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 Chanukah: Sharing Light

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daniel eliezer

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Posts : 82
Join date : 2011-12-01
Location : Beit El, Israel

PostSubject: Chanukah: Sharing Light   Sun Nov 24, 2013 5:40 am

For those who have difficulty with the transliterated Hebrew and who don't have access
to Jewish libraries, most transliterated Hebrew can probably be found through Google.
If the word is critical to what I'm saying, then it is explained.

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Chanukah: Sharing Light

Do it.

Go into a used bookstore, but not just any used bookstore, a Jewish used bookstore. (This is true of a new bookstore but more fun in a used one, and probably easier to do here in Eretz Yisrael [the Land of Israel]

Start browsing.

It’s a mind-blowing experience. Of course, you’ll find classic and known seforim (books), but more wonderfully you’ll find endless number of books written by all kinds of unknown, nondescript, and now forgotten Jews. They – we write on anything and everything, but especially we write on Torah and God. Everyone, from the pulpit rabbi to the local day school teacher to the father who’s been learning Torah for years, before or after work, has got something to say, something to hand over and share with us.

For most, their insights and wisdom do not succeed in reaching beyond family, friends, and a little further. Still, to open a monogram and to discover that the author is involved in an argument with the long dead Vilna Gaon over the Gaon’s learning of a particular matter and then he states questioningly, “If the Gaon only had had this understanding of Rashi, then he wouldn’t have said what he said” is impressive.

Whether anyone takes him seriously or listens to him doesn’t matter. He, himself, did and does, and whether the Vilna Gaon was right or wrong or whether he, himself, is isn’t relevant. The Torah talked to him, and he put his heart and soul into trying to unlock the Torah’s secrets and sharing what he discovered.

Another person might write about philosophy, a second about “what is God saying to us”, and the third, a father, will recite his weekly Torah insights that he shared over the Shabbat table. Each is so seemingly insignificant in the glow of the many substantial Torah luminaries with whom we’ve been blessed, yet surprisingly each has a warming glow of his own. He sat down and did it and found meaning in it, unperturbed that he wasn’t going to ignite the next revolution in Judaism or even contribute significantly to the existing one. He was content that whatever he could contribute has value. It’s one of the most marvelous things about the Torah that each of us is able to discover light in it and bring that light to life.

We might think that their light only collects dust on bookshelves, but we’d be wrong. At least once a year it comes alive and radiates. When? During the days of Chanukah, the days in which we see the light of all of us - every single Jew, past and present. How so?

The mitzvah of lighting Chanukah lights is done in the home, i.e. where we live. It’s a mitzvah done by ‘Ish u’beito’ – lit: a man and his home, but meaning a man and his wife and family. ‘Ish u’beito’ - a ‘man and his home’ are the basis of this mitzvah, which is specifically to light one Chanukah light every night of Chanukah. There is absolutely no other requirement: in every home one light every night - nothing more, nothing less. Why?

It’s sufficient – absolutely sufficient - that every single night of Chanukah that each of us is bringing his Torah, his light that he is sharing with the world. The adornment to the mitzvah, the adding of additional lights is self-obvious. The more that we try to share our light and to make it shine for others then the more light we are going to see ourselves. When I’m lighting my Chanukah light, then I become capable of seeing your light. I am capable of lighting a light that represents your light and the light of so many other precious Jews. King David says, “Ki imcha m’kor chaim; b’ohrcha nireh Ohr” – “For with You [God] is the Source of Life; in Your light we’ll [be able to] see light.” [Psalms 36:10]

Most of us think of Chanukah Light as celebration of a victory over Greek darkness, but it wasn’t and isn’t a victory over Greeks alone. Sadly, too many of our own people thought and think that there is no need for the light of Torah, no need that in each and every home there should be the light of Torah. In fact, if God forbid we, ourselves, are ever trying to diminish the light of Torah, then we, too, are giving strength to those who say that there should be no light of Torah.

Thank God, Chanukah is light and light and more light, and of course we do light more than one Chanukah Light every night. Hillel says we start the first night by lighting one light and then on each successive night we continue to add an additional light such that we go from one to two to three lights, etc. Shammai says that we start with eight lights and that each successive night we diminish by one light such that we go from eight to seven to six lights, etc. What’s the difference?

From Hillel we see that the illumination of the Chanukah Menorah comes through building with light. It starts from the single light of ‘Ish u’beito’ – man and his home [wife and family] and gradually, as it emanates, it begins to envelope more and more light until all of the Chanukah Menorah is radiant beauty.

Contrastingly, Shammai says we start with Chanukah Menorah in its full glory and gradually we begin to pare it down in an attempt to arrive at its basic components. On the last night of Chanukah we reveal that the basis of the Chanukah Menorah is one light ‘Ish u’beito’ – a man and his home [wife and family].

The wonder and beauty of Chanukah is that in each generation we are not only sharing the light that our fathers and forefathers brought into the world. We are adding and sharing light that the world has not yet seen. Each of us is blessed to bring into the world a new illumination, a new way of seeing and believing and being that had we not come into the world then it, too, would never have come into the world. Each of us, in his or her own way, is lighting and helping keep alight the light of Chanukah, which is the light of Torah as it is seen in and through each and every one of us.

Chanukah is us and about us, which means it’s also about the creation of the world.

When Shabbat ends, as part of Havdalah - the ritual that separates us from Shabbat and returns us to the world - we light a candle. One reason for lighting the candle is that when the first Shabbat of existence was over Adam HaRishon - Adam, the first man - felt frightened by the darkness [of night] that was descending on the world. But why didn’t he feel frightened by the darkness on that first Friday night at the start of Shabbat?

In that first week of creation, everything was light. Each day itself, with all its components, was only radiating with the light of sanctity from which they were created. When Adam and Chava - Eve faltered, the light in the world was diminished and it no longer glowed with the same intensity as before. The light, however, didn’t disappear, it just became less visible.

To return the world to its state of Divine Light, we built the Beit HaMikdash - the Holy Temple. We wanted to restore the ability to see the sacred and Divine that permeate our existence, to see ourselves and each other as the Holy One sees us. Sadly, the Beit HaMikdash - the Holy Temple, too, was destroyed, and the light inside it was extinguished - extinguished in the Beit HaMikdash but not in creation!

That light of the Beit HaMikdash, which is the Light of Creation - is the light of Chanukah. The victory of the Maccabees proved that the Light of Creation that had filled the Beit HaMikdash remains alive and flaming. Its repository is in the hearts and souls of Am Yisrael [the Jewish people]. When we light Chanukah Lights, we reveal to the world that the Light of Creation continues to shine in our hearts and in our homes and in our lives.

Our light we keep flaming and glowing through Torah, whose Eternal Light is the inexhaustible source of our energy and spiritual sustenance. On Chanukah we reveal and share our connection to Eternal Light. We show to each other and the world that our lives and homes are filled and blessed with - the Light of Chanukah – the Light of Creation.

Our blessings are that we are sharing with the whole world our light, the Light of Creation, and our prayers are that our light should enter their hearts and lives and let them glow, also, with the Light of Creation.

Chanukah S’meach,

Daniel Eliezer


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What I write doesn't invite comments within the topic, but I do want you to know
that all are welcome to write me should you have any questions or comments.
I can be reached at: d.e.ben.eitan@gmail.com.

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Debbie B.

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Join date : 2011-09-05
Location : Chicagoland

PostSubject: Re: Chanukah: Sharing Light   Mon Nov 25, 2013 1:11 am

I live in an area with a reasonably large Jewish population for a US city, Chicagoland, and yet I do not know of any used Jewish bookstores in the area. There are only a few new Jewish bookstores. And at least in the US, there are fewer and fewer used bookstores of any kind with the decline in the number of independent bookstores as Amazon has gotten a large and larger share of all the book sales business. So I would guess that most of the readers of this forum do not have a used Jewish bookstore anywhere.

I am going to suggest a possible alternative: check out a synagogue library. My lay-led minyan has inherited a fraction of the library of our former host minyan. The books we kept fill up several floor to ceiling bookcases. I don't know who chose the ones that were kept out of a much larger collection that once filled a small library room, but it is a good selection which still has a large range and has some wonderful books that are long out of print. The variety fits the description that Daniel gives of the books in a used Jewish bookstore.

{Incidentally, one of my favorite books on the minyan bookshelves is about Jewish sports figures. It reminds me of the scene in the comedy film "Airplane" in which a passenger asks for "light reading" and the stewardess suggests "How about this leaflet, ‘Famous Jewish Sports Legends?’" The funny thing about the actual book from the shul library is that it lists Chess champions! (Chess = a sport?)}
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Salvia



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Join date : 2012-12-29
Age : 30
Location : Wales, UK

PostSubject: Re: Chanukah: Sharing Light   Thu Nov 28, 2013 8:41 pm

thank you Daniel, for your beautiful words on the light of Creation.

I lit my candles, it makes me so happy!

chag chanukah sameach, everybody!!
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