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21 Kislev, 5783 - December 15, 2022 | Mordecai Plaut, director | Vayishlach - 5782 Published Weekly
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A Chanukah Message from Gedolei Yisroel

To our brothers, Beis Yisroel, wherever they be, Shalom and much blessing:

This is the very period when the Chashmonaim experienced great siyata deShmaya, in repealing the decrees and were able to resume their Torah study and mitzvah observance in the merit of their self-sacrifice.

It is known what the Ramchal wrote, "Whenever improvement and correction which was made in the past and which left a great light which illuminated this time of year — when that time comes round, that very light shines brightly as then and the tikkun is revived in the present, with a reflection of the original one. The offshoot of that period reflects the time that it took place."





Antisemitism is on the Rise

"It is not certain that people understand what is going on here," said Malcolm Hoenline, director of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations in the U.S. in an interview from New York. "The very fact that there are so many attacks, and that millions of people go out to demonstrate in defense of a man who is a rabid anti-Semite, as well as the fact that there are politicians who refuse to discuss the subject of anti-Semitism for fear that it will harm their political image — all this is very worrying to the point of shock."

Hoenline is not surprised by the joining of forces between Kanye West, a black American, and Nick Fuentes, a white racist who believes in white supremacy. He maintains that recently, there is a marked rapport amongst white supremacists for the African public, which should be the object of hatred for the white minority. Their common denominator is a virulent hatred against Jews.





The Riddle of Netanyahu

Since the political revolution 45 years ago, when for the first time since the founding of the State the Rightist parties rose to power and leaving the Labor Party hysterically in the Opposition, it became apparent to all that the Right does not know how to rule.

Menachem Begin, the first Rightist Prime Minister, boasted the victory, with his Jabotinsky-like pride. However, instead of dissolving the strongholds of the Left in government pivotal positions, and especially in the legal and communication systems, he left them all untouched, as per his democratic credo.

During those days, when the Leftist camp was defeated, it would have been so easy to do so. In fact, the Left actually anticipated a comprehensive detoxification which would have evicted all Leftists in key positions, replacing them in the new government with people from the Rightist camp. This is the natural procedure in major democratic governments like in the U.S. where in a new government the old guard is forced to seek new jobs.





Keser Torah: HaRav Aharon Kotler Zt'l, 2 Kislev 5753 — The Thirtieth Yahrtzeit

This extended appreciation of HaRav Aharon Kotler zt"l was first published in 1992 in the print edition. We are republishing it now for the 60th yahrtzeit, and also to make it available on the web.

Part 4

With this fourth installment of the shmuess "Kisroh Shel Torah", we reach Reb Aharon's discussion of the term "Keser Torah" itself. Ultimately, realizing the importance of a single moment, marshaling all one's powers and increasing one's capacity for growth and the integration of the kinyaney Torah enumerated by Chazal — the traits discussed in the remainder of the shmuess — are all preliminaries, by way of which Torah is acquired.

The glory of the crown of Torah which is won by the individual depends however, not so much on the amount he has learned, but on his dedication and devotion to Torah. In their description of Torah greatness in terms of a crown, besides the deeper connotations which are alluded to by Reb Aharon, Chazal are showing us that even a slight lapse in the single-minded pursuit of Torah adjusts the overall level of achievement in exactly the same way as the glory of a crown depends to a great degree on its wholeness and perfection and its lacking even the slightest flaw.

Reb Aharon makes the point that it is the loss of the glory of the Keser Torah that is the greatest factor in the downward trend in the spiritual level of the generations, citing examples of Chazal's extreme care with a question of even a moment's bitul Torah to illustrate this.

Here again, Reb Aharon could have been talking about himself. There were many, amongst them men who were great in their own right, who saw in Reb Aharon's greatness a reflection of a glory that had all but departed from klal Yisroel.





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Outstanding Articles From Our Archives

Opinion & Comment
Complete Illumination: Lighting the Menorah Erev Shabbos and Motzei Shabbos

by Rabbi Daniel Yaakov Travis

Hidden Light

During the eight days of Chanukah we kindle a total of thirty- six lights (not counting the shammash). Kabbalistic writings explain that these 36 candles correspond to the thirty-six hours that the Ohr Hagonuz (literally, Concealed Light) was present during Creation before it was hidden away for the righteous in the World to Come (Rokeach). What does the light of the Ohr Hagonuz have to do with our Chanukah candles?

The true nature of the Ohr Hagonuz can only be understood through the study of Kabbalistic works (see Nefesh HaChaim 6a). However, there is one aspect of this light that everyone can grasp. Our Sages explain that the original light that Hashem created was not meant to provide illumination in a physical sense. The goal of this light was to help provide a deeper awareness of Hashem's Presence in this world.

In this vein we can see a link between the Chanukah candles and the Ohr Hagonuz. The Ramban writes: "The purpose of open miracles is to recognize Hashem's hidden ones" (end of Parshas Bo). During the eight days of Chanukah, when we kindle the menorah, we are furthering our appreciation of open miracles. In doing so, the candles are achieving the same effect as the original light, for they also help us to perceive Hashem's Presence in this world.

"These Lights . . . "

by L. Jungerman

R' Yehoshua of Belz is known to have said the following: If Chazal say that, "These lights are sacred, and we are not permitted to make use of them, only to gaze upon them," then we can derive the positive from the negative. That is, we are not permitted to make use of their light but we are permitted to see them. We are allowed to take advantage of these Chanukah lights through looking at them and there is, therefore, a great advantage in doing so.

We stand before their flickering lights, look, contemplate, and try to internalize their hidden significance. We are permitted to do so and as such, we must utilize this permission to the fullest, to absorb the great light and use it to illuminate those small dark corners and crannies which only light can penetrate.

"Just to gaze upon them," to study their light and reflect on how these candles glow.

"How Much Light is Illuminated"

"Beis Shammai says: `. . . Who creates the illumination of light,' whereas Beis Hillel says, ` . . . Who creates the lights of fire.' Said Beis Hillel to Beis Shammai, `There is a conglomeration in light.' Rashi explains, `The flame is at the same time red, white and greenish' " (Brochos 52).


These links were fixed, Tammuz 5781