For some reason I doubt he would…
Chanukah (1775) 5537.
A difficult winter. Terrible cold. We are sitting in Valley Forge and waiting. Why? I don’t know. Perhaps for better days than these. I am the only Jew here. Perhaps there are other Jews among us, but I haven’t seen any. We hunger for bread. We have no warm clothing or…
The Chanukah war and our victory originally took place over 2500 years ago. But in this time of unprecedented ‘freedom and tolerance’ we find ourselves fighting this very same war every single day again. Every day, and most specifically every year during the Holiday season.
You might think they look funny or a just ‘so cute’, and I’m not a person to argue on people’s tastes. But one thing is for sure: they are far from Jewish and are only signs of the Jews’ eager to assimilate.
Celebrating Chanukah by mixing them with symbols of Xmas and Christianity, or worse, incorporating a Christian -pagan- holiday to Jewish and holy practices. Have people forgotten what Chanukah was all about? The story of Chanukah is all about a clash of cultures. The Greeks weren’t out to kill the Jews. Their intent wasn’t genocide of a people. It was rather a battle against those who threatened their commitment to hedonism; to Western culture. It was a war against the Torah. Against Jewish practices; and thus, against G-d. A war against holy practices part of a covenant that G-d made with our ancestors. Practices that are under fire even today; especially in the Western Christian world.
It was a war of Western thought against Jewish thought. A war against assimilation.
But for the Chashmonaim (the Jews) the war was just a means to remove a threat that interfered with their real goals in life. For them victory in the war was not an accomplishment, it is what they achieved afterwards with their new-found peace that came to be the fruit of their victory. They may have been great warriors, but only for the sake of Hashem. They did not enjoy battle. They enjoyed serving Hashem in the Beis HaMikdash (Holy Temple). They enjoyed dveikus with Hashem through the light of Torah. All this was not possible with the Greeks ruling the land through harsh decrees that were meant to snuff out the light of Torah. Decrees like a ban on bris milah (circumcision), shechita (Jewish ritual slaughter), Jewish education, etc, etc, elements we see even today -or especially today- in all over the Western World. All kind of gezeiros we unfortunately see even in Eretz Yisroel.
“Binfol Oivecha Al Tismach”, do not rejoice in your enemies downfall. Our victory was achieved not when the Greeks were defeated on the battlefield, but rather the day we got back to the Beis HaMikdash and cleaned it up and started offering Korbanos once again. Chanukah is a celebration not of heroic victory, but about the freedom to learn Torah and do Mitzvos.
Now, if this is the core point of Chanukah. Then what in the world are Jews doing with ‘Chanukah bushes’ and things like that? Things that are the polar opposites of what Judaism and the Jewish people stand for. Jews fought, and gave their lives, in order to live a Jewish life in order for the Jewish customs and traditions -our connection to Hashem and our people- to survive. And now we’re bringing Xmass trees into our houses, hang up Hasid-socks and play dreidel together with Rudolf the Reindeer and Santa’s elves?
(“Nes Gadol Haya Sham- a big miracle happened there”- Where? The North Pole?)
Chanukah is also known to be the festival of oil. We eat lots of calorie rich foods baked or fried in oil. Many of us light oil menorahs, and most importantly we commemorate the miracle of the oil that burned for eight long days after the re-dedication of the Beis Hamikdash. Oil. It is something that constantly returns during Chanukah. Oil is something we can learn a very important Chanukah lesson from.
No matter how many water you add to oil, the oil will always separate itself from the body of water. No matter what we do. No matter where we are. We have to remember that we’re Yidden. We have our own customs and traditions. We are a people separate from the other nations. We are a people with an unbroken chain back to the original Chanukah events, and from there all the way back to Avraham Avinu. Be like the oil. Stay away from goyishe influences and do not mix them with our holy mesorah (tradition).
When a Jew lights the candles on Chanukah’ groups and groups of malachim (angels) come to hear his brochos (blessings). Do we really want to welcome them with all kinds of pagan and other idolatrous symbols?
I sure hope not.
A freilichen and true Chanukah to all of Klal Yisroel!
Chanukah is just around the corner!
One day a Yid from Yerushalayim traveled to Bnei Brak to ask the legendary Rosh Yeshiva of Ponevezh, Rav Shmuel Rozovsky, about a boy in the Yeshiva for his daughter who reached eligible age.
He asked the Rosh Yeshiva how many hours a day the boy learned. Was he punctual in arriving to Seder and did he spend his time diligently. Did he come to davening on time and did he actively participate in Shiur. Did he ask relevant questions and did he understand the answers.
After receiving a favorable report in regard to his questions he thanked Rav Shmuel for his time and began to leave. At that point Rav Shmuel in his gentle and noble manner turned to father and said, “until now you asked me questions, is it okay if I ask you some questions?” The father agreed.
"It seems to me that you are inquiring about the boy for your daughter and you seem happy with the report I gave you. You obviously think that all your daughter needs to know is whether he comes on time and he is a Lamdan. However it is entirely possible that your daughter would like to know if he is a mentch.
It would seem fitting that you ask me, how often does he brush his teeth. Is he pleasant to sit near. How does he behave in the dining room. Does he arrive first to the dining room and take the biggest portion, or does he linger after mincha for a few minutes to learn with a Chavrusa and eat whatever portion is left.
What does he do when the pitcher is empty on the table, does he sit patiently waiting for someone else to fill it up for him or does he run to fill it up himself? Does he occasionally go into the kitchen to thank the staff for preparing the food? Does he eat the food even if he doesn’t like it and thank them graciously for preparing it or does he just go to the nearby kiosk to buy something he likes?
You came to the conclusion that he is a masmid, did you ask what he does when he finishes learning late at night and his roommates are sleeping? Does he take off his shoes and tiptoe in so as not to wake them or does he walk in noisily? Does he make his bed and keep his things neat?
I think”, said Rav Shmuel, “that you need to check these things out. If he is spoiled and he arrives home in the afternoon and does not like the food your daughter worked hard to prepare, his face will crumple in obvious dissatisfaction. Will your daughter then be happy that her father checked the boy out with the Rosh Yeshiva who told him that he knows every Ktzos and Rebbi Akiva Eiger in Bava Basra? Will you daughter say, it’s true that he has no manners and no social skills but I respect him anyway because he knows all the intricacies of the sugya of the bees and the mustard in Bava Basra?”
This was Rav Shmuel’s approach to finding a fine boy for your daughter.
May those of us who are in shidduchim (and/or their parents) keep this advise always in mind.
This is a public service announcement.
Everyone who is in Yerushalayim during the ‘Chanuka season’ should most definitely check it out!