Published and Copyrighted 1978 by “OTZAR HACHASSIDIM”
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Seventh Day of Chanukah, 5738
[After Minchah, the children recited the “12 Passages,”(1) after which the Rebbe addressed the children in Yiddish and his words were translated into English:]
The highlight of the Chanukah celebration is the blessing and lighting the Chanukah candles every night of Chanukah, beginning with the first day of Chanukah when we recited also the special berachah of ‘Shehecheyanu’, by which we thank Almighty G-d for having given us the possibility to be able to fulfill this very beloved Mitzvah(2). This Berachah is meant not only for the first day, but also for every day of the eight days of Chanukah,(3) especially for the 8th day,(4) which brings to completion(5) all the days of Chanukah.(6)
From the days and candles of Chanukah, we take along light and strength for all the days of the year until Chanukah of next year, to illuminate the everyday life with an ever-growing measure (7) of light, holiness and Yiddishkeit.
After lighting the candles and reciting the blessings, we recite the traditional prayer of “Haneiros Halalu”, which tells us that the candles which we had just kindled remind us of the happenings which took place “in those days.” And from this we also learn a lesson for “these days” — a lesson that pertains to each and every person in his daily conduct and in his daily life. The saying of my saintly father-in-law, the Nasi of our generation,(8) is well-known: “We must listen to what these candles (the candles of Chanukah) tell us.”
The Mitzvah of the Chanukah candles, as well as all the other Mitzvos, tells us many things, and one of them in particular, will be mentioned here.
The Chanukah candles tell us and remind each and every one of us, and especially children, that Almighty G-d kindles his own “candles,” namely, shining Jewish souls — as it is written, “A candle of G-d is the soul of man,”(9) and puts such a “candle” — a bright Jewish(10) soul — into each and every child when that child is born.(11) When the child grows, the light of the “candle of G-d which is the soul of man,” grows and becomes stronger and brighter,(11*) and this strength and brightness steadily increases through the fact that the Jewish child conducts himself as a child, and later as an adult, according to the way he was trained in his educational years,(12) in keeping with the Torah and Mitzvos, of which it is written, “A Mitzvah is a candle and the Torah is light.”(13) In other words — by using the light of the Torah and Mitzvos which A1-mighty G-d has given him in order to be able to kindle the “Divine candle”(14) within him, his soul, and keep it shining even brighter.
This is the meaning of the fulfillment of Mitzvos — “a Mitzvah is a candle” — which comes with the study of Torah — “The Torah is light”; for Torah illuminates the Jew to know how to conduct himself in his actions, in his speech and even in his thoughts.
The Prayer “Haneiros Halalu” goes on to state that G-d sent the miracles of Chanukah through His “holy Kohanim” (P,4attisyohu and his sons).
This reminds us that the “candles” mentioned above — the soul, the Mitzvos, and the Torah — which G-d has entrusted to every Jewish child, boy and girl, to take care of and keep shining brightly, can be kept shining only when the children follow the instructions of their teachers(15) who teach them holy things — the holy Torah and holy mitzvos which have been given by the Holy One, blessed be He, which makes these teachers G-d’s servants (“kohanim”), like the Kohanim of old.
At the same time, our Heavenly Father gives every Jewish child strength to start his, or her, Jewish way of life from early childhood and to increase the glowing brightness of his, or her, Yiddishkeit, steadily, from day to day, as these lights of Chanukah (haneiros halalu) are kindled in increasing nuiphsrs Txom day to day.(-16)
And although our Father is in Heaven, He is present also down here on earth, and is with each and every child individually, especially through the G-dly soul, the Candle of G-d, that is present in every child.
In this way, the child brings light into the home into which he was born and where he is being reared, and in the school where he is being educated in Torah and Mitzvos, and also all around him, even in the “outside”,(17) as indicated by the custom to place the Chanukah candles “at the ‘outside’ entrance of the home”, or in a window where the lights can be seen from ‘outside’.
In summary, one of the things that “Haneiros Halalu” — these little candles — tell us is that everyone is “G-d’s Candle”, the G-dly soul of light which He has given to every child, while calling attention also the “Mitzvah candles and Torah-light” — the most precious things the Almighty has, which He has given away to the children as an everlasting possession, as stated in one of the 12 Torah verses recited earlier; “Torah Tziva Lanu Moshe Morasha Kehilath Yaakov,”(18) “the Torah which G-d has commanded through Moshe, is the inheritance of the Congregation of Jacob” of the entire Jewish people.
Thus the Chanukah candles remind us that G-d has given us this Torah to be kept forever, to study it and fulfill it with all that is written in it.
This will light also in the material sense, in every aspect, for the child, and into the home in which he was born and is being reared, and for the parents and teachers and all the people of Israel,
‘Bezman Hazeh — in these days, — as it was ‘Bayamin Haheim’, in those days, and in those generations.
A second lesson that Chanukah teaches Jewish children(18*) is this: To be sure, if “bodies” were to be counted, Jewish children are certainly “few”(19) in number against the children of the other peoples of the world who are “many”(19) — (for the Jewish people has always been a minority among all other peoples (20) — one nation amongst many other nations). And being (21) few in number, they are also “weaker”(19) in comparison to those who are “many” and, therefore, also more “powerful”.(19)
Yet, this should not frighten any Jewish child, for the weakness in numbers and physical (bodily) strength is more than offset by the spiritual (the soul’s) strength, since Jewish children have within them a G-dly soul, which is part of Almighty G-d.(22)
Therefore, since Almighty G-d rules the entire world and no one has the power to stand up against Him, He gives some of this strength to every Jewish child, by virtue of the fact that he keeps Judaism bright and strong and thereby keeps his G-dly soul shining brightly. And, in keeping with that as we say in the “V’al Hanissim” — “You have delivered the mighty into the hands of the week”,(19) G-d deliverer into “his (the childs) hands” all those who would threaten him. Not only can they not have any kind of influence over him, G-d forbid, to make him conduct himself in a way that is unbecoming for a Jewish child, but, on the contrary, he becomes for them a model of good conduct, and others learn from him how to conduct themselves — with honesty, with goodness, and with all the good things with which all children, also non-Jewish children, have to conduct themselves.
Thus, the child illuminates the “outside” as mentioned above, that the outside world should become better and brighter than it was before each Mitzvah that the child performed.
The candles tell us what happened “in those days”. They tell us in the words of the “V’al Hanissim” prayer, that in the days of Mattisyohu there was a kingdom that wanted to cause Jewish children and adults to forget the Torah and stop them from fulfilling G-d’s Mitzvos, G-d forbid; and this kingdom was much more powerful than Mattisyohu and his children and greatly outnumbered them. However, because Mattisyohu and his sons stood firmly in their determination to uphold Judaism, and were not afraid of anybody, and called out the old slogan of Moshe Rabbeinu, “Whoever is for G-d join me”,(23) meaning that whoever believes in the Almighty should unite together with them, they were able to be victorious over their enemies and liberate all the Land of Israel from all the enemies who wanted to make the people of Israel forget the Torah and stop them from observing Mitzvos.
In other words, in the times of Mattisyohu and his sons, Jews faced a very great test: The kingdom of Greece (Syria) invaded the Land of Israel with a mighty army, and Mattisyohu and his sons were weak both in number and in weapons to conduct the war. Nevertheless, they bravely met the test; they went to war and wrote upon their flag “Maccabbee” (7sDn)(24) an acrostic of the Hebrew words, meaning “Who is likened unto You amongst all the powers, 0, G-d”, that the mightiest and most powerful forces are no match for G-d.
And this is what brought the miraculous victories on the battlefields and the “great deliverance” (as we recite in “V’al Hanissim”), and as we also recite in the prayer of “Haneiros Halalu” — “for Your miracles, Your wonders, Your victories”.
From this we also learn a lesson for our present day. G-d has been kind to us and has placed everyone of us, and you and other Jewish children, in a position where none of us should have to go through, G—d forbid, any such tests and trials as in those days. However, children may have to face other types of tests. For example, when the “Yetzer HaRa”, the evil inclination (in a person’s nature) comes and tells you that instead of learning Torah you should spend the time playing games and on other pastimes, as is done by many of the non-Jewish children all around, this is a trick to make you forget the Torah. The “Yetzer HaRa” doesn’t want you to study Torah, and that is why he comes to you with this kind of temptation.
Similarly, when a Jewish child sees that his non-Jewish friends around him are eating a candy or some other food, he must stop and question whether this food or candy is kosher, before he will eat it. At this point, the Yetzer comes and says to him that, since the non-Jewish children who live with him on the same block and in the same community, are eating this candy without questioning whether it is kosher or not, he should do the same. This is an attempt by the “Yetzer HaRa” to make the Jewish child break G-d’s laws. Yet the Jewish child stands up with a spirit of sacrifice, and sets aside his desire(25) and inclination, firmly refusing to listen to the “Yetzer HaRa” which tries to convince him that the candy is very delicious and the game very interesting. Then this, too, is a miraculous victory for the child overall these tests. For, to the child it is a difficult test, because he has a strong desire to do whatever everybody else is doing, and is living in a neighborhood where there are few Jewish children who study Torah and live according to the ways of Yiddishkeit. At this point, G-d shows him His great miracles, wonders and victories and he conquers and overthrows the evil inclination. When the test is over, the child feels very happy and very proud,(25*) for he had come out on top, and conducted himself as Mattisyohu and his sons. And the greatest reward and blessing of it is that the “candle of G-d” (his soul) and the “candle of Mitzvos and light of Torah” shine brighter and stronger in him and all around.
Finally, a further lesson from the Chanukah Candles.
The Chanukah Candles are, of course, lit to celebrate the miracle with the oil that was used for rekindling the Menorah in the Beis HaMikdash (the Holy Temple in Jerusalem of old). The lesson of it for our times is this:
Although we presently find ourselves in Exile (Diaspora), yet through increasing the brightness and strength of the “candle of G-d”(the holy Divine soul which every child has), by increasing the brightness and strength of the “candles of Mitzvos and light of Torah” — through studying Torah and doing Mitzvos,
We can look to the speedy end of the Exile and the rebuilding of the Beis HaMikdash, with the rekindling of the Menorah, just as it happened in those days, (as we recite towards the end of “V’al Hanissim”): “Then G-d’s children (the Jewish people) came into G-d’s sanctuary ...and lit candles in the courtyards (26) of G-d’s Holy Temple.”
To bring this about all the sooner, it is necessary that every Jew increasingly light up his soul(27) ever brighter and brighter with the light of the Torah and Mitzvos in all three sectors: Prayer, Torah, and Charity. This is precisely what we have done here: We prayed (davened Minchah); after davening we recited passages from the Torah (the Written Torah and the Oral Torah); and we are now going to distribute “Chanukah Gelt”, some of which, I am sure, everyone of you will use to perform with it the Mitzvah of Charity.(28)
May G-d grant that everyone of us should take along the teachings of the Chanukah candles into each and all the days ahead, from this Chanukah to the next, and this will hasten the true and complete Geulah (deliverance from the Exile), when G-d “will put an end to the darkness”(29) of this Exile and send us our true Redeemer, Mashiach Tzidkeinu. Then each and everyone of you and us and our entire people Israel will be returned to our Holy Land, the Land of Israel, and to our Holy City, Jerusalem, and to the courtyards of the Third and everlasting Beis HaMikdash.
Complete, indeed, will be the joy when everyone of you, together with all our Jewish people, will see the Kohanim kindle the lights of the Menorah in the Third Beis HaMikdash.
You should therefore ready yourselves for this great occasion, together with the teachers and instructors who teach you and lead you in the proper way of Yiddishkeit — filled with joy and gladness of heart at doing your share in helping make the world ever brighter and brighter in these last days of the Exile, and being worthy of joining with Mashiach Tzidkeinu in the complete and true Geulah, and to see the Beis HaMikdash rebuilt, the Kohanim restored to their holy service; and the Menorah shining brightly again. May this come to pass very soon indeed.