Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

26 Kislev 5768 - December 6, 2007 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Opinion & Comment
Honor Hashem with Lights

by A. Lederman

Light is one of the more difficult phenomena to explain and describe. What the zeidim consider light and refer to as "enlightened," we call folly and darkness. Light and dark are separated by a very thin line; they may appear in combination and to flesh and blood darkness can appear like light.

Go out into the city streets and you will see a whole country celebrating the Festival of Lights, including many of our wayward fellow Jews. They mark the holiday with shows and festivals; to a few the holiday primarily reflects victory over the Chashmonaim in war through the symbolism of eating doughnuts and public candlelighting ceremonies; and only to a very small minority is Chanukah expressed through the pure light flickering in it.

Today, in their own way, these and many other porkei ohl celebrate the Festival of Lights. They are the Hellenists of our generation who seek to exchange the holy Torah for vain pursuits, to trade eternal life for temporal life. The same people, who do not cease to establish laws against the holy Torah, continue to celebrate Chanukah in total contradiction to its original, historical objectives.

And the absurdity cries out. What possible reason could all the products of the government schools and government- religious schools—to whom the concept of Torah in purity is a thorn in their side—have for celebrating the miracle of the pure jar of oil remaining in the hands of oskei Torah? In remembrance of what miracle that took place bayomim hoheim bazman hazeh through the candles of the pure menorah are they celebrating the Festival of Lights? Is it really of such great significance to them that a jar of pure oil was found, leading to the establishment of the eight days of Chanukah to give thanks and praise to His great Name? Do they really feel inclined to celebrate the defeat of Greek culture and all it stands for?


During these trying times when primitive, unenlightened public figures try to restrict the pathway of Torah-true Judaism through means, such as attempts to interfere with the approach to education our yeshivas, talmudei Torah, schools and seminaries adhere to, we must gird ourselves and disseminate the powerful, true light found in our midst, for only this contains the real answer to counter the dark ignorance descending on our Land and trying to take control of our lives.

All those who rise up against us in every generation with evil designs—from Pharaoh to the Greeks, from Homon and his band to the present—try to force darkness upon us at any price, whether by waylaying and restricting our forward progress in ruchniyus through vain attempts to interfere with our lives or by taking stabs at large families materially with the declared intention of striking out at the holy Torah, chas vesholom. But we have been promised none of their devices will prevail. We will overcome them and HaKodosh Boruch Hu will always be with us.

The gedolim taught us that what the haters of the holy Torah sitting in gloom and the shadow of death call "light," i.e. enlightenment, is darkness — backwardness and primitiveness from our standpoint. Greek culture obscures Am Yisroel's vision. They tried to turn the wisdom of the nations into light in order to do their deeds in the dark. Their light is darkness to us.

There are two ways to fight against the dark. One is to shed a bit of light: take a match and light a single candle that illuminates the surroundings, the flame rises up to light the way—and a bit of light drives off a lot of darkness. Or one can remove the darkness entirely and transform it into light, ushering in a new day with a large sun shining bright until the gloom of night flees from it and vanishes.

Those who fought against the Greeks began by lighting a bit of real light, using a small, sealed jar of oil that miraculously managed to burn for eight days. This humble light removed much of the darkness, flooding the Beis Hamikdosh with pure, holy light until the light reached chatzros Kodshecho and the following year those eight days were established as a commemoration. This brought order, separating forever between light and dark, between pure and impure, between holy and profane. As it says in Yeshayohu, "Woe to they who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!" (5:20).

But there is another way to arrive at true light. "...When I sit in darkness Hashem will be a light to me" (Michah 7:8). Sometimes light can spring forth from the darkness itself. When every road leads to a dead end and there is no way out, when the future does not appear rosier or more promising, when attempts are being made to hinder our progress and cast darkness upon our paths—here we see another light. Just as dawn only appears at the very end of the night of darkness and gloom and cold.

In these difficult times, when it seems there is no greater darkness, at the end of the night we are promised a propitious time, a different kind of future has been waiting for us since a bygone generation bearing happy tidings of salvation and redemption: "When I fall I will rise, when I sit in darkness Hashem will be a light to me" (Ibid.). When is the darkness at its peak? Just before alos hashachar! When the moon and the stars take their leave, there is no greater darkness. And HaKodosh Boruch Hu raises the dawn from out of the darkness, and illuminates the world (Medrash Shochar Tov 22).


The victory of oskei Torah was not a one-time event, a historical anomaly among our people two millennia ago. Every year the children of the Chashmonaim and their descendants who called out with pride "Mi leHashem eilai" and "Mi komocho bo'eilim Hashem" have the merit of seeing the light of the miraculous jar of pure oil illuminate their souls with a precious light, from which they draw purity throughout the year.

Everybody is looking for light. There are young people who travel to faraway lands, to remote deserts and jungles, and they may even endanger their lives trying to grasp onto something there that will light up their lives. Some wallow in murky vortexes for years in the hopes of finding a spark. Recent studies confirm the alarming rate of the spread of the disease of drug abuse among youth and university students trying to flee to other realms where light and dark intermingle in a state of disorder.

Nobody likes to sit in a dark, gloomy room or a dungeon; nobody in hiding likes to crawl through black, subterranean tunnels. By nature people typically want light.

The same applies in feeling of inner light, which is generally called enlightenment and joy. Everyone wants to feel the satisfaction and joy of a bright light all around, but the path to a bit of light passes through many dark and winding passages.

Our victory throughout the generations is in finding the true light within us, in the daily lives of thousands and tens of thousands of bnei Torah who have spiritual tranquility and a constant feeling of the light of Torah—oroh zu Torah. Honor Hashem with lights. In the true light flickering in the eyes of lomdei Torah lies the honor of Torah. A light present in the hearts and souls of those unseen yoshvei ohalim who are busy learning. A great light shining forth from the Torah halls and Torah fortifications everywhere.

Zor lo yavin es zos. The foreigner cannot comprehend, but every young boy engrossed in his learning understands exactly what this refers to. Veho'eir eineinu beSorosecho vedabeik libeinu bemitzvosecho.

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