Friday, November 29, 2013

Chanukah and our Torah and an old Israeli Wine cellar and National parks

The Most Enjoyable Change

Your view of "change" will either motivate you to keep making positive changes, or will make you fearful and avoiding of change.

One of the biggest changes a person can make is to stop viewing change as painful, hard work -- and instead to enjoy the entire process of self-development.

Of course, true change is difficult. But enjoying the process keeps you motivated.

I certainty have to practice this myself as I go through the changes that getting older and more mature (hopefully) bring me as well as letting go of comfort to embrace change.

Love Yehuda  Lave


Mikeitz (Genesis 41:1-44:17) (This is the portion of the Bible we read this week on the Sabbath in synagogue)

GOOD MORNING!  Rabbi Abraham Twerski points out in his Twerski on Chumash that there is no coincidence that Chanukah occurs during the week that we read about the epic of Joseph and his brothers. He then asks: What is the deeper significance of the miracle of the oil burning 8 nights?
In truth, since the whole Jewish people were in a state of tumah (ritual impurity) we could have used any oil for the lighting of the menorah. It was only their zealousness to do the mitzvah in the best possible manner that made them seek oil that was tahar (ritually pure). We did not rely upon the cruse of oil to burn the 8 nights needed until tahar oil could be produced. We would have used the tahar oil for one night and then used tumey (ritually impure) oil. However, the oil burned miraculously for 8 nights! Rabbi Twersky elucidates:
"Answers the P'nei Yehoshua (a commentary on the Torah) that precisely because it was permissible to use impure oil, the miracle demonstrated the intensity of God's love for Israel, that the Menorah illuminated the Temple for eight days with just the single vial of pure oil. There was no purpose for this miracle other than to show God's love for Israel.
"Rav Avraham Pam (former Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Torah Vodaas) teaches us that we see this special love of God for the Jewish people regarding the many Jews at that time who had defected to Hellenism and then returned to Torah observance with the triumph of the Macabees -- regarding their relationship with the Almighty after their return to the Torah. When a couple reconciles after a separation, the relationship often becomes one of peaceful coexistence, but the quality of love that they initially had for each other is rarely restored.
"Not so when Jews do teshuvah (repentance -- returning to the Almighty and to the ways of the Torah). Rambam says that although a sinful person distances himself from God, once he does teshuvah he is near, beloved and dear to God. It is not that God "tolerates" the baal teshuvah (returnee), but rather that He loves him as He would the greatest tzaddik (righteous person). As the prophet says, "I will remember for you the loving-kindness of your youth, when you followed Me into the desert, into a barren land" (Jeremiah 2:2). The love of yore is fully restored.
"This is the significance of the miracle of the oil. It teaches us that with proper teshuvah our relationship with God is restored, as if we had never sinned.
"This is also the message of Joseph and his brothers. Joseph did not simply forgive them and suppress his resentment for their abuse of him. Rather, he loved them and cared for them as if nothing had happened, telling them that he feels toward them as he does to Benjamin, who was not involved in his kidnapping (Rashi, Genesis 45:12).
"The celebration of Chanukah is, therefore, more than the commemoration of a miracle. We are to emulate the Divine attributes (Talmud, Shabbos 133b). Just as when God forgives, His love for us is completely restored -- so must we be able to restore the love for one another when we mend our differences.
"As we watch the Chanukah candles, let us think about the light they represent: the bright light of a love that is completely restored!"
* * *
One additional question: Why the celebration of the miracle of the oil? The real salvation of Chanukah was the victory of the Macabees over the "Super Power" (the Syrian Greeks) of the day! It was no less miraculous, yet it gets only minor mention in our prayers. From Inside Chanukah by Rabbi Aryeh P. Strickoff:
  1. Jews celebrate their own salvation, not the downfall of others. The miracle of the oil is about the uplifting of the Jewish people; the victory in war was about the defeat of the Syrian Greeks (the Yavanim).

  2. The oil is about purity and holiness, the war was about death, destruction and impurity.

  3. The miracle of the oil indicated that victories were also miraculous though concealed in the guise of nature.

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