[Before the Rebbe spoke, the children recited the 12 verses from the Torah and our Sages in unison (1).]
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Besides the fundamental mitzvos connected with the celebration of the festival, each Jewish holiday contains certain lessons which are applicable to the other days of the year, as well. (2) In the case of Chanukah, in view of the adage of the Previous Rebbe, (3) “We must listen closely to what the candles say,” that statement particularly applies.
Last year, (4) this concept was spoken about in greater detail. [The text of those remarks were published and are available for all those who desire a copy.] Therefore, rather than repeat the entire idea, now, I would like to reiterate the basic points and add other lessons that can be learnt from the Chanukah candles.
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The basic point discussed last year was that the Chanukah candles remind us (and serve as a symbol) of the Jewish soul. The Book of Proverbs describes the man’s soul as “the candle of G-d.” (5) This statement applies without distinction, to every Jew. (6) G-d gives every Jewish boy or girl (7) a soul as soon as he is born . (8) As the child grows, together with the body, the soul, the principle element of his being (9), also grows.
The essential growth of a Jew must be expressed in progress in the area of “the candle of mitzvah and the light of Torah.” (10) Through their fulfillment, a Jew kindles G-d’s light:
The “light of Torah” — Torah is compared to light because the study of Torah brightens up the life of every Jew from childhood on. It shows him a path of proper behavior and how to perform G-d’s mitzvos (11) (to light the candles). (12)
And the “candle of mitzvah” — each one of the mitzvos serving as a light to illuminate his house and also the entire world, (13) and primarily to bring light to — the candle of G-d; his Jewish soul (14) which lightens up the life of every Jew.
The mitzvah of Chanukah candles, particularly reflects this concept. (15) Then, each day new light was added. Each day we light a new candle. (16)
The mitzvah of lighting Chanukah candles was derived from the miracle which happened to the candles of the Menorah in the Bais HaMikdash. When every Jew, beginning from young children, (17) lights candles and in doing so brings light into their souls, kindles “the candle of mitzvah and the light of Torah,” very soon (18) every Jewish child (together with his parents teachers, and counselors (19) who all lead him in the Jewish path) and every Jew will merit to see Aharon, the Priest, (20) will light the candles of the Third Bais HaMikdash which will be built very shortly. Then, we will merit to see Mashiach (21) bring an end to Galus and its darkness. He will bring us to our holy land; Jerusalem, the holy city, and within Jerusalem itself, the most important part, the Bais HaMikdash. There we will witness (22) Aharon, the Priest, kindling the Menorah of the Bais HaMikdash, the source of the miracle and therefore, of all the mitzvos of Chanukah, beginning,(23) with the mitzvah of lighting Chanukah candles.
The above made up the main body of last year’s remarks.
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In addition to the above, the Chanukah candles teach and tell another important lesson:
The miracle of Chanukah centered around finding a cruse of pure oil for the Menorah. At the time there was a lot of oil in the Bais HaMikdash, (24) only none of it was pure. A Jew can not use such oil (25) (even) to light the Menorah in the Bais HaMikdash. (26)
When the Jewish people decided (29) that they would not use such oil and were willing to go to war for this principle (which is related to the totality of Torah and Mitzvos)...
[Even though they were fewer numerically and therefore weaker in (physical) strength than the nations which surrounded them (28) (and used impure oil), because they realized that they received the candle of mitzvah and the light of Torah... which illuminates the lives of every Jew, telling him what is pure and impure, what he can use and what he cannot use...]
their firm decision brought about a situation where they found “one cruse of oil closed with the seal of the high priest” (29) (the holiest Jew of their generation (30)) and with that oil, they lit the Menorah in the Bais HaMikdash.
Afterwards, they saw that there was not enough oil for the candles of the sanctuary to burn until new oil could be prepared. Still, since, they had made such a firm decision (and carried it out with self-sacrifice), G-d performed a miracle, (31) and allowed their decision to stand. The light from the Menorah in the Bais HaMikdash came from pure oil alone. The one cruse of oil which did not have enough for one day burned for eight, (29) until the Jews could make new pure oil. The Menorah in the Bais HaMikdash was able to burn with pure oil without a stop.
From this, every Jew can appreciate the lesson that the candles teach.
A young boy or girl, from their earliest years on, must know that it is not enough merely to generate light, regardless of the purity of oil used. We must be sure that the oil is pure.
The same principle applies to all of a Jew’s needs. For example, you should eat to be healthy and to be able (32) to serve G-d. It is possible to eat without worrying whether the food you eat is Kosher (pure), or not. Then, your only care is health, to make sure the body isn’t hungry and is able to study Torah and fulfill Mitzvos.
The Chanukah candles teach us that this is not enough. They teach us that a light is only fit for use when it lights up your life and your entire life. When can you have a truly lit up life? When you give yourself over with self-sacrifice and do all in your power to make sure that your food is Kosher, your clothes are Kosher (without Shatnes), your house has Kosher Mezuzos (33) and is Kosher in general (meaning that everything is carried out in a Kosher manner, that you follow the candle of Mitzvah and the light of Torah) that you proceed according to the teachings of G-d that are revealed in His Torah of light.
Then you will enjoy true light and G-d will bless you and help you carry out the firm decision you have made. Even when your neighbors and the entire world around you tell you that there aren’t enough Kosher things to sustain you; G-d will bless you (and if necessary make a miracle) and make sure you always have Kosher food, Kosher clothes, and a Kosher house with Kosher behavior and Kosher light. This is possible because every Jewish home is a small sanctuary, (34) a model of the Bais HaMikdash, where the miracle of Chanukah took place.
This course of action brings about fulfillment of G-d’s promise “I will dwell among you.” (35) G-d’s presence becomes revealed in every Jewish heart (36) (a Jew’s most personal aspect, the quality which gives life to all his being) and in every Jewish home. Then every home becomes a small sanctuary, a Kosher home lit up with pure light. There a Jew can carry out his decision to live a brightly shining Jewish life.
The above adds (in a natural manner) to G-d’s blessings (35) insuring a life of light and health even in material things, a life filled only with light (without a trace of darkness and impurity), a life with long, healthy, and good years which result from a life of Jewish years.
Each and every Jew who has made their homes a small sanctuary — a holy place where the Shechinah (the Divine Presence) rests — will merit to see the rebuilding of the Bais HaMikdash.
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There is another lesson which is particularly connected with the eighth day of Chanukah. (38) Besides the general that can be learned from the Chanukah candles; since Torah must always be “new in your eyes” (39) and since Judaism teaches “always advance higher in holy matters,” (40) each day of the holiday contributes its own specific lesson. Each day a Jew must add to his wisdom and add to his Yiddishkeit. This particularly applies to the eighth day (41) called “Zos Chanukah” (42) (This is Chanukah). Then we will light all eight candles (as were just lit now, here, in shul). It follows that this day must provide a lesson for us to take out and apply to ourselves during the entire year.
The lesson of the eighth day of Chanukah is derived from the Gemorah’s explanation (43) of the reason why eight candles are lit: “for the days that passed.” That statement implies that when a Jew lights up and makes shine the eighth day, he has it in his power to add light to the days that have already passed. Though he made those days shine before, now he adds even greater light.
The eighth day of Chanukah (that day which marks the transition from Chanukah into the rest of the year) conveys a unique lesson. Even though on the first day of Chanukah, you fulfilled the Mitzvah of lighting Chanukah candles, and you continued to do so on the second and the other subsequent days; on the eighth day you light eight candles, not only one candle (for that day), but also another seven candles (44) for the days that have passed. You illuminate not only that one day, you kindle and you illuminate all seven days of the week. (45)
The fact that we pad light to every day of the week is significant. Each day is different from the other. Shabbos is obviously different from Erev Shabbos, and even more drastically different from the other days of the week. Each day has its own unique service to G-d. (46) You can understand the difference between those services by analyzing the “song of the day” recited on that particular day. (47)
This lesson is applicable to all the days of the entire year. A .Jew must realize that if on a certain day his service to G-d was insufficient, “all is not lost.” He can do Teshuvah, and add to his service (double or even more 48) to correct and compensate for what he had fallen short of in studying Torah, giving Tzedakah, etc. Besides that concept, the eighth day of Chanukah teaches that he can contribute to those aspects of Torah and Mitzvos which he had performed satisfactorily in the previous days. When he gets older (even one day older) and gains more knowledge in Torah, he can add to the Torah he had learned in the previous days. That light of Torah which he achieves on this day effects and makes brighter the previous days.
You might become frightened at that responsibility — asking yourself, how can I add light to all the previous days if only one more day has passed? Yet, the eighth day of Chanukah speaks directly to this question. There you only begin. with one candle, but directly afterwards you light all the seven candles of the seven previous days. Furthermore, the Chanukah candles are placed “at the entrance to the house on the outside” (49) — you illuminate your home, and your neighborhood, until you illuminate the darkness of the Exile itself. (50)
This is the lesson which we must derive from the eighth day of Chanukah, A Jew must realize that even after he does something which isn’t good, he shouldn’t despair, thinking that he is lost and he can do nothing about it, rather he must know that he can do Teshuvah and will do Teshuvah.
[Teshuvah comes through making a firm decision that he will no longer act as before and from this time forward his behavior will be proper (51)].
Besides that understanding, he must appreciate that after he has gone through another day and studied more Torah, he can add light to ,all the deeds he performed in the previous days, even to those actions that he has performed in the best manner possible (according to his previous position of Torah knowledge). This applies regardless of the fact that on one day he is faced with the task of adding light to many other days. The eighth day of Chanukah demonstrates how on one day you can light up the seven candles of one week, and through illuminating that week add light to all the weeks of the year (52) and make the entire year filled with light.
And when the Jewish people act as they should, they will serve as an example and affect all of the people around them. And all of this will be achieved through our efforts, beginning with those of very young children.
And our candles will serve as a preparation for the true light which will light up the entire world as the Prophet proclaimed “G-d will be an ‘Ohr Olam.”‘ (53) Ohr Olam has two meanings: an everlasting light and a light that will illuminate the world. Both meanings are true and will be both fulfilled in the Messianic redemption which will not be followed by Galus. (54)
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It is proper to conclude with a verse recited previously from the 12 Torah passages. The first verse — “Torah Tziva” (55) meaning the “Torah which Moshe commanded us is the heritage of the congregation of Yaakov” — is the foundation of which the life of every Jew, from birth on, is built. At birth he receives the Torah from G-d as a heritage (56) in order to use the Torah and live with it during his entire life. If he does so, his life will truly shine.
Since we are still found in Galus after reciting the verse “Torah Tziva,” it is appropriate (to say) to sing the song “Hoshia es Amecha” (57) — “Save your nation, bless your heritage, tend them and exalt them forever.”
We ask G-d, very soon — to help his people, the Jewish people and to help every single Jew.
And then “bless his inheritance.” May he bless (the entire world, beginning (58) by blessing) the Holy Land, the Land of Israel, (its very name denoting that it belongs to every Jew (59) and to the entire Jewish people). And may that blessing be for a complete (60) land — that the entire Land of Israel and all of its boundaries will belong to every Jew and to the Jewish people as a whole as “an eternal inheritance.” (61)
And may this be fulfilled in a manner of “tend them and exalt them forever.” G-d will tend to the needs of the Jews, providing them with everything they must have — as a shepherd provides for the needs of his flock. (62)
And then may He lift us up and “exalt” us. May we feel uplifted with the privileges G-d has bestowed upon us: His gift of Torah and Mitzvos, a Holy Land, and blessings; including the blessings of deciding to follow the lessons derived from the Chanukah candles. And then, G-d will take care of all matters and make sure that even in Galus we live a life of light. And may the above be “forever” — beginning from now, the time of Galus.
And may this bring to eternal freedom in a manner of “tend them and exalt them.” This state will begin in its fullest manner through a completeness and perfection of Torah, a completeness and a perfection of the Jewish people in the near future with the coming of Mashiach.
We will conclude with a custom carried out in all Jewish homes that is particularly connected with children; the distribution of Chanukah gelt.
And certainly your children will be (like the Chanukah candles) permeated through and through with Yiddishkeit with the “candle of mitzvah and the light of Torah” — and most importantly may you use every day of your lives (and all the blessings and powers which G-d gives you) in a manner that you light up your own lives and those of your parents, bring light to the street you pass through to the point that even the street should feel and see that a Jewish child lives and passes through there.
And this will be performed in a manner where you always add new light — with happiness, boy, health, and well-being forever.
[The children recited the verse “Torah Tziva” and then sang the melody “Hoshia es Amecha.” Afterwards the Rebbe Shlita gave. over a bag of dimes from which the counselors gave each child two dimes as Chanukah gelt].
(1) These verses were printed in the pamphlet 12 verses from the Torah and the statements of our Sages.
(2) This concept is explained in Likkutei Torah, Parahas Brocha 18:2.
(3) Note the “Sicha of Kislev 27, 5706” which was printed as an addendum to the Maamar “Boruch She’asa Nissim.”
(4) Sicha of the 7th day of Chanukah to students, 5738
(5) Proverbs 20:27
(6) The Talmud (Tractate Yevamos 61a) comments that the term man refers to the Jewish people.
(7) Women possess a superior quality, they are considered circumcised from birth onward. (Tractate Avodah Zorah 27a), note also the Shulchan Aruch of the Alter Rebbe, second edition, conclusion of Chapter 4.
(8) Even before the child is born, while still in the mother’s womb, the child is given an oath “Be a Tzaddik” (righteous). Tractate Niddah 30b.
(9) Note the comments on this concept in Tanya, Chapter 32.
(10) Proverbs 6:23
(11) “Study brings about deed.” (Kiddushin 40b)
(12) In the Laws of Teshuvah, Chapter 3 Law 4, the Rambam further explains the effects of performing Mitzvos.
(14) The Zohar writes “the light on one’s head (the Shechinah) needs fuel — that is good deeds.” Note the explanation of this concept in Tanya, Chapter 35.
(15) Note that in his commentary on Tractate Shabbos 23b, Rashi mentions that the verse “the candle of Mitzvah” is particularly related to Chanukah. Also note Likkutei Sichos Tazria, Chapter 5 and Torah Ohr 32b which explains that verse “the candle of Mitzvah” was the source for establishing candle lighting as the mitzvah connected with Chanukah.
(16) According to the Talmud, you are only required to light one candle each night of Chanukah. Only Mehadrin min HaMehadrin (the most Torah observant) light a candle for all the nights already passed. The Magen Avraham comments that in our generation it has become common custom for every Jew to light Chanukah candles in that way.
(17) Besides being part of the mitzvah of Chinuch (educating your children) which applies to all the mitzvos not only the mitzvah of Torah study, the children’s lighting of candles has a unique quality of its own. That quality can be understood in terms of our Sages remarks concerning the voice of children studying Torah (Shabbos 119b), their prayers (Ester 9:3), their fasting (ibid, also Yonah 3:5). Further proof of the importance of children can be seen by the fact that at the giving of the Torah, they were the guarantors accepted by G-d.
(18) The hastening of Mashiach’s coming is dependent on the merit of the Jewish people. Note Tractate Sanhedrin 98a.
(19) In last year’s Sicha, (Chapter 3; footnote 15), the teachers and counselors were referred to as “your holy priests.”
(20) Moshe and Aharon will be with us when the Bais HaMikdash will be rebuilt (Tosafos Tractate Pesachim 114b, Yoma 5b).
(21) Note Likkutei Sichos, Vol.5, p.149.
(22) We will be able to see Aharon kindle those lights. Even though the Menorah is inside the “Heichel” (the building of the Sanctuary), the Talmud (Tractate Shabbos 22b) calls it “Testimony,” implying that it can be seen. Note also the Rambam, Laws of Entrance into the Sanctuary, Chapter 4, Law 2, note also Tractate Chagiga 26b.
(23) The Chanukah candles begin the holiday in time. Their kindling precedes the recitation of “Praise and thanksgiving.”
(24) The comment of our Sages (Tractate Shabbos 21b) “They (the Greeks) made impure all the oil in the Sanctuary” implied that there was impure oil there.
(25) An impure person “Shall not touch any holy objects” and “shall not enter the Sanctuary.” Note also Tractate Shavuos 6b, Rambam — the conclusion of the Laws of Impure Foods and the Laws of Mikveh, note also his comments in Sefer HaMitzvos.
(26) Even though in the case of communal sacrifices, the Laws of Ritual Purity do not apply. (Tractate Pesachim 80a), nevertheless the Jews did not use the impure oil on Chanukah. Note the comments of Rav Zevin in HaMoyadim B’Halachah.
(27) The above particularly applies, in view of one texts of the Shialos which states that there was not enough oil to burn even one day.
(28) In a physical and material sense — the Jews are “the smallest of the nations.” Note Zohar, Vo1.3 (227a)
(29) Tractate Shabbos ibid.
(30) Note Chronicles I (23:13) “and Aharon was separated, that he should be sanctified as holy of holies.”
(31) The P’nai Yehoshua (in his commentary on Tractate Shabbos, ibid) explains that G-d make a miracles because of the dearness of the Jewish people. He wanted them to be able to light the Menorah with pure oil.
(32) In Tur and Shulchan Aruch Chapter 231 and in Tanya, Chapter 7, a stress is laid on having “Kavanna L’Shaim Shamayim” (intention to serve G-d) while eating. However, that stress is hard to understand in the face of the Torah command “Be careful and guard your soul” interpreted by the Talmud (Tractate Berachos 32b) as a commandment to stay healthy.
(33) These three examples were chosen since food, clothing, and housing make up a person’s basic needs. Note Likkutei Torah, Brocha 99a and Mayim Rabim 5636 at the Maamar’s beginning.
(34) Note Tractate Megillah 29a.
(35) Exodus 25:8
(36) Our Sages (Rav Chayim Vital in Shaar HaAhavah, Chapter 6) explained that the verse reads “I will dwell in them” and not “in it” implying that each Jew is sanctuary for G-d.
(37) G-d works in a manner described as “measure for measure.” Note Tractate Sotah 8b, 9b, Pesachta Zuta on Exodus (3:6).
(38) The Rebbe delivered this Sicha on the seventh day of Chanukah after Minchah in shul. Customarily Chanukah candles for the eighth day are lit then.
(39) Note the commentary on the Sifri and Rashi on (Deut.6:7), Exodus 19:1, Deut.26:16.
(40) This principle is particularly related to Chanukah. Note Tractate Shabbos ibid.
(41) Tractate Berachos 12a states “everything follows the conclusion:”
(42) In the conclusion of the fourth chapter of the Maamar “Boruch She’asa Nissim,” the special quality of Zos Chanukah is explained. Note also Ohr HaTorah Chanukah, Vo1.5, pg.962a
(43) Tractate Shabbos, ibid.
(44) The prayer “Haneiros Hallalu” is recited after all the candles are lit, not only after lighting the eighth candle. (note Pri Megadim, Chapter 676 note 5 and chapter 672 note 3, also note Sefer HaMinhagim, p.70).
(45) They are seven straight days. Note also footnote 52.
(46) Note Zohar Vol.3 (99b), Likkutei Sichos, Vo1.12, p.100, note 38
(47) Tractate Rosh Hashanah 31b and Rashi’s commentary there.
(48) Note Iggeres HaTeshuvah, Chapter 9 — “if customarily you read one page, you should read two, a double portion.”
(50) The purpose of this light is to illuminate the darkness. Note Torah Ohr — Maamar “Rani V’Simchi;” Shaarei Orah — Maamar “B’Chof-Hay Kislev,” Siddur 275:2-3).
(51).Rambam defines Teshuvah as “regret over the past and a good resolution for the future.” Note also Tanya, Iggeres HaTeshuvah, Chapter 1, also note the Tzemach Tzedek’s Sefer HaMitzvos, “Mitzvas Teshuvah.”
(52) The above applies since the seven days of Chanukah include the whole week and then the week repeat itself again. Note also Maamar “V’yihi B’Yom HaShemini” 5704, Chapter 10, also Likkutei Torah, Shir HaShirim (24a).
(53) Isaiah 60:19
(54) Tosafos Tractate Pesachim (17b)
(55) Deut. (33:4)
(56) Torah law states that a one-day old child receives the total inheritance, note Tractate Niddah 44a
(57) “The entire world receives its life energy form the concentrated nature given to the Land of Israel,” Tractate Taanis 10a.
(59) Even a Jew who sins is still a Jew, Tractate Sanhedrin 44a.
(60) Only perfectly complete animals can be used for holy purposes, Tractate Zevachim 88a.
(61) Note Shemos Rabbah, Chapter 2, verse 2.