24 Kislev 5777 – Vayeishev

It sure has been a busy week with school coming to a close and with Chanukah just around the corner. We enjoyed a very large turnout at Westfield, Eastgardens for a pre-Chanukah kids concert and party on Monday and it was a great opportunity for me, to quite literally, let my hair down! See some pictures below.

This coming Motzei Shabbat (Saturday night) we will be lighting the first Chanukah candle. There is a beautiful law associated with the location of the Chanukiyah.

It is supposed to be lit in front of a window or at the entrance to our homes. in fact, in Israel, the Chanukiyah is actually placed outside the house not inside. Why? Because we must share of our light with others. We can’t be too preoccupied with ourselves, our own lives and ignore the plight of those who may be languishing in the darkness!

At this time of year, when many of you are going away or spending time away from work, I challenge you to spend more time with your families and loved ones. If you are going away, take a siddur and Chanukiyah with you and make special moments – Jewish memories – with your children and family.

So here is the challenge. This coming Saturday night and for the next 8 nights that follow, gather your family around the table and light the Chanukiyah together. As you stare into the flames, tell over the story of Chanukah and discuss what these same lights might be trying to communicate with us today. There are so many beautiful, relevant messages associated with Chanukah and I challenge you this year, to consider just a few more. 

So here is one more idea, by Rabbi Chaim Friedlander, that I will leave you with.

“Greek wisdom is the wisdom of the human intellect, dealing much with the sciences; they explored the laws of nature and became accomplished in this field in order to rule over nature. When the laws of nature are better known, there are more possibilities to utilise them. One who is master over nature becomes master over the world and its inhabitants. This is the whole desire of man in all generations – to expand his control more and more.

Although it is permissible for man to utilise nature for his needs, it becomes forbidden when he comes to feel that he can rely on his understanding and prowess alone without needing the kindness of God, leading him to disconnect from God and forget Him. Such a worldview completely contradicts the outlook of the Jews and the Torah’s teachings, which maintains that the essence of Creation and nature are intended to be subordinate to fulfilling God’s Will. This was the crux of the conflict between Greece and the Jewish nation.”

Does this conflict still occur today? I leave you to ponder and discuss.

Shabbat Shalom and Chanukah Sameach!!

Rabbi Yossi and Chana Friedman

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