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This week, Grzegorz Braun, a lawmaker in the Polish parliament, literally extinguished the candles of a Menorah. Rabbi Shalom Ber Stambler lit the Menorah at Parliament as he has done for the last 17 years. The ceremony had just ended when suddenly Braun grabbed a red fire extinguisher, coldly walked over to the Menorah, and put out the candles on the Menorah. A cloud of smoke, haze and white powder filled the area, injuring the eyes of some assembled for the occasion and chaos broke out. Many members of the Polish parliament and the newly-elected prime minster condemned the antisemitic event. After the incident the candles were lit again.

Braun may have literally extinguished the Menorah, but the truth is right now, we have countless enemies, both surrounding Israel and sitting in the leadership of Ivy League and many other universities, some Congressional offices, and walking the streets of cities in America, who are equally dedicated to turning out the light of Judaism and extinguishing the Jewish people. They all want the same thing that the Syrian-Greeks wanted thousands of years ago, להשכיחם תורתך ולהעבירם מחוקי רצונך, for us to abandon our values, our mission, our way of life, our way of thinking. They are trying to extinguish our Menorah, our source of wisdom and truth, our Toras Chaim.


In reporting on our recent short trip to Israel, this past Shabbos I spoke of the resolve, tenacity, and determination of the modern Maccabees, the heroes of the IDF. When the Chashmonaim entered the Beis HaMikdash, they discovered that not only could they not find pure oil, the Menorah itself had been confiscated. Rather than give up, they took sheva shipudim shel barzel, seven steel rods and crafted a makeshift Menorah to light. The Menorah being crafted from the weapons of war was not a mere coincidence or necessary solution to having no candelabra to light in. It was an expression of how the light of the Menorah, the presence of Hashem, the drive to spread His light in the world, is what drove that small group of Jews to fight against all odds, to be tenacious, resilient, brave, courageous, and unstoppable. The light of the Menorah fueled the army and their victory, and that victory enabled us to keep the light going.

Certainly, the focal point of the current war, the clear front line, is in Israel, on the Northern and Southern borders. But the war has expanded and extended. We may be 6,000 miles away from the physical front lines, but make no mistake, if you saw the hearings in Congress in which the leaders of three prestigious schools of so-called higher learning couldn’t say calling for genocide against Jews is hate, we are very much on the battlefront.

They want us to stop learning and living Torah? The response must be to learn and live it more. They want us to abandon our values? Lean into them, hold on to them stronger, tighter. They want to dim our candle? Add more fuel, make it burn brighter. They want you to hide your yarmulka, tuck in your tzizis? Get a bigger yarmulka, longer tzitzis.

Someone recently asked me, if I had $100 million to fight antisemitism what would I do with it? I said I wouldn’t buy ads on television or hire lobbyists in Congress. I would put every penny into reaching out to our Jewish brothers and sisters to stand taller, prouder, to live more Jewishly. I would send a mezuzah for every Jew and every Jewish student on a college campus to hang on their door. I would send candles for every Jew to light Friday night. We cannot win a war if we don’t know what we are fighting for. We can’t have victory if our own people are in the dark without the light of the Menorah.

Don’t just take something upon yourself, don’t just become a better, bigger, and more practicing Jew as a merit for the soldiers on their front lines. Do it because it is how we fight on our battle front in this very same war. 150% of reservists showed up for this war, we have to show up at the same rate, give a 150% effort. They aren’t afraid, we can’t be afraid, they have courage of their convictions, we must have the courage of ours. This war has multiple fronts. They are doing their job on theirs, will you show up, will you serve, will you be counted, and will you be part of victory in our battle?

Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys, was the first to build a billion-dollar stadium. Everyone knows him as super successful and wealthy, but where did he get it from? He started out by purchasing thirteen abandoned oil wells. There were enormous companies that sunk huge money into studying and studying these sites and they thought they would strike oil, but when they didn’t, they abandoned them and moved on. Jones and his partner said to themselves, why start from scratch, if those big boys did research and thought there was something here, it is worth looking further. Sure enough, he struck oil in twelve out of the thirteen of the wells.

When asked why he found oil while the others didn’t, he said, when they didn’t strike oil they abandoned the sites and walked away. When I didn’t succeed, I just dug a little deeper and that is when I struck oil.

This is a time that we need to dig deeper, muster all of our energy, courage and resources to stand tall and proud and to be practicing Jews. Together, we will win the war in Israel, the battles outside of it and make our Jewish torch burn brighter than ever.

{reposted from the Rabbi’s site}


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Rabbi Efrem Goldberg is the Senior Rabbi of the Boca Raton Synagogue (BRS), a rapidly-growing congregation of over 950 families and over 1,000 children in Boca Raton, Florida. BRS is the largest Orthodox Synagogue in the Southeast United States. Rabbi Goldberg’s warm and welcoming personality has helped attract people of diverse backgrounds and ages to feel part of the BRS community, reinforcing the BRS credo of “Valuing Diversity and Celebrating Unity.” For more information, please visit