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January 16, 2017 / 18 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Chanukah’

The Flame Of Chanukah

Thursday, December 29th, 2016

Throughout the world, Chanukah menorahs burn brightly to celebrate God’s miracles and His deliverance of the Jews from the Greeks.

In the evening, the streets in Israel and many Jewish neighborhoods worldwide are lined with glass boxes containing glowing menorahs at the entrance to homes.

Yossi had always lit inside the house, but now that he was older his father allowed him to light outside. One evening, the box tipped over and the glass door broke. The weather was calm, though, and it seemed that the menorah would burn even without the glass.

“Do you think it’s safe?” asked his friend Yankel. “What happens if something catches fire?”

“Nobody’s supposed to touch the flames,” responded Yossi. “Anyway, the ideal mitzvah is to light outside. If something happens, it’s not my fault; I’m just doing what Chazal instituted. In Chazal‘s time they didn’t have these glass boxes; people just lit bowls of oil outside.”

“I hope you’re right,” said Yankel. Yossi lit his menorah and watched the flames dance around in the mild breeze. He shook the box gently to make sure that it was stable. After watching the flames for ten minutes he went inside.

Yossi settled down with some chocolate coins to study for a test on hilchos Chanukah. Suddenly, there seemed to be a commotion in the street. He heard cries, “Fire! Fire! Call 911.”

Yossi ran to the window with his heart thumping. Sure enough, a small fire had begun spreading from his menorah. Fortunately, someone managed to dump a bucket of water on the fire and extinguish it, but there was some damage to the neighbor’s property.

When Yossi’s father came home late that night, he heard what happened and was very upset about the potential danger. He was also going to have to deal with the neighbor’s damage. Although Yossi felt bad, he still wasn’t convinced that he was at fault. “I was doing the mitzvah,” he protested. “What more was I expected to do?!”

“I think we should discuss this with Rabbi Dayan,” Yossi’s father said. He called Rabbi Dayan and arranged to meet the following day.

When Yossi and his father arrived, there were a few seforim on the desk with bookmarks at the appropriate places.

“Yossi, you raised an important question,” began Rabbi Dayan. “Is a person liable for a mitzvah that caused damage? The Mishnah [B.K. 62b] deals with the case of a camel laden with flax that caught fire from a candle in someone’s store and caused damage. The Mishnah concludes: ‘If the storeowner left his candle outside, the storeowner is liable. R. Yehuda said: Regarding a Chanukah candle he is exempt.’ ”

“You see,” said Yossi, “I was right! If the fire was caused by a Chanukah candle left outside, R. Yehuda exempts the storeowner.”

“Not exactly,” smiled Rabbi Dayan. “This is only R. Yehuda’s opinion. The Tosefta [6:13] states that the sages disagree with R. Yehuda and hold the storeowner liable, even though he had permission to place the Chanukah candle outside. This is the accepted halacha.”

“How can the storeowner be liable if the mitzvah requires him to light outside?” asked Yossi. ” What do Chazal want him to do?”

“The Rambam [Hil. Nizkei Mamon 14:13] and Shulchan Aruch [C.M. 418:12] address this,” answered Rabbi Dayan. “When recording the halacha they add, ‘He could have sat and guarded.’ Chazal instituted to light outside, yet at the same time they expect you to act responsibly. An unattended candle poses a hazard, and therefore Chazal require you to take proper precautions or look after the candle so that it should not cause damage or danger.”

“That’s a powerful message!” exclaimed Yossi, “Doing a mitzvah is not an excuse; it’s a responsibility that must be carried out carefully.”

Rabbi Meir Orlian

Chanukah and Divine Emanations

Thursday, December 29th, 2016

History, the study of cause and effect in the annals of humankind, has been a serious challenge for honest historians. In many ways, interpreting history is conjecture. What motivates many historians, more than what actually occurred, is what they would like to believe happened. After all, how can a person ever really know what was the cause and what was the effect in a specific instance? Sometimes, what we believe to be the cause is, rather, the effect.

Our Sages draw our attention to this phenomenon when they deal with Joseph’s release from prison. Referring to the words, “A definite period was set for the world to spend in darkness” (Iyov 28:3), the Midrash states: “A definite number of years was set for Joseph to spend in darkness, in the prison. When the appointed time came: ‘And it came to pass, at the end of two years, and Pharaoh dreamed a dream…’” (Bereishit 41:1, Midrash Rabbah)

Rabbi Gedalya Schorr, in his monumental work, Ohr Gedalyahu, points out that this observation radically differs from the standard, academic way of dealing with historical events.

Reading the story in the traditional way, we would no doubt conclude that because Pharaoh dreamed a dream that required interpretation, Joseph, known to be a man with prophetic insight into dreams, was asked to come and see Pharaoh. After having successfully interpreted the dreams, Joseph was not only freed but elevated to the position of second-in-command of Egypt. This would mean that Pharaoh’s dream caused Joseph’s freedom.

A careful reading of our Midrash, however, suggests the reverse. It was because Joseph had to be freed and become the viceroy of Egypt that Pharaoh had to have a dream. The cause was, in fact, the effect.

This approach, then, opens a completely new way of understanding history. Judaism suggests that at certain times God issues emanations into this world so as to awaken people and spur them to action, just as Pharaoh received his dreams in order for Joseph’s imprisonment to come to an end.

A later example of this is the story of Chanukah. The Jews knew that logically there was no chance of a successful uprising against the Greeks, but God created a notion of revolt in the minds of the Maccabees. The greatness of these few Jews was manifest in their correct reaction to this heavenly directive. They realized what needed to be done, however preposterous.

Midrashic literature often compares the Greek empire to “darkness that blinded the eyes of the Jews in their exile” – “Choshech zeh galut Yavan” (Bereishit 1:2, Midrash Rabbah). The traditional interpretation is that Jews in the Maccabean period were blinded by the Greeks’ worship of the body and followed their example.

It may, however, have a much deeper meaning. The Greeks were also the inventors of historical interpretation. Greek thinkers were among the first to try and understand history in its more scientific form, as reflected in the need to search for cause and effect. From the point of view of the Midrash, this approach blinded the Jews from reading history as divine emanations and the human response to them. It misconstrued the deeper meaning of history, reversed cause and effect, and darkened the bright insight of the Jews.

One of the most mysterious aspects of the human psyche is the dimension of motivation. Human beings suddenly hear an “inner voice,” or feel a mysterious pull to do something, while not understanding the source of the motivation. This is true not only regarding human actions but even taste and preference.

History is replete with examples of people radically changing their taste in art and music. Melodies are considered superb and irreplaceable; then, half a century later, they lose favor. So it is with art, fashion, and even the color of our wallpaper.

There are no rational explanations for these phenomena (notwithstanding various scientific suggestions). We could argue that all of them are the result of divine emanations communicated to our world.

While it is difficult to explain why these divine messages come, perhaps their main purpose – particularly regarding music and art – is to offer people a feeling of renewal and an insight into the infinite possibilities of God’s creation. Some messages may be a divine response to the earlier deeds or moral condition of humankind. The sudden predilections for more aggressive forms of music or art may be a warning that humans have abated their former dignity.

In the case of emanations, as with the Maccabees, the main challenge is “hearing” the message, correctly interpreting it, and subsequently knowing what it demands of us. This, in itself, requires divine assistance and moral integrity and is not available to all. (In fact, it can be dangerous.)

Throughout history, Jews have experienced many divine emanations. Several of them, cited in the latter part of Tanach, allude to the coming of Mashiach at specific times. (See, for example, the Book of Daniel.) Some of these dates are long behind us, and Mashiach has not yet appeared. This should not surprise us. Dates of Mashiach’s arrival, as cited in Jewish sources, were in no way final statements. They were divine signals that at these times the world would be more conducive to the coming of Mashiach, but they were not guarantees of his arrival. When humanity failed to respond in the appropriate religious and moral manner, the special moment passed with no outcome.

It is hard in this day and age to deny the unique events that have transpired in Israel and the world. The new administration in the USA, the topsy-turvy political situation in Europe, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the huge refugee problem, and so many other highly unusual phenomena these days make us wonder. Are they just incidental, or are they divine emanations designed to tell us something? Are they results, or are they causes?

Chanukah Sameach!

Rabbi Dr. Nathan Lopes Cardozo

Elon Gold: Why The Jews Are Better Off Without Xmas Trees

Tuesday, December 27th, 2016

We’re sure you’ve seen this already – it went viral, but it’s funny, it’s seasonal, and we’re running it anyway.

If you haven’t seen it, you’re really going to enjoy it.

Video of the Day

Candle Lighting in Nachlaot

Tuesday, December 27th, 2016

Families in the Nachlaot neighborhood of Jerusalem light their Chanukiot. After the lighting, the Razel family sang Hanuka songs.

Hanukkah Candle Lighting in Nachlaot

Hanukkah Candle Lighting in Nachlaot

Photo of the Day

The Danger Zone – Ramifications [audio]

Tuesday, December 27th, 2016

The UN Security Council passed Resolution 2334 against Israel. Unlike past resolutions, this one which states, “Israel’s establishment of settlements in Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, had no legal validity, constituting a flagrant violation under international law…” has far reaching implications. Gadi will discuss what he sees from this and Rabbi Aryel Nachman joins him to explain how this resolution passing right before Hanukkah is no coincidence.

The Danger Zone 26Dec2016 – PODCAST

Israel News Talk Radio

Political Hitman – A Modern Day Chanukkah?! [audio]

Monday, December 26th, 2016

Howie argues that the UN Resolution passed last week is Chanukah repeating itself. Sharon disagrees and states that no matter what, Jews should bow to the King of America.

Another battle of the minds on Political Hitman and an exciting and must hear show!

Political Hitman 25Dec2016 – PODCAST

Israel News Talk Radio

Soul Talk – Chanukkah: Getting The Hellenism Out Of Here [audio]

Monday, December 26th, 2016

To what extent do you really understand what you are celebrating during the week of Chanukah? You may have heard about the miracle of the oil in the Temple and the victory in war of the few against the many. Yet, the significance of Chanukah and its continued celebration today goes deeper than the commemoration of events that happened long ago. Join Rabbi David Aaron and Leora Mandel to get new perspectives and a deeper understanding of Chanukah and its significance today. We welcome your questions and comments: soultalk@israelnewstalkradio.com

Israel News Talk Radio

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/multimedia/israel-news-talk-radio/soul-talk/soul-talk-chanukkah-getting-the-hellenism-out-of-here-audio/2016/12/26/

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