Archive for Holidays

Do you want to hear a real Purim tail?

This article was constructed with the help of either writings, lectures or shiurim of  Rabbi’s, Yissachar Frand, Yossi bilus, Asher Hurzberg, Artscrol Siddur

As of right now, we are at the threshold of the holiday of Purim, yet it seems impossible to escape all the hype of the Presidential elections which will take place this coming November.  While we ponder who to vote for, whether it be Clinton, Trump, or anyone else who won the designated party nomination, one cannot help but to wonder the first and foremost question that we should be asking ourselves: Who will be good for the Jews?
Purim is wonderful!  Purim is fun!
I personally have a problem with the catch phrase for the month: MESHEH NICHNAS ADAR MARBIM B’SIMCHA – when the month of Adar is upon us there will be a great increase in the joy of all of us Jews. Well that wasn’t exactly the case for this Jew, for I just commemorated on the 5th of Adar the twelfth anniversary of my father’s, z”l, passing. Where was the joy? It was a difficult time in my life. I was no happy camper, I remembering feeling numb while seeing the rest of the world celebrating Purim. If it was time for my father to depart this wonderful world, why couldn’t G-d escort him out during a negative month? It didn’t make sense.
Oddly enough my father passed away on the Hebrew same date of his mother’s passing. How spooky is that!!
There are a number of fascinating questions pertaining to the above topics mentioned on the Megilat Esther – the story of Purim.
There are two points that stand out as we look into the Megilla. The first is Queen Vashti:
Achashverosh, the king of Persia, threw a big party and when he was in a drunken state of mind, he commanded his wife, Queen Vashti, to appear before those assembled to show off her beauty. Vashti refused to come. According to the Talmud [Megilla 12], her refusal to come was not based on any sudden sense of modesty on her part, rather the Angel Gavriel came and put a tail on her.
Out of all things to make a person undesirable, why did G-d’s messenger, the angel Gavriel, choose a tail?  If one wants to make a person ugly there is an entire smorgasbord of gruesome appearances to consider.  We come from a “creature feature” Hollywood horror films society that views what Gavriel the Angel chose to be amateurish. Ask us, we’re the professionals, especially after 45 years of alien villains on the different Star Treks. Furthermore, in today’s day and age, where “different” is “cool” many would find tail actually attractive and refreshing. It would be a great conversation piece. “Hey, you know what grew out of my backside? A tail!” Ooh ahh.
The second point that relates to us is the number 127, pertaining to the countries that Achashverosh, and later Esther, ruled. Interestingly we never hear about this number again in the Megila. For the most part it’s insignificant. Why is this number even presented?
Now for another point, unrelated to the Megila, yet related to our discussion. Our prayers are very deep in meaning. However, unfortunately many people simply do not have access to innermost meaning rooted inside of them. One particular prayer which will help shed some light on our questios is BARUCH SHE’AMAR. With the recitation of this prayer talking is omitted till the end of the AMIDA. BARUCH SHE’AMAR elevates our prayers; it is the first step of 4 of the spiritual ladder of getting close to G-d.  We will explore how it plays a crucial role in our understanding of these subject matters.
Often, when the Talmud relates a story of Aggadic nature, such as this, the Gemara is not to be taken literally. The Gemara is teaching a message with this story. The Chofetz Chaim suggests that the Gemara means something else. We do not need to assume that Vashti literally grew a tail.
The Talmud teaches [Sanhedrin 96] that Nevuchadnetzar, King of Babylonia, was not born into royalty. How did he become King then? The Gemara relates that Chizkiyahu, King of Judea, became very sick and he was miraculously saved. The Almighty wanted to publicize the fact that the King of Judea was miraculously healed so he made a second miracle – namely, the day that King Chizkiyahu was cured lasted 18 hours! That got people’s attention! The whole world realized that it was a miraculous day. The King of Babylonia at that time was a person named Biladan. Biladan said, “I need to send congratulatory remarks to the King of Judea. He is so righteous that the Almighty changed nature for him, I must send him a letter of congratulations and admiration.” He ordered his scribe (who at the time was Nevuchadnetzar) to draft the letter for him. However, that day, for whatever reason, Nevuchadnetzar was not there. So, the other scribes went ahead and drafted a letter without the input of the chief scribe, Nevuchadnetzar. The letter’s salutation was as follows: “Peace unto you King Chizkiyahu; peace unto Jerusalem; and peace unto the Almighty G-d.” Nevuchadnetzar returned from wherever he was and asked to review a copy of the letter. When he saw the salutation he objected. The honor of the Almighty G-d should have been placed first, not third in the letter! However the other scribes told him that the original had already been sent off. Nevuchadnetzar ran after the messengers to try to stop them so as not to send the letter with such a “blasphemous” salutation. The Talmud says that he ran four steps in the direction of the courier. He wanted to stop him and reverse the salutation by rewriting it according to proper protocol: “Peace to the Almighty G-d; peace to the city of Jerusalem; and peace to King Chizkiyahu.”

The Talmud in Sanhedrin teaches that after he ran those four steps (according to an alternate version in the Yalkut he ran only 3 steps) to stop the letter, Gavriel came and stopped him in his tracks so that he would not be able to run any further. The Talmud comments that had Gavriel not come and limited the merit, Nevuchadnetzar was gaining for himself by showing G-d this honor, “There would not have been left a remnant of the enemies of the Jewish people” (The Gemara often uses euphemistic ways to express bad things, in this case saying that as opposed to saying the Jewish people would have been totally wiped out). The Gemara asks, “What did Nevuchadnetzar get as reward for his walking the four steps?” The Gemara answers that he saw himself and 3 generations after him become royalty. The 4 generations were Nevuchadnetzar, Evil Merodach, Balshatzar, and Vashti. Vashti was a great-granddaughter of Nevuchadnetzar.
The Chofetz Chaim explains that there is actually no dispute between the version that says Nevuchadnetzar ran 4 steps and the version that says he ran 3 steps. He actually ran 3 full steps. In the middle of the fourth step Gavriel came and stopped him before he had a chance to complete the fourth step. It was cut off in the middle.
That is why the Gemara testifies that if he would have taken four whole steps the Jewish people would have been wiped out! The Chofetz Chaim interprets: Since he did not take a complete fourth step, the reign of his fourth descendant [Vashti] was terminated prematurely. Had Vashti remained on the throne, Esther would never have been in a position to save the Jewish people and they would have been wiped out in the time of Haman.
The Chofetz Chaim states further that this is what it means that Gavriel (the same Angel who stopped Nevuchadnetzar from taking that fourth step) came and placed a tail upon Vashti. The term “zanav” (tail) alludes to the fact that it was the tail end of the dynasty of Nevuchadnetzar.
The lesson of this story is that this is how the Almighty runs his world. The incident with Gavriel happened in the time of Chizkiyahu King of Judea – many years before the era of Haman and Achashverosh. Because of what took place then, Klal Yisrael was saved many years later in the time of Purim.
Events happen or do not happen for many seemingly many random reasons, but behind the supposed motivations of people, the Almighty is manipulating history to carry out His Will. Behind the curtains, the Master of the Universe is pulling the strings.
There is a true story, which appears in the historical archives of the Knesset, which Rabbi Frand heard from Rabbi David Ordman. The story goes, Rav Shlomo Lorenz (a former Knesset member of Agudat Yisrael) once met Harry S. Truman, President of the United States. President Truman told Rabbi Lorenz, “You should know that when I agreed to recognize the State of Israel, it went against the advice of my advisors and it was against every political instinct that I have. But I will tell you why I did it…” (The conventional wisdom is that Harry Truman recognized the State of Israel in 1948 because he had a Jewish partner in the haberdashery business in Independence, Missouri many decades earlier. The partner had come to him in the White House and asked him for the favor. Now you will hear the real story from Harry Truman himself.)
President Truman told Rabbi Lorenz “I was a little boy growing up in the United States and every little boy growing up in the United States dreams of becoming president. That was my dream. I’ll tell you something else. I was a good Christian boy and I learned my Bible. My hero in the Bible was Cyrus (who we know a Koresh, none other than a descendant of Queen Esther).  Koresh is the one who let the Jewish people go back to their homeland and build their Temple (Bais HaMikdash). I said, if I ever become President of the United States, I want to imitate my hero and if I ever get the opportunity to let the Jewish people go back to their country and rebuild their Temple that is what I am going to do. And that”, he concluded, “Is why I recognized the State of Israel.”
This is the same story: The Hand of G-d at work. Just like with Vashti – we do not know what on earth possessed her to disobey her husband and not come as he ordered, but we do know what in Heaven did. The Almighty sent an Angel and made it happen, so that Klal Yisrael should be saved. So too, Harry Truman had this ‘mishugaas’ – he wanted to emulate Koresh. Some of us have odd heroes, as well. When I grew up my hero was Bud Harrelson, a baseball player who played shortstop for the New York Mets, as opposed to the popular choice of either Tom Seaver or Bobby Mercer. There is probably not another person in the world whose main Biblical hero was Koresh, but that was the idiosyncrasy of Harry Truman. And because of that, the rest is history.
There is a popular Midrash which links Esther and Sarah, which pertains to the very beginning, the very first sentence of the Megillah. The first sentence includes the apparent superfluous information that Achashverosh ruled over 127 provinces. The Midrash describes Rabbi Akiva as asking, “How did Esther merit to rule over 127 provinces?” He answered, “Let [Esther,] the descendant of Sarah who lived 127 years, come and rule over 127 provinces.”
Sarah is the only woman in the entire Torah whose age is recorded: 127 years, a number that the Kabbalists explain denotes perfection and achievement.  The commentaries mentioned that the reason that Sarah is linked to Esther is because Esther is in essence is replacing Sarah who is the antithesis to Vashti.
In Tractate Megila the Gemara asks, “Who were the most beautiful woman that ever lived?” It goes on to list, Chava (Eve) the first woman, Sarah the first matriarch, Esther the Queen of Persia and Rachav the woman who helped the spies conquer Israel and who later converted to Judaism.
The Gemara also lists their virtues that led to them to be attractive. Physical beauty is not enough; it needs to be complemented by personality. The Gemarah says what brought out Sarah’s beauty was her modesty.
It is also written in the Holy Scriptures that besides modesty, Sarah is also known for her love of Shabbat. The Sages say that she purposely had a different maid servant for each day of the week, so she would be aware it’s Shabbat; mind you this is before calendars existed.
When Sarah passed away, the coronation of her son, Yitzchak’s bride, Rivka as her spiritual successor was as follows: when she entered Sarah tent, the Midrash says, the Shabbat candles automatically lit. Sarah’s candles, which she lit before Shabbat miraculously lasted to the next Shabbat.
It’s not for naught that we recite the beautiful prayer Eshet Chail – woman of valor, Friday night at the beginning of the royal Shabbat table. The prayer was composed by King Shlomo and was influenced by the eulogy given by Avraham to his wife Sarah.
Sarah, the loyal wife of Avraham, was instrumental in his campaign to bring the world closer to G-d. Vashti on the other hand, chose the opposite path.  Vashti was known to purposely force the Jewish women to work and dress immodestly on Shabbat. She caused a complete desecration of that holy day. Esther carried the torch of Sarah in trying to restore the G-dly decorum and dignity into the world, which only a queen or an equivalent stature can accomplish.

BARUCH SHE’AMAR starts with a very popular world BARUCH.  Baruch is commonly translated as “blessed”. If we contemplate this, we see that the translation “blessed” does not make sense. What does it even mean to say someone is “blessed”? Perhaps it means that he has a lot. Are we saying that G-d has a huge amount of everything?
A better translation of BARUCH is obtained by comparing this word to other similar words in Hebrew. When Eliezer, the servant of Abraham, brought his camels to the well where he met Rebecca, he caused his camels to bend their knees. The word used there is, “Vi’yavrach” (a derivative of “baruch”) which means “to make [the camels] kneel down. (Genesis 24:11)
The word BARUCH is also related to the word in Hebrew “berach” which means knee. Another use of the root of BARUCH is the Hebrew word “L’havrich” which refers to taking a vine, and to put part of the growing branch under the ground so that it may sprout roots. BARUCH is also related to the Hebrew word Barak, which means lightning. Barak is of a similar, although different root.
What we see by comparing the word BARUCH to all the various forms of the root of the word is something that has to do with a downward motion. The lowering of the camels, planting of the vine, and lightning, all have in common a downward motion.
What we now understanding is that the definition of BARUCH means coming down. In the standing silent prayer, the Amidah, we bend our knees when mentioning the word “BARUCH” in the first blessing. This is indicative of the real meaning of the word BARUCH – going in a downward direction.
More specifically in the general context of a “blessing”, it means that G-d is bringing something down to the earth and we through our prayers are requesting the goodness that will benefit us to do what we came to this world for.
* There are 13 BARUCHS equivalent to the 13 attributes of G-d.
* The prayer BARUCH SHE’AMAR was transcribed by the men of the great assembly 2400 years ago from a script that fell from the heavens.
Interestingly, one may ask why we kiss our TZITZIOT at the end of this prayer. According to the Kabbalah tradition the TZITZIT represent the 613 mitzvot.  What about the kiss?

One of the ways one can get close to G-d is through meditation which consists of breathing. It says (Bereshit 2,8) “And G-d blew into his nostrils the soul of life”. For this reason Shofar on Rosh Hashana is so potent. The blower, who represents the Jewish people, uses his breath to convey forgiveness. The same breath that we received for life is one to ask for forgiveness. Therefore breath is very spiritual. That is also why Jews are forbidden to blow out a candle with their breath. A kiss consists of breath and therefore it too is spiritual. Interestingly, according to the Mystics the proper way to have marital relationship is through kissing for it insures that the physical act has spirituality incorporated within. It would give it true and proper meaning. Therefore kissing brings down spirituality in the physical world. BARUCH SHE’AMAR is the bridge between the heavens and earth
All this is an introduction to the phrase in the BARUCH SHE’AMAR of BARUCH GOZER U’MIKAYEM – G-d decrees and fulfills the decree. Whether it be Vashti three and half generations later, whether it be Truman, the death of a loved one, whether the up and coming presidential elections, it’s all part of the master plan. HOWEVER WE DON’T KNOW WHAT THE PLAN IS AND THEREFORE ONLY AT END WE SHALL SEE THE GOODNESS.
ZANAV (tail) in Hebrew consist of the letter ZAYIN which is the numerical value of seven that is Shabbat which is the seventh day of the week and NUN and BET which is 52, for the 52 weeks of the year. Shabbat is the end of the week similar to the fact that the tail is at the end. Vashti’s tail was insignificant. G-d runs the world with measure for measure, or MIDA K’NEGED MIDA. Vashti desecrated the Shabbat therefore the tail was a source of death for her. However Shabbat if done right the ZOHAR states has the ability to generate life, energy, and SHEFA throughout the coming week, the future.
However, Vashti’s  tail was insignificant. G-d runs the world with measure for measure MIDA K’NEGED MIDA. Vashti desecrated the Shabbat, or perhaps made others desecrate it, therefore the tail  was the source of death.


The Most Beautiful Esrog

by Rabbi Berel Wein
I wish to share with you a beautiful short story about the wonderful festival of Sukkot. The story was authored by S.Y. Agnon, the Israeli Nobel laureate who won the prize for literature a number of years ago, and whose likeness adorns the 50-shekel note in Israeli currency.
It seems that Agnon, who was born in Poland, was a neighbor of a famous old rabbi from Russia. Both of them are now living in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Talpiot. One year before Sukkot, Agnon met his rabbinic neighbor at the neighborhood store selling esrogim — the yellow citron fruit which is symbolic of the Sukkot holiday. There Agnon noticed how meticulous his neighbor was in choosing an esrog. Even though he was a person of limited means, the rabbi insisted on purchasing the finest, and hence most expensive, esrog available. After examining many specimens, the rabbi finally chose the one he wished and paid for it.
Walking home with Agnon, the rabbi emphasized to him how important it was to have a beautiful, flawless esrog on Sukkot, and how the beauty of the esrog was part of the fulfillment of the Divine commandment for the holiday.

On Sukkot morning Agnon noticed that the rabbi was without an esrog at the synagogue services. Perplexed, Agnon asked the rabbi where his beautiful esrog was. The rabbi answered by relating the following incident:
“I awoke early, as is my wont, and prepared to recite the blessing over the esrog in my sukkah located on my balcony. As you know, we have a neighbor with a large family, and our balconies adjoin. As you also know, our neighbor, the father of all these children next door, is a man of short temper. Many times he shouts at them or even hits them for violating his rules and wishes. I have spoken to him many times about his harshness but to little avail.
“As I stood in the sukkah on my balcony, about to recite the blessing for the esrog, I heard a child’s weeping coming from the next balcony. It was a little girl crying, one of the children of our neighbor. I walked over to find out what was wrong. She told me that she too had awakened early and had gone out on her balcony to examine her father’s esrog, whose delightful appearance and fragrance fascinated her. Against her father’s instructions, she removed the esrog from its protective box to examine it. She unfortunately dropped the esrog on the stone floor, irreparably damaging it and rendering it unacceptable for ritual use. She knew that her father would be enraged and would punish her severely, perhaps even violently. Hence the frightened tears and wails of apprehension.
“I comforted her, and I then took my esrog and placed it in her father’s box, taking the damaged esrog to my premises. I told her to tell her father that his neighbor insisted that he accept the gift of the beautiful esrog, and that he would be honoring me and the holiday by so doing.”
Agnon concludes the story by saying: “My rabbinic neighbor’s damaged, bruised, ritually unusable esrog was the most beautiful esrog I have ever seen in my lifetime.”

The Mechanics of miracles-Succot edition

This article was constructed with the help of either writings, lectures or shiurim of Rabbi’s Noach Isaac Oelbaum, Asher Hertzberg, Baruch Dopelt, Rachamim Shaulov and Dr. Abba Goldman and Esther Matmon
Although Succot is a beautiful holiday, it does require much work. Building the Sukkah, granted it’s fun, takes up lots of time. The same can be said about buying the Lulav and Etrog set, it impinges on our really heavy schedule. Waving those pointy lulavs with an occasional dart can be painful and burdensome, especially having to be careful not to break the delicate “pitom” on the small etrog.  Furthermore having to go out to the sukkah every time one wants to snack, a small cookie, (mezonot) is really uncomfortable. It’s similar to going out to the corner neighborhood store by car to get a paper only to have to walk a half a block to get a parking stub from the mini meters. Might as well not eat the cookie or get the paper.  Moreover, it’s not easy to sit in uncomfortable climate and change our lifestyle. It’s nice, perhaps for one or two outings, a change of scenery takes out the boredom in our HO HUM life, however seven days!! That’s a lot of meals where plates going back and forth from inside the house. Nevertheless G-d said to perform the commandment of sitting in the Succah therefore we dutifully oblige.
It’s interesting that Sukkot follows the Yamim Noraim – days of awe, where we just came out apologizing profusely and asking G-d to wipe out the bad decree, Amein! Perhaps Succot with all its tasks and requirements is one last test. We were knocking our hearts with our fists and cried “we’ll gravitate to you, G-d!!  We won’t sin anymore; we’ll change”. Is that what we said not too long ago?   Well, here is a shot to prove your worth, as they say. Here is an opportunity to put your trust in G-d. Here is a chance to put your money where your mouth is. Here is an opportunity to show we really meant what we said. Hey!! You mean business….don’t you? Here is a chance to weather the uncomfortable environment and have the right feelings.
  Many Jews open a letter, an email with the word BH, or SIYATA D’SHMAYA – with G-d’s help on top of the page. It’s a Jewish heading. It really is a loaded statement. In other words, by writing BH, we’re implying G-d’s running the show. How many of us believe that?
  One of the major aspects of “with G-d’s help” is we participate in the help. “Siyata” can also mean “helper of G-d”. We learned about “Effort”, in Judaism 101. We have to make an effort in all our life endeavors. We can’t just sit pat and wait for G-d to deliver at our door step money, the Porsche or the mail order bride. We have to use our optimal ability to move up in life, in every aspect of this wonderful glorious world whether spiritual and/or materialistic. Here we take effort to a different crazy level. We were under the notion that Siyata d’shmaya was a solo act. The idea was “we are waiting for G-d Who is going to help”. However, if we participate, do an extra part then the miracle will take effect. Do you believe in miracles?
We see this occur from the following stories:

****The Chafetz Chaim – Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan, (1839-1933), was one of the greatest Rabbis in our illustrious Jewish history. His books, commentary on Jewish law (Mishna Brurah) as well as his books where his profound words and emphasis on lashon hara (guard your tongue) have been unprecedented and has changed many lives.
The Chafetz Chaim was quite revered in his time and when he fell extremely ill at the age of eighty eight in the year 1929 there was an outcry and concern for his wellbeing. Tehilim was recited throughout the Jewish world. After all, he was considered one of the prominent Rabbis of the generation and well needed for his teachings and advice to the Jewish populous.
 There was one young man Mordechai who was particularly taken by the Chafetz Chaim’s illness. He was the son of the prominent Rosh Yeshiva – Moshe Londinsky and for a brief period was one of the Chafetz Chaim’s personal secretaries. One night, at the study hall, being in a somber state, he decided to recite the entire Tehilim  for the z’chut of the refuah shelema of his Rav. As the dawn hour was approaching, he got up from his seat, after finishing Tehilim, and went up to the eichal – Aron Hakodesh to put in his own personal prayer. As he grabbed the parochet (the velvety cover curtain) and brought it close to his eyes, he cried out to G-d “the world needs the Chafetz Chaim!!” “I’m a young student that will probably not come close to the greatness of such a holy man. As a matter of fact”, He said, “I’m willing to give up 5 years of my life so that the Chafetz Chaim can live. He’ll probably be more productive in those five years than I will be my entire life”. This is how deeply the young man felt. Throughout the day the young man thought of the proclamation he had presented to G-d and still felt strongly about it.
 The news traveled fast that the Chafetz Chaim was miraculously getting better  and chances of him making a full recovery was great. Sometime later the Chafetz Chaim now at full strength met Mordechai Londensky.” I thank G-d that the Rebbi is feeling better” Mordechai said. The Chafetz Chaim looked him in the eyes and said “I know what you did for me Mordechai and I want to thank you for the five years”. Mordechai was floored. He hadn’t told anyone about his conversation with G-d. The Chafetz Chaim then proclaimed.  “I am giving you a blessing that you will live a little longer then I am right now”
 …Five years later the Chafetz Chaim past away…
  Rabbi Mordechai Londinski passed away at the age of eighty nine. It was just like the Chafetz Chaim had promised “you will live a little longer then I am now”. His funeral, though, was delayed for a day for his beloved son Moshe who was in California had to arrive. Usually, the burial has to take place within twenty four hours. Rabbi Kaminetski gave the unusual HETTER-“permission” to delay.  Rabbi Moshe Londinski arrived and eulogized his father where he revealed this story. He said “besides my father, I and Chafetz Chaim no one knew this story until today” Rav Kaminetski said “it’s with the help of G-d that I made my decision to delay. Now I know why”.
 Rabbi Mordechai Londinski made the extra effort to make the miracle happen, the miracle of life.
Many people have gone to the Baba Sali for brachot – blessings. One particular individual was seeking a bracha – blessing to have children. It was medically impossible for him and his wife to conceive. However, the man was determined to make every effort to make this impossible dream possible. There were usually long lines and people waiting for hours to see the Rabbi and when they do see him it’s in passing, very brief – one or two word answers. However, many have sworn that his brachot come true. When it was finally this individual’s turn the Baba Sali looked at the letter that was presented to him with the request “Children!” to which he replied “lost case”, next… person on line. The individual though broken came the next day again to be in line for a blessing, after his turn came, he again gave in his request “Children!”, and the answer was… “lost case”, next…, the next day he was there again with the same request and the same answer followed “lost case”. He kept coming to Rav Baba Sali every single day for the next 200 days to bless him to have kids and always received the same answer…Then the secretary of the Rav Baba Sali finally told the Rav “why don’t you tell him to stop coming already”, the Rav told the petitioner “you come every day with the same request and I gave you an answer already, may be you should stop coming”. The petitioner said “I know your prayers work, G-d listens to you; you are the only one in this world who can help me”. “Do you really believe in it?” asked the Rav, “then go right now and buy a baby carriage”. The man left ecstatic “I received the blessing!”, “I received the blessing!” He went and brought a new baby carriage to his wife at home. Nine months later he had a baby!
 People like this refuse to be discouraged by those who advise them that their goals are impossible to attain. 
We often hear such an individual being praised for “accomplishing the impossible,” almost as if he pulled off something supernatural, against the natural order. The truth is that the person may have indeed gone far beyond the norm in dedication, sacrifice and commitment.

But that is not what brought them success. They tasted success only because G-d’s hand enabled them to do so, or else it truly would have been impossible to achieve what they did.

Anyone who walks this earth with his eyes open is aware of the hand of G-d that touches us every moment of our lives. We see Siyata Di’Shmaya – Divine Protection – constantly. We work hard to accomplish our goal and then G-d takes over.

Every person was created to carry out a mission in life. Those who succeed are the ones who don’t let anything deter them for long. With faith in the One Above, they ignore the difficulties that would throw off lesser men. They continue their effort with the knowledge that G-d will assist them and take over for them at the proper time.

The final verdict is Hoshana Rabba, after we experience Succot. G-d watches how we would react sitting in the glorious but weather related Succah. It’s a time to ask, to pray, and to go beyond the norm.
We learn a very interesting and valuable lesson in similar vein from mikvah.  If someone is spiritually impure – tameh and touches the water, the water becomes impure. It’s powerful – the way Humans can transmit tumah – spiritual impurity. However, if a person immerses himself in a kosher mikvah, then not only is that the mikvah does not fall to impurity, but on the contrary – it makes the person tahor – pure. As long as the person does not have any chatzitza – any object on his body that will be considered a separation, for the idea is to be totally embodied/immersed within the mikvah parameters. He is part and parcel with the mikvah and with that power becomes pure. The Mitzvah of Succah is similar: in order to perform it – one has to be totally in the parameters (the entire body of the person inside the sukkah), just like Mikvah changes one’s status so does Succah, the power of Succah has the ability to make one Kadosh. The power of Succah has the power to make miracles; however, we need siyata di’shmaya and participation from ourselves. We build it, we beautify it, we do our part of participation and G-d does the rest.


Does G-d forgive?

This article was constructed with the help of either writings, lectures or shiurim of Rabbi’s  Noach Isaac Oelbaum, Asher Hertzberg, Yissachar frand, Berel Wein, Baruch Dopelt, Efraim Buchwald, Yossi Bilius and Dr. Abba Goldman and Aryeh Burnstien
Does G-d forgive? How effective could we be to alter the unfavorable decree that has fallen upon us?
Can life really change drastically if we pray this Rosh Hashana or if we don’t?
If Rosh HaShana is such a crucial day of judgement, where life and death is dangled in front of us, why do we wear our finest cloths, have lavish meals and are in a festive mood?  We should be in sack cloths and ashes begging for forgiveness, eating bread and water not French brick roast and the finest wine….Let’s not forget the deli roll.
Rav Pam z’l, the Rosh Yeshiva of the Mir once commented on the prayer that we say in Selichot prior to and during the Yomim Noraim (Days of Awe), “Like paupers and beggars do we come before You, knocking on Your door.” The simple interpretation is that we are paupers because we do not have sufficient good deeds to our credit. However, Rav Pam says that it is to be interpreted literally — when we appear before the Almighty on Rosh HaShana we are penniless. What does it mean we are penniless? I have money in the bank, I have a portfolio, I have a house, and I have assets! What does it mean, “I’m a pauper”?
Rav Pam explains that it means that nothing is a given. We start out afresh. There are no chazaka-automatics in life”. “You were healthy until now, but today there is a fresh judgment regarding what is going to happen now and for the coming year.” “You had success until now. Today there is a fresh Judgment.”
The reason we do not tremble before the Yom HaDin is because it is very hard for us to actually believe this idea. If a person is 50 years old, he figures that he has been through all this previously and things always seem to remain fairly stable. He assumes “Look, I just went for a physical and the doctor says I am doing quite well.” “I have been in my business or profession for 30 years; some years I do a little better and some years a little worse, but I have always had a steady income. What do you mean that I might not have parnasa this coming year?” We tend to assume that we are going into the Day of Judgment with a strong status quo in our favor. That is not true. It is very difficult for us to internalize this concept but the status quo is not guaranteed.
If we think about things we have seen and heard about during the past year, it will become all too clear how life can change in a minute. People are swept away by natural tragedies, by sudden changes of fortune, by unexpected diagnoses, and by unforeseen political changes. These sudden changes in one’s health or fortune or personal status are the most shocking things that can happen to a person. Yesterday, everything was wonderful. Overnight, things can change in such a way that a person is no longer able to function. However, such events do occur. That is the Day of Judgment of Rosh Hashana. There are no presumptions of status quo. We cannot be lulled into this false sense of security that we have been healthy, wealthy, and wise until now, presumably it will continue like that as well.
On Rosh HaShana, all bets are off. Like paupers and penniless people do we knock on Your doors. This is the reality. This is why the Din of Rosh Hashana is so awesome and scary.
There is a very interesting and important parable that must be remembered in order for us to have a better understanding of the questions above:
 The parents of a young girl mentioned a few times that she should be back at home at eleven. However, she was enjoying her time with her friends so immensely that she didn’t realize how late it became. Eleven became twelve, then twelve thirtyas she waltzed into her house with a content grin. Although she had pure intention and had no notion what’s so ever to rebel against her parents, it’s just that she had a blast, a really good time and rather come home she wanted to continue spending precious moments with her friends.
 It was inevitable, her parents were furious and she was punished severely. The parents were worried sick, to say the least. The anguish that they went through, they called all her friends inquiring her whereabouts and if she was okay. They, actually, almost called the police, out of desperation.
 The punishment she received made the girl learn a valuable lesson about responsibility. She learned a word is a word. From then on, if she is told to be home at eleven she will make every effort to be home on time.
 There is an element of maturity, an elevation of responsibility that the girl learned from the experience. However, what takes her elevation to a much higher level is if she feels the anguish she caused her parents. If she feels horrible how can she have caused such pain to her Mother and Father? Here we have a crucial turning point in life. These are crucial Torah values and the beginning of a tremendous insight into the high holidays.
 There are many significant as well as inspiring meaningful moments during the course of the YAMIM NORAYIM High holidays. In the days of my youth, praying at the Sephardic shul in Forest Hills, many would attend and there would be two additional minyanim of significant size. There would be so many worshipers, the shul would be busting out of the seams. Everything was multiple sizes than a regular Shabbat attendance. Instead of having one punch ball game there would be five games going on at the same time. It was a kid haven. Interestingly, many of the non-observant, who attend perhaps once or twice a year, would be talking outside during services.  Don’t forget they haven’t seen their friends conceivably for almost a year. It was very tempting for me, since I too have not seen my friends. However, during the Shofar blowing on Rosh HaShana as well as ne’ila at the end of Yom Kippur everyone would scramble inside, where it would be standing room only, to hear the shofar blowing. All would be quiet and one can see the sincerity on practically all the gatherers, whether it be the usual attenders as well as once a year individuals.
 The sound of the shofar seeps through the soul of a Jew. The moment leading up to the blowing as well as “the moment” is very intense. The congregation feels the importance of the time. All eyes are on the chazzan and the shofar blower. I would feel the sounds vibrating through my whole being as I feel regret of all the sins I committed during the year. It is as if the pulsating sensation of the shofar sound was atonement for my sins.
  Interestingly, there is a psalm that is recited seven times right before the shofar blowing.  Psalm #47 that was written by the children of Korach. The psalm receives prime real estate being the intro to this significant moment. Who were Korach’s children and why were they deserving of such lofty honor? Why were they and their song chosen to persuade G-d to place us in the book of life? What is so special about this Psalm?
  Korach, one of the rich leaders of the Levites, and a cousin of Moses and Aaron, felt that he had been slighted and overlooked in the distribution of the highest priestly honors and leadership. He envied Moses and Aaron, and also his cousin Elzaphan, who had been put in charge of the Levites, after Aaron’s family had become elevated to the rank of Kohanim (Priests). An entire parsha in the Torah recounts the tragic incident of Korach’s rebellion and his downfall. As a result of being slighted, Korach spread evil slander against Moshe and caused a great rift in the Jewish nation. All of the people who joined Korach and supported him were killed in a most tragic yet deserving way. The Jews saw that G-d did not allow disrespect towards the great leader Moshe. Despite Moshe’s pleas with Korach and his followers to make peace so that they would not be punished, they stood their ground, and literally went down into the ground. Pride is a spiritual trait and very hard to control once it is let loose. One of the most tragic aspects of the incident was that all of Korach’s family who supported him, even young children perished because of the severity of machlokes, disputes.
Originally, the three sons of Korach who were Assir, Elkanah and Aviassaf, stood by their father’s side, however, when they witnessed the ground open up, they sincerely repented and as they were being swallowed into the ground a ledge protruded and caught them protecting them from falling into the fires of Purgatory.
It took enormous courage on the part of Korach’s sons to resist joining their father, and for this they were saved. They chose to do what they felt was right despite their training, despite the overwhelming outside influences. They were indeed seekers of truth.
That is why, according to some commentators, Korach’s three children are referred to in the verse as the “Sons of Korach,” even though that label has negative connotations. By noting that they are the sons of Korach, the Torah is actually praising them for their bold actions. Despite being the sons of Korach, the wicked schemer against G-d and Moses, they were not drawn into their father’s rebellion.
One of the most beautiful literary legacies in all of human literature is the Book of Psalms. Most of the 150 psalms are attributed to King David. A few are ascribed to Moshe and King Solomon and others. Psalm # 47, however, begins with the words: “Lam’na’tzay’ach liv’nay Korach, mizmor,” For the conductor, by the sons of Korach, a song.
Not only did Korach’s children remove themselves from the rebellion, they and their descendants reached such great spiritual heights that they were able to compose magnificent psalms. Of all 150 psalms, it is psalm #47, written by the sons of Korach, that is chosen to be recited before the sounding of the shofar on Rosh HaShana. It reaffirms the belief that if the sons of Korach can repent, so can others. If they could resist the influence of one of the greatest propagandists of all times, then we can as well. It assures us that even though no one was closer to Korach than his sons, even though they were deeply involved in the rebellion, they were able to detach themselves from the rebellious assembly.
Psalm 47:2 reads: “Sound the shofar with a joyous cry,” because we can overcome outside influences and beat evil at its own game. Like the sons of Korach, each of us can rise above destiny and outwit the unholy influences that try to derail us.
In Chronicles I 6:18-22, we learn that the great prophet Samuel is a descendant of the sons of Korach. How exceptional is the power of repentance! That from Korach’s sons – a tsaddik, one of the greatest prophet emerged.
The later Biblical history nonchalantly relates that Korach’s direct descendant Heman was one of King David’s appointees to be in charge of song in the Temple (I Chronicles 6:16-23), and others of Korach’s descendants were the Temple gatekeepers and chefs (I Chronicles 9:17-32).   Quite a turnaround:  from Korach being the chief threat to the Priesthood, to his descendants directing security and food production – areas where one can most easily murder, poison, stage a coup.  Apparently it wasn’t just Heman who had musical prowess, as ten of the Bible’s Psalms are attributed in their first line to the children of Korach (Psalms 4244-49, 8485, and87).  The Rabbis seem to understand the significance of this, in that their Midrash-special insights on Psalm 1, which is not authored by Korach’s children, reads the whole poem as actually telling the story of Korach’s children’s rejection of their father’s ways, as if to say that the central theme of the book of Psalms is Korach’s children’s authorship of many of its poems.
 Psalm 1 opens, “Happy is the person who does not walk in the council of the wicked”.  The Rabbis explain, “This is the sons of Korach, who did not walk in the council of their father, as is said, ‘Turn away please, from the tents of these wicked men’ (Bemidbar 16:26). .
 What’s the big deal about Korach’s sons? Someone’s life flashes in front of them and they hang on to dear life, by the skin of their teeth or else they will be swallowed up by the ground beneath them, of course they’re going to do teshuva-going to repent. It’s a no brainier!! This act, is similar to many heroes in our illustrious history, doesn’t deserve a front row seat before the shofar blower.
   One has to realize, although it must have been very difficult to resist the strong current of the peer pressure, the key to Sons of Korach greatness, though,  is not that they relinquished their father’s ideology the last second, although it’s very commendable, lies in the first verse ,” For the conductor, by the sons of Korach, a song”.. Song permeates emotions.  Granted, they regretted their sins nevertheless, they stand out from others in our illustrious past, and they were enthusiastic to a degree that they sang.  They were enthusiastic for they knew it made G-d happy. The idea we said before with the girl who stayed out late to prolong her “good time” with her friends.  It’s not that a teenager is afraid of her parents for she knows if she does wrong she’ll be punished, she will lose her computer time or get grounded. It’s the fact that the teenager won’t do wrong for she doesn’t want to upset her parent and hurt their feelings. She wants to make them happy.
 In essence TESHUVA means to return; return to the source. Just like when a child returns home to see his parents after a long term separation. The child is excited; he desires that feeling…. He feels tremendous joy. He is ecstatic to see his parents happy too. He glances in their eyes and is excited to see their joy… So too is the feeling when one repents and returns to G-d. He is excited for G-d for he also returned home. This is an elevated state of mind and a feeling one should strive.
   The RAMBAM says one has a guarantee that the teshuva-repentance will be accepted if he does it or for that matter all mitzvot with love and enthusiasm. This is the proper attitude, an elevated attitude of happiness that the sons of Korach had.
  Rabbi Chain Shmuelevtz – the great and revered Rosh Yeshiva of the Mir once said Purim is more powerful than Yom Kippur. How is that possible? Purim is holier than Yom Kippur? There is a play on words KIPPUR-IM.; it’s read KEH-PUR-IM.  Yom Kippur is like Purim, insinuating that one can achieve a positive judgment from joy of the festive of Purim than the fear of Yom Kippur.
For this reason the famous phrase IVDU ET HASHEM B’SIMCHA – serve G-d with joy. That is a loaded statement which holds the key to success and long sweet life. So we wear our finest cloths and are joyous and be in a darn good mood. This is how we are able to win a positive decree and accelerate ourselves in the book of life and transform YAMIM NORAIM-days of awe to days of joy….Amein!!

What does the receiving of the Torah have to do with the name Shavuot?

This article was constructed with the help of either writings, lectures or shiurim of  Rabbi’s  , Yisschar Frand, Noach Isaac Oelbaum,  Akiva Tatz, Paysach Krohn,  Yitzchak Aminov, Jay Shapiro, , Yossi Bilus, Yoav Babachanov, Dr. Abba Goldman

Everywhere one turns, they can smell and see, the breathtaking scent and colorful sight of flowers because this time of the year, which corresponds with the holiday of Shavuot, plant life is in full bloom.

We, humans, identify things through association, the start of the Baseball season with the holiday of Pesach, fresh start of a new year – Rosh Hashana, flowers and cheesecakes are part and parcel with the holiday of Shavuot.
 Aside from the aesthetic beauty and the extra pounds that one enjoys on this holiday, when one focuses on the spiritual part of Shavuot, there is a glaring and obvious question about this Yom Tov. Why is it called Shavuot?
The word – Shavuot – means “weeks.” It marks the completion of the seven-week counting period between Passover and Shavuot.
The main event of the holiday was commemorating the giving of the Torah which was a far-reaching spiritual event-one that touched the essence of the Jewish soul for all times. Our sages have compared it to a wedding between G-d and the Jewish people. Shavuot also means “oaths,” for on this day G-d swore eternal devotion to us, and we in turn pledged everlasting loyalty to Him.
 However, if we had to pick a good name for the holiday of Shavuot, it would seem like there is a much better name for the holiday: Simchat Torah! Why not?  We received the Torah on Shavuot. We celebrate that event — Simchat Torah! What could be a more logical name for this holiday?  “Torah he chayenu-Torah is our life” Hey!! That’s another good name for the holiday. We received the Torah on that day so isn’t it appropriate to have Torah in the heading?
It seems like one is ordering deli at a Chinese restaurant. The main event should be incorporated in the title and here it’s not.
In addition, the Torah never refers to Shavuot by a particular calendar date as it does with all other holidays. Passover is described as the 15th of Nissan, Sukkot – the 15th of Tishrei, and so on. Yet, Shavuot is mentioned as “seven weeks or 49 days after Passover.” The Torah implies that if theoretically no one would count the seven weeks, Shavuot would not take place that year. Shavuot can only exist when and if the counting preparations have occurred. Why is this so?
Intriguingly, the answer lies in what we, the world, perceive as being sacred, and identifies us the most – our name. “Can’t mess with our name” we cry and point to the privacy laws. How dare they?! The name is our essence! We spent much time in naming a child. The name of something – defines it. What interesting is how Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch compares the Hebrew word for ‘name’ (shem) with the Hebrew word for ‘there’ (sham). A name defines an object. It tells us where it is and of what its essence consists.  The name “shem” goes there “sham”; it’s one in the same. We see “shem” is on the move. Where is it going? That depends on its name. Nevertheless it’s in motion till it runs out of gas. Then we die.
 We learn:  Avraham had ten nisyonot – 10 tests based on his name. The root of nissayon – test is “nasa” – to elevate. Apparently, Avraham gradually elevated himself as he was confronted with tests. Man combats these tests – nisyonot, challenges that G-d throws at him by preparing, by working on himself, his entire lifespan. When the nisyonot are over, man is “patur” – exempt from this world; his job is done. For this reason a person who passes away is called a “niftar”, from the root word “patur”.
So it seems, man is constantly on the go and that “go” – “sham” is spent on preparation. What is important is that the preparation should be allocated through the guidelines of the Torah. The holiday of Shavuot and the weeks before defines life’s concept. Life is the embodiment of preparation. We learned the famous Midrash: “we are in a corridor waiting to get in to the grand ball room. Remarkably, we learn: one receives credit not just with accomplishments but also the time spent. His preparation counts. The seven weeks preceding Shavuot is part in parcel with the holiday, for it is the essence of life, similarly to a name, where there is a mission. There are challenges daily and man perfects his name every step of the way. Interestingly, when someone is sick, a name is added, perhaps, because he exhausted his name. With a new name added, he now has a reason to live for he has to work on the challenges that the new name brings.
The highly competitive Jewelry business is such that we often, I say “we” for I was once a part of it, have to run from office to office, building to building to receive the merchandise  that we need or approach clients to “make the sale”.  Manny Polack is one unique individual who allocated his time wisely, leaving not one moment wasted.  It took Manny about seven years to finish the entire six volumes of the Mishna. He accomplished that feat by studying the mishnayot while waiting for the elevators between buildings! There is a considerable amount of down time – waiting for elevators. I often dreamed if we can just beam up or down to our destination like they do in the fantasy science fiction show – Star Trek. Manny was able to take advantage and use that wasted time wisely.
The antithesis of allocating our time correctly is Eisav, the twin brother of our forefather Yaacov. He represents evil and is the stumbling block, the thorn in the side, throughout history, of our success.
The Torah quotes an interesting dialogue between Yaakov and the Angel of Eisav, whom he fought with. The Angel asked to be released because it was morning and he had to go back to heaven. Yaakov responded that he would not release the Angel until he gave Yaakov a blessing. The Angel asked Yaakov what his name was and, when Yaakov answered, then told him that he would no longer be known as Yaakov, he would from here on be called Yisrael. Then Yaakov turned the tables, and asked the Angel what his name was. The Angel responded, “Why are you asking me what my name is?”
This is a very strange dialogue, to say the least. The Angel’s response was not “I do not need to tell you my name” or “I am not allowed to tell you my name.” Nor was it “I do not have a name.” The Angel merely turned the tables and asked Yaakov, “How will you benefit from knowing my name?”
Why does Yaakov want to know his name? And what does the Guardian Angel of Eisav mean when he says “Why are you asking my name?”
Rashi alludes to these questions. Rashi explains the Angel’s response as “we Angels have no set names — our names are dependent on the current mission for which we are being sent.”
This answer, however, does not fully suffice. The Angel in question DID have a definite mission. He must have had a name associated with that mission. We in fact know who he was. He was Sama-el, the archangel of Eisav. We continue to deal with him up until this very day. He has one function — he is the instigator against the Jewish people. He is the embodiment of the Satan. He has one task in which he has been engaged in throughout the millennia. So why did he refuse to reveal his name to Yaakov? What did he mean when he asked, “Why are you asking my name?”
  Yaakov told the Angel “We have had a battle and I know that this will be an ongoing battle. Explain your essence to me. What are you all about? Let me know your “name” – Yaakov was looking for the key to pass on to his children and grandchildren throughout the generations — information regarding how to deal with the archangel of Eisav in this ongoing struggle. “Tell me the nature of our fight,” Yaakov asked. By disclosing his name, Yaakov would be able to learn the essence of the angel. What would make him tic?
The Angel’s answer to this question was “it does not help to know my name, because I am not just one thing that you will have to conquer.” The Angel alluded to the fact that throughout the generations he would be changing. Sometimes, he would be Hellenism. Sometimes, he would be Socialism. Sometimes, he would be Communism. All the tests and all the philosophies and all the battles that we have had to fight throughout the generations are embodied in this one Angel. He could, in fact, not define his essence for Yaakov because the nature of his essence (which represents our struggle with Eisav) keeps changing. Sometimes, it pushes us from one direction; sometimes it pushes us from the opposite direction. It is always a different fight.
There is a dispute in the Talmud [Chullin 91a] whether the Angel appeared to Yaakov like an idolater or like a Torah scholar. Which is it? A Torah scholar looks a lot different than an idolater! What did he look like?
The answer is that he could be both. There is no one definition and there is no one battle plan. We can never say that we have conquered the archangel of Eisav because he can always rear his ugly head in a totally different manifestation in the future.
This is the archangel of Eisav. “It does not help for me to tell you my name. There is no battle plan. I cannot tell you this is who I am because I am ever changing.”
Perhaps, he did not disclose the name for he knew Yaakov would indeed discover his true essence and prevent him from infiltrating the Jewish nation. Eisav’s Angel, no matter how complex can be defined because every name, its essence, has a destination.
 Many years ago, I read an interesting article regarding Governor John Connolly’s wife – Nellie, who was one of the passengers in the car where President John F Kennedy was assassinated. Kennedy instilled a vibrant fresh energy in the American people. He inspired the nation to become doers not takers.
“We were all in our 40’s,” she recalled of the events leading to the assassination “We didn’t think the world owed us a living. We thought we owed the world, and we were ready to charge.”
Nellie Connolly
We, Jews, have the Torah that is G-d’s gift to us and through its guidance we’ll be able to use our valuable gift of taking charge and go through, not just the seven weeks of preparation, but also life’s challenges, making use of our wonderful name properly.


Rabbi’s Baruch Dopelt Yossi Bilus, Yitzchak Aminov and Dr. Robert Goldman
New York has a lot to offer, both spiritually and materialistically, to the mild mannered observant Jew. First of all, one should know there is absolutely no excuse not to keep kosher. There are so many great restaurants and amazingly, many of them are open at anytime of the night. One, not only can always get something to eat, at the most absurd time, but he can be selective as well. With the convenience of the physicality comes the often celebrated American dream theme, of “opportunity”. We know a number of those success stories. It’s in the back of the many minds that success is imminent. However, many times there is often the temptation of greed in the pressure of reaching those dreams.It’s natural that one feels more spiritual at times than other times. This is where New York came in real handy after Purim ended 1 year. As a matter fact, it’s becoming a tradition ever since.

After feeling the Purim blues a good number of years ago (I guess I didn’t want it to end), I met a friend who took me to a very late Purim party. It was at the Yeshive Shar Yashuv. My family had gone to sleep already and I was still in the Purim celebration mode. To my surprise, it was a very good party. Every year they get a new band and every year it’s A plus and uplifting. The students and their Rabbis bond through the joy of the holiday. Everybody is drawn to happiness. Isn’t that amazing about New York? You could be celebrating Purim until the wee hours of the night. On this one particular occasion, as I was walking into the building of the yeshiva, I was startled for a brief second or two by noticing a Purim prank. Apparently, up in the rafters, were 10 dummies that look like they were being hanged. This was symbolic of Haman’s 10 sons who were hung on a tree.

The sages are puzzled by the dialogue that transpired between Haman and his wife Zeresh. After he came back from the party with King Achasverosh and Queen Esther, he felt really good. Then however, he passed by Mordechai the Jew. Apparently, he was the only one that did not respect and bow down to him. Haman was distraught and he said to his wife “nothing matters as long as Mordechai does not subordinate himself to me”. Funny, he was the second most powerful man in the world but the one Jew made a difference.

It seems like a non Jews of yesteryear knew more about our religion then the religious people of today.

So Zeresh replied strangely; “perhaps you should take Mordechai and hang him on the tree of 50 amot.” It’s weird that her advice was so detailed and descriptive. Why does it have to be 50? Why not 40 or 60? Also why did Zeresh choose the tree as the specific form of execution?  They were very creative back then on torture and death.

Apparently, though, she knew her history quite well:

Let’s understand what she meant. The first miscue of mankind we read about in the Torah is the sin of Adam and Eve. One has to ask himself, how did the snake convince Eve to eat from the tree? The scriptures say that she saw it was good.  What was good about the tree that it was good to eat?  Also, the snake repeats in his dialogue with Eve that death is imminent? It seems as if he’s conveying to her that it is worth it to reach.  She had to be a smart lady, nevertheless he convinced her.

Seems like snake had a game plan. We all know that when Moshe ascended up the mountain at Mount Sinai he reached 49 levels of intelligence. Reaching the 50th level would have required death because no man could reach 50 and still remain alive. Man always has a strong desire to reach great depths of intelligence. That pursuit is built in us. This was the snake’s selling point.  It doesn’t matter if you die or not. If you eat from the Tree of Knowledge, you reach hey euphoria of intelligence like no other, the grand prize 50.

Zeresh realized Mordechai was a tzadic and therefore a hard nut to crack. So she used the method of symbolism. Symbolism arouses certain compassion. It also evokes judgment, depending how you steer it. Here she intended on enabling G-d to scrutinize the Jews because of the negative symbolism.


Symbols provide us with the ability to communicate absolute values in a manner that goes beyond words. As a final example, consider what 9-11 would have been like without the American flag. How would each of us expressed the sorrow of the tragedy, the desire to embrace each other and give strength, the fear for our nation and the extraordinary solidarity of a people standing proudly and fiercely behind their President, if we did not have the American flag? What would we have done in its stead? How much poorer we otherwise would have been? Think symbolism and think our nation’s flag. How important is symbolism? How important is the flag?


In truth, everything has symbolic as well as pragmatic value. For example, Rav Hirsch Zt’l (Introduction to the Study of Symbolism) contrasted the symbolic meaning conveyed by words of farewell with the added meaning of a farewell accompanied by a warm handshake. Both the words and the handshake symbolize sorrow at parting and the longing to stay; however, words alone cannot convey the profundity extended through the tactile warmth of human contact and touch.


So we see that Zeresh’s plan was based on a very powerful concept. Seemingly her intention backfired. At the end, her husband Haman and their sons were the ones hung on the tree.

There is a common bond, unfortunately, between Eve and Haman. Greed was the weakness. Eve could have eaten from any of the trees except one, however she chose the tree of knowledge. Haman had everybody honoring him except one, Mordechai. Nothing mattered because he wanted it all

The symbolic act perpetrated from greed is presented though the tree. We have to know our place and not let our ambitions and success overtake our morals

When the dreamer collides with the realist….BOOM!!!

This article was constructed with the help of either writings, lectures or shiurim of Rabbi’s , Berril Wein, Yissachar Frand Noach Isaac Oelbaum, Yossi Bilus, and Dr. Abba Goldman
Boro Park 1963 and Alexanders on Queens Blvd where many of our mothers shoped

My parents immigrated, from Israel, to this great big country in 1960. They had hopes and dreams like many settlers who stepped on American soil. My father, whose dream of coming to the United States ever since he was a teenager, was so disappointed after the first three months of arriving, he wanted to go back. However, my mother firmly objected, stating “we are here and we’ll make the best of it”. Their sleeping arrangement was quite difficult back then; they used the living room drapes to cover themselves in the Boro Park apartment shared by relatives; my father slept on the floor while my mother slept on the couch. Money did not grow on the trees as it was thought and they struggled mightily in the early years.

There is a photo, which I recall, in my parents pictures archives, where they were sitting in the living room with our basement tenant, a single guy from Israel, a very recent immigrant, in our Rego Park home in the early 60’s. It seamed they were all excited, full of energy; they were hungry, eager, full of hope, to sink their teeth into the American workforce. My parents and their friends, who came around the same time, like many wanted to express to their loved ones, back home, that they made it!!; they were successful in the land of opportunity.

In this week’s parsha we learn a very valuable lesson about life. It becomes evident from the beginning that there is a clear difference between Yosef and his brothers. Yosef is the classic dreamer, his head in the stars and his youthful high spirits and certainty in the truthful outcome of his dreams becomes very irritating to his siblings. The brothers, on the other hand, have their feet firmly implanted on the ground, in the reality of the world in which they exist.

Yosef feels the brothers have been unjust for rejecting his dreams immediately and they in turn are convinced that he and his dreaming constitute a veritable danger to the unity and survival of Yaakov’s family.

By carefully analyzing the conflict between Yosef and his brothers, and for the most part, Yehuda, since he’s the leader, the underlying message is the difference of inspirational theory of Judaism and it’s sometimes day to day practice of practical reality – of what can be achieved even though it is not exactly what one dreamt of achieving. Although it presents itself as two separate entities, Yosef and his brothers, it is our utmost responsibility to combine both.

The Jewish people in its long and difficult history have somehow been able to fuse together the spirit and dreams of Yosef with the hardheaded realism of his brothers. Both traits are necessary for our survival and accomplishments, both as individuals and as a nation. Someone without dreams and ambition, who refuses to reach heavenward and conquer the stars, will never be a truly creative or original person. However, if this drive is not tempered by a realistic sense of the situation and the society that surrounds us, then all dreams are doomed to eventually disappoint.

Our celebration this week of the holiday of Chanukah is based on the kindness of G-d for performing the great miracles on his chosen people. However, it’s vital that we should not rely on miracles; one cannot sit back expect G-d to deliver; one has to put effort; it’s quite important that one has to use brains; he has to be clever to handle any situations that’s presented. If after all the efforts are exhausted then and only then may he turn to G-d.

The Macabees were a small band of untrained individuals, clearly the underdogs, with the dream of beating the most powerful nation in the world. They had the hope, the dream, the drive of Yosef combining the ingenuity and practicality of Yehuda and the brothers. The Macabees found a method where they were able to inflict a wound under the elephant, the Greeks most powerful and deadly weapon. There is a soft spot in the location of the elephant, where the Jewish warriors were able to inflict a devastating knife wound. Although, one of Matityahu’s (the Jewish leader) sons was killed in an attempt, the huge animal trampled him. The experience, although at a terrible price, had enabled them to refine the method of attack. The motivation and dream of regaining the holy Temple with the ingenuity of finding the right clever warfare approach led to the Jewish victory. It’s incredible!! The Macabees subdued the greatest empire in the world. This band of Kohanim organized an effective military.



In the Shabbat morning Amida (Shemoneh Esrei) we read “YISMACH MOSHE BEH MATANAT CHELKO”, Moshe was happy. What exactly Moshe was happy about?

It says in tractate Baba Kama(10:2) that G-d was speaking to Moshe and said ” I have a present in my secret chamber and it is Shabbat, and I want to give it to the Jewish people. So please, Moshe, go and bring the good news to them”. It was for this reason that “Yismach Moshe”, that Moshe was ecstatic to be the one to deliver the news.

When the Jews were in Egypt, Moshe saw how torturously overworked they were, so he convinced Pharaoh to give them one day off to rest. He reasoned that ” if one wants to maximize the production of his workers, one has to give them a day of rest. That day was the seventh day, Shabbat. Therefore, Moshe was happy.

This day, Shabbat, which Pharaoh gave them to rest, was a very significant day for them in the spiritual growth and hope for the redemption. They would congregate and read from Megilot (scripts) about how G-d was going to redeem them; it was a very inspirational day. It gave them a vision for the future. However, when Pharaoh discovered what was being conducted on these Shabbat gatherings (not sure if Cholent was served!!) he discontinued them. After this disclosure, he made them work double on Shabbat with no straw to work with.

But it was too late; the seed was planted. The Jews in Egypt now saw beyond the bricks and straws. They saw the future, a bright one. This was due to the ability to hope. The Yosef in each Jew began to flourish.



This story of Yosef and his brothers, particularly the roles of Yosef and Yehuda, does not end with the narrative of the Torah here in Bereshit. In later Jewish history, after the death of King Shlomo, the Jewish nation is split into two sections – the kingdom of Israel (Yosef) and the kingdom of Yehuda (the house of David.) Thus the competition between the two leading sons of Yakov’s family, Yehuda and Yosef, survived centuries of attempted unity. And the eventual result of this split within the Jewish nation was disaster for both sections of that nation. Both sections of the nation were weakened.

The Rabbis of the Talmud divided the Messiah himself into two personages – Moshiach ben Yosef and Moshiach ben Dovid (a descendant of the tribe of Yehuda.) The former was to pave the way for the latter, but both were part of the envisioned messianic process. Apparently, Jewish redemption and fulfillment is dependent on both Yosef and Yehuda and is destined to realization only if both are full participants in the process.

Yosef remains a holy Jew, in spite of his being exposed to the decadence of the prevailing Egyptian culture. He is an integral part of the Egyptian court and world, but he really is only an outsider looking in and not really desirous of “belonging” to the culture that surrounds him. Yosef is the model for the Jew who is successful in the general world but doggedly determined to remain faithful to his own soul, tradition and destiny as a son of Yakov. Yehuda is much more cautious and conservative. He has seen the outside world, the general society and is frightened to become part of it. Yehuda has lost sons, has suffered tragedy and disappointment, has made errors and risen from sin, and is willing to sacrifice all to remain Jewish and save other Jews. Yehuda does not wish to be Yosef. He sees Yosef’s way as being too dangerous, too risky – certainly for the masses of Israel. Yosef, on the other hand, cannot see a future for Israel if it is completely isolated from the general society, of which it is a part, no matter what Israel’s preference in the matter may be.
Yosef takes the risks and is successful in maintaining his Jewishness and in raising holy children and grandchildren, in the midst of the squalor of Egyptian culture. But Yehuda is also successful in his way and Yosef and Yehuda therefore march in lock step throughout Jewish history. They remain competitors and sometimes they have harsh things to say to and about each other and their different paths. But in the end, they are both the pillars of Jewish survival and society. They complement each other even if many times they do not utter compliments about each other. They are partners in the messianic and redemptive historical process of Jewish history. They are both still here with us today in our own personal and national struggle to build a Torah nation and a good world. We should appreciate their presence and influence upon us.

That generation of builders, our parents, are now the great grandparents of today’s young. What were the results of their dreams?

If the achievements of the dreams and hope of Yosef were planted with the skillful practicality of Yehuda, there is a good chance that success was imminent. As Theodore Roosevelt said “I want men to fix their eyes on the stars, but they must not forget to feel the ground on which they walk”

After World War II, the future Rosh Yeshiva (headmaster) of the Ponevezh Yeshiva, one of the largest Yeshiva in the world today, Rabbi Yosef Kahaneman, was quoted as saying , as he stood on a hill where the future yeshiva stands overlooking Bnai Brak Israel, “I am going to build B’H a tremendous Yeshiva”. He was told “you must be dreaming”. He answered back “I’m dreaming, however I’m not sleeping”.” One has to work on his dreams in order to be successful!!!”

introduction to Chanukah

Introduction to Chanukah
Once one lets the Jeanie is out of the bottle and one knows once its out it’s pretty hard to put it back in. There was one incident which demonstrated this which broke the armor of the Jewish way of life. This happened when Alexander the great came to inspect his new conquest. The Jews were naturally scared; after all we Jews don’t have the best track record of being liked by the rest of the world.

Upon entering the gate of the city Alexander did something very unusual and down right shocking, he got off his horse and prostrated to one of the Jewish members of the welcoming community, Yochanan the High Priest. Asked by his advisers why he bowed down to the Jew. He answered “I always saw an angel before I went to battle that led me to victory and that’s the face”.

Alexander was kind to the Jews. He eased the restrictions and hardship imposed on them. However one of the conditions is to name for one year all new born boys Alexander. This opened the door for other Greek names, language and culture.

After Alexander’s death the world was left in a state of chaos. The Greek Empire was split. The south, led by Tol’me, always tried to persuade Greek culture on the Jews. The North was led by Salacious who attempted to persuade by force of arms. The North and the South agreed on everything except where to draw the line and that line happened to be Israel.

Greek the choice culture

The Greek culture slowly started to seep into Jewish society. When Jews embrace a society it becomes dangerous. Here the Jews became more Greek then the Greeks, which always happens in our history. The reason is we have to prove ourselves, “super Germans”, “super American”, or “super Russians”, as an example of just a few ways that Jews try to fit in to the society around them.

Mityavnim- Jews that adopted Greek live, other wise known as Hellenism. Hellenism adopted Greek culture as a way of life. These Jew were ready to give up Judaism. Forty percent of Jews, most of the affluent class were affected. Correspondence among these Jews was in Greek. The Mityavnim men even had cosmetic surgery to put back the piece of foreskin because everything in the culture was nude, bathhouses sports. So these Jews were embarrassed. WE WANT TO BE GREEKS!!

Greeks would have won the battle by default but they over stepped themselves. In 190 B.C. the North gained the upper hand. Their tactics were always “by force”. Jews are a stubborn people, the most secular Jew if forced not to follow the Torah will turn around and say “I’m going to show you I can be a Jew”.

The Greeks passed very oppressive laws; they banned Shabbat; a Jewish bride on her wedding night had to live first with a Greek officer; they banned circumcision etc.

The Battle

In 165 B.C. a group stood up to the Greeks. Matistyahu the high priest lived in the town of Molbene began the uprising. The Greeks came to town and placed a pig on the Alter. They asked for a Jewish volunteer to proceed with this humiliating ceremony. One unfortunate Jew volunteered where Matisyahu proceeded to killed him. This dare by a Jew triggered a battle which escalated into a war between the mighty Greek army and the Macabees. An army which never exceeded more than 12,000 men.

Why is lighting the Menorah the symbol of Chanukah? How does it relate to the Jews winning the war?

The minority won over the majority; that’s what we read about the victory. In essence this is what lighting the menorah’s all about. A little light can light up a whole room and more. The few Jews were able to beat the most powerful nation in the world. The Greeks represent darkness while the Jews, the righteous Jews, represent the light. The Hellenist who supported the Greek army soon after the war were executed. One cannot see the light if there is no darkness. A bulb lit in the day is irrelevant. This is the reason we must only light at night. The darker it is the more intense the light. Darkness, many times, is confusion. We have to feel with all our heart the miracle and to show the world through lighting it in public the clear light; the power of G-d

The Macabees fought guerrilla warfare in caves. The tactics was orchestrated brilliantly by the Jews. The Greek army was worn out, deflated. The Jews destroyed three armies. Eliezer, one of Matisyahu’s sons fought a battle using elephants. The Fortress of Antiyachous, the last great battle led by brother Shimon starved the Greeks out. Shimon’s memorable moment was destroying the Greek Idol Zeus into million pieces. The victory was the spirit of the Jewish people

How are guests suppose to act?

This article was constructed with the help of either writings, lectures or shiurim of Rabbi’s Noach Isaac Oelbaum, Baruch Doppelt, Yossi Bilus

Competition in Humans is natural and beggars are no exception. There was a beggar who had his spot at a certain street corner. He set himself up with a table and sign and received on an average fifty cents from each patron who gave.
One day he decided to take the long way as he was walking to his spot. The beggar was baffled realizing that a fellow in his trait operating a different corner a few blocks away was receiving a dollar per person. He, then, asked the fellow ” I’m not your competition, since I’m a few blocks away, but I’m curious how are you able to receive 1 dollar? How do you do it?” The other beggar answered, “do you see my attire, I’m wearing a Chassidic outfit. Chassidim tend to get more money.”
So the next day the beggar trotted down to the clothing store and bought himself the right attire transforming himself, from head to toe, to a Chassid, “bekeshe” and all.
Low and be hold it worked; now the beggar also received $1.00.
A few months pass by and the beggar is visiting an old friend where he sees in the street a fellow in his profession receiving $5.00. He asked him as he was curious how he’s able to command such a price?
The fellow answered, “You see this sign, I tell them I’m from a long line of Chassidim whose genealogy stems from the great Rebbe the Ba’al Shem Tov”
So the next day the beggar hangs up a sign next to his table, “I come from a long line of Chassidim whose genealogy stems from the great rebbe the Ba’al Shem Tov.”
The sign worked!! People were placing $5.00 into his cup.
One day he sees a fellow beggar, a couple of miles away receiving $10.00 per person. WOW!! How is this guy able to get that amount?
The fellow reveals, I tell them “I’m a convert. They love converts.”
So the next day the beggar has a sign “I’m a convert and I come from the great Jewishlineage of the great Rabbi the Ba’al Shem Tov.”
He, then, recieved nothing. The people were ridiculing him. How can one be a convert and come from the great Jewish lineage? It’s contradicting!!

The story has a strong message as we just finished asking forgiveness from G-d, promised to improve ourselves and change our attitude toward life. Contradictions in our lives are tests we all have to encounter. This lesson is ever so the embodiment of the holiday of Sukkah.

I remember, as a child, while our fathers were in the middle of prayers, my friends and I would take aim trying to shoot down the fruits that were hung, decoratively in the Sukkah, at the Sephardic Synagogue in Forest Hills, Queens. They were real fruits and made a messy landing. A few years later the Board of Directors, to avoid the chaos, decided the real fruits would be replaced with fake ones. It wasn’t the same after that, since it wasn’t much fun to shoot the plastic ones down. The idea of fruits hanging from the shchach (ceiling of the Sukkah made of bamboos) was in keeping with the biblical theme of Sukkot as the harvest festival of the Jewish calendar year.
There are a number of definitions of the word Sukkah. One Hebrew word that Jewishtradition associates with the word sukkah – “socheh” – and its meaning is “to see” or “to perceive.” That association would seem to imply that a sukkah somehow provides some perspective. Which, in fact, it does. That perspective and strong emphasis of Sukkot is it should be a temporary dwelling. Many laws are sensitive to this issue. One of which is: a Sukkah can not exceed 20 ammot (25-30 Ft.), by exceeding the twenty ammot that would constitutes a permanent structure.
Why should a Sukkah be a temporary dwelling?

It’s a custom in many communities to read Kohelet which was written by King Solomon. The work consists of personal or autobiographic matter, with reflections on the purpose of life and the best method of conducting it. Far from being a depressing book, Kohelet is there to add to the simcha. It’s infused with a spirit of joy and optimism, and gives Sukkot a special flavor. But the question is why was Sukkot chosen for its recitation and not any other holiday? Pesach, we became a nation and Shevuot we received the Torah. Those holidays are joyous as well why isn’t Kohelet recited then?
Another question about the holiday of Sukkot which we are mystified by are the seven supernal guests who come to visit us in the sukkah, one for each of the seven days of the festival. Ushpizin is an Aramaic word that means “guests”. The seven “founding fathers” of the Jewish people: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joseph and David. While all seven ushpizin visit our sukkah on each of the seven nights and days of Sukkot, each supernal “guest” is specifically associated with one of the festival’s seven days, and is the “leading” or dominant ushpiza for that night and day.
After reading this next story many of the questions above will be answered and the message of Sukkot will be understood giving a new perspective of life.

When the Russian Army conquered Lithuania, they sent many of the prisoners of war to, where else, Siberia. As one has realized through the experience of current events and history, war is cruel. The Russians forced the most high in command in the Lithuania military to perform the lowest task in prison. The more prominent position, the more embarrassing the job would be. They would make high ranking Generals clean toilets. This is how they would destroy the moral of the enemy.
One Jew who happened to be in Siberia at the time, victim of other crimes against the Republic, noticed something strange one night in the barracks while everyone was asleep.
One of the high ranking Generals awoke in the middle of the night apparently thinking all were sleeping and not aware this Jew was awake, pulled out from a duffle bag his officers uniform and dressed himself.
He then went in front of the mirror and saluted. Then he motioned his hand to the left then to the right as if he was giving orders. After approximately fifteen minutes he undressed placing the uniform back in the duffle bag and went back to sleep.
The next day the Jew trying to find a few minutes alone with the ex-General to ask him what the incident meant, finally was able to talk to him while outside doing drills in the snow.
The General indicated “What I’m currently doing now is not my true essence, I am a soldier here. But I am a General, this is my true calling in life. This prison is not the true reality.”
The essence of our existence is not the material, it’s the spiritual world. It’s hard to make both a priority. Therefore, one has to chose. The Sukkah is designed to be temporary. The lifeblood is not found in the short term world, with all the luxuries that we are accustomed to. As the Mesilat Yesharim says, and I paraphrase” it’s impossible to believe, one can really enjoy this world with all it’s disappointments that usually get latched on to whatever we do and accomplish. There is always something that will prevent us from the optimal enjoyment. And even if everything is perfect, which is hard to believe, one does not have time to enjoy it because he’s here only temporary!”
Kohelet starts off “Vanity of vanities”, said Koheleth; “vanity of vanities, all is vanity-all is worthless!!!”. This is a message from an individual, the wise King Solomon who overindulged in many of the worlds, finest physical pleasures. We leave those physical pleasures behind, the confines of our homes, our palaces and live in the Sukkah-little huts for seven days. Sukkah is trying to teach us that’s the true essence! By leaving our home we symbolize: life is temporary!. It’s not the physical world that’s the reality “it’s the uniform, as the general wholeheartedly believes”, it’s what one accomplishes through the Torah, through the mitzvoth.

The Sukkah makes one retap into this reality. We have to recharge the true reality in these seven days. King Solomon teaches us: physical world is not worth anything and there is a true existence!!! For this reason, we read Kohelet on Sukkot it’s the second verse that provides us with the Sukkah message.
And what gives this temporary time in the Sukkah staying power? The Ushpizin, our Avot-forefathers! One connects to his heritage. It gives the temporary state permanence! Because the link to our fathers is eternal! The Zohar is hinting that the Ushpizin are guests, just like us and we have to seize the moment in our lives. The opportunity to re-connect to them and to G-d is momentary! Life is short!
The fruits that are hung up in the Sukkah represent the harvest season. Farmers are especially happy at this time. These farmers, who are owners, know that field cannot be sold permantly. Eventually they have to give it back to the ancestral families. G-d informs us “you are wonderers and guests. I own the land. You are my guests in the land. You are guests in this world…make the best of it”

The Pleasures of Chanukah

There’s an interesting story told by Rabbi Isaac Olbaum at one of his lectures about Rav Levi Bardichiva that teaches an important lesson about the pleasures of Chanukah in which we’re in the midst of celebrating:


Rav Levi Bardichiva once walked into a room where his friends convened. He found it quite odd that they stopped their conversation so abruptly as if they were hiding something from him. After he pressed the issue, they confessed that they were embarrassed at the topic of conversation and felt he would think they were wasting valuable time that could be spent learning Torah. The friend mentioned how they marveled and were so impressed with the exquisite mansion of Count Potosky.



Count Potosky was a very rich man who had a son who was executed by the non-Jews because he converted to Judaism. The gentiles gave Potosky’s son an ultimatum: either convert back or be executed. He said ‘I’m staying a Jew’. Soon after, young Potovsky was hung and then burned, and many years later, a tree grew from his ashes. Till this day, people would point to that tree and tell you the story of Potosky.



Apparently, the friends of Rav Levi were admiring how rich he was and how he would indulge in all kind of pleasures. Rav Levi responded, ‘Did Potosky light the candles of Chanukah?’ Obviously he didn’t; but if he did, Rav Levi seems to imply, that would be the most pleasurable moment he would have experienced.



What is so special about lighting Chanukah candles?



The Rambam (Maimonides) who, besides being an authority on medicine, was a tremendous halachic figure (expert on Jewish law), is quoted as saying, ‘The sages enacted these eight days as eight days of happiness and praise (Hallel). What constitutes happiness? Happiness is interpreted as having meat and wine. Apparently, this is what gives pleasure to the body and soul. Every time there is a reference to ‘happy’, a meal is required. After a delicious meal then he’s able to sing praise (Hallel).



However, we know a meal is not required on Chanukah. Do you mean to tell me that lighting the candles is a substitute pleasure for the meal? How so?



Chanukah is often compared to the holiday of Purim; but why is a meal required for that holiday and not this one?



In the story of Chanukah, the Greeks didn’t want to kill us; they wanted to embrace us. Their goal was to destroy us spiritually (no Shabbat, no brit milah, etc). Purim, the wicked Haman wanted to destroy us physically. Therefore, we counter back by using our physicality and getting a pleasurable experience with a lavish meal. We use the physicality as a gratitude to G-d. On Chanukah, though, we use the spirituality as gratitude.



‘Everything is from the heavens except fearing G-d’. Although one has to make an effort, for the most part, we have a hard time controlling our lives whether it is making money, marriage, kids, and death. Many aspects of life are determined by the heavens with the exception of spirituality, which is determined by you. It’s our choice whether to keep Shabbat, keep kosher, and be nice to people. It’s in our hands, we’re in control.



So what are the pleasures of Chanukah? We”ll get a better picture from a little glimpse of history. Achav was the wicked king of Israel (kingdom was split Israel and Judea). The Gemarah says he has no share in the world to come. At the time, Aram, the neighboring country who was superior in might, was at a state of war with the Israelites. Aram sent a team to Achav with their demands of surrender. These demands included the Israelites to give up their possessions, wives, and children. Achav was listening and agreeing to the surrender demands. Then they said ‘give up your object of desire, your Sefer Torah.’ ‘Absolutely not!!’ he said, ‘we’ll go to war with you first!!’ he answered back. The Israelites went to war with Aram and won.



Achav, whose reputation as a rasha is unprecedented, violated everything in the book. Why all of a sudden did he say no? What does he care about a Sefer Torah? We see how a Jew can be so complex in his behavior. Every Jew has a certain Jewish pride, a deep down caring about his religion, about his people. When push comes to shove, a secular Jew will bang on the table and declare ‘I’ll show you what it means to be Jewish’. Perhaps this is the reason we are required to light the menorah by the window so that the whole world can see what miracles G-d did for his chosen people. We show the world, but for the most part, it is for us to feel good about ourselves. We light the menorah with pride like the Maccabees lit after they miraculously defeated the mighty Greek army. The pride in doing so should bring out a tremendous pleasure.