Dedicated in loving memory of Edmond J. Safra
Refael Edmond Ezra ben Esther A”h
His Yartzait is on the 24th of Kislev, this year December 24th 2016 A man who gave extensively throughout the world to many Jewish institutions.
Please join us on Thursday Evening December 22nd at 8:30 pm followed by arbit at 10:00 pm. for a special class & refreshments in his memory.
The Message of Hanukah
The Hanukka lights, which are kindled in the darkness of night, recall to our minds memories of the past: the war in which the Hashmonayim waged against huge Greek/ Assyrian armies, their victory, the dedication of the Temple, the rekindling of the Menorah, the small quantity of oil that lasted for eight days, etc. Let us picture ourselves members of the small group of Hashmonayim in those days. We are under the domination of a powerful Assyrian King; many of our brethren have left us and accepted the idolatries and way of life of the enemy. However, our leaders, the Hashmonayim, do not commence action by comparing numbers and weapons, and weighing our chances of victory.
A cruel enemy has invaded the Holy Temple. The Torah and our faith are in grave danger. The enemy has trampled upon everything holy to us and is trying to force us to accept his way of life, which is that of idol worship, injustice, and similar traits altogether foreign to us.
There is but one thing for us to do - to adhere closer to our religion and precepts, and to fight against the enemy even if we have to die in this fight. And wonder of wonders! The huge Syrian armies are beaten, the vast Syrian Empire is defeated, and our victory is complete.
This chapter of our history has repeated itself frequently. We, as Jews, have always been outnumbered; many tyrants attempted to destroy us because of our faith. Sometimes they aimed their poisoned arrows at our bodies, sometimes at our souls, and, sad to say, many of our brethren have for one reason or another turned away from G-d and His Torah and tried to make life easier by accepting the rule of the conqueror.
In such times of distress, we must always be like that faithful band of Hashmonayim, and remember that there is always a drop of “pure olive oil” hidden deep in the heart of every Jew, which, if kindled, bursts into a big flame. This drop of “pure olive oil” is the “Perpetual Light” that must and will pierce the darkness of our present night, until every one of us will behold the fulfillment of the prophet’s promise for our ultimate redemption and triumph; And like in the days of the Hashmonayim “the wicked will once again be conquered by the righteous, and the arrogant by those who follow G-d’s laws and our people Israel will have a great salvation.”
A Joyous Hanukah to all!
Rabbi Isaac Farhi
The Laws of Hanukah
Beginning from the 25th of Kislev this year from Saturay night, December 24th we begin the festival of Hanukah - days of happiness and Hallel. We light oil or candles on each of the Eight Nights of Hanukah to publicize the miracle of the oil and our deliverance from the Greeks. During these days we are prohibited to fast or eulogize.
On the first night of Hanukah three blessings are recited "lehadlik ner Hanukah", "she'asah nisim", and "shehehiyanu". On the other nights the last beracha is not recited. One should not begin lighting until he has completed all necessary blessings.
On Saturday night the custom in one’s home is to recite habdalah and then light the menorah. Whereas in the Synagogue the menorah is lit prior to making habdalah, the reason for this is because in the Synagogue we want to extend Shabbat as long as possible, you may ask, it is no longer Shabbat if we are already lighting the menorah? The answer is that Shabbat needs to have ended only for the one actually lighting the menorah. Whereas the rest of the congregation can let the sweetness of Shabbat linger just a little bit longer.
We begin with the light on the right side of the Menorah (plus the Shamash) on the first night, and add one more each consecutive night until on the Eighth Night we have 8 lights (and the Shamash). Please make sure to light from left to right. Women are obligated to partake in this Misva (to be there and answer Amen at the lighting of the lights), as they, too, were part of the miracle of Hanukah.
One should not pull his hand away from the wick until he has kindled the majority of the wick coming out of the candle. If the candles were lit in a place where they would not normally be extinguished by the wind, even if they are extinguished by the opening of the window, etc. he need not light again. There is also no need to change the wicks each night.
The proper time for lighting on all other nights is 20 minutes after sunset. The time continues until about a half-hour after nightfall (when the stars come out). If one could not light at the proper time he may still light throughout the night. After daybreak, however, he should light without the blessing. On all days there should be sufficient oil or a large enough candle to burn at least one half hour.
On Ereb Shabbat, candles must be lit before regular Shabbat candle lighting time, they must last, however until 1\2 hour after dark. A total of about 1 1\2 hours. This makes it necessary to prepare and light larger candles (such as Shabbat candles) or adding extra oil.
One may not perform the Misva with an electric Menorah. In the case where there is absolutely no oil or candles available (for instance, in a hospital) - he should turn on the Menorah but he may not recite any blessing at all.
On the eight days of Hanukah we recite the Hallel in full, while on Purim, no Hallel is said. The reason for this is that the miracle of Hanukah happened in the Holy Land of Israel, while the miracle of Purim occurred in Persia outside of Israel.
Eight Thoughts to Brighten Each Night
The Hanukkah menorah is placed in a window facing the street in order to publicize the miracle. These tiny flames flicker proudly and proclaim our Jewish identity to our families inside the home as well as to the world outside. These candles proclaim that Am Yisrael Hai, the Jewish people live. We as individuals and as a community can be a shining example to those around us.
The custom is to add one more candle each night. This is because the longer the oil in the Temple burned, the greater the miracle became. The Sages say, “One who does not increase decreases” (Perkei Abot 1:13). Our connection with Torah should be something dynamic and growing. Each new candle introduces a fresh and hopefully deeper appreciation of the Hanukkah story and by extension the miracle of Jewish survival.
A unique property of a flame is that one can use it to light many more, and when it does so its own light is not diminished. The Gemara similarly says “A lamp for one illuminates like a lamp for a hundred” (Shabbat 122a). We never lose by sharing; in fact, we gain more from giving than from taking. Giving to others helps make the world a better place and in doing so everyone gains.
The word Hanukkah means dedication, as we commemorate the process of the rededication of the Temple. Hanukkah is also related to the Hebrew word for education, chinuch. Jewish education is not just about imparting information; rather, we are educating our children to play their unique role within our community and the world at large. The lights in the Temple were kindled until they were able to burn by themselves. Judaism sees fostering independence as a primary goal of education. When people are empowered to make informed choices, their decisions are much more meaningful.
The verse in Mishlei 20:27 likens man’s soul to G-d’s candle. Judaism views mankind as being created in the image of G-d. We possess earthly bodies; however, our souls are a spark of the Divine. While the body is nourished by food, the soul draws its sustenance from good deeds. Like the flicker of a flame, the soul strives to reach higher and higher and is a source of light, warmth and comfort to all who draw close to it.
A mitzvah is to a candle as Torah to a light. Misvot are opportunities of infinite value. Each misvah is an act that can connect us to G-d and enrich our lives forever, regardless of what else we do or don’t do. Rather than being all or nothing, Judaism is a journey where every step counts.
The Maccabees who rose to the challenge through their strong determination and faith in G-d were able to bring the Jewish people back from the brink of oblivion. We can never choose what happens to us in life; that is out of our control. What we can do is choose how to respond to those events. What we go through in life is not as important as who we become as a result. In a challenging situation there is a fine line between a response and a reaction.
On the last night of Hanukkah we reflect on the lessons of the past week. We have learned how a small band of committed people were unwilling to resign themselves to defeat even when all seemed lost. They placed their faith in G-d and took action even though it seemed futile. This is symbolized by the miracle of the oil - they lit the candles even though they did not have enough fuel. Their trust in G-d meant that they realized although they had to try their best, ultimately all success is in the hands of Heaven.
Think about the darkest times in Jewish history and draw courage, strength and inspiration from their acts of bravery and determination.
The Alabama Menorah
The Gemara says in masechet Sukkah that the Shechina does not descend lower than 10 tefachim from the ground. At the same time, on Hanukah the preferable height to light the menorah is below 10 tefachim. The Ohev Yisrael, based on the Arizal, explains that this teaches us that on Hanukah Hashem descends to the lowest places, even places that are devoid of sanctity, and lights up our souls. He wants to be close to each and every Jew, no matter how far they have veered from the path. A person should never say, "I'm so bad, Hashem doesn't want me." Hashem wants everybody.
The menorah is one of the most universally recognized symbols of Judaism. For some, the menorah is their only connection to Judaism. But, it's never too late. Everyone can come close to Hashem. Sometimes a Jew is fortunate enough to see Hashem's presence so clearly that he is drawn back to Him.
Rabbi Ephraim Shapiro told the following story: A young man named Avrumel Greenbaum lost his entire family in the Holocaust. After the war, he came to America and wanted nothing to do with Judaism. He was no longer Avrumel Greenbaum; now he was Aaron Green. He moved to Alabama and happened to marry a Jewish woman there. The day his oldest son Jeffrey turned thirteen, they were not going to celebrate his bar mitzvah. Aaron decided to recognize the day by taking Jeffrey to the mall and buy him anything he wanted there. They went to a big electronics store and while browsing, Jeffrey's eye caught something in an antique shop across the way. He was mesmerized by it. He couldn't take his eyes off of it.
He told his father, "I don't want anything from the electronics store. I want to go across to the antique shop." When they got there, the boy pointed to an old wooden menorah and said, "That's what I want for my bar-mitzvah." His father couldn't believe it. He was letting his child buy anything he wanted in the whole mall and this is what he was choosing? Nevertheless, he couldn't talk him out of it.
Aaron asked the shop-owner the price of the menorah, but he replied "Sorry, that's not for sale." The father said, "What do you mean? This is a store." He offered a lot of money for it. The owner said, "I found out the history of this menorah. A man constructed it during the war and it took him months to gather the wood. It survived, but he did not. It's going to be a collector's item. It's not for sale."
Jeffrey kept telling his father, "That's what I want. All I want is the menorah." So Aaron Green kept offering more money until the owner finally agreed to sell. The boy was so excited. He took the menorah up to his room and played with it every day. One day the parents heard a crash from Jeffrey's room. They ran upstairs and saw the menorah shattered to pieces. The father yelled at his son for being so careless, as he paid so much money for it. Afterwards, he felt bad; he told the boy, "Let's try to glue it back together."
While holding one of the pieces, the father noticed a piece of paper wedged inside. He pulled it out and started reading. He had tears welled up in his eyes and then he fainted. His family threw water on him and revived him. "What happened?", they asked.
He replied, "Let me read you this letter." It was written in Yiddish, and it said, "To whoever finds this menorah, I want you to know, I constructed it not knowing if I would ever have the opportunity to light it. Who knows if I will live to the day to see it being kindled? In all probability, going through this war, I will not. But if Providence brings this menorah to your hands, you who are reading this letter, promise me you will light it for me and for us, my family, and those who gave their lives to serve Hashem."
Aaron Green then looked up at his family with tears in his eyes and, in a choked-up voice, said, "The letter is signed by my father."
They were all speechless. That family recognized the hashgacha of Hashem and they came back to Torah and mitzvot. The hashgacha was unbelievable, taking a menorah from Europe and bringing it back to the family in a remote mall in Alabama.
Hashem wants everybody back. Hanukah means to re-dedicate. It's a time to rededicate ourselves and come closer to Hashem. Rabbi David Ashear
Doing Without Being Told
One night Pharaoh had two dreams that disturbed him greatly. The first dream was of seven thin and ugly cows who were eating seven large, healthy cows. The second dream was of seven thin, wilted ears of grain swallowing up seven healthy and full ears of grain. Pharaoh was desperate to find someone to interpret these dreams, but he couldn't find anyone.
Pharaoh was told that Yoseph was successful in analyzing dreams, so he had him summoned. Yoseph told Pharaoh that his dreams meant that Egypt was going to have seven years of great abundance, which would then be immediately followed by seven grueling years of famine. After Yoseph interpreted these dreams for Pharaoh, Yoseph then offered some unsolicited advice and said:
"Now let Pharaoh seek out a discerning and wise man and set him over the land of Egypt." (Bersheet 41:33)
The only thing Pharaoh asked Yoseph to do was to interpret his dreams for him. And then, without ever being asked, Yoseph went on to advise Pharaoh on just how he to deal with the impending situation.
Most people standing before a king would only do what he or she was told, and nothing more. It is a unique person who identifies a problem and who also has the courage to actually come up with a solution and verbalize it.
There's so much to do, fix, and change in the world and there certainly isn't a shortage of people who can point out all of the problems that exist. They're only too excited to share their negative thoughts with anyone who'll listen. But how many of these people will just as eagerly and readily offer up solutions? Very few.
The tendency to be problem-oriented and not solution-oriented usually parallels our own lives. It's not that we proactively choose to focus on negative things (although a lot of people do just that), but negativity and problems are just the default thoughts for our brain.
Our minds can be likened to a garden - whatever seed you plant in a garden, that seed will grow. But if don't plant anything in the garden, then weeds grow in abundance. Our minds work the same way. Absent of our thinking of productive thoughts, our minds will naturally drift toward something negative and unproductive.
People who are moving and growing tend to have many positive and productive thoughts while those who are stuck and not moving will usually focus only on negative thoughts.
There's a surefire way to instantly rid yourself of negative, unproductive, and unhealthy thoughts. Since our brain is capable of having only one thought at a time, focus on a positive future, be action-minded, and work each day toward meaningful objectives.
Many people will point out all the things that are wrong. Be that rare person who offers up concrete answers and will even commit to being a part of the solution. This can easily be achieved once you plant productive seeds in your mind which are then certain to yield a large and full crop of productive and happy thoughts. And this will make you want to go out there and change the world.
Oil is probably the most politically incorrect of all liquids. It simply refuses to compromise its uniqueness.
If oil were a person it would almost certainly be condemned for its stubborn unwillingness to blend in with others. It chooses to remain aloof, separate and distinct. Mix it with water and it stays apart and maintains its own identity.
No matter how hard you try, oil stays true to itself and just won't assimilate.
Perhaps that's why it deserved to become the ultimate symbol of the Hanukah miracle.
When we celebrate the victory of the Maccabees over the Greeks, we need to remember what was really at stake in this confrontation. This was a war unlike any other. It wasn't fought to conquer more territory. It wasn't meant to capture more booty or bodies. This was ultimately a conflict between two totally different ways of viewing the world.
The story of Hanukah is all about a clash of cultures. The Greeks weren't out to kill the Jews. Their intent wasn't genocide of a people. It was rather a battle against those who threatened their commitment to hedonism, their infatuation with the body, their obsession with athletic competitions to prove superior worth. In these they found beauty – and the very meaning of life.
The Greeks worshiped the holiness of beauty. The Jews taught the world the beauty of holiness.
The victory of the Maccabees was the triumph of those who exemplified the unique characteristic of oil and refused to assimilate, and instead chose to remain steadfast in our mission to bring the light of Torah to the world. That is what makes the story of the Maccabees so very relevant in our time.
Assimilation today takes many forms. We've assimilated when all we want is to party, never to pray. We've assimilated when all we care about is what we look like on the outside, not what we feel like on the inside. We've assimilated when our greatest goals are fame and fortune rather than love and learning. We've assimilated when more than anything else we want to be envied by the eyes of our fellow man instead of being treasured in the sight of G-d. We've assimilated when our chief goal is to accumulate more goods rather than simply to be good. We've assimilated when we are far more interested in our inheritance than in our legacy, by what we get from the past rather than what we give to the future. We've assimilated when we consider our children burdens rather than blessings and when we believe the best things we can give them are valuables rather than values.
The Torah teaches us to revere the beauty of holiness. That was what the Maccabees fought for as they confronted an alien culture that stressed the body over the soul, the material over the spiritual. That remains our challenge.
As we bring more light into our homes every night with each additional flame, we affirm our belief that we will succeed. We will maintain our uniqueness that has enabled us not only to survive but to be the light for all of mankind.
Unity - Against All Odds
The story of Hanukkah took place during the time of the Second Temple when the Greek regime of Antiochus sought to pull Jews away from their religion and heritage. Matityahu led the Jewish army in trying to drive out the enemy, after three years the Maccabees were, against all odds, able to succeed in driving out the foreigners from their land. When the Jews re-entered the Holy Temple they found it in shambles and idols were scattered everywhere. When it came time to re-light and re-dedicate the holy Menorah, they searched the entire Temple, but found only one jar of pure oil bearing the seal of the Cohen Gadol. An amazing miracle happened as that small jar of oil burned for eight days until a new supply of oil could be brought.
Antiochus wanted to assimilate and subsume the Jews into Greek culture. The Greeks had no intention of murdering the Jews physically; it was a spiritual and ideological campaign of annihilation. This is why on Hanukkah we celebrate spiritually, via praying and lighting a soulful candle.
The Three Decrees
Let us take a closer look at what the Greeks were aiming to do...
The Greek culture was one that extolled physical beauty and physical might. A self-aggrandized diet of sport The three letters of Yavan – yud, vav and nun – look like singular thin lines that have no framework or depth to contain anything, representing a totally external approach to look at the world; physical pleasure disconnected from anything deeper.
The Jewish religion is centered around the concept of spirituality; and that physical beauty can be expressed and reflected by adjoining spiritual beauty. Lasting beauty is one which is connected to truth, depth, wisdom and profundity; For example Shabbat is a day focused on the spiritual world; as the Sages say it is like the World to Come. Yet on Shabbat we beautify ourselves, our tables and our family lives as well. The Greeks outlawed the observance of the spiritual day of Shabbat because it represented the inner soul of the physical world.
Rosh Hodesh, sanctifying the New Moon each month, was also outlawed because it represented the inner holiness of the faculty of time. Brit Millah was banned because it represented the inner holiness of the body. It is no irony that Hanukkah contains within it a Shabbat, a Rosh Hodesh and contains the same transcendental number of days as a Brit Milah.
Every Hebrew word has a deep meaning. On the hand there are a total of 14 joints which is the gematria (numerical value) of the Hebrew word “Yad” which means “hand.” When two hands come together there is a unity, and the combination of putting “hand in hand” (yad yad) forms the Hebrew word “yedid,” which means close friends. When two hands come together there is a total of 28 joints. The number 28 written in Hebrew is kaf chet, spelling the Hebrew word “koach” which means “strength.”
The reason for the destruction of the temple was due to Jews fighting against each other. The rededication of the temple on Hanukkah saw the Jews repair their spiritual breeches and reunite around the temple. When the Jewish people unite they are the strongest, like two hands coming together.
Hanukah Deal & Turnberry Prayer & Class Schedule
Friday December 23th Deal Turnberry Village
Shir Hashirim & Minha 4:15pm 5:10 pm
Candle Lighting 4:16 pm 5:17 pm
Shabbat December 24th
Shahrit 8:15 am 7:45 am
Rabbi’s Class After Habdalah 4:00 pm
Minha followed by Seuda Shelisheet 3:55 pm 5:00 pm
Arbit 4:55 pm 5:55 pm
Shabbat Ends 5:14 pm 6:14 pm
Rosh Hodesh Tevet
Friday December 30th Deal Turnberry Village
Shir Hashirim & Minha 4:20pm 5:10 pm
Candle Lighting 4:21 pm 5:22 pm
Shabbat December 31st
Shahrit 8:15 am 7:45 am
Rabbi’s Class After Habdalah 4:00 pm
Minha followed by Seuda Shelisheet 4:00 pm 5:00 pm
Arbit 5:00 pm 6:00 pm
Shabbat Ends 5:21 pm 6:18 pm