When you live in Lod – the mixed city that was the very epicenter of violent riots by Israeli Arabs last May – lighting Chanukah candles takes on additional meaning and excitement.  Because when you live in Lod, as do the young women studying at Midreshet Lindenbaum’s Lod Branch, it’s not enough to just light …

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Hanukkah initiative brings holiday joy to thousands of families in Israel ‘Our Building Lights’ initiative brings holiday traditions to communities around Israel. Arutz Sheva Staff , December 01 , 2021 While coronavirus remains a constant issue on the mind of all, the organizers of Ohr Torah Stone’s Yachad Program for Jewish Identity are creating a “sense …

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Chanukah was marked throughout the Ohr Torah Stone institutions and programs with special initiatives to celebrate the holiday and to spread more light throughout Israel and the world. We are especially proud of our students for the varied volunteer work they performed in the spirit of Chanukah. Whether packing up food for the hungry or lighting …

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“Parsha and Purpose” – Miketz 5782 
Rabbi Kenneth Brander’s weekly insights into the parsha 

“What Happens When Our Best Efforts Fall Short?”

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Parshat Vayeshev (Genesis 41:1-44:17) 

“What Happens When Our Best Efforts Fall Short?

Shabbat Chanukah. We are in the midst of basking in the beautiful light of Chanukah, of our responsibility to try to dispel the darkness in the public thoroughfare of human society.

There are some important messages that we can learn from how our Rabbis tell us we are to kindle these lights.

As we all know, we are supposed to prepare enough oil, the proper wicks, so that we enjoy the light or we can see the light for half an hour, or have the right size candles to be able to kindle lights for a minimum of a half an hour. (Shulchan Arukh, Orach Chayim 672:2)

But what happens if we’ve done our best, yet the light extinguishes in the middle of the half hour?

The halacha is “כבתה”, you’ve done your best, but they’ve extinguished, “אין זקוק לה”, you don’t have to relight them. (Shulchan Arukh, Orach Chayim 673:2)

Yes, it’s nice if you want to relight them, but you definitely don’t make a second bracha, and it’s not an obligation, because you’ve done your best.

And from this, we can learn so much regarding our own personal spirituality and the way we engage with our family.

You know, sometimes we are involved in activities to enhance our spirituality: we prepare to go to Israel to enjoy some time basking in the light of Jerusalem or in the State of Israel.

And we prepare everything – we buy the ticket, we pack our luggage – we do everything. But then the skies close: “כבתה אין זקוק לה”.

Don’t become depressed; it’s frustrating, but as long as we try to kindle the lights, even if our plans are extinguished, we cannot allow that to defeat us.

And this is so much more true when it comes to our raising of our children and our grandchildren.

You know, we work so hard to fill their hearts with the finest of oils and to prepare the proper wicks so they can create a radiant light in the life they will lead.

But sometimes our children or our grandchildren do not follow in our ways. Sometimes their connection with God and Judaism is slightly different or completely different from our perspective.

The halacha is clear: “כבתה אין זקוק לה”. Even when we’ve done our best, there are no guarantees in life. We just have to recognize that we have to love them and we have to nurture them, and we have to try to rekindle the light, but without any form of coercion and always staying connected.

The Chanukah lights remind us about the lights that we light in our own lives and the lights that we light in the lives of our children and our grandchildren.

We have to do our best, and the rest, we need to leave to God.

Shabbat Shalom and Chanukah Sameach.

“Parsha and Purpose” – Vayeshev 5782 
Rabbi Kenneth Brander’s weekly insights into the parsha 

“Chanukah: When Words Cannot Sufficiently Praise God”

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Parshat Vayeshev (Genesis 37:1-40:23) 

“Chanukah: When Words Cannot Sufficiently Praise God

Hallel. For me personally, one of the most moving prayers that we recite. A prayer that is reserved for the biblical holidays of Pesach, Sukkot and Shavuot (Talmud, Arakhin 10a).

A prayer that is also recited partially on Rosh Chodesh, and a prayer that is recited on the holiday that is coming up, the holiday of Chanukah. All of those that codify Jewish law insert the laws of this prayer in perhaps its proper location: the Laws of Prayer (for example: Shulchan Arukh, Orach Chayim 422:2-7).

Except for one, Maimonides. In his magnum opus, in his unbelievable work, where every idea is thought out before its placement, Maimonides decides that the laws of Hallel, of this prayer, should be placed in one location – in the rabbinic holiday of Chanukah (Maimonides, Laws of Megilah and Chanukah 3:5-14).

Rabbi Soloveitchik explained to us that Maimonides did not do this by accident. It’s not that he forgot to do it in the Laws of Prayer and therefore rushed to insert it at the end of his next book that deals with holidays, but rather Maimonides is trying to communicate a message to all of us about the true idea behind Chanukah.

You see, there are two paradigms to Hallel. There is the Hallel HaDibur, the Hallel that is recited orally; that is the Hallel that is found in the prayer service. We praise God. We celebrate our connection with God. We celebrate our dependence upon God and indeed God’s dependence upon us.

But on Chanukah, when we light the Menorah, we’re doing something different. When we light the menorah, we recite “כדי להודות ולהלל” (the “HaNerot Halalu” prayer).

The lighting of the menorah is an act of praise to God. It is a message that if you really want to praise God, it’s not enough just to recite a prayer, but you have to light lights – lights that dispel darkness within the world.

If we really want to thank God, if we really want to connect with God, it is not enough just to orally do so, but on Chanukah, we are mandated – eight nights – on the nights in which there is no moon, the darkest nights of the month, to light lights in the public thoroughfare, to remind us that praising God requires an engagement with society through the prism of Jewish tradition.

Please God, as we celebrate Chanukah, we will ask ourselves the question as we light the lights: “What are we doing in our lives to make sure we dispel the darkness in the world around us?”

Shabbat Shalom and Chanukah Sameach.

Israeli organization holds candle-lighting ceremonies across Israel In addition to the candle-lightings, Ohr Torah Stone’s Yachad Jewish Identity Program organized song groups, games and other activities for families to take part in throughout the country. By  Jerusalem Post Staff  | December 18, 2020  Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Israelis from the North to the South participated …

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“Parsha and Purpose” – Insights from Rabbi Kenneth Brander into Torah and Contemporary Life

Parshat Miketz 5780

Sources cited

  • Shabbat 21b

Day One – Rabbi Dr. Shlomo Riskin Day Two – Rabbanit Sally Mayer Day Three – Rabbi Chaim Kanterovitz Day Four – Pnina Omer Day Five – Rabbi Yehoshua Grunstein Day Six – Rabbanit Atirat Granevich Day Seven – Rabbanit Billy Rabenstein Day Eight – Rabbi Dr. Kenneth Brander Download the booklet as PDF The …

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