Posts Tagged ‘Chanukah’


The Debt

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Portion of the Week, Prayer

In our society, we assume that if someone saves another person’s life, then the person saved owes the person who saved them. However, in some societies, the opposite is true, the person who is saved is owed by the person who saved them. In fact, in some societies, if someone saves another’s life, he is considered responsible for taking care of that person forever.

Here’s a typical example, from a British missionary in Congo:

“A day or two after we reached Vana we found one of the na­tives very ill with pneumonia. Comber treated him and kept him alive on strong fowl-soup; a great deal of careful nursing and attention was visited on him, for his house was beside the camp. When we were ready to go on our way again, the man was well. To our astonishment he came and asked us for a present, and was as astonished and disgusted as he had made us to be, when we declined giving it. We suggested that it was his place to bring us a present and to show some gratitude. He said to us, ‘Well indeed! You white men have no shame!’


I wonder which approach Joseph took, and which, his brothers.

“I am Joseph your brother, it is me, whom you sold into Egypt. And now, be not distressed, nor reproach yourselves for having sold me here, for it was to be a provider that God sent me ahead of you. For this has been two of the hunger years in the midst of the land, and there are yet five years in which there shall be neither plowing nor harvest. Thus, God has sent me ahead of you to ensure your survival in the land and to sustain you for a momentous deliverance (Genesis 45 4–7).”

Joseph saves the lives of his brothers; he certainly had the right and the power to kill them for what they had done to him. Joseph has saved the lives of his brothers; he is the provider of all their food. Yet, despite the fact that he is the one who saved their lives, Joseph accepts responsibility to continue to feed and care for them. Joseph assumes that if God gave him the responsibility and opportunity to save their lives, that he was obligated to continue to care for them.

What about the brothers?

“He sent Judah ahead of him to Joseph, to prepare ahead of him in Goshen; and they arrived in the region of Goshen (46:28).” Jacob sent Judah to prepare: Jacob was teaching his children that they were now obligated to Joseph, not only because they had sold him into slavery, but because he had saved their lives.

I suspect that this obligation, that Jacob imposed on the brothers, is one of the reasons that the brothers never felt completely at peace with Joseph; they lived under this burden of obligation. I also suspect that the reason Joseph took his approach, that he was obligated to them, was so that they would not feel crushed by their obligation to him.

Konica is also the Jewish Thanksgiving. Which approach does God take for having given life to us? Are we to feel crushed by our obligation to Him?

That, is the most significant lesson taught by Joseph; God is obligated to us! “I created you and I shall bear you; I shall endure and rescue (Isaiah 46:4).” It is for this reason that we are able to trust that God will provide all our needs.

Is this not why we declare in “Modim,” not only what God has done to give us life, but also all that we are confident that He will continue to do for all of His creation?

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Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.


Every Man for Himself

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Portion of the Week, Prayer

“Say the word and I’ll turn you loose

I got mine now you get yours

Just like you I’ve got my price

Sure is nice that someone paid

I’ve got my ticket out of here

But for you, I fear, it’s much too late

It’s nothing you can blame me for

In love and war

It’s every man for himself ‘

– Steppenwolf, *Every Man For Himself*

“Now it’s every man for himself tonight

We’re lookin’ out for number one, tryin’ to get on with our lives

And it’s heart-breakin’ and it’s soul achin’

When you got nobody else

So friends it’s good to have you here tonight

But it’s every man for himself

Neal McCoy, *Every Man For Himself*

With apologies to Steppenwolf and Neal McCoy, I must point out that one of the most significant lessons that Joseph conveyed to his brothers was that they could no longer function, “Every Man for Himself.”

“He then kissed all his brothers and wept upon them; afterwards his brothers conversed with him (Genesis 45:15).” We do not find Joseph focusing on his brothers as individuals, but only as a group. In fact, despite having paid special attention to Benjamin, he quickly moves from Benjamin to them all, as if to convey a message that they were all to him equal to Benjamin.

This does not mean that he stopped treating them as individuals: “To each of them he gave changes of clothing (Verse 22).” Only after insisting that they were all equal in his eyes, did he treat each as an individual.

I believe that this explains why we seem to have a redundancy in the portion: “Now these are the names of the children of Israel who were coming to Egypt (46:8).”

“All the people of Jacob’s household who came to Egypt; seventy (Verse 27).”

The family came as a unified family, and they came as seventy individuals.

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Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.


Hallel: Psalm 115: A Commitment To Use My Life

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer

This question was asked before Rabbi Tanchum of Neway: What about extinguishing a burning lamp for a sick man on the Sabbath? — Thereupon he commenced and spoke: You, Solomon, where is your wisdom and where is thine understanding? It is not enough for you that your words contradict the words of your father David, but that they are self-contradictory! Your father David said, “The dead praise not the Lord (Psalms 115:7),” while you said, “Wherefore I praised the dead which are already dead (Ecclesiastes 4:2),” but yet again you said, “for a living dog is better than a dead lion (9:4).”

Yet there is no difficulty.

As to what David said: ‘The dead praise not the Lord,’ this is what he meant:

Let a man always engage in Torah and good deeds before he dies, for as soon as he dies he is restrained from the practice of Torah and good deeds, and the Holy One, blessed be He, finds nought to praise in him.

And thus Rabbi Yochanan said, What is meant by the verse, “Among the dead I am free (Psalms 88:6)?”

Once a man dies, he becomes free of the Torah and good deeds.

As to what Solomon said, ‘Wherefore I praised the dead that are already dead’ for when Israel sinned in the wilderness, Moses stood before the Holy One, blessed be He, and uttered many prayers and supplications before Him, but he was not answered. Yet when he exclaimed, ‘Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants (Exodus 32:13) !’ he was immediately answered. Did not then Solomon well say, “wherefore I praised the dead that are already dead?’

Another interpretation: In worldly affairs, when a prince of flesh and blood issues a decree, it is doubtful whether it will be obeyed or not; and even if you say that it is obeyed, it is obeyed during his lifetime but not after his death. Whereas Moses our Teacher decreed many decrees and enacted numerous enactments, and they endure for ever and unto all eternity. Did then not Solomon well say, ‘Wherefore I praise the dead, etc.’ (Shabbat 30a)

Kavanah: “The dead do nor praise God,” and therefore I will take advantage of every moment of life to study Torah and do Mitzvot.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.


Second Temple Era Seal Discovered

by developer in Holidays

The Israel Antiquities Authority unveiled a rare ancient seal that underscores the bond of the Jewish people to Jerusalem. The tiny clay seal, that likely certified the purity of ritual objects used in the Second Temple, was discovered in an excavation near the Temple Mount.

December 25, 2011

The Israel Antiquities Authority press release:

A first of its kind find, indicative of activity in the Temple, was recently discovered: a tiny item that was probably used as a “voucher” certifying the ritual purity of an object or food in the Temple Mount compound and in the Second Temple.

The discovery was presented at a press conference at which the Minister of Culture Limor Livnat and Minister of Education Gideon Sa’ar participated.

Layers of soil covering the foundations of the Western Wall, c. 15 meters north of the southwestern corner of the Temple Mount, were excavated beneath Robinson’s Arch in archaeological excavations of the Israel Antiquities Authority in the Jerusalem Archaeological Garden. On top of these layers, dating to the first century CE (the late Second Temple period), was paved the Herodian street which was the main road of Jerusalem at that time. From the very start of the excavations in this area the archaeologists decided that all of the soil removed from there would be meticulously sifted (including wet-sifting and thorough sorting of the material remnants left in the sieve). This scientific measure is being done in cooperation with thousands of pupils in the Tzurim Valley National Park, and is underwritten by the Ir David Association. It was during the sieving process that a tiny object of fired clay, the size of a button (c. 2 centimeter in diameter) was discovered. The item is stamped with an Aramaic inscription consisting of two lines – in the upper line  or  in Aramaic means pure and below it.

Following the preposition  in the word is the shortened form (two of the four letters) for the name of the G-d of Israel.

According to the excavation directors on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, archaeologists Eli Shukron of the IAA and Professor Ronny Reich of the University of Haifa:

“The meaning of the inscription is “Pure for G-d”.

It seems that the inscribed object was used to mark products or objects that were brought to the Temple, and it was imperative they be ritually pure. This stamped impression is probably the kind referred to in the Mishnah (Tractate Shekalim 5: 1-5) as a  (seal). To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time that such an object or anything similar to it was discovered in an archaeological excavation and it constitutes direct archaeological evidence of the activity on the Temple Mount and the workings of the Temple during the Second Temple period”.

Tractate Shekalim tells of the administration procedures on the Temple Mount in which our object was used, “Whoever required libations would go to Yohanan who was in charge of the stamps give him [the appropriate amount of] money and would receive a stamp from him in return. He would then go to Ahiyah who was in charge over the libations, give him the stamp and receive the libations from him”. There can be no doubt that this is a very exciting find.

The Mishnah also mentions in Tractate Shekalim, “There were four tokens in the Temple and on them were inscribed; calf, ram, kid and sinner [which were issued as a receipt to those who deposited the appropriate funds]. Ben Azzai says: There were five; and they were inscribed in Aramaic.” Our object does not belong to this group. It shows that not all of the details concerning the administration procedures of the Temple Mount have come to us by way of the rabbinic literature. Here an artifact from an archaeological excavation supplements our knowledge with a previously unknown detail. It is in this context and the spirit of Hanukkah that the Jerusalem District Archaeologist, Dr. Yuval Baruch, mentioned, “It is written in the Gemara (Talmud Bavli, Tractate Shabbat Chapter 2: Page 21) that the only cruse of oil that was discovered in the Temple after the victory of the Maccabees over the Greeks, “lay with the seal of the High Priest” – that is: the seal indicated that the oil is pure and can be used in the Temple. Remember, this cruse of oil was the basis for the miracle of Hanukkah that managed to keep the menorah lit for eight days”.

In addition to this item, other artifacts dating to the Second Temple period were discovered. Some are even earlier and date to the time of the Hasmoneans, such as oil lamps, ceramic cooking pots and a fusiform juglet that may have contained oils and perfume, as well as coins of the Hasmonean kings, such as Alexander Jannaeus and John Hyrcanus.

Photographic credit – Vladimir Naykhin

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Hallel: Rosh Chodesh Tevet: Third Paragraph

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer

The Theme of this paragraph of Hallel is Trusting God: See “Hallel Rosh Chodesh Tevet: Paragraph Three”  “Trusters” and “Chanukah Hallel Paragraph Three: Becoming Trusters.”

“Let all those who put their trust in You rejoice (Psalms 5:12),” because You took vengeance upon Babylon (Tenth of Tevet); “let them ever shout for joy,” because in Persia, You took vengeance upon Haman and upon his sons (Purim); “shout for joy because You defended them,” in the days of the Greeks, when You surrendered the Greeks into the hands of the Maccabees and their sons (Chanukah); “let them also who love Your name and be joyful in You,” when You will inflict punishment upon Gog & Magog. (Midrash Tehillim 5:11)

We declare that we sing this Hallel of Chanukah and Rosh Chodesh Tevet as Trusters that God will give us cause to rejoice as He did after He punished the Babylonians and the Greeks.

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Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.


Spiritual Tools: Tzitzit: From Chanukah to the Tenth of Tevet

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in 613 Concepts, Holidays, Prayer

Tzitzit are always associated with light; they are even described as Clothes of Light. In this, they are also associated with Hanukkah, the Festival of Light. When we hold our Tzitzit during the Shema, we hold all four corners in our hands so that we are surrounded by Light. This is a perfect Kavanah to keep in mind as we move from Hanukkah, the Festival of Light, to the Tenth of Tevet, when Jerusalem was surrounded by the invading Babylonian army.

Rabbi Meir used to say: When a man wears the Tefillin upon his head and upon his arm, as prescribed, and his four knotted fringes enclosing on all four sides, and when as he enters his house there is a mezuzah at the entrance, you find that Seven Testimonies of his awe of God surround him like a wall. It was of such a person that David said: “The angel of God camps round about them who fear Him, and deliver them (Psalms 34:8).” [Midrash Tehillim 6:1]

Kavanah: “I hold my Tzitzit surrounding me as a wall to protect me from the enemies who surround me.”

This can also be used as a Kavanah when reciting Psalm 34 in the Shabbat morning Pesukei d’Zimrah.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.


Hallel: Rosh Chodesh Tevet Kavanot I

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer

Many of the verses in the concluding Psalm of the Hallel resonate powerfully on Rosh Chodesh Tevet, the month in which Nebuchadnezzar and his Babylonian hordes lay siege to Jerusalem:

“I called to the Creator of Heaven and Earth from a tight spot (inside besieged Jerusalem), and He answered me broadly.”

Sefat Emet: The Baal Shem Tov explained that we should read this verse as, “Not only will God take us out of this tight spot, but it will be from within the tight spot itself that the salvation will come (Netzavim 5640).” Kavanah: Rather than look for the salvation to come from outside besieged Jerusalem; we can look inside the city, at ourselves, and find the key to salvation.

Kedushat Levi: Just as the Creator, Blessed is He, is Infinite; so are His Attributes without measure. At the time of creation, He constricted His Attributes. However, from within the constricted Attributes, as they are drawn to Israel, they expand broadly (Ki Tisa). Kavanah: The siege of Jerusalem was possible only because of the constricted Attributes. We need only access their Essence, and they will broaden and wipe away all who fight them. “May we merit to access all of the Divine Attributes and broaden their expression in this world through our service of God, so that all boundaries imposed on us will be smashed.”

Ohr HaChochmah: When the Evil Inclination pushes me into a limited state, so that I feel besieged, I consider whether Above I am being constricted, and I call out,  as in, “I called to the Creator of Heaven and Earth from a tight spot, and He answered me broadly,” to the One Who promised that He will always be with us when we are suffering, so that I will be empowered to break all boundaries and limitations (Beshalach). Kavanah: The Spiritual Influence of the siege of Jerusalem is experienced when we feel constricted in our spiritual growth. We turn to God and request His ‘Broadness,” expansiveness, so that we can achieve explosive growth.

Ohr Yisrael: When we are suffering and besieged by troubles and enemies, we do not respond as others, described by the prophet, “Through the land will pass the troubled and hungry. When he will be hungry he will be angry and curse his kings and gods, and direct his face on high (Isaiah 8:21),” rather, we, “Call out to God from a tight spot,” and this committed expression of love and loyalty, elicits, “He answers me expansively.” (Tikkunei Zohar #12) Kavanah: We sing this Hallel in loyal love even though we hear the Babylonians, and our other enemies approaching, confident that You will respond to our love for You with Infinite blessings and kindness.

Shufrah d’Yaakov: When we are in exile, we call out because Your Name is not whole. We pray that Your Name be fully expressed in this world (Chanukah) Kavanah: Had the inhabitants of Jerusalem prayed, not for themselves, but for God’s Name to be expanded in the world; the Babylonian siege would have been smashed, just as was the Assyrian attack. We commit ourselves to focus on Your Glory; not our suffering.

Yismach Yisrael: “I called out to Y-H,” as in, “For with Y-H, He created worlds (Isaiah 26:4),” ‘worlds,” meaning, this world and the World to Come. When I am besieged by enemies, limited by my sins, I fear that I have lost both worlds. They respond from Heaven, “and He was for me, Li, a salvation,” your salvation is in returning Li, to Me, and then you will experience the broadness of God (Likkutim; Tehillim). Kavanah: “We call out to You to return to You. Please respond broadly.”

I suggest that we focus on the following verses in the same context of escaping the “siege.”

“All the nations surrounded me but I survived them in God’s Name. They surrounded and encircled me but I survived them in God’s Name. Though they surrounded me like a swarm of bees, they were snuffed out like burnt thorns. I survived them in God’s Name. I was pushed to fall but God helped me.”

“Open the gates of justice for me, I will enter and thank the Creator. This is the gate to God, the just may enter here.”

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.


Chanukah: From Zion Shall Go Forth the Torah

by developer in Holidays

Written by Tzvi Fishman:

Many people think that in lighting giant Hanukah menorahs in places like Manhattan, Paris, Melbourne, and Berlin, we are “a light to the nations.” However pretty and moving this may be, the light of these solitary and scattered menorahs gets swallowed up by the deep surrounding darkness. It’s a little like lighting a match in a dark alley. For a few seconds, there’s a flickering of light, and then it vanishes, engulfed by the darkness of the alley. Even if matches were lit in alleyways all over the world, the light would shine for an instant then disappear.

The only way of sustaining the light is by lighting all of the matches as one great bonfire, and this can only be accomplished by bringing the matches together and kindling them in one place – the Land of Israel.

When all of the scattered exiled Jews are gathered in the Land of Israel, a great Divine light goes out to the world like a beacon, illuminating the darkness of the nations. This is the meaning of “For from Zion shall go forth the Torah, and the word of the L-rd from Yerushalayim.” The light goes out from Yerushalayim, and not from Times Square or Beverly Hills. We become a “light to the nations” precisely when we are living together in Eretz Yisrael, and not when we are scattered all over the world, minorities in foreign lands, stripped of our Israelite nationhood and our pride.

During the long exile, the lighting of the Hanukah menorah had meaning in reminding the Jews in faraway places, where we were strangers in someone else’s land, that we were still connected to an eternal light and a Land of miracles – but now, with the re-establishment of Medinat Yisrael, and the ingathering of Jews from all over the world, we no longer need the menorahs in New York. The time has come for each and every Jew to take his little light and join in with the great light that is shining forth from Israel.

For example, even in this early stage of our Redemption, when millions of our outcasts have gathered in Eretz Yisrael, even though we are still a ways from our full Torah power, still, even in our temporary secular/Torah state, all of the world’s attention is focused on what the Jews are doing in Israel. Pick up any leading newspaper from the capitals of the world and chances are you will find a front-page story about Israel. When a settler lights a small menorah on a hilltop in Judea, the whole world goes crazy. The United Nations rushes to condemn it. The White House issues and immediate warning. And the Europeans protest at the top of their lungs, like a Sunday church choir.

No one cares about the giant menorah in Berlin or Brooklyn. But a tiny menorah lit by a Jewish settler in Beit-El, Elon Moreh, Yitzhar, or some deserted and unnamed hilltop, causes an international raucous. Why? Not because the settler is infringing on Palestinian rights. No one really cares about the Arabs. The uproar comes because, in their unconscious psyches, the gentiles sense that with each Jew who returns to the Land of Israel and sets up his home on a Biblical mountainside, the one and only G-d of Israel is returning with them, to establish His rule in the world, and the nations cry out, blinded by the light.

Even in our present interim stage of Redemption, when our incredible Torah power is still hidden, and when prophecy has not yet reappeared, the sons of Esav and Yishmael sense the great light and they tremble, knowing deep in their hearts that their religions and doctrines are false, that G-d has not abandoned the Jews as they claim, and that the prophecies of the Torah will surely come to pass if they don’t try everything in their power to stop it, so they can continue on with their falsehood, stealing, and whoring.

That’s why the light of even one small menorah on a hilltop in Samaria, where the Hanukah story all began, shines more brightly than all of the scattered menorahs, however towering that they might be, in the lands of the gentiles, “For from Zion shall go forth the Torah, and the word of the L-rd from Yerushalayim.”


Hallel Rosh Chodesh Tevet Part Three

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer

Paragraph Seven:

“Your Majesty, you are the king of kings. The Lord of heaven has given you dominion and power and might and glory; in your hands He has placed all mankind and the beasts of the field and the birds in the sky. Wherever they live, He has made you ruler over them all. You are that head of gold (Daniel 2:37-38).”

“Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell prostrate before Daniel and paid him honor and ordered that an offering and incense be presented to him. The king said to Daniel, ‘Surely your Lord is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, for you were able to reveal this mystery’ (Verses 46-47).”

King Nebuchadnezzar, who began his siege of Jerusalem on the 10th of Tevet, acknowledges God as the Supreme Power, just as all nations will as described in this Psalm:

“All you nations; Praise God!

Sing compliments, all you peoples!

For His kindness overpowers us,

and God’s Truth is forever.


We sing this paragraph of the Hallel with the confidence of having witnessed our greatest enemy acknowledging and blessing God.

Paragraph Eight:

The following is the story of King Nebuchadnezzar, who, on the Tenth of Tevet, lay siege to Jerusalem: All this happened to King Nebuchadnezzar. Twelve months later, as the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, he said, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?”

Even as the words were on his lips, a voice came from heaven, “This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you.

You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like the ox.

Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes.”

Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled.

He was driven away from people and ate grass like the ox.

His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird.

At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored.

Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever.

His dominion is an eternal dominion;

his kingdom endures from generation to generation.

All the peoples of the earth

are regarded as nothing.

He does as he pleases

with the powers of heaven

and the peoples of the earth.

No one can hold back his hand

or say to him: “What have you done?”

At the same time that my sanity was restored, my honor and splendor were returned to me for the glory of my kingdom. My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored to my throne and became even greater than before.

Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble (Daniel 4:28-37).”

It is astounding to read this Psalm, the concluding paragraph of Hallel, which is the story of David rising to his throne and succeeding despite terrible tribulations, and realize that the man who destroyed God’s Temple, ultimately sang a similar song.

For the miracles described in this paragraph of the Hallel are not unique to King David; they were experienced by one of our worst enemies as well. These miracles are not limited to the great and holy such as King David; they are possible for all of us. When can we possibly experience this potential more than we do on Hanukkah. We sing this paragraph with total confidence that these miracles can be ours. May it be God’s Will.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.


Hallel Rosh Chodesh Tevet Part Two

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer

Paragraph Four:

“Neither the dead can praise the Creator, nor any who descend into silence; but we will bless the Creator from this time and forever (Psalm 115:18).”

God had warned the inhabitants of Jerusalem, through Jeremiah, that the Babylonians would be coming, and that they would be victorious. God instructed them to repent and to leave the city and surrender to the Babylonians.

The people refused to listen to Jeremiah. They preferred death to surrender.

This paragraph of the Hallel is a celebration of the potential of life, “the dead cannot praise the Creator.” The inhabitants of Jerusalem were so devastated by all that happened since the Babylonians rose to power, that they lost their connection to life. They ceased to see that alive, they would have the opportunity to rebuild. They stopped believing that alive, they could still live a life of blessing.

Once they disconnected from the potential of life; they disconnected from God as the Creator of heaven and earth.

On Hanukkah, our souls vibrate with the potential of life, and of purpose. On Hanukkah we connect to life at its source; God. On Hanukkah we sing this paragraph as a celebration of life, potential, and blessing, so that we will never allow ourselves to stand as those people did so long ago in Jerusalem.

Paragraphs Five & Six

In this paragraph and the next, King David is expressing gratitude for deliverance. When he thought he was at death’s door, he cried out to God. He expresses his gratitude through the medium of praise in the presence of an assembled congregation, and that what appears to be a private event, is inseparable from the life of the community. All the people share each other’s joys and sorrows, and so, King David summons them to celebrate with him.

This is the theme of this paragraph of the Hallel, Psalm 116, as it is the theme of the Hanukkah Psalm # 30.

Both these Psalms were part of our liturgy even as the Babylonian hordes approached Jerusalem. Imagine how different the story would have been if only we had reconnected to King David’s voice reminding us of the power of prayer, the impact of repentance, and the promise to express our gratitude to God upon salvation!

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.