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Posts Tagged ‘menorah’

Hungarian Police Investigating Desecration of Holocaust Monument

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

A Holocaust memorial monument in the southwest of Hungary was desecrated.

The perpetrators broke off several parts of the bronze monument, which stands 3 1/2 feet high and is the shape of a large menorah. Hungarian police said they were investigating the incident.

The Federation of Jewish Communities in Hungary said the monument was desecrated sometime over the last weekend. It stood in the courtyard of the buildings of the Jewish community of Nagykanizsa. The local Jewish community erected the monument, near the Croatia border, in 2004.

All seven menorah branches were sawed off and the main shaft was broken. Only part of the three-pronged base remains.

Some 120 Hungarians protested on June 7 in Budapest against anti-Semitism in Hungary. The demonstration was in reaction to an attack against a former chief rabbi. On June 3, a cemetery was desecrated near the capital.

In a letter to the country’s Jewish leaders, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban expressed his “indignation” at the cemetery attack and ordered the Interior Ministry to track down the perpetrators.

Beha’alosecha: Light And Reason

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

Each detail in the Torah is laden with meaning. Surely the service vessels of the Temple had great importance and consequence over and above their routine service. In the description of the menorah that stood in chamber outside the Holy of Holies, Rabbi Avigdor Miller, zt”l, found layer upon layer of meaning.

“Toward the face of the menorah shall the seven lamps give their light” (8:2). The number seven is always the symbol of the creation of the universe from nothing, by the Word of Hashem. “Toward the face of the menorah” is explained by some as the side facing the Holy of Holies; others say it means the wicks of the six branches were turned toward the central post with its lamp. The symbolism of the menorah includes:

1. The gift of life (“The light of G-d is the life of Man” – Mishle 20:27) is a wondrous lamp only Hashem can kindle. The menorah demonstrates that all aspects of life and its resources (as symbolized by the branches of the menorah and their lamps) should be turned with their flames facing the central post (or as others explain, toward the Holy of Holies), which would mean the central principle of complete devotion to the Creator. To emphasize the importance of this principle, Hashem specifically commanded this procedure in this verse, and the following verse again emphasizes this principle: “And Aharon did so: toward the face of the menorah he brought up its lamps.”

2. The creation of light. “And Hashem saw that the light is good” (Bereishis 1:4). This “good” is so sublimely great that we daily devote part of the morning prayers to proclaim its importance and to thank Hashem for it, and we declare that the angels are forever occupied with the function of praising the gift of light. Light is sight, in addition to warmth and food production.

3. The gift of reason. All the achievements for which we have been created are made possible by means of faculties of thought, understanding, remembering, induction and other aspects, including sanity (proper functioning of all aspects of reason). For these gifts, the menorah is kindled. (The prayer for these faculties and the expression of thanks to the Creator for them are given the first place in the weekday berachos of Shemoneh Esrei.)

4. The privilege of having the Presence of Hashem among us forever. “It is a testimony to all that are in the world that the Shechinah rests upon Israel” (Shabbos 22B), as is written: “And we shall be distinguished, I and Your people, from all the people upon the face of the earth” (Shemos 33:16), which alludes to the words just before: “By Your going with us” (ibid.).

5. The request for Hashem’s favor toward us: “Hashem should cause His face to shine upon you” (6:25 above). “And the light of Your face, that You favored them” (Tehillim 44:4). Our greatest desire is to find favor in His eyes, and the menorah bespeaks our prayers and our gratitude for His favor.

6. The gift of Torah: “For mitzvah is a lamp, and Torah is Light” (Mishle 6:23). Our greatest gratitude is for this gift Hashem bestowed solely upon us: “And now, if you shall listen to My voice (i.e. if you shall accept My Torah) and you shall keep My covenant, you shall be to Me a unique treasure from among all the peoples. And you shall be for Me a kingdom of kohanim and a holy nation” (Shemos 19:5-6). The chief part of this Covenant is the Oral Law: “The Holy One blessed is He made a Covenant with Israel solely because of the Oral Law” (Gittin 60B). Other nations profess to practice some laws from the Holy Scriptures, but they did not invade the sanctuary of the Oral Law, which was unknown to them. (Journey Into Greatness)

Compiled for The Jewish Press by the Rabbi Avigdor Miller Simchas Hachaim Foundation, a project of Yeshiva Gedolah Bais Yisroel, which Rabbi Miller, zt”l, founded and authorized to disseminate his work. Subscribe to the Foundation’s free e-mail newsletters on marriage, personal growth, and more at www.SimchasHachaim.com.  For more information, or to sponsor a Simchas Hachaim Foundation program, call 718-258-7400 or e-mail info@SimchasHachaim.com.

The Limits Of Chinuch (Part V)

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

Question: Are there limitations to the mitzvah of chinuch?

Answer: We previously noted that the Netziv ruled that children are only to be taught to observe mitzvot and customs in the same manner that they will observe them as adults.

We also suggested last week that Rashi believes that a parent cannot fulfill the mitzvah of chinuch through a shliach – either because a child must see his father first-hand observing mitzvot and emulate him or because a parent must directly observe his child’s progress in performing mitzvot.

* * * *

The Mishnah Berurah in his Biur Halachah (Orach Chayim 675), citing the Magen Avraham (Orach Chayim 677:8), notes that minor children are exempt from the contemporary Chanukah custom of everyone lighting his or her own menorah, lighting an additional candle each night.

His rationale is that the mitzvah of chinuch only applies to practices that are biblical or rabbinic law in nature. Lighting an additional candle each night, however, is not an obligation (a true chiyuv) but a hiddur mitzvah. Chazal never required parents to ensure that their children fulfill hidurei mitzvah.

But what about the Netziv’s position that children should fulfill mitzvot exactly as they will as adults? Doesn’t this position require children to light menorah just like adults do? If so, it would seem that the Mishnah Berurah disagrees with the Netziv.

We can suggest, though, that the Netziv would agree that children sometimes should not perform mitzvot. What he argues is simply that if a child performs a mitzvah, he should perform it as if he were an adult.

Interestingly, the Mishnah Berurah rules that if a child owns a home, he should light one candle each night of Chanukah. Even this ruling, however, may not contradict the Netziv. The Netziv perhaps only objects to children performing mitzvot in a non-halachic manner. He may not, however, object to a child lighting menorah contrary to the accepted custom as long as he does so in a halachically acceptable manner.

Rabbi Cohen, a “Jerusalem Prize” recipient, is the author of several Jewish books on Jewish Law. His latest, “Shabbat The Right Way: Resolving Halachic Dilemmas” (Urim Publications), is available at Judaica stores and Amazon.com.

The Greatest Gift I Ever Gave

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

Ordinarily, Chanukah is a time to hug and kiss the kids as we sing in front of the menorah. This past Chanukah was an exception. Instead of putting my arms around my children, I watched them light the menorah on a streaming video from my iPad while I rested comfortably in my hospital bed.

It was a bittersweet moment, one I would not trade for anything in the world – because this year for Chanukah, I gave the gift of life.

Ronit, a mother of three children from Petach Tikva, had been on dialysis for years. Her body was slowly shutting down due to her genetic kidney disease and the doctors did not give her much longer to live. Over the past several years, Ronit literally traveled the world and explored every option to find an altruistic kidney donor willing to save her life. Yet as time continued to run out, she never gave up hope.

Meanwhile, halfway across the world, I had a sudden urge to launch an educational lecture series in my shul about Jewish medical ethics. I spent a great deal of time researching, studying and teaching about the medical and halachic perspectives of organ donation. The lectures were stimulating, interactive and well attended. My conclusion was always the same: “Not only is living kidney donation permitted by halacha, but if a person is in good health and is inclined to donate – saving a life is the among the greatest mitzvot we can ever do.”

After hearing myself repeat those words so often, it forced me to look in the mirror and ask: Would I ever consider doing something so crazy as to donate a kidney to a total stranger?

I continued researching the topic and quickly realized it actually is not so crazy. I learned the surgery itself is extremely safe and highly successful, and that a person can live a perfectly long and normal life after donation.

By contacting organizations like Matnat Chaim and Kidney Mitzvah, I was matched with Ronit. Unlike finding a bone marrow donor, which is tantamount to searching for a needle in a haystack, finding a kidney match is not all that difficult. The hardest part is finding someone who is actually willing to make the donation.

My wife, Chana, was incredibly supportive throughout the process. She wisely suggested I go through the testing and take it one step at a time. It turned out to be the best advice I received. Rather than getting overwhelmed, I carefully took my time testing, researching and talking to others who had previously donated. A year later I was approved as a perfect candidate for kidney donation.

At that point, I sat down with my two older sons (11 and 8) and explained to them that my kidney could save the life of a woman in Israel. I assured them I would not go ahead with the donation unless they were fully on board. As I explained the process to them, my eight-year-old son began crying and said, “Totty, please don’t do it. I am scared and I don’t want anything to happen to you.” I responded with a hug and assured him that if he didn’t want me to donate my kidney, I wouldn’t do it.

At that point, my older son asked if the recipient had any children. I explained that she had three children but was a single mother. Immediately my boys both responded that I should definitely give her my kidney.

I looked quizzically at them and inquired about their sudden change of heart. The response I received knocked the wind right out of me. They both said basically the same thing: “Totty, if you die, we will be very, very sad, but at least we will still have Mommy to take care of us. However, if this lady dies, her children will become orphans. That is why you must give her your kidney”.

Their words echoed with simplicity and resounding clarity. I could live a perfect life with one kidney. However, without a transplant, Ronit would surely die.

Thus, in late December I went to New York’s Montefiore Hospital to donate my kidney. When I met Ronit for the first time, I was overwhelmed by the tears flowing from her eyes and the look of pure joy and gratitude on her face.

The two-hour laparoscopic surgery was a huge success, and after two days in the hospital I was home recuperating. Just one month later I feel great, and am back to my usual routine – even running a few miles each day. Ronit has begun a new life – full of energy and free of the constant tethering to a dialysis machine.

I don’t view my “Chanukah present” as being heroic or righteous. In the prayer of Shema we constantly state our desire to serve Hashem “b’chol me’odecha” with all of our me’od – our excess. To me, my second kidney was my me’od and I was glad to share it.

Chanukah In Utah

Sunday, January 22nd, 2012

Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert and his wife Jeanette hosted Rabbi Benny Zippel and 150 guests from Chabad Lubavitch of Utah for a menorah lighting ceremony at the Governor’s Mansion in Salt Lake City during the recent Chanukah holiday.

S. Florida Chassidic Chanukah Festival Better Than Ever

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

The 32nd annual South Florida Chassidic Chanukah took place on the 7th night of Chanukah and it was bigger and better than ever. Police estimated the crowd at between 12,000-13,000, with 10,000 on the main level and 2 to 3,000 on the second and third mezzanine levels.

A “who’s who” of community leaders participated in the Chanukah festival and giant menorah lighting. A delegation from the Broward County Sheriff’s Office included Alan Berkowitz and sergeants Don Prichard and Tomer Nader. Hollywood mayor Peter Bober, Hallandale vice-mayor Anthony Sanders and commissioner Alex Lewy joined in the festivities. The Broward Jewish Federation was represented by Bruce Yudewitz. Consul General from Israel and survivor Izzie Wolman joined in, along with media delegates Larry Blustein from the Sun Times and this writer, representing The Jewish Press.

Thousands celebrate Chanukah with South Broward Chabad.

Lighting the seven candles were community leaders Bernie Friedman, Jeff Rubenstein, David Schottenstein, Paul Sussman, Alon Ossip, the Mendal brothers, and Ronnie Cons. Musician Benny Friedman performed a live concert. His bestselling debut album “Taamu” was released in 2009 and has put him in high demand. Yisroel Amar, Nosson Zand and twin chassidic acrobats from France were also featured. Other highlights included the lighting of Florida’s largest menorah.

The event is produced and directed by Chabad of South Broward. Over forty sponsors helped make the mega-Chanukah event the success it was, along with shluchim and staff members Rabbi Moshe Schwartz, Rabbi Levi Tennenhaus, Rabbi Mordy Feiner, Aaron Kaufman, Adele Fisher, Yossy Kudan, and Margaret Schor.

The Chaya Aydel Seminary distributed Chanukah gelt, dreidels and chocolate gelt to two thousand young boys and girls. Chabad.org broadcast the event live around the world, with tens of thousands tuning in on every continent, for a Chanukah experience that will last a lifetime.

A Very Hong Kong Chanukah

Friday, December 23rd, 2011

To explain to my children what Chanukah was like for me as a young girl, I find I am just as inclined to recount what it wasn’t as I am to describe what it was. Growing up in northern New Jersey in the Cohen household, driving through the wealthier neighborhoods (those which my parents reminded me still blocked the sale of homes to Jews through the 1960s) to see the elaborate Christmas displays through our car windows was always part of the winter season. My brothers and I watched Charlie Brown’s Christmas and The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. In school we had “holiday” parties where we ate gingerbread cookies off of red and green plates, sucked on candy canes and sang Jingle Bells.

My family set aside a day to go into New York City to line up with the crowds to see the lavish store window displays. I would peer into the glass in the same way I watched neighborhood carolers through my bedroom window wondering what this had to do with religion, why I felt so alienated and where our big show was.

Even my Hindu neighbors, new immigrants from Bombay had a Christmas tree. When I asked them why, reminding them that they were in fact most definitely not Christian, they responded, “But we are real Americans now. Our school celebrates, our town celebrates, the President celebrates. Everyone in America celebrates Christmas.”

“Well, almost everyone,” I thought.

Chanukah, on the other hand, was for us a very private affair. Our electric menorah was carefully placed in our window, small and discreet like the others on the block – in contrast to the houses loudly decorated in Christmas tinsel, lights and splendor. Public menorah lightings in my town were fraught with a conflict between the separation of church and state. Our menorah while symbolically a “light unto the nations” emitted little more light than our burglar alarm.

Now, decades later and living in Hong Kong, I find myself with my own children in tow, on Chanukah, making our way past Chinese herb shops, dried fish hawkers, neon signs and skyscrapers. It is a relatively balmy evening and crowds of Chinese still team from their offices despite the late hour, spilling into the street and congregating outside noodle shops.

Hong Kong’s Stature Square is blocked off by police barricades to control the crowds and a large group has already assembled. A stage has been set, flood lighting is in place and high tech-sound and video equipment has been arranged. Local passers-by linger, hoping perhaps for the latest Canto-pop star to arrive.

As we approach, I see a friend, a fellow writer, and wave to her. I am surprised to see her here. In the 7 years that I have known her, she has never been to synagogue, never lit Shabbat candles, never kept Pesach, really never openly identified herself as Jewish, yet here she is and in seconds she is in the mix of the crowd swaying to the music.

My children run off to find their friends. I pause to take in the festive scene as a young Chabadnik, donning a furry bright blue dreidel costume, spins by me passing out chocolate gelt.

‘Why are you here?” I shout to my friend over the crowd.

“Are you kidding me?” she responds, “This is great. I never miss this. This is as good as it gets.”

I am puzzled and try to understand her sentiment. We are at the Chabad menorah lighting. What about this event has the power to connect the Jewish community, the secular, the Sephardi, the Modern Orthodox, the liberal? And especially for those that tend to keep their Judaism under wraps, there is nothing subtle about this affair.

The sounds of familiar Jewish tunes fill the night air. Some years, a parade of cars topped with giant lit menorahs and blaring speakers approach.

This annual celebration is very big. It is perhaps the largest annual gathering of Jews in Hong Kong, attracting up to 600 participants. Approximately 1000 sufganiyot or latkes are passed out during the festival.

The crowd is joyous. While the video presentation is notable, nothing can compete with the main event, the public lighting. Rabbi Avtzon, head of Chabad of Hong Kong, takes center stage and together everyone chants the blessings. A menorah is lit and the smell of fire and burning wick fills the air, together with an overwhelming sense of pride. I gaze up at the 15-foot tall menorah framed by the iconic Hong Kong skyline and marvel at the contrast between cultures.

A sufganiyah is thrust into my hand. I look up at the dark sky illuminated now not only by skyscrapers but by the flames of the oversized menorah. Even in this frenetic skyline, we have managed to add light. I take a bite as I attempt to reflect amidst the ensuing madness – I am no longer looking through a window wondering where our big celebration is.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/holidays/a-very-hong-kong-chanukah/2011/12/23/

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