Reb Shlomo - Chanukah Digest
Reb Shlomo ztz"l taught us in the name of the Baal Shem Tov, that on Channukah even the lowest Jew can reach to places which are higher than the holy places which can be reached by holy people on the other holidays...
The light of Channukah will reach even the furthest Jew and b’ezrat Hashem we will all come home walking upright, healthy and joyous 'l'artzeinu hakedosha, b'karov mammash, together with Mashiach tzidkeinnu" Amen.
The following is a prayer in Reb Shlomo’s words:
“Master of the World, if it is my mistakes that have kept me in darkness let this Channukah light shine into all areas of my darkness let this Channukah Light keep me from ever hating people let this Channukah Light give me so much holiness that all the darkness of the world cannot take away the love for myself and for all the beautiful people”
Surely you know that
not every Jew is holy
but every Jew is
Holy of Holies
-Reb Shlomo Carlebach ztz"l
Sweetest Of The Sweet: Reb Shlomo's Torah Teachings
“Chanunkah, Chanukah a Yom Tov a Freilicher”
A Chanukah Letter from Reb Shlomo z"l
Moshav Meor Modiim, Kislev 5749
Reprinted from Cong. Kehilath Jacob News
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.
It is possible to know every word of the Torah, but if the inside light of the Torah is not shining into you out of every word, you are still an outsider.
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.
Reb Shlomo Chanuka Blessings
People wonder sometimes how after two thousand years Yerushalayim is still
the center of our hearts and the Beis Hamikdash is still our address. The
answer is very simple: because on Chanuka, wherever we are it is
Yerushalayim; our house is the Holy Temple and every Jew is the High Priest.
Why don't we confess our mistakes on Chanuka? The answer is that on Yom
Kippur, only the High Priest walks into the Holy of the Holiest. On Chanuka
when we light the candles every Jew is the Holy of the Holiest. On Yom
Kippur only the High Priest walks into the Holy of the Holiest but when I
see what the Greeks do to my children, how they destroy the holiness of
their fires, how they defile the soul of their souls, then I have no other
way but to take my wife and my children into the Holy of Holiest.
And everybody knows that in the Holy of Holiest you don't talk about mistakes.
You don't say bad things - even about yourself. You don't even say bad
things about the world. You just want G-d's light to reach the four corners
of the world. So, our holy rabbis tell us that Chanuka is the light of the
Messiah; the deepest, deepest, most hidden light in the world... a light
that reaches the most hidden place in our hearts.
We kindle the lights by the door or window of the house because on Chanuka
all the doors and the windows of hearts are open to each other. G-d's
Oneness, the Oneness of all of Israel and the Oneness of all the world is revealed to us
in the most glorius way. While we look at the Chanuka candles, I bless us to be
together with all the people we love as the light of Chanuka is shining
into our eyes.
Love you and bless you,
TEACHING and GIVING OVER Torah 2
There is such a thing as teaching, and there is such a thing as giving over. Giving something over to someone is
much deeper than teaching. The Torah says Moses received the Torah on Mt. Sinai, and he came down, but it does not say he taught the Torah to Joshua. It says 'u'm'sora' , gave it over to Joshua. This is the deepest depths there is.
Sometimes one meet someone one can study with for ten years, they can teach you for ten years and they don't give anything over to you. Sometimes you meet someone, and maybe they don't teach you so much but they give something over to you.
Reb Mendele Vorker, the silent Rebbe, was a rebbe for 40
years, and in those 40 years he only spoke eight times. Even
those times, on a teaching level he didn't say anything. At
one time he was sitting with his Chassidim for fourteen hours
and at the end he said, haShem Echad". "G-d is One" and then
he said, "Happy is the one who knows that 'G-d is one' means
G-d is One". On a teaching level he didn't say anything, but
when he said "Hashem Echad". "G-d is One", he gave it over.
We need someone to give over Yiddishkeit to us. We need
someone to give over to us, not to teach us that there is one G-d.'
The Torah says 'Jacob, Yisroel, loved Yosef more than all
his children. Naturally today, on the low leveI we are, if a
father loves his son, he says to him, "Man" - Oh no, he would
never say man, that would be too far out. He says, "Son, I
want to do something special for you - buy you a trip to Bermuda!"
But what does it mean Jacob loved Yosef more? Listen
what Rashi says, All the things which Yaakov learned at the
Yeshiva of Shem and Aver he gave over to Yosef. You see, he
taught all his children the same information, but to Yosef he
gave it over. The Bais Yaakov says the most unbelievable
thing. Sometimes the holy prophets knew everything clearly,
and sometimes they knew everything, but it wasn't clear. The
Midrash says "Yaakov loved Yosef more than all his children"
and it also says God says to Israel "I love you". This is my
humble explanation. What did Yaakov give over to Yosef? He
gave over to him that he should know that God says I love you.
Knowing that God loves you is something you can not get via
teaching. It has to be given over to you. So the thing is
like this, Yaakov didn't have clear prophecy, because he was
not to know that Yosef was to be a slave. But Yaakov knew
that Yosef needed something special, because he was the first
Jew in exile.
Chanuka is the one holiday which has no tractates in the
Gemora. Every other holiday has a long tractate, even Purim,
which is a minor holiday. Chanuka has only about a page and
a half in the Gemara. Chanuka is a holiday of giving over. It says in
the Krias Shma that you should teach your children when you sit in
your house and when you go on your way. Teaching is 'at home'
and giving over is 'on your way' because there is no time for
teaching on the way, only time for giving over. Chanuka is
teaching and giving over become one, because on Chanuka
I have to put lights at the door of my house so that the light
the house (teaching) shines into the street (giving over).
When you teach someone you are not sure his light will
increase, but when you give over to someone you know his light
will grow. That is why each night of Chanuka we kindle one
more candle to shine into the world, until all the streets of
the world are full of light.
Hanukah 5752 Torah 3
Subject: Last day of Chanukah
The last Shlomo story
Levi from the Levi's story related to me this story he heard from his
uncle ,a rabbi in England.Shlomo Carlebach of blessed memory was in
England right before he got on the plane upon which he was struck by
his fatal heart attack. Before he got on that fateful flight, the Rabbi
turned to Shlomo and asked him to share some new story from amongst
his awesome array of stories of faith.Shlomo said" o.k Holy Brother
I'll tell you a story I haven't told before". He then told him of a
friend of his who was a survivor of Auchwitz.This friend recounted an
event from the camps. It seems there was a very devout and sweet older
man called Yosi in the barracks with him.Yosi was determined not to
let the Nazis vanquish his
pride and his heritage As a result he insisted on fasting on Yom
though that meant not eating the one ration they received daily. As he
trudged through the camp performing all the mindless functions
inherent in slave labour, his lips would be silently mouthing the book
of psalms .Yosi would measure his days by the number of times he would
succeed in " going through" the book of psalms. On his last
Hanukah, Yosi was determined to light Hanukah candles. He was finally
able to obtain a little bit of vegetable oil ,after bartering away his
winter boots. He lit the home made candle and his face beamed and
glowed in the reflection of the candle. Within minutes the door burst
open and the Nazis clamoured into the barracks. The demanded to know who
lit the candle. They threatened to kill all the inhabitants of the
barracks if they would not reveal the culprit. Yosi, although hunched
over with age and pain stepped forward and said ,"It is I”. At that
moment, the friend told Shlomo, he had never seen Yosi stand so
straight. The murderers hustled him outside...and shot him dead .They
forgot to put out the candle. Shlomo's friend then said" you are not
going to believe me....but that candle flickered on for the rest of
Hanukah! ...for eight days." Shlomo then told this Rabbi," that's
it...that's the story...That's the story of Yosi and that is the story
of the Jewish People"
To: Reb Shlomo List
I want to share something unbelievable with you: On Yom Kippur, G-d
forgives us for our mistakes. On Simchas Torah we dance them off. When does
G-d fix our hearts? When does He take out all the hatred and all the evil
from our hearts? When does G-d 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?
Chanukah is the time of Aaron, the High Priest. Aaron's specialty was
making peace between people. How can someone make peace between people?
Aaron Ha-Cohen 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 mistake, you hurt somebody. But you know what else? Each time you
make a mistake, sadly enough, you love your children
Your heart is not pure enough any more. Children need the purest
heart. They need the purest light. When does G-d clean our hearts again so
we can have the privilege of giving over the Torah to our children?
The holiness of the Chanukah lights is that they burn even in the middle of
the night. We are praying,” If I made mistakes again next year, let this
Chanukah light shine into all my darkness. Let this Chanukkah light keep me from ever hating people. Let this Chanukah light give me so much Holiness
that all the darkness of the world can not take away my love for my
children." Chanukkah is the highest kind of fixing in 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, G-d fixes your soul. But when does your light shine for yourself
When can you look in the mirror and see a great light instead of a
Shmendrik? When do you see your light again? On Channukah.
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 Chanukkah, you kindle a candle and you
know it's G-d's light. You realize you are bringing down G-d's light. You
realize that you have been bringing G-d'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.
Every body knows that the nights of Chanukkah are the longest and the
darkest nights. This means that the light of Chanukhah reaches into the
darkest places. In that dark night, I suddenly realize, "Gevalt, this is
G-d's light!" Good Chanukkah. Good Yontif.
* * *
According to the Shulchan Aruch, you really have to have a feast after you
kindle the Chanukkah lights. It's not a joke. It is not a sweet custom. It
says right in the Shulchan Aruch, "after you kindle the lights, you make a
feast." Yet you really have to keep your eyes focused on the Chanukkah
lights. Even if you walk away, you have to watch them. So let's focus our
eyes in a very strong way. The light of Chanukkah should be in our eyes all
* * *
A Home for My Soul
by Reb Shlomo Carlebach
When I want to do mitzvahs, I don't need a house for any of the other holidays. I can eat matzo on the street. I can blow the shear
in the street. On Succos, I am definitely in the streets. On Shavuos,
I can learn Torah wherever I want to. On only one holiday, Hanukkah, I
really need my house. I need my home because there, I need to kindle the
lights by the doorpost. The doorpost is my passages through life. How
can I possibly go on through anymore doorposts, if I have no light
guiding my way.
My home means my permanence. It is my Inside of insides. I live
there. I breathe there. It is my place in this world. How can I get there?
Only light can open that place up for me.
Light is the level of reaching higher than myself, to the deepest
depths, beyond anything of this world. I can learn many things in life. I
can feel many things in life. But this doesn't touch the level of Light.
Sometimes I can learn something new and it enters very deep in my heart.
But it is not until it reaches deeper than the deepest part of myself,
that it touches the level of Light. And when it touches that Light,
it too becomes part of it, because that is the nature of Light. This
level of Light can only exist in one place. I call it my home. A home
for my soul. Truly, on Hannukah, it is impossible for me to receive
that Light, if I don't have a home for it, in the deepest depths
Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach at Congregation Chevra Tehilim, San Francisco, 18
Kislev, 5752/November 24, 1991
On Chanukah, when the light is shining--the inner light, the
inside light--and you know what you need, in order to be blessed by G-d
with children? Also Chanukah light. And you know, G-d forbid, sometimes,
G-d doesn't trust us with children 'cause we don't know how to look at them.
You know, I don't want to say anything bad--I'm sure this
yeshival'l here is the best...but the rest of the day schools I'm not so
sure. Or every one is good. Most of them are good. You know what it
takes to be a good teacher? The world thinks a good teacher is someone who
disciplines the kids--they're afraid to move, nebich; he takes away their
last ounce of joy. A good teacher is someone who has good eyes. Good
eyes. Good eyes. And here I want to share something awesome, deep, with
You know, beautiful friends, on Yom Kippur we're asking for
forgiveness. But you know how many scars we have on our soul? So many
scars. Imagine I love this girl very much, we had a big fight, and we ask
each other for forgiveness. And so we forgive each other. But there's so
many scars left. So many scars left. And you know what it takes to take
away the scars? Mamesh, you need one person to look at you with so much
love that it would take away the scars. And you know, if we would x-ray
each other--ourselves--we would see so many scars. So many scars.
You know, children, everyday when they come home from school--I
could swear they are full of scars. And you know, if parents have Chanukah
eyes, they take away all the scars. And they're so glad to be home. And
sometimes, nebich, parents don't have it. And I'm not judging
them--because *they* are full of scars.
Anyway, I want to bless you and me and all of us. You know,
Chanukah--it's our big chance to see each other again--not only our chance
to see each other again, it's our chance to heal each other again, to heal
each other again.
From Shlomo: (This is paraphrased as I can't find the transcript right now) "What's Chanuka all about? The Gemorah calls Chanukah the Or HaGanuz - the hidden Light. What's this Light? This is the Light of the coming world. What's he miracle of Chanukah all about? Why do we light for 8 days - there was enough oil for the first day, so the miracle was only 7 days? So
what's light all about? Fire come to oil and says, 'hey! you want to get together and make light?' And oil says sure. But what price does the oil pay to help
make light? It gets consumed. There's nothing left. What was the miracle? That the oil was not consumed. Young people are searching for the Light and come to
Yerushalayim and meet the people who supposedly know about Light and what happens. Their wings are clipped; there oil gets consumed. They are told that everything they did before was wrong and now this is what they have to do. Who wants that? So the Or Haganuz is that is the coming world, no one's light is consumed, no one's wings are clipped.
I bless you all and hope you bless me back that this
week of our Rebbe's Yahrzeit, HaShem will shine the
Light he gave Shlomo deep inside us all at its most
pure and holy and that we have the strength and
courage to live up to it.
Date: Tue, 19 Dec 2000 17:42:57 EST Hanuka 5752--From Reb Shlomo Dearest Friends, You can be the richest man in the world, you can have everything between heaven and earth, you can be in the same room with the one thing you have been looking for, but if there is no light to show you where it is, then you do not have it. Chanukah is the holiday of the inside light, the hidden light, the light which is burning amidst the deepest darkness. At Chanukah we celebrate the light which gave the Maccabees the strength in the darkest period to believe that they can drive out the Greeks in the Holy Land. You see, my best friends, when we are born, G-d gives us everything, every day G-d gives us everything; only sometimes we turn off the light by our mistakes. 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, but not in the temple, 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!
REB-SHLOMO Digest 1230 Torah 10 Moshav Meor Modiim, Kislev 5744 Reprinted from Cong Kehilath Jacob News Dear Friends, Every month we are fixing a certain aspect of our lives. The fixing of this month, Kislev, is sleeping. Inasmuch as light disturbs your sleep, if it is too dark, you are afraid to sleep. Hanukah is the holiday of the hidden light, the light which shines into the deepest darkness. What is utter darkness to the soul? To think that I am utterly alone. Hanukah is the holiday that even if all the vessels of the holy temple are defiled, the holiest miracles are happening to us every second - miracles from another world, from the world of deepest holiness where defilement doesn't reach. What is it to be alone in the world? To think that there to nobody In the world who can perform miracles for me. Hanukah Is the Initiation of the holy temple: G-d temple, Israel temple, husband and wife temple, parents and children temple. You can do anything in the world outside your house. For sleeping, you need a house. Nothing brings parents and children closer, than when parents put their children to sleep. Why do children need their parents to put them to sleep? Because they need to know that there is someone watching who can and will perform miracles for them - someone whose love comes from a world of utmost purity and undefilement. Every year, Hanukah the festival of miracles, the festival of rebuilding the house, the festival of Aaron the High Priest, fixes all our relationships, teaches us to love each other, and especially our family, with the utmost undefiled love. Yom Kippur we become one with G-d again -- Hanukah we become one with our children again. Yom Kippur I promise G-d I'll do right again. Hanukah I promise my children and G-d and the whole world: I'll perform the greatest miracles for you. Please, please let it be clear to you that Hanukah is the greatest holiday, that on Hanukah G-d gives us strength so that you and I - the Macabees of today - can perform the greatest miracles. Gut Yontif - Much Love, Shlomo
Moshav Meor Modiim, Kislev 5749 Torah 11 Reprinted from Cong Kehilath Jacob News 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. It is possible to know every word of the Torah, but if the inside light of the Torah is not shining into you out of every word, you are still an outsider. 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. Love, Shlomo
New York, Kislev 5751 Torah 12 Reprinted from Cong Kehilath Jacob News The specialty of us Jews is that whenever a new holiday comes we are convinced that this is the highest holiday. On Succoth we experienced that Succoth was higher than Yom Kippur and then that Simchas Torah was higher than Succoth. Now Chanukah. Gevalt. How can we live without the light of Heaven shining into the deepest depth of our heart? Reb Nachman says -- and so do all the other great rabbis -- that not only is Chanukah the final end of the High Holidays, it's even deeper than that. Because what good is anything if my heart is dark? How could I ever serve G-d when I don't feel the light of Torah? So Chanukah is the most awesome holiday when every word of Torah shines before me. Avraham turned the world into G-d. Noah didn't turn even one more person to G-d. After telling the world for 120 years that the flood was coming, he didn't reach one person which is hard to understand. Our holy rabbis tell us that with Avraham, the Light of Torah begins to shine in the world, The world was dark until our holy father Avraham came. We are in this world to bring G-d's Light into the world. Unless we are full of light we'll never fix the world. So on Chanukah we kindle a light in the window to let the world know we are ready to bring light and fix the world. Chanukah is the Light of the Messiah shining through us into the world. For me the saddest thing is to meet a few who thinks that other countries have the solution, that they are the bearers of humanity. What an insult to G-d. What an insult to four thousand years of Jewish history. The last few weeks have shown us what the so-called civilized world is capable of (preparations for the Gulf War). What kind of leaders does the poor world have. I know you share my feelings. Israel is not just another country. Israel is G-d's country. G-d's country belongs to G-d's people. You and I. It is clear to everyone that G-d has no place in the world. Because as long as there is violence in the world, G-d's Light cannot dwell in the world. In the same way we Jewish people cannot have a place in the world yet. This Chanukah, every Jew has to ask himself: What light is shining in my house? Is it the light of the so-called civilization or is it the Light of Torah, of Yerushalayim? Chanukah is not a holiday of freedom. Let the pagan world have freedom celebrations. Let them have something to talk about. Chanukah is the Festival of Light, the one Light, the only Light. The Light which will save the world. Let it be soon. Love, Shlomo Torah 13 New York, Kislev 5754 Reprinted from Cong Kehilath Jacob News When G-d created the world, when He spoke for the first time, he said "Let there be light." The world cannot exist without light. My soul mate can be standing next to me but if there's no light I don't see her. There can be a treasure next to me but I won't see it. Thank G-d we have good street lights. People can find the banks, the movies, the nightclubs and the ice cream parlors. But the world is still dark, because the light in the world is to see your own heart, to see the people you love, to really see the deepest depths of life, the deepest depths of the Torah. Everybody knows, we kindle Chanukah lights in our own house together with our family -- it's a must. Because when I see the whole world is full of Greek culture, full of Greek street lights I look at the world, it's still dark. When I took at my children, at the people I love and just for as I kindle the Chanuka lights, I pray for the light, the heavenly light, the light which shines between heaven and earth, between one human being and the other. Hanukah is the only mitzvah which is only at night, because sadly enough, most of us have to go through a lot of Greek darkness until we see the light - the one, the everlasting one. Israel goes through heavy times and the situation is a little bit dark, because we don't know where it's leading to. Just as on Hanukah the miracle of lights happened in Israel, in the Holy Temple, let the miracle happen this year that we see each other, that we see the world and that the world sees us. I want our children to grow up with that light. We kindle the lights at the window begging the world, "Stop living in darkness! Here is the light from Jerusalem. Let it be." 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. Much love, brother me, Shlomo Carlebach
There was a Jew in Auschwitz, Reb Naftali, who, in order to do the mitzvah of Chanukah, traded his shoes for a scrawny candle. The Nazi who caught him with the lit candle in his hand pointed a gun at Reb Naftali’s head and said, “blow out the candle or I’ll kill you.” Reb Naftali looked back across the gun at the Nazi and refused. The Nazi pulled the trigger. Reb Naftali had light. There was another Jew, Reb Kalonymous Kalman, the Holy Piasezchna who ended his life in Auschwitz. He arrived there after he was captured with the remaining Jews when the Warsaw ghetto uprising was quelled. In the Warsaw ghetto the Holy Piasezchna provided astounding spiritual strength for all the Jews who were with him in that hell. It is told that on his final journey inside Auschwitz the Holy Piasezchna sang and danced. The Holy Piasezchna had light. The lights of the Holy Piasezchna and Reb Naftali are the two lights that are the poles of our spiritual year – Shavout and Chanukah. With the light of Torah at Sinai God illuminated the whole world with the Holy light of sanctity and purity, and He completely saturated every Jewish soul with this Holy light. Its brilliance exceeds that of every other luminance and it totally dispels all darkness. The light of Chanukah is the light of Sinai that burns in every Jewish soul. It is a brightness that cannot be consumed even by all the darkness in the world. We know that light of Torah is the substance of our lives, but the essence of the light of the Chanukah menorah isn’t so obvious. It literally took an act of God to convince us that the overthrow of Greek dominion was indeed divine. The perception of light and darkness is an enigma. When Judah Maccabee was confronted with the decrees of modern enlightenment he saw Jewish darkness. When Reb Naftali was confronted with the gun sights of modern enlightenment he saw Jewish darkness. When Rav Meir Kahane was confronted with the handshake of modern enlightenment he saw Jewish darkness. Judah Maccabee said, “I won’t let you extinguish the light.” Reb Naftali said, “I, myself, won’t extinguish the light.” Rav Meir Kahane said, “I won’t participate in extinguishing the light.” By which light were they looking that they perceived darkness? This is the question that absorbed the Rabbis of Judah Maccabee’s generation. The paradox of light is that you need light to see the darkness and you need light to see the light. The only light that does that is the light of Torah. Just as at Sinai God personally illuminated the whole world with that light, so, too, at Chanukah God personally revealed that the light of the Menorah is Holy. When the Maccabees rekindled the Menorah the light that burned in it was the Holy light of the Jewish soul. When the Rabbis established the mitzvah of lighting Chanukah lights the first blessing is “to ignite the light of Chanukah”. When Holy light burns in our soul then we are capable of igniting the light of Chanukah. In the use of this Holy light we’ve been instructed by leaders of the magnitude of the Holy Piasezchna or a Reb Shlomo, radiant personalities of living Torah who have guided us through the darkness of this world. They had such an incredible connection with the Holy One that they never suffered or endured the blindness that we have. Where we would ask, “How can you see?” they would answer, “How can you not?!” Reb Shlomo sailed the world in quest of Jews for whom the light was being put out. Whether it was by decree or by force or by ignorance he battled the darkness. Like those before him, Reb Shlomo was both a great sun and a gentle illumination. By day and by night he infused all those whom he encountered with the Holiness of God. He forever radiated the light of Holiness whether it was the most magnificent of celebrations or the darkest of tragedies. Through him and from him Divine light and love were always shining. These spiritual giants had other problems because it is not such a simple thing to raise this world to the level of light, even momentarily, and they wanted to do it permanently. Nevertheless, they just never knew any other purpose to life. With every ounce of their being every single one of these Righteous people only wanted that God’s magnificence and glory would become known in the world and that God would finally be provided with a permanent home among us. That not one of them achieved ultimate success does not deny that each with his own monumental superhuman efforts did succeed in increasing God’s presence in the world. We fail these Righteous people because we want these saintly souls to be mortals like ourselves instead of we becoming mortals of their kind. As Reb Shlomo would say we don’t believe in ourselves enough. His emphasis being, of course, that we are Holy and that the level that he has brought us to or made us aware of is really who and what we are. We are not Reb Shlomo, or course, but that doesn’t diminish what we are. We’ve been able to learn, to understand, to say, and do some wonderful things because he did them and because he made us believe that they could be done. Nu, so we can’t always sustain such a level, but just knowing that it is achievable creates the desire to do it. More importantly, it creates the desire to keep working on it. When just once you’ve felt that you’ve touched someone like “Reb Shlomo would” then there’s no turning back. When you open the gates to your heart and you touch another soul it’s the sweetest, the greatest – it’s mamash Gevald! A Jew for whom the light of Chanukah burns, that Jew is never overwhelmed by the darkness. This simple lamp reveals to him just how vast the darkness is, but, he, wherever he goes, he is illuminated. In so many souls that Holy light has diminished to coals. With his great light and love Reb Shlomo ignited those coals and he taught us how to see those in need and how to fix them. When Reb Shlomo called us the “Holy Beggars” he also taught us that we, too, are “them”. Not only is it the vagabond on the street corner, or the businessman, or the person next to me who talks during davening, it’s also the person facing me in the mirror. Reb Shlomo wanted us to fix the coal of that person in the mirror so that it would burn continuously. When that light is glowing steadily then it is capable of discovering others and rekindling them. Blessed are we who had the good fortune of having had Reb Shlomo guide us to that light – the light of the Holy One, Blessed be He. We must use what he taught us to ignite the light – not extinguish it.
Torah 15 Daniel Nakonechny Beit El
Reb shlomo 1231 You know dear friends, sometimes, I ask myself, after the destruction of the Holy Temple nearly two thousand years ago we still cannot stop thinking about it. How come? How come? Who ever heard of mourning for a house destroyed so long ago? But, let me tell you. Imagine that I loved this girl very much, and then we had a fight, but before we separated we agreed that once a year for eight days, that we would be as close as we once were. Can I then ever forget her? I want you to know that our Holy Rabbis teach us that on Chanuka we are once again in Jerusalem and not here in Poughkeepsie. We are not ordinary people on Chanuka, but we are all High Priests and we are kindling the lights in the Holy Temple. Kindling the Chanuka lights is a lesson in Jewish history. Knowing the past is vital, but living it and re-living it is the obligation of the Jew. History is important, but merely knowing facts is pagan, an aspect of Greek culture. A Jew survives in the present because he also experiences his past. And what is it about Chanuka that we celebrate? Not the amazing feat that seventy priests defeated a highly trained army of Greek soldiers. Do not think that Judah the Maccabbee, or his father Matisyahu, the High Priest studied military strategy. I can assure you that they never held a weapon in their hands before they fought the Greeks. A priest in the Temple does not train with weapons. The priests are the pillar of peace and forgiveness. Our Holy Rabbis taught us that Aaron, the first High Priest, loved peace and alvays pursued it. The Maccabees fought to restore the glory of G-d, but today we celebrate the miracle of the lights. Each day that the candles burned was a great miracle. G-d promised the Maccabees that the lights rekindled by them would burn forever. Each day that the candles burned was a great miracle. G-d promised the Maccabees that the lights rekindled by them would burn forever. Each day we add one more light. We must teach our children to remember the holy ancient lights, but also to add new lights, new ways. Modernity is not alien to religion, it enhances it. 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 Chanuka we see in the shining lights only the beauty of people. You know what I consider the worst possible meeting that a person can attend-- a parents and teachers meeting, where teachers tell parents how bad their children are. Basically, parents see only good in their children, but unfortunately sometimes they let the bad things teachers tell them about their children affect them. A so-called rebellious child must be viewed like seeing Miss America in the mud-- she is still beautiful but all she needs is to be washed off. Yes, sometimes our children do not behave well and so require a little bit of fixing and that must not detract from the fact that they are still basically good. If we can transmit to our children how our grandparents blessed the Chanuka candles, then and only then can we guarantee that our grandchildren will also offer holy blessings over the candles and continue to serve as shining lights.
Torah Love Shlomo
Secret of the 5th night of Hanukah
"Sun and Moon"
A teaching by Reb Shlomo Carlebach
Monday eve is the darkest night of the year. The fifth candle
is called the quintessence (the fifth essence). We cross over
into the deepest darkness. It's the moon saying to the sun,
"I know last week was the shortest day of the year and that's
holy, but tonight is the darkest night and that's even
holier." It's the moon saying to the sun, "I know you are
powerful and I am just a little reflection of your light,
but reflections are very special."
I can't see myself as myself until I use a mirror. A reflection
let's me see myself. The Jewish people are moon people, not sun
people. The Greeks are terrific and so are the Romans but they
are all sun people. They brought a lot of light to the world in
the form of science and technology. Jews are the reflection
people, mirror people, and in our joy and suffering everyone
can see themselves. The sun is the big light. The moon is the
"lesser" light. It's better being lesser. All the little people
see themselves in our journey and that's the inner bigness of
smallness. Hanukkah reminds us never to forget lesser people
and forgotten people - all the other moon brothers and
sisters out there.
Darkness is ever better than light. In the sun I can see you
and you can see me. Seeing let's us see our distinctions, how
different we are. We see each other up close. In the night I
can't see you but I can feel you. When my eyes are closed or
it's dark outside I can't tell the difference between us. We
are even closer. Night is the time for romance, feeling really
close because we can't see so well.
Night is Mother Leah's time. Hanukkah is Mother Leah's holiday.
She had weak eyes which meant she only saw things in terms of
unity. She wanted love more than anyone in the world. Jacob
didn't even get how high she was because he kept using his
eyes. He just saw Rachel's beauty. But Leah's father-in-law
Isaac, he understood Leah more than anyone in the family.
He was nearly blind at the end of his life. He couldn't tell
the difference between his sons, that's how high he was.
Go outside at night. You can't see close but you can see a
million miles into the stars. Go outside during the day.
Too much light to see far away. Darkness is better than
light. That's why when mashiach (Messiah) comes we won't do
Hanukkah from one candle to eight. We'll do eight candles
to one like Rabbi Shammai said. But 2,000 years ago we weren't
high enough for Rabbi Shammai. We needed to add light because
we thought light was better than darkness. When Mr. or Ms.
mashiach comes we'll embrace the darkness. We won't fear our own
shadows. We'll know how to admit we are wrong without shame.
We'll say we're sorry quickly when we make a mistake because
we'll realize that saying sorry brings us into the secret of
darkness which only gets us to an even higher place.
The Jewish people are always asking everyone to say they're
sorry for what they've done to us. And it's true. The Romans
did this, the Greeks did that. The Egyptians did this, Russians
did that. The Poles did this and the Germans did that.
But this is the year we have to show the world the meaning of
being a moon person. What are we sorry for? This is a deep
question and until this year it made us all angry and too
anxious to even ask it. But the world is in terrible darkness
now and we have to lead the way. This is the secret
of the fifth night of Hanukkah.