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December 20, 2014 / 28 Kislev, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘menorah’

Symbol Of The Eternal Soul

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

The festival of Chanukah celebrates two miracles – the military victory over the Syrian Greeks and that one small cruse of oil, good for one day, providing light for eight days. The miracle of the light, however, is the main focus and central theme of this festival.

Thus, according to halacha, when we light the candles in celebration of Chanukah we are prohibited from using their light for any tasks. We are commanded to simply look at the light. All year long we are looking at what we see in the light, but on Chanukah we are to focus solely on seeing the light itself.

What is so special about the light of Chanukah? What is the Chanukah menorah’s message for us in our personal lives? Why does the Rambam call Chanukah “the most beloved and precious mitzvah”?

The answer is that the Chanukah lights help us focus on who we really are. We are not our body suits but are part of God’s Endless Light. Chanukah lights are the symbol of the Divine spark of the human soul, as Shlomo HaMelech says in Mishlei, Ner Hashem nishmat adam – the candle of God is the soul of the human being.

The Mishnah in Avot teaches, “There are three crowns: The crown of Torah, the crown of Kehuna [priesthood] and the crown of Monarchy.” Corresponding to these three with which Israel was crowned, there were three crowns on the Temple vessels. The crown of Torah corresponds to the gold crown, which was set on the Ark of Testimony (containing the two Tablets). The crown of Kehuna corresponds to the incense altar, for only regarding the priests does it say, “They shall place incense in Your Presence, and consume sacrifices on Your altar” (Devarim 33:10). Finally, the crown of Monarchy corresponds to the table in the Sanctuary, for tables, which in biblical and later Hebrew can symbolize wealth and bounty (Psalm 23), may here be viewed as evoking the economic and political power of the state.

However, the Mishnah adds that there is yet another crown, “the crown of a good name,” which “surpasses them all.” This crown is not enumerated among the others. Rather, it is kept separate from them and stands on its own. To what does this crown correspond in the Temple?

The Maharal of Prague associates “the crown of a good name” with the fourth vessel of the Temple – the solid pure gold menorah. The menorah had no gold crown encompassing it. Neither was it made of acacia wood inlaid with gold like the three Temple vessels mentioned above. Rather, the whole menorah was like a pure gold crown, embellished with golden cups, knobs and flowers. The entire menorah itself is a crown.

It is the same with a person’s good name. It is not an external crown that is placed upon one’s head. A person’s good name touches on his very essence. A good name includes one’s entire personality in all its components. It is not an external image, fashioned by public relations professionals, photographers and newsmen. A person’s good name is the reputation he earns for himself through his life’s work, all his deeds and ventures. That is why the Mishnah says that the “crown of a good name surpasses all the others.”

A person’s good name does not find expression at the beginning of his life but is acquired through strenuous, daily toil. Shlomo HaMelech said “A good name is better than precious oil” (Kohelet 7:1). However good it may be, oil is applied externally to a person’s body while a good name is that person himself.

As we light the menorah on Chanukah, it is a time to focus and reflect on the light of God, which is our eternal soul.

Jerusalem Menorot

Sunday, December 2nd, 2012

The Menorat HaKnesset

The bronze, four and a half meter high Menorat HaKnesset stands in the Menorah Plaza by the main entrance to Gan HaVradim. This impressive menorah, in the shape of that which appears in the Arch of Titus, was created by Jewish sculptor Benno Elkan of England. It was given in 1956 by the English parliament as a gift to the State of Israel.

Like a “visual textbook,” it has engravings of some thirty important events, idioms, characters and terms from Jewish history. Each of the seven branches portrays a number of specific scenes, carved in relief.

The menorah interweaves themes of galus and geulah, showing the tidal waves of the rise and fall of the Jewish People throughout history. The first depiction on the right hand branch illustrates Yirmiyahu bewailing the Churban, while the last left hand branch’s upper engraving shows the Final Redemption as pictured in Yeshayahu where a lion and a lamb will live in harmony (Yeshayahu 2:4, 11:6).

The 70 years of the Babylonian Exile (lowest representation on last left hand branch) is illustrated by showing the exiles lamenting the destruction of Yerushalayim and Bayis Rishon by the rivers of Bavel. This scene is counterbalanced by a depiction of the Shivas Tzion of Ezra seen on the following branch at the top, together with an image of Nechemiah,  (lowest bottom carving on outer right hand branch) who served King Artaxerxes of Persia in a high-ranking position. He fortified those who had come back to Tzion from Bavel with Zerubavel and Yehoshua Kohen Gadol. In the face of much opposition, he was instrumental in organizing the rebuilding of the walls of Yerushalayim and helping many of Klal Yisrael resettle. In addition, during his time, Torah observance was greatly strenghtened.

The engraving on the outer left hand branch shows Rabban Yochanan ben Zakai asking the Roman authorities to establish a center in Yavneh for the study of Torah. He realized that Yerushalayim and the Beit HaMikdash were facing destruction and knew that in order to preserve the Eternal People, their eternal law needed to be preserved first. His request for Yavneh was a way of ensuring our continued survival as a nation.

The central point of the menorah, to which the eye is instinctively drawn, is a circle exactly in its middle which says “Shema Yisrael.” The central branch‘s first engraving shows Chur and Yehoshua holding up Moshe hands in the war against Amalek. When Bnei Yisrael looked up at Moshe’s upheld hands, they turned their heart towards HaKodesh Baruch Hu, and were able to overcome the enemy. It’s a reminder that wars are not won by military superiority but rather by the might of Hakadosh Baruch Hu as He fights for His children. The words from Zecharyah (4), which are carved on the bases of the two outer arms strengthen this concept “Not because of the (number of) soldiers or the (military) strength, but with My Ruach, said HaShem Zvakot.”

The scene symbolizing David’s triumph over Goliath echoes the above ideas (3rd branch from the left top) – as does the Chashmonaim victory of the few over the many, portrayed in the 2nd scene of the outer right hand branch. When we consider the numerous wars fought in Eretz Yisrael from 1948 and on, it is clear that it was only with Hashem’s kindness that we were able to prevail over our enemies. And it will only be with the help of the Almighty that we will survive our current problems.

There are many other scenes depicted, such as Shlomo’s understanding of the language of the birds and Avraham Avinu’s purchaing the Cave of the Machpelah, as well Rachel Imeinu bitterly weeping over her children in exile.

To reach the Menorat HaKnesset, travel on the Yitzchak Rabin Highway, turn in at the Supreme Court onto Rechov Rothschild, and keep on going until you see the Knesset Menorah to your right.

The Golden Menorah

As you walk up the steps that lead up to the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, to your right is a golden reconstruction of the menorah of the Beit HaMikdash created by the Temple Institute. Surrounding the menorah are stone benches allowing visitors to sit and enjoy a panoramic view of the Temple Mount with the golden glass-caged menorah in the foreground. The part of the Western Wall exposed by the southern excavation at the Davidson Centre is also clearly visible. But the Mugrabie Bridge and a large tree hide the section we call the Kotel.

Broward Chabad’s Chanukah Celebration/33rd Birthday

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

The 33rd annual South Florida Chassidic Chanukah Festival is getting bigger and better. Over 10,000 people have attended the event since it was moved to Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach in 2007, and the upcoming festival set for Thursday, December 13, will include a star-studded show that is guaranteed to attract the largest attendance yet.

The festival (at Gulfstream Park, US1 and Hallandale Beach Blvd.) is produced and directed by Chabad of South Broward, leaders in Jewish education, social services and community outreach.

The festival will be preceded by a 100-car menorah parade, starting out from the Yeshivah Gedolah of Greater Miami, under the auspices of Florida Friends of Lubavitch.

Other festival highlights will include music by 8th Day brothers Shmuel and Bentzion Marcus; the lighting of Florida’s largest menorah led by Cantor Rabbi Yossy Lebovics, a large lineup of community leaders and dignitaries, free Chanukah gelt and goodies for the thousands of children in attendance, as well as a delicious dinner (for a nominal fee) and scores of valuable prizes.

Rabbi Levi Tennenhaus, the event’s coordinator and Chabad’s program director, encourages those who can afford it to get reserved seating, “The event, as always, is free. However, in addition to our major sponsors, individuals are entitled to reserve VIP seats for $100 per seat. This will help both the festival, which runs at an enormous cost as a service to the community, and individuals who want the luxury and convenience to sit up front with their seats reserved exclusively for them and their families.” Corporate sponsors include Gulfstream Park and Casino, and Kosher Central. The event will be broadcast live around the world courtesy of Chabad.org.

Chanukah marks the birthday of Chabad of South Broward. The first Chabad Center in Broward County. It sponsors over forty programs and institutions throughout Broward County, including Project PRIDE, a non-sectarian drug prevention and education program; The Friendship Circle, an incredible interactive program for children with special needs; Florida’s only teachers seminary for women; the fast-growing CHAI TOTS preschool and Hebrew Club; bar and bat mitzvah clubs, CTEEN Club; three mikvehs accessible to the physically challenged; Camp Gan Israel; kollel for businessmen and professionals, and twelve synagogues.

For more festival information, or to reserve VIP and box seats, call 954-458-1877; e-mail levi@chanukahfestival.com; or log on to www.chanukahfestival.com.

Stolen 3-Foot Menorah is Returned to Rabbi in Borough Park

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

A silver menorah stolen from a rabbi’s Brooklyn home was returned.

The 3-foot menorah belonging to Rabbi Yehezkel Zion was stolen last week from the family’s Borough Park home.

The suspect, Denis Ildatov, is Jewish and wore a yarmulke, white shirt and black pants to make it easier for him to slip in and out of the homes of his Orthodox Jewish neighbors, WPIX-TV reported

In addition to the $10,000 menorah, Ildatov allegedly took other religious items.

Authorities say that Ildatov also may be responsible for several other break-ins in the area. He has been charged with three burglaries.

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.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/halacha-hashkafa/the-limits-of-chinuch-part-v/2012/02/01/

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