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GOOD MORNING! Hanukah is coming soon - the first night is Tuesday, December 4th. It's a wonderful family holiday. After we light the candles, we sing Maoz Tzur, eat jelly donuts, tell stories, have quizzes about Hanukah - all in the light of the Hanukah candles. Memories are made up of a collection of precious moments. Hanukah can provide you with many wonderful memories!
Q & A: WHAT IS HANUKAH AND
HOW DO WE CELEBRATE IT?
___There are two ways which our enemies have historically sought to destroy us. The first is by physical annihilation; the most recent attempt being the Holocaust. The second is through cultural assimilation. Purim is the annual celebration of our physical survival. Hanukah is the annual celebration of our spiritual survival over the many who would have liked to destroy us through cultural assimilation.
___In 167 BCE the Syrian-Greek emperor, Antiochus, set out to destroy Judaism by imposing a ban on three mitzvot: The Shabbat, The Sanctifying of the New Month (establishing the first day of the month by testimony of witnesses who saw the new moon) and Brit Mila (entering the Covenant of Abraham through Torah-ordained circumcision). The Shabbat signifies that God is the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe and that His Torah is the blueprint of creation, meaning and values. Sanctifying the New Month determines the day of the Jewish holidays. Without it there would be chaos. For example, if Succot is the 15th of Tishrei, the day it occurs depends upon which day is declared the first of Tishrei. Brit Mila is a sign of our special covenant with the Almighty. All three maintain our cultural integrity and were thus threats to the Greek culture.
___Matityahu and his 5 sons, known as the Maccabees, started a revolt and three years later succeeded in evicting the oppressors. The victory was a miracle - on the scale of Israel defeating the combined super-powers of today. Having regained control of the Temple in Jerusalem, they wanted to immediately rededicate it. They needed ritually pure olive oil to re-light the Menorah in the Temple. Only a single cruse of oil was found; enough to burn for just one day. However, they needed oil for eight days until new ritually pure olive oil could be produced. A miracle occurred and the oil burned for eight days.
___Therefore, we light Hanukah candles (or better yet, lamps with olive oil) for eight days. One the first day, two the second and so forth. The first candle is placed to the far right of the menorah with each additional night's candle being placed to the immediate left. One says three blessings the first night (two blessings each subsequent night) and then lights the candles, starting with the furthermost candle to the left. The menorah should have all candles in a straight line and at the same height. Ashkenazi tradition has each person of the household lighting his own menorah. Sefardi tradition has just one menorah lit per family. The blessings can be found on the back of the Hanukah candle box or in a Siddur, prayer book. The candles may be lit inside the home. It is preferable to light where passersby in the street can see them - to publicize the miracle of Hanukah. In Israel, people light outside in special glass boxes built for a menorah or little glasses with olive oil and wicks.
___The tradition to eat latkes, potato pancakes, is in memory of the miracle of the oil (latkes are fried in oil). In Israel, the tradition is to eat sufganiot, deep-fried jelly donuts. The traditional game of Hanukah uses a dreidel, a four-sided top with the Hebrew letters Nun, Gimmel, Hey, Shin (the first letters of "Nes Gadol Haya Sham - A Great Miracle Happened There." In Israel, the last letter is a Pay - for "here.") In times of persecution when learning Torah was forbidden, Jews would learn anyway. When the soldiers would investigate, they would pull out the dreidel and pretend that they were gambling. The rules for playing dreidel: Nun - no one wins; Gimmel - spinner takes the pot; Hey - spinner get half the pot; Shin/Pay - spinner matches the pot!
___Here's a question to think about: If enough oil was found to burn in the Temple menorah for one day and the oil lasted for eight days, then the miracle was really only for the seven additional days of lighting. Why then do we celebrate Hanukah for eight days and not seven?
___For more on Hanukah, including animated instructions on how to light the candles, go to: http://www.aish.com/holidays/Chanukah/default.asp
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Torah Portion of the Week
___On the trip back to Canaan, Jacob meets his brother Esau; Jacob wrestles with the angel. Then they arrive in Shechem; Shechem, the son of Chamor the Hivite, (heir to the town of Shechem) rapes Jacob's daughter, Dina; Dina's brothers, Shimon and Levy, massacre the men of Shechem; Rebecca (Rivka) dies; God gives Jacob an additional name, "Israel," and reaffirms the blessing to Avraham that the land of Canaan (Israel) will be given to his descendants; Rachel dies after giving birth to Benjamin (Binyomin); Jacob's 12 sons are listed; Isaac dies; Esau's lineage is recorded as is that of Seir the Horite; and lastly ... the succession of the Kings of Edom is chronicled.
* * *
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
___Before Jacob's confrontation with his brother, Esau, he made preparations to ensure the safety of his family and his possessions. Following this, the Torah relates:
|"And Jacob remained alone..." (Genesis 32:25)|
___How are we to understand the significance of his remaining "alone"?
___The Midrash (Beraishis Rabbah 77:1) states that 'just as the Almighty is alone, so too Jacob was alone.' We see from this that the Sages understand that the word "alone" is a positive attribute and a form of emulating the Almighty. "Alone" means that you have an independent attitude and perspective.
___The Mishna (a teaching) in Pirke Avot 4:1 (Chapters of the Fathers - a compilation of Jewish wisdom) defines four key terms: "Who is the wise man? The one who learns from everyone. Who is the strong person? The one who conquers his negative impulses. Who is the wealthy person? The one who is happy with his portion. Who is the honorable person? The one who honors others."
___Rabbi Yeruchem Levovitz, of blessed memory, explained the Mishna in light of the positive attribute of being alone - that every person can only obtain the most important things in life independently of anyone else. The important things depend on your attitude and perspective.
___Wisdom is an approach to life, not a comparative contest. The wise man is the individual who does not compare his wisdom to that of others, but because of his love for wisdom he chooses to learn from everyone, for each person has wisdom to share. True strength is having the ability to overcome your negative tendencies and impulses. If it were dependent upon being victorious over others, as soon as someone else is stronger, you are no longer the strong man. True strength is only dependent upon yourself. Wealth is not dependent on how much money you have or the number of your possessions. If it were, then you could lose your entire wealth overnight. Rather, true wealth is feeling joy for what you do have. If honor were dependent on how others treat you, what are you supposed to do if others decide not to honor you? Woe to a person whose honor is dependent on the whim of others. True honor is up to you. You are honorable if you honor others regardless of how others treat you.
CANDLE LIGHTING - November 23
(or go to http://www.aish.com/shabbat/candlelighting.asp)
Guatemala 5:12 - Hong Kong 5:20 - Honolulu 5:30
J'Burg 6:22 - London 3:44 - Los Angeles 4:28
Melbourne 8:00 - Mexico City 5:38 - Miami 5:13
New York 4:15 - Singapore 6:35 - Toronto 4:28
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
Persistence makes the impossible possible,
the possible likely,
and the likely definite!
With Tremendous Appreciation to|
My Family & Vivian Ruben
for their love, help and kindness
during my recent illness. Thank you!
-- Sheldon Becher