-d avenge his blood, of the elders of the Alexander Hasidim. Together with his sister, he succeeded in fleeing immediately at the beginning of the war, running from country to country until they set sail for Canada. There, they raised in the house another cousin, the great leader, Mr. Kuppel Shwartz, one of Toronto's leading Jews. Before my parents were wed, Mr. Shwartz took my father to New York for an audience with the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Joseph Isaac (Schneersohn) to obtain his blessing.

My father told me that he trembled to see the change that had overtaken the Previous Rebbe, how age had crept up on him since the Warsaw wedding. (It was very difficult to understand the Rebbe's speech; one of the Hasidic elders who stood in the room explained what the Rebbe was saying). Mr. Shwartz told the Previous Rebbe that my father had been saved, but lost his family in the Holocaust.

Then, from the holy eyes of the Previous Rebbe there began to fall streams of pure tears. The Rebbe blessed my father and wished him a long and good life. Before he left, my father told the Rebbe that he had been fortunate to be at the wedding of his son-in-law, the Rebbe, in Warsaw. Then, my father tells, the Previous Rebbe's eyes brightened and he said that since his son- in-law lived here, and he was at the wedding, he should certainly visit him to pay his respects.

Mr. Shwartz and my father left the Rebbe's chambers, and after they were shown where to find the chambers of the Ramash [Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson], as he was known then, they knocked and entered, saying they came at the instructions of the Previous Rebbe. My father was elated that the Ramash remembered him immediately.

His first question was that my father should tell about last days of Rabbi Zemba because he heard he was killed in the Warsaw Ghetto but did not know any details. After my father told all he knew, the Ramash said, "since the Rebbe told you to visit me, I am obligated to say to you words of Torah. And since the month of Kislev is close to Hanukkah, it is known the custom of many Hasidim," followers of the Baal Shem Tov, to celebrate the fifth day of Hanukkah. What is the reason? Since the fifth day can never fall on the Sabbath, if so, then it implies strong (spiritual) darkness. This is the potential of the Hanukkah candle -- to illuminate the greatest darkness. This is the mission of every Jew in every place he may be -- New York or London -- to illuminate the darkest place.

Needless to say, my father was startled as he had all but forgotten the very same thing that the Ramash had told him nearly 20 years earlier. And now, his memory was jarred, and he realized that the Ramash had repeated, almost word-for-word, what he told him then, in the hotel in Warsaw.

After his wedding, my father served as a rabbi and teacher for Congregation Adath Israel in Washington Heights. There we were born, my sister and I. My father remained there some five years, and, with the help of Mr. Shwartz in Canada, moved to Toronto and worked there as a rabbi and teacher in the Haredi congregations there.

Over the course of years, in Toronto, my father became close to the Satmar Hasidim in the city, since he ministered in his rabbinical work to these Hasidim. Though he never sent us to the Satmar schools, he sent us to educational institutions that were spiritually similar. Me and my brother were sent to the well known Nytra Yeshivah. Though my father's outlook was philosophically close to Satmar, he never spoke against the Lubavitcher Rebbe. On the contrary, he always spoke of him in with praise and in especially respectful terms, as did his children.en.

In the winter of 5729 (ca. 1969), I was married. My father told me that even though I wasn't a Lubavitcher Hasid, he feels the need to go with me to visit the Lubavitcher Rebbe to receive his blessing for my wedding -- just as he had done, even though he had not seen the Rebbe for some 20 years. I agreed with a whole heart.

But then, I learned it's not so simple to visit the Rebbe. Only after negotiations with the Rebbe's secretary -- and only after my father explained to him that we could not wait several months to reserve a place in the queue for audiences -- did he agreed to place us in line, but only after we promised we would only ask for a benediction and would not detain the Rebbe. My father promised and we left Toronto on the appointed day. I don't remember the exact hour we entered the Rebbe's chambers, but it was closer to morning than night, if not dawn itself.

I saw the Rebbe's face for the first time in person. His face, especially his eyes, made a great impression on me. My father gave the Rebbe the customary epistle on which were inscribed the names of myself, my bride-to-be and my father's request for a benediction. The Rebbe took the epistle from my father's hands. Before he opened it, he looked at my father with a broad smile and said, "Not more than 20 years ago the time had arrived, especially as the Previous Rebbe sent you to me." My father stood, scared and trembling, and couldn't find the energy to open his mouth. Meanwhile, the sexton banged on the door, but the Rebbe waved his hand as to negate the knocking, like someone who was saying, don't pay attention.

In the midst of all this, the Rebbe opened the epistle, glanced at it, and immediately began to give us his blessing, blessed my father with a long life and good years, and said, roughly, "Just as you rejoiced at my nuptials, may the Lord give you nachas and strength to dance at your grandchild's wedding." Tears poured from my father's eyes, and I was also elated. My father had been physically broken from all he had endured in the camps, and this benediction of the Rebbe's was especially dear.

Before we left, my father got together the strength to ask the Rebbe that since he had promised the secretary we would enter solely to request a blessing, and he has a pressing question, would the Rebbe permit him to ask it. The Rebbe smiled and laughed, and said (roughly): "Since the Rebbe the father-in-law sent you to me, I am obligated to answer all questions. And as before, we heard loud banging on the door, and the Rebbe signaled we should ignore it.

My father turned to the Rebbe and said that for different reasons, we had lived among the Satmar Hasidim and their fellow travellers for many years. There, we frequently hear complaints about the views of Lubavitch. "Even though I do not accept all the gossip that I hear, they have nonetheless succeeded in raising within me a great doubt about the Lubavitch view in connection with working together with the "wicked people." The verses are well known, such as "And those that thou hatest the Lord shall hate." "How is it that Lubavitch can openly work together with those who battle against G-d and his Torah?"

My father told the Rebbe that he requests forgiveness for the question, and did not mean to offend. Quite to the contrary, he really wants to understand the Rebbe's view so he can answer others as well as himself.

The Rebbe then turned to my father with a question. "What would your neighbors do if a neighbor's daughter began to keep bad company? Would they attempt to return her to the way of Torah and the Commandments, or would they say, 'And those that thou hatest the Lord shall hate and it is forbidden to involve oneself with the wicked; therefore, we should distance ourselves from her and not bring her closer?'" The Rebbe did not even wait for an answer, and promptly added: "This zealous one would answer that with a daughter, the injunction of 'From thy flesh do not conceal thyself would apply.'"

And then the Rebbe's eyes became serious, and he knocked on the table, and said: "By the Al-mighty, every Jew is as precious as an only child. With the Rebbe, the father-in-law, every Jew was 'From thy flesh, do not conceal thyself.'"

Then the Rebbe looked at me, and at my father with a constant gaze, and said: "One concludes with a blessing. As it is known, it is customary among Hasidim to celebrate the fifth day of Hanukkah with festivities. What is the reason? Since the fifth day cannot ever fall on the Sabbath, this signifies that it is the height of darkness. With the light of the Hanukkah candle, it is possible to illuminate the darkest thing. This is the mission of each Jew, to illuminate even the darkest places. It does not matter where he lives -- Toronto or London. Every Jew is veritably a part of G-d above, the only child of the Holy One, Blessed be He. And when one lights his soul with the candle of holiness, even the distant Jew is stirred in the darkest place."

My father was startled in the most shocking way. He didn't even hear the last words of the Rebbe's blessing, nor how we left the Rebbes chambers. All the way back to Toronto he was silent. Only two words: "wonder of wonders. Wonder of wonders."

Since then, about 10 years passed. In the year 5739 (ca. 1979), my youngest brother was married in the city of London. The whole family, my father, my mother, my sister, my brother-in-law, and I flew to the wedding in an airplane.

On the way to London, I saw my father was preoccupied. Something was bothering him. I asked him what was wrong and he didn't want to say. Only after I asked several times, he told me.

"A few minutes after I left the house in Toronto, the neighbor -- one of the dignitaries of our congregation -- came to see me, rivers of tears pouring from his eyes. He said he would tell me a story that he would not otherwise tell to anybody willingly, but that maybe I could help. It turned out that the daughter of this community leader wavered very much in her ritual observance. In the beginning, the parents didn't really know about it, because she hid it from them. But two weeks earlier, the great catastrophe became known to them: she eloped with a Gentile to London. Since then, the atmosphere at home was one of crying and mourning, the 9th of Av.

All the efforts of relatives in London came to naught. Therefore, he asked my father, since he was travelling to London, maybe he would look into the matter, and G-d would be merciful. Maybe he could find the daughter and prevent her from descending into the depths of iniquity? My father was a close friend of this neighbor, and was affected greatly by the story. I also took it to heart and thought about what I could do in London.

The nuptials were held at a good and auspicious hour. On the first night of the Seven Benedictions, my father turned to the bride's father and told him the story about the neighbor's daughter. Perhaps he had some advice, who, where? Maybe he could look into the matter and do something? The bride's father, as soon as he heard the story, said to my father that he had no understanding of such matters, but did have a friend who was a Lubavitcher Hasid, who the Lubavitcher Rebbe had always charged with all types of errands.

The man's name was Rabbi Abraham Isaac Glick, and if there's somebody who can help, it is this man, who had already managed to save from the streets of Europe many confused souls. That night, the bride's father telephoned Rabbi Glick, told him the story and explained how pressing the matter was.

Rabbi Glick asked for the telephone number of the girl's parents in Toronto -- perhaps they knew some details that would help, like addresses, telephone numbers. Perhaps they would give him some clue where to start searching. Rabbi Glick promised to do what he could.

I don't know where Rabbi Glick searched, where he went, nor with whom he consulted. But one night, about 10 days later -- my father and my mother decided to stay in London until after Hanukkah -- Rabbi Glick called the bride's father and told him to come immediately. "I have a very good surprise," he said. The bride's father and my father hurried to Rabbi Glick's house. As they entered, they saw a girl sitting, crying. At the entrance of the salon, a Hanukkah candelabrum was lit.

Suddenly, as my father looked at the menorah, he saw five candles lit, and he almost fainted and fell to the ground. He remembered the strange sentence the Rebbe had told him some 50 years earlier, then 30 years earlier and then 10.

"The fifth Hanukkah candle signifies the power of the Hanukkah menorah, and the mission of every Jew is to illuminate even" the darkest place -- Warsaw or London, New York or London, or Toronto or London . . ."

"What will that zealous one do when his daughter wavers ... with the Holy One, Blessed be He, every Jew is an only child ... With the Previous Rebbe, every Jew is 'From thy flesh, do not conceal thyself.'" There's no need to mention that the girl completely repented and became on observant Jew.

There's also no need to mention that the zealous one shut his mouth and ceased speaking against Lubavitch.

When my father returned to Canada, he made every effort to obtain an audience with the Rebbe. He felt a need, a spiritual duty after what had happened, to see the Rebbe. But in those years, it had become very difficult to obtain a private audience.

But the following month of Tishrei, the year 5740 (ca. 1980), my father succeeded seeing the Rebbe on the night that a group of holiday visitors had a group audience. My father said that from all the emotions that were coursing through him, he could not utter anything during the audience. When he tried to tell the story, he would break into tears. The Rebbe heard just a few sentences, turned to my father and said, "The father-in-law has a very distant vision."

Every time my father would tell this story, he would say that the real wonder was the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Even more than his vision of events to come from 50 years beforehand, was his heavenly humility of, that he said, "The father-in-law has a very distant vision."

The chain of wonders has not stopped. On 14 Kislev 5748 (ca. 1989), exactly when the Seven Benedictions for my firstborn child ended, on the day which represented the passage of 60 years from the Rebbe's wedding in Warsaw, my father passed away -- all just as the Rebbe had blessed my father, that he should rejoice at the wedding of his grandchild.

We should be happy that this man, Holy to G-d dwelt amongst us. Since it is known that "The righteous are greater in their death than in their lives," certainly the Rebbe will cause a flow of blessings, salvation and comfort from On High, to each and all, until we merit to the promise of the verse, "And a Redeemer shall come unto Zion," in accord with the holy will of the Rebbe, soon and in our time. Amen. -- Rabbi Moshe Hayyim Greenvald http://www.sichosinenglish.org

Reb Shlomo Menorah

Channukah Gems - learning with Reb Shlomo זצ"ל

Chanukah Gems from Reb Shlomo zt"l

The Hidden Light and the Niggun

[the following is a loose free translation of a reb Shlomo Chanukah lesson found in Lev Hashomayim p.167.]

Rebbe Nachman says that every thing has its own ‘niggun’- melody. Every country has its own ‘niggun’. Each wisdom has its own ‘niggun’. Every person has his own ‘niggun’. Every tree has a ‘niggun’. Every flower has a ‘niggun’.

However there are two all encompassing songs; may we merit to hear them.

The first ‘niggun’, is the Song of the Creation of the World.

Did you think that when Hashem created the world and said “yehi or – let there be light” – that He commanded it to be, in the manner of a police officer making commands?

Hashem said “Yehi or” with a ‘niggun’ – [He sang the world into being.] This is understood.

One who sees the light but does not hear the song, sees nothing. Yes, he sees light, but he does not see “the light that it is good.”

Only one who merits to also hear the Holy One’s b”H ‘niggun’ of “yehi or” merits to taste the “Or Haganuz” – the hidden light; the light that is hidden within everything in the world.

Every one knows that the light of Chanukah is the “Or Haganuz”, concerning which it says “and Elokim saw that light that it was good.” Why do we see the “Or Haganuz”- ‘the light that is good’ particularly on Chanukah,?

It is because on Chanukah there are two important mitzvot- the kindling of the lights and “Hallel v’hoda’ah” – praise and thanksgiving – i.e. ‘niggun’- songs of praise and thanksgiving.

The second all encompassing song is the ‘song of the future [redemption]’; we sing this song on Chanukah. This song too is hidden in “let there be light”.

On the verse, “Elokim saw the light that it was good, and Elokim separated between the light and the darkness.” Rashi says “G-d saw the light, and that it was not appropriate that the wicked should have use of it. So He separated it for the tzadikkim- for the for the future.”

I want you to know that there are those who keep everything hidden for the future. Listen, the Chozeh of Lublin was a Levi, a descendant of the holy Sheloh. He never sang because he wanted to preserve his voice until he would sing with the Levites in the Beit Hamikdash.

The Baal Shem Tov taught that Hashem hid the 'Or Haganuz' in the Torah. This means that one, who wants to benefit from the “Or Haganuz”, must study Torah. There he will find it.

So the Slonimer Rebbe asks if so then the “Or Haganuz” is not hidden!- the Torah itself is revealed light! The Slonimer answers, yes, the Torah is light, and still within its light, there is “Or Haganuz”- ‘hidden light’; if you want to hide something, the best place to hide it is in light - light within light.

When G-d gives you some light, you think that that you already have everything, because you do not realize that beyond this light there is even greater light, and beyond that there is even more and greater light.

It is somewhat similar to the Swiss Alps. You finally make it up one mountain only to realize that there is an even higher mountain further on, which makes the first one look small. You go up the next mountain and there you see another mountain even much higher than the one you just ascended.

So it is, and even more so with the holy light. A yid sees a little bit of light and he thinks, ‘wow! I’m wearing a kippah, I have tzitzit, I eat kosher – I am already filled with light.’ ‘Chapp nisht! - Relax!- Don’t grab!’ Further beyond, there is even greater light, and further beyond there is even greater light and so on, infinitely so!

Once one of the students of the Mezritcher Maggid went up to lead the Mincha- afternoon services, and he froze; he couldn’t utter a word. The Alter Rebbe went over to him and asked what was wrong. He said that he realized that there was such a huge gap between where he was and the supernal levels that he saw ahead of him, that he could not imagine how he could even open his mouth to say one word. The Alter Rebbe told him not to worry because when he will reach the place that he sees ahead, he will then see even further. So long as you see that there is a gap between where you are now and what you see ahead, it’s okay. But if you no longer see a gap ahead of you, then you have what to worry about.

On Chanukah, by combining the mitzvah of light with the mitzvah of song and melody- songs of praise and thanksgiving, we draw the “Or Haganuz” to penetrate into the entire world.

Then we suddenly realize that it all depends on us. When we see all the evil in the world- instead of getting angry we must know that we are responsible. The Holy One blessed is He, has given us light and melody, and we have the power to fix the whole world.

[this lesson is from Lev Hashamaim on Chanukah p32]

Rav Nachman said that every transgression you do causes you to hate another person in the world. This is because a transgression profanes the holiness of your heart. Obviously, the people who hate the whole world have made many mistakes in their lives.

I want to share something unbelievable with you. On Yom Kippur, God forgives us for all our transgressions. On Simchas Torah we sweep them out and with joy and dance. But when does God fix our hearts?[*]

[*] In the process of tshuvah, the focus is on regretting the wrongdoings of the past and making an affirmatively accepting to act correctly in the future. However, after tshuvah, there still remains the issue of healing the heart of the residual spiritual damage it suffered as a result of transgressing.

When does He take out all the hatred and all the evil from our hearts? When does God give us back the holiness of seeing somebody else's light and saying a blessing over it? When do we see that somebody else's light is SO beautiful? [] On Chanukah! [*]

[] With these questions Reb Shlomo is illustrating the nature of a spiritually healthy heart. Such a heart it is free of all hatred and evil, free to thank G-d over another’s light and heathy to see and appreciate the beauty of another’s light. – [*] The fixing of the heart takes place on Chanukah. To understand this, Reb Shlomo continues-

Chanukah is the time of Aaron the High Priest- the holiday of Aharon HaKohen haGadol. Aharon's specialty was making peace between two people. How can someone make peace between people? Aaron HaKohen had the holiness of being able to actually cleanse a person's heart of hatred. This is a very special blessing.

Each time you make a spiritual mistake you hate somebody. But you know what else? Each time you make a mistake, sadly enough, you love your children less. Your heart is not completely pure any more. Children need a pure heart. They need the purest light. So for the sake of our children, we better quickly cleanse and purify our hearts.

When does God clean our hearts again so we can have the privilege of giving over Torah to our children? On Chanukah.

The holiness of Chanukah lights is that they burn even in the middle of the night. We are crying, "If I make mistakes again next year, let this Chanukah light shine and illuminate and heal all my darkness. Let this Chanukah light keep me from ever hating people. Let this Chanukah light give me so much holiness that all the darkness of the world cannot take away my love for my children." Chanukah is the highest kind of fixing the world.

If each time you make a mistake you hate somebody else, let's face it, each time you make a mistake you hate yourself. Each time you make a mistake you get further away from your own neshamah, from your own heart. On Yom Kippur God fixes your soul. But when does your light shine again? When can you look in the mirror and see a great light instead of seeing a ‘nobody’? When do you see your light again? On Chanukah.

All year long whatever you do, you think is nothing. Whenever you do anything you think, "It's bad. It's stupid. It's nothing." This is because you think so little of yourself. On Chanukah you kindle a candle and you know it's God's light. You realize that you are bringing down God's light [to the world]. You realize that you have been bringing God's light down into the world all year long.

I want to bless you and bless myself that this Chanukah should fix us. It should reach the darkest corners in our hearts. Everybody knows that the nights of Chanukah are the longest and the

darkest nights. This means that the light of Chanukah reaches into the darkest places. In the dark night I suddenly realize, "Gevalt, this is God's light!"

[Consider, besides receiving the holy gifts and blessings of Chanukah, besides making the blessings and lighting the candles with ‘kavanah’ focused attention, you may try, as you are looking at your Chanukah meditating on bringing the light into yourself. Observe yourself within; in this light find and ‘see’ your innermost essence, your neshamah. Let it speak to you and listen to it with an open heart. Allow your heart to receive its holy illuminated and healing words and breaths. Welcome the holy light and allow it to heal your heart. Listen to hear your deepest and truest רצון desire. Let us be blessed to believe with perfect faith that all our light, strength, courage and healing are coming from Hashem alone. Let us be blessed to be true and joyous servants of Hashem. Let us be ever grateful for Hashem’s kindness and for the gift of opportunity to bring Hashem’s light into this darkest of worlds. And may we be blessed to see this manifest very quickly and pray for Moshiach Now!

Light is the level of the reaching higher than your 'self', deeper than everything in the world. You can learn something and know more or feel more. This is not the level of light yet. Sometimes you learn a word and it gets very deep in your heart. Suddenly you reach somewhere deeper than the deepest part of yourself. This is called light. That is where you have your house.

On Chanukah we want to wipe out pagan worship. In Hebrew pagan worship is called, 'Avodah Zarah' - strange worship. That means pagan worship is worship that you are a stranger to. You are serving God, but you are serving God like a stranger. You do everything like stranger. The whole meaning of Chanukah is that we are wiping out 'Avodah Zara', wiping out 'strange worship'. Everything we do has to flow from the deepest depths of our hearts.

Many of us Jews are strangers to our own holidays. We are strangers to everything holy. We do it, but who cares about it? We don't feel anything before we celebrate a holiday, and we don't feel anything afterwards.

Why are we losing our children? There is nothing in the Yiddishkeit that we offer them. If you tell children something and it doesn't come from the deepest depths of your heart, they don't want to listen. They are 100% right. To tell the truth, I don't want to buy it either.

I want to bless you and me and all our children that we should always find people to teach us about God. We should feel close to it. We should feel at home with it.

If we danced with our children each time they learned one more letter, they would keep on learning. Each time a child learns one letter it is mind blowing! If we realized this, each time a child learned one more word of Torah we wouldn't know what to do with ourselves for joy. Then our children would keep on learning.

The blessing that we say over the light is, 'l'hadlik ner shel Chanukah' - to kindle the light of Chanukah. We don't say, '…b'Chanukah' - to kindle the light on Chanukah. We kindle the light OF Chanukah. That means that the light is there already. We have only to kindle it. The light we are seeing right now is the light of my grandfather and your grandfather. It is actually the light of the Kohanim, the Priests. It is the same light that burned from the bit of oil which lasted eight days in the time of the Holy Temple. It's the SAME light. It is waiting in Heaven all year to be brought down through kindling of the Chanukah lamps.

The young people of today are not unlike the young people in the days of the Maccabees. They too have strayed from their holy tradition. We need someone like Judah Maccabee to show us how beautiful it is to be a Jew. Young people must understand that G-d needs each of them to make a special contribution to our religion, that only they are capable of making. Every day we are supposed to add new lights. G-d wants even the most alienated person to be a shining light. On Chanukah we see in the shining lights only the beauty of people.

Everybody knows that Chanukah is the culmination of the high holidays. We are accustomed to think that joy and bliss are the highest a human being can aspire to, but our holy rabbis teach us that light is even deeper. So after Simhas Torah, when we experience the greatest joy in the world, we come to Chanukah. Chanukah is the Festival of Light. Chanukah is when we initiate the Third Temple, which shall be rebuilt soon. It is the one week of Chanukah, when every Jewish home is a little bit of the Holy Temple, which gives us the strength to hold out until the Holy Temple will be here for always.

Chanukah has two outstanding characteristics:

On every other holiday you don't need a house. On Chanukah you need a house to kindle light at the door. On Chanukah when I see someone else kindling, I also say a blessing. When do I know that I'm at home with the Torah? When do I know that the light of the Torah is really my own? If I blow my mind over everyone else's good deed and I can't control myself, I have to say a blessing over it.

It is possible to live in the same house as your wife and children and be strangers to one another. On Chanukah every person in the house is kindling light; every night the light is becoming stronger and deeper and more.

Our age is the age of strangers. We're strangers in our own homes; we're strangers in our own land; we're strangers in our own religion.

Let this Chanukah open the gates for all of us -- the lights of Chanukah at the gates to show how holy everyone else is. Let this Chanukah give us the strength to bring light to the whole world, because people only hate each other when they have no home. So our light of Chanukah will show the whole world how deep life is -- how deep it is to serve G-d.

The holy Ishbitzer says the greatest blessing one Jew can give another is to feel at home with the Torah. So many of our generation are assimilated only because nobody made them feel at home with Yiddishkeit. You and I should be privileged to kindle light at the gate of everyone's heart to make everyone feel at home.

Chanukah is the Festival of Light, the one Light, the only Light. The Light which will save the world. Let it be soon.

Sometimes we blow out our own candles; so on Chanukah Hashem gives us back the light we need the most.

Chanukah is the holiday when the Talmud says, "Chanukah is a man and his house," meaning that the whole family has to come together. Because between husband and wife, parents and children, you can stand next to each other for a thousand years and be as far away as two million eternities. Chanukah is the great light when we see each other again; according to the Kabbalistic tradition it is deeper than Yom Kippur. It is the holy of holiest, not in the Holy Temple, but in my own house. We kindle the light by the door to tell the people -- the outside people -- who have not yet found their own house, who have not yet found their own soul, who have not yet found even their own friend. And we share our light with them.

All the hatred in the world is only because people don't see each other. Chanukah is the holiday that we are closest to the Messiah and, gevalt, do we need the world to see us one time! And gevalt, do we need all the Jews one time to see the holiness of being Jewish! Let it be this year. Amen.

Good Chanukah, Good Yom Tov, G-d needs every light of Hanukah. G-d needs every Jewish home. The world needs every Jewish home to fill the whole world with light.

Reb Shlomo zt"l taught: The holy Baal Shem Tov said that on the night of Chanukah even the lowliest Jew can reach a place that is much higher than the place that he/she can reach on Yom Kippur or Simchat Torah.

On Chanukah it is customary to place the Menorah at a height of lower than ten 'tefachim'- handbreadths. We do so to symbolize a very deep aspect of the Chanukah miracle, namely that on Chanukah the Shechinah came down to us 'lower than ten tefachim'.

Normally the Shechinah would not descend below 'ten tefachim' – this represents the concept that first we have to prepare ourselves and rise towards Hashem as much as we are capable – to a height of 'ten tefachim', and there the Shechinah meets us. However on Chanukah, we had all become 'tamei'- ritually not pure, nor did we have any 'shemen tahor'- oil that is ritually pure for lighting the Menorah. We were not able to rise to the requisite height of 'ten tefachim'. Nevertheless a double miracle occurred. First, we actually found a small cruse of 'shemen tahor', and second, though there was only enough oil for one day, it lasted for eight days [until we were tahaor once more and were able to prepare a new batch of 'shemen tahor']. Because of their 'mesirut nefesh'- the total devotion of the Chashmonaim, the Shechinah descended to our level.

The Greeks who basically did not mean to harm us physically, did however seek to destroy our connection to Hashem and His Torah. They defiled all the oils so that we should not be able to light the Menorah with 'shemen tahor'. They did not mind that we should light our Menorah, and they may have even considered it to be a beautiful thing to do. But they did object to our lighting it b'kedusha ub'tahara – in holiness and purity; they would not agree that there is such a reality of 'kedusha' and 'tahara'. They objected to the idea that a Jew has a supra-rational connection with Hashem, that we possess a 'neshama tehora'- a soul that is pure, that always remains connected to Hashem. And indeed they had convinced many of us that this was so. Yet there was a small group of Jews, inspired by the righteous women, who were ready to give their lives for Hashem. They said that the pure soul of a Jew cannot be destroyed, that there is an aspect of the Jewish soul that always remains 'tahor'! And this level of our souls is always ready to give itself over completely to Hashem, no matter what- at any price!

The miracle of Chanukah is that every one of us can [and therefore must] get in touch with this deepest depth of our beings, even when we are in our lowliest of states. This will often require 'mesirut nefesh' – readiness to go way 'beyond our selves', and when we do, the holy Shechinah descends to us, and we once again begin to ascend to ever greater heights, coming ever closer to Hashem.

As Reb Shlomo taught us, when we find this 'shemen tahor' within, that is Hashem's candle, and we are not only obligated to light it- we are obligated to light it at our doorways so that it will shine out and illuminate the darkness of the world.

In honor of my two Rebbes zt"l, the two great lamplighters of our generation, the Lubavitcher Rebbe and Reb Shlomo who did all they could to rekindle the Jewish souls and hearts of Yisrael, we bless you, and please bless us too, to find our 'shemen tahor', to kindle our lights and share them with the world in great joy.

===here are some teachings we learned in previous years as well as an awesome Chanukah story about the Lubavitcher Rebbe zt"l.

PARSHAS MIKEITZ - [THE FOLLOWING TEACHINGS ARE FROM THE PREVIOUS YEARS]

In last week's parsha Yosef was sold by his brothers, down to Mitzrayim where he served as a slave and finally ended up being in prison for 12 years [one year for each of the twelve brothers- including himself]. This week B"H, Yosef is getting out of jail and rises to power. He is appointed to be the Viceroy over all of Egypt. By devising a wise strategy he saves all of Egypt from the certain death that would have resulted from the seven years of 'great famine'.

The famine also reached the Land of Canaan where Yaakov Avinu dwelt with his family. Word had spread that there was food for sale in Mitzrayim. Yaakov Avinu sends his ten eldest sons to purchase food in Mitzrayim and finally the brothers meet again. Only Yosef recognizes his brothers but they do not recognize him – not yet. There is still a lot of work to be done before Yaakov Avinu's 'ruach' – spirit will be restored, to be 'alive' again.

YOSEF'S LAST NIGHT IN PRISON

The Ishbitzer Rebbe draws our attention to Yosef's last night in prison. Surely Yosef constantly prayed for Hashem's salvation, but the prayers of that last night are the ones that opened the Gates of Salvation. The Torah tells us that Hashem was with Yosef and therefore he was successful in all that he did. And Yosef, was constantly conscious of Hashem's presence. Thus Hashem was always with him even in prison.

Though Yosef did never stopped trusting in Hashem throughout his imprisonment, the last night was different. This time Hashem answered his prayers. On this last night, says the Ishbitzer, Yosef was on the verge of giving up, 'chas v'shalom', and he had to gather all his strength and faith not to give up.

That night he found in the deepest depths of his heart, the pure oil for his lamp – to give light and to bring Hashem's light into the darkest land, the land of Mitzrayim.

B"H we are in the midst of Channukah and we are lighting candles. The Lubavitcher Rebbe zt"l often emphasized, that on this holiday as we celebrate the rededication of our Holy Temple in Yerushalayim, we should remember to rededicate our personal temples, the temples in our hearts. Like Yosef Hatzaddik we must never give up. We must continuously bring much more of Hashem's light into this world, for it is still so dark.

"MY G-D, MY G-D WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?"

What was Yosef's prayer that night? "My G-d, my G-d why have You forsaken me?" Hashem, surely You are right here with me! It is You who decided that this is where I need to be right now. But am I not one of Your candles? Am I not to light my Menorah to shine and reflect Your light in this world? I need some oil. Hashem, please help me to find my pure oil to selflessly share Your light with my loved ones and with all Your creation.

To this day we are still being squeezed and crushed. In these times we are living in, may we be truly inspired by Yosef Hatzaddik not to give up. With each crush we must give forth more oil, we must bring more and more of Hashem's light into our lives and into the world. May Hashem answer all our prayers and open the Gates of Complete Salvation and Redemption.

Amen

CONCERNING THE OIL

Hashem tells Moshe Rabbeinu [our Rebbe-teacher]:

"v'atah te'tzaveh et bnei Yisrael = and you shall command the children of Israel...

"v'yikchu eilecha shemen zayit zach = and they shall take to you pure olive oil...

'katit lama'or = which was crushed to give light...

leha'alot neir tamid = to give a continuous [daily] light"... (Exodus 27:20)

The Jewish people are referred to as a beautiful olive tree, abundant in oil and vitality. [Jeremiah 11] The Midrashim elaborate on this comparison – just as the olive becomes sweeter by being crushed, so too [the children of] Yisrael, are sweetened and return to the paths of good through suffering. [See the Baal Shem Tovs' teaching further on] – just as the leaves of the olive tree do not fall from it, neither in the summer

nor in the winter, so too Yisrael's existence will never be abolished – just as olive oil does not mix with any other liquids and always rises to the top, so too Yisrael [remains distinct and] rises among the nations – just as olive oil brings light to the world, so too Yisrael is a light unto the nations.

CONTRIBUTING YOUR OIL CONTRIBUTING YOUR LIGHT!

As we have learned, at the same time that the community of Yisrael was instructed to build a sanctuary for Hashem, so too was each individual instructed to make a sanctuary for Hashem in his and her heart. Just as we were given the mitzvah of contributing oil for Hashem's sanctuary, so too we must ensure that there is pure oil in our personal temple.

In the temple service, oil was used for three different purposes. There was the oil for the Menorah, the anointing oil, and the oil that used as part of the 'meal offering' – the 'Korban Mincha'.

CRUSHED TO GIVE LIGHT

Rashi, on the words 'katit lama'or' – crushed to give light, cites the following teaching from the Talmud:

Only the very first drops oil that came out of the first 'squeezing' of the olives were used for the Menorah lighting, for this was the most pure oil and it did not have any 'shmarim' = dregs or particles.

Often if not always, we need to be squeezed a little bit or crushed before we give forth our oil. To be squeezed and crushed is certainly painful, but it is not 'bad'. Some commentators even go so far as to say that the crushing is a pre-condition to providing light. "There is nothing more whole than a broken heart", as the Kotzker Rebbe said.

Which is the purest oil? Which is the oil that provides the clearest light? It is the oil that comes from the first squeeze. In other words, one day, sooner or later, we will all contribute our oil and our light; the question is how many times will i have to be squeezed, how many times will my facade have to be crushed before [i will allow my oil] my inner light to shine forth? By responding immediately to Hashem as soon as we feel even the slightest of squeezes, we can bring to Hashem the purest oil for light! This is the oil without dregs, this is the oil for the Menorah.

May we all be blessed with true love and may we all shine our light with joy. We send blessings of healing to all who need a 'refuah shleimah'. May we all have a wonderful 'lichtigeh and freiliche' Shabbos Chanukkah. Amen.

SEEING, DISCERNING AND RECOGNIZING

Our parsha, Yosef's dreams, Pharaoh's dreams, the holiday of Channukah, the month of Kislev, which is associated with sleep, the month of Teves, which is associated with the tribe of Dan and the letter 'ayin' [an eye], all share the underlying themes of seeing, discerning and recognizing.

"HE RECOGNIZED THEM BUT THEY DID NOT RECOGNIZE HIM" [29-30 Kislev 5762]

In last week's parsha Yosef was sold by his brothers, served as a slave in Mitzrayim and finally ended up being in prison for 12 years [one year for each of the twelve brothers- including himself]. This week B"H, Yosef is getting out of jail and rises to power as he was appointed to be the Viceroy over all of Egypt. By devising a wise strategy he saves all of Egypt from certain starvation during the seven years of 'great famine'. The famine had also reached the Land of Canaan where Yaakov Avinu dwelt with his family. Word had spread that there was food for sale in Mitzrayim. Yaakov Avinu sends his ten eldest sons to

purchase food in Mitzrayim and finally the brothers meet again. Only, Yosef recognizes them but they do not recognize him ... not yet. There is still a lot of work to be done before Yaakov Avinu's 'ruach' will be restored to be alive again.

REB NACHMAN ZTZ"L SAID: "AS LONG AS THE CANDLE IS BURNING IT IS POSSIBLE TO FIX."

Even the tzaddik has to go through awesome struggles in this world; all the time, again and again! There is a verse in Mishlei which says: "ki sheva yipol tzaddik, v'kam!" The tzaddik falls seven times, and he keeps on getting up! What distinguishes the tzaddik, among other things is that no matter how many times he falls he keeps on getting up again and again.

This Shabbos we are blessed with the combined lights of the holy Shabbos candles and with the holy light of the Channukah candles. May we be blessed to receive holy light of the Torah, the holy light of Shabbos and of Channukah. May we be blessed to use this light to heal and fix our connections with each other, to recognize one another and to see the good points in ourselves and in each other.

THE OLIVE TREE

The Jewish people are referred to as a beautiful olive tree, abundant in oil and vitality. [Jeremiah 11] The Midrashim elaborate on this comparison:

--- Just as the olive becomes sweeter by being crushed, so too [the children of] Yisrael, are sweetened and return to the paths of good through suffering. [See the Baal Shem Tovs' teaching further on]

--- Just as the leaves of the olive tree do not fall from it, neither in the summer nor in the winter, so too Yisrael's existence will never be abolished.

--- Just as olive oil does not mix with any other liquids and always rises to the top, so too Yisrael [remains distinct and] rises among the nations.

--- Just as olive oil brings light to the world, so too Yisrael is a light unto the nations.

May we all be blessed with true love and may we all shine our light with joy. We send blessings of healing to all who need a 'refuah shleimah'. May we all have a wonderful 'lichtigeh' Shabbos. Amen.

Chanukah at the Kotel

Haneirot Hallalu Kodesh Heym – These Lights Are Holy

I learned the following teaching last night; it comes from a sefer called 'vayageyd yaakov'.

The question is asked in the talmud, why do we say that these Chanukkah candles are holy and that we are not allowed to make any personal use of them – are they holier than shabbat candles? and the Gemara answers that since these candles are lit as a mitzvah only [whereas the yom tov and Shabbat candles are lit for the sake of peace in the home] therefore it would be disgraceful to make personal use of their light. The Baal HaMaor explains, that therefore we 'say' that these candles are holy.

The 'Vayageyd Yaakov' CONTINUES AND offers the following insight – In the 3rd paragraph of the 'Shema' we say "and you shall not go astray after your eyes and after your heart … and you shall be holy unto Hashem your G-d." Now the mitzvah of the Chanukkah candles is to "see them" and even one who has not lit the candles makes a blessing over them upon, as we learn further in the Gemara [Shabbat 23a]. we also find this ruling in the Shulchan Aruch [Orach Chayim 676:3]:

One who has not lit, and will not light that night, and for whom [the Chanukkah lamp] will not be lit in his house, when he sees a Chanukkah lamp, should recite the blessing, "Sh-assah nissim l'avoteinu - who did miracles." On the first night he should also recite "Sh-hechiyanu - Who has kept us in life."

Thus by 'seeing' the Chanukkah candles and by making a 'blessing' over them we are 'fixing' these two limbs – our eyes and our hearts [for blessings are a matter of the heart]. Thus in ther merit of this mitzvah we can attain "and you shall be holy unto Hashem your G-d." Thus is the holiness of the Chanukkah candles and thus we say " Haneirot Hallalu kodesh kodesh heym – these lights are holy."

What was Yosef's prayer that night?

"My G-d, my G-d why have You forsaken me?" Hashem, surely You are right here with me! It is You who decided that this is where I need to be right now. But am I not one of Your candles? Am I not to light my Menorah to shine and reflect Your light in this world? I need some oil. Hashem, please help me to find my pure oil to selflessly share Your light with my loved ones and with all Your creation. To this day we are still being squeezed and crushed. In these times we are living in, may we be truly inspired by Yosef Hatzaddik not to give up. With each crush we must give forth more oil, we must bring more and more of Hashem's light into our lives and into the world. May Hashem answer all our prayers and open the Gates of Complete Salvation and Redemption."

Amen

Concerning The Oil

Hashem tells Moshe Rabbeinu [our Rebbe-teacher]:

"v'atah te'tzaveh et bnei Yisrael = and you shall command the children of Israel...

"v'yikchu eilecha shemen zayit zach = and they shall take to you pure olive oil...

'katit lama'or = which was crushed to give light...

leha'alot neir tamid = to give a continuous [daily] light"... (Exodus 27:20)

The Jewish people are referred to as a beautiful olive tree, abundant in oil and vitality. [Jeremiah 11] The Midrashim elaborate on this comparison – just as the olive becomes sweeter by being crushed, so too [the children of] Yisrael, are sweetened and return to the paths of good through suffering. [See the Baal Shem Tovs' teaching further on] – just as the leaves of the olive tree do not fall from it, neither in the summer

nor in the winter, so too Yisrael's existence will never be abolished – just as olive oil does not mix with any other liquids and always rises to the top, so too Yisrael [remains distinct and] rises among the nations – just as olive oil brings light to the world, so too Yisrael is a light unto the nations.

Contributing Your Oil Contributing Your Light!

As we have learned, at the same time that the community of Yisrael was instructed to build a sanctuary for Hashem, so too was each individual instructed to make a sanctuary for Hashem in his and her heart. Just as we were given the mitzvah of contributing oil for Hashem's sanctuary, so too we must ensure that there is pure oil in our personal temple.

In the temple service, oil was used for three different purposes. There was the oil for the Menorah, the anointing oil, and the oil that used as part of the 'meal offering' – the 'Korban Mincha'.

Crushed To Give Light

Rashi, on the words 'katit lama'or' – crushed to give light, cites the following teaching from the Talmud:

Only the very first drops oil that came out of the first 'squeezing' of the olives were used for the Menorah lighting, for this was the most pure oil and it did not have any 'shmarim' = dregs or particles.

Often if not always, we need to be squeezed a little bit or crushed before we give forth our oil. To be squeezed and crushed is certainly painful, but it is not 'bad'. Some commentators even go so far as to say that the crushing is a pre-condition to providing light. "There is nothing more whole than a broken heart", as the Kotzker Rebbe said.

Which is the purest oil? Which is the oil that provides the clearest light? It is the oil that comes from the first squeeze. In other words, one day, sooner or later, we will all contribute our oil and our light; the question is how many times will i have to be squeezed, how many times will my facade have to be crushed before [i will allow my oil] my inner light to shine forth? By responding immediately to Hashem as soon as we feel even the slightest of squeezes, we can bring to Hashem the purest oil for light!

This is the oil without dregs, this is the oil for the Menorah.

In The Presence Of A Tzaddik – In The Light Of The Menorah

The awesome thing about being in the presence of a truly holy tzadikk is that it is like being in the holy light of the menorah – in the holy light of the Menorah that was lit by Aharon haKohen and his descendants, the Chashmona'im. In the presence of a tzadikk you are 'in-spired' to return to the light of Hashem – regardless of whatever your past has been like. The real tzaddik truly and completely believes in the potential and the power of tshuvah and in his/her presence you too are in-spired with faith and trust that you can truly change, that you too possess a holy Divine spark.

Once a Rabbi teacher from a 'Baal Tshuvah' yeshivah came to the Gerer Rebbe zt"l for a blessing. Though he was not a chassid, he recognized the power of a tzaddik's blessings. The Rebbe blessed him and then he asked him what does he does for a living? The Rabbi answered that he was a teacher in a "Baal Tshuvah" yeshivah, but he himself was not a 'baal tshuvah' – [he was FFB = frum from birth]. So the Rebbe asked him "Why not?!"

One of the great and essential beliefs that we learn in the Torah, is that a Jew may never give up. No matter what, never give up your faith in 'tshuvah'. Never give up believing that you can be very close to Hashem. Don't ever let anyone tell you otherwise, and don't ever think or convey such thoughts to anyone else. Even someone like Eisav might have done tshuvah, had Yaakov Avinu had more faith in Dinah's ability to inspire him. [See Rashi on Bereishis 32:23.]

As we light our Chanukkah lights, it is very important that we open our hearts and trust in the holiness of this light to reach us – to the utmost depths of our hearts and souls, to reach the utmost depths of every Jew, and to reach the whole world.

Reb Shlomo's Torah

The "Cheyn" (GRACE) of Chanukkah

If we are driving somewhere and you ask me to do you a little favor and drop you off at a friends house 2 blocks away, so its not a problem. But what if you ask me to drive you from Manhattan to Brooklyn ? So that's not so simple. Basically it may take an hour to go there and an hour to come back. You know what the problem is ? I have my limitations, I have boundaries. My time is limited because I'm such a busy man.

If your a homeless person and you ask me for a dollar for a sandwich so I'm happy to help you out , but if you ask for a hundred dollars, I'll tell you that I care about you my friend, but that I have limits.

Ah, but when there is some "cheyn" (grace or beauty) involved, then that's a different story. If i love this girl very much or if my little child asks me to drive her, then I'll gladly take her wherever she wants.

Why ? Because if I love someone, where there is cheyn, then my normal boundaries don't stop me. I will go beyond my limitations. cheyn breaks through the boundaries.

Yosef in Eygpt when he finally sees his handsome younger brother Binyamin after not seeing him for so many years (he was actually the only full brother that he had from Yaakov and Rochel) so he blesses him with the words "Elokim yechancha bnee". G-d should always give you "cheyn". Yechancha is also the root of the word Chanukkah because Chanukkah is really cheyn.

The miracle of Chanukkah took place in the holy temple on the portion of land that belonged to the tribe of Binyamin. Yosef tells his little brother you should know that I'm blessing you that the miracle of Chanukkah should take place in in your backyard, I'm blessing you with the cheyn of Chanukkah.

Chanukkah is the time of the year when there is so much cheyn in the world. On Chanukkah a small group of holy Kohanim (priests), the Hashmonaim, went to war against the Greek army to restore the holy temple in Jerusalem and bring G-d's light back to Israel to the holy temple.

.

How can a few holy jews defeat the large and powerful Greek army ? i mean there are limits to just how big of an army I can defeat. But on Chanukkah when G-d sees so much cheyn in every jew and every jew sees so much cheyn in the Master of the Universe , so there are no limits to how hard i can fight, to how much I can defeat my enemies.

On Chanukkah after the handful of yidden defeated the powerful greek army, they went to light the menorah in the holy temple but you see oil also has limits. I mean one flask of oil can only burn for one day, but on Chanukkah during the holiday of cheyn in the land of Binyamin who was blessed with cheyn, it can burn for 8 days , beyond the limits.

You know if I light a candle for a day and it lasts for 8 days so its a miracle and it is a message to us yidden never to give up. But it's also a story and stories have limits. If u would have asked me at the time of the Hashmonaim if the miracle will still mean anything a year or two later, I would say your crazy, who cares, no one will remember. Do you now that the miracle of Chanukkah is giving hope to us yidden for 2,000 years. the cheyn of Chanukkah has no limits.

On Chanukkah it says that "mehadrin, ner l-kol echad" every jew lights a candle and every jew has light on Chanukkah. Do you know why sometimes during the year when I look at some people I absolutely see no light coming from them ? This is because I'm not connected to them, there is no cheyn and therefore I'm so far from them that I can't see a dim light from a million miles away. But on Chanukkah when there is so much cheyn in the world so I get closer to you , and when I get closer I'm able to see that you have so much light.

I bless us all, lets use the cheyn of Chanukkah to get close and see the light in each other.

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