Tuesday, November 28, 2006

100% pure- nothing less

We all know the Chanukah story.

Or, do we?

Here are some of the misconceptions:
1) There was no oil to be found anywhere in the Temple. The miracle was that they managed to find one small jug- just in time to light the Menorah.

Actually, the place was full of jugs of oil; it's just that not one of them still carried the seal of the Kohen Gadol (High priest), so they were technically impure. The miracle was that they eventually found one jug of pure oil.

Which brings us to the next misconception...

2) It is Halachically unacceptable to use impure oil to light the Menorah in the Temple.

In truth, there is Halachic provision for using impure oil for the Menorah, if there is no pure oil available.

What then- you ask- was the big deal about not finding oil with the special seal?

The Hellenist attack against Judaism focused on our absolute, often irrational commitment to Hashem and His Torah. They couldn't accept that we wouldn't do away with those areas of Judaism that seem to simply make no sense. That's why they attacked the seals on the oil- the sign of spiritual purity, which they claimed was imagined. They expected us to level with them and acknowledge only the logical aspects of Jewish life.

But, a Jew's relationship with Hashem is absolute. It begins at eight-days old, before the rational mind is activated, and sits at the essence of his/her Self until our their breath. A Jews and his religion can never be separated. Jew and G-d share a super-rational bond.

Chanukah illustrates this bond. Even when there is rational basis within Judaism to settle for a compromised connection to G-d, the Jewish soul insists that nothing less than the absolute purest expression of that bond will do.

And, when you commit yourself to G-d unconditionally, miracles occur.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Dancing at the Rebbe

It was a powerful week at the International convention of Shluchim (Chabad rabbis). On the Saturday night, we were waiting outside the Rebbe's room, with people from around the world.

The atmosphere was electric and we soon found ourselves in a spontaneous dance.

Click here for the a glimpse of the power: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-1849347583934831332&q=rebbe%27s+room

Monday, November 20, 2006

What a privelege!

It's just after midnight here in New York. I should be exhausted (that's what my body's telling me), but the dancing won't stop.

We- 6 members of our shul and myself- have just come back from an amazing dinner or, as they call it here, Gala Banquet. It was the climax of a weekend conference for Chabad representatives from around the world.

It's been a non-stop 4 days and sleep hasn't featured too prominently on the agenda. I heard someone crystalise it quite aptly: "The agenda for the Jewish world was set here this weekend".

Our group had pizza with the Chief rabbi of Russia and Shabbos lunch with the Chabad representatives to The White House, Lithuania and Bangkok. We farbrenged with an 89 year-old veteran chosid Rabbi (Yosef) Wineberg and again, 'till 3am, on Shabbos with a group from Dallas, Texas. We were addressed by the rabbis of Shanghai and the Golan heights.

We visited the Ohel (resting place of the Rebbe), one of the most powerful places on earth, where we had the unique privelege of delivering letters from many friends back home.

All that (and much more) culminated in tonight's dinner. It's a soul-battery recharge that every person should experience at least once.

It is totally energising to sit in a hall of 3500+ men, all focused on the same mission- to bring Jews closer to their roots and pave the way for Moshiach. We heard incredible speakers, saw inspiring video-presentations and danced together with Jews from Guadelope, Vietnam, New Zealand, Vancouver and everything in between.

Still dancing on the inside, I thank Hashem for the privelege to be part of the Rebbe's army.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Special Shiur Subject Survey

BH, the Monday night shiur has now been around for 3 years!

Thank you to all of you who have loyally participated, added insight encouraged the shiur's growth.
Now I'm at the "thinking ahead" stage for next year. So, I figured, you may as well have your say. Here's your chance- take a moment and submit your suggestions for topics (individual or series) for next year.

Who knows? You may well become a significant contributor to what happens from January 2007!