Posts Tagged ‘Chanukah’


Hallel: Rosh Chodesh Tevet: Part One

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer

This Rosh Chodesh Hallel is unusual in that we recite the complete Hallel, rather than skipping the first half of Psalm 115 and that of Psalm 116, because it is also Hanukkah.

It is unusual in another sense, as we are singing with the full joy of the Festival, even though in just a few days we will be fasting to commemorate the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem just before the destruction of the First Temple in Jerusalem. The people of Jerusalem surely knew that the Babylonian army was on its way to attack.

We will be commemorating other tragedies that occurred during this Hebrew month, such as the deaths of Ezra and Nehemiah, and the translation of the Torah into Greek for Ptolmey.

First Paragraph:

We sing this Hallel with full joy despite knowing that we will soon be commemorating this series of tragedies. This Hallel surely falls into the category of the Hallel we must sing before tragedy strikes.

“From the rising of the sun to its setting, God’s Name is praised (Psalm 113:3).” Although we know that it is not the sun that is circling the Earth, it is certainly the way it appears to our eyes: As if, we are circled by the sun; it surrounds us as a siege surrounds a city. This reminds us of another verse in Psalms, “Jerusalem is surrounded by mountains, and God surrounds His people, from now and forever (125:2).”

We sing this paragraph of the Hallel with full confidence that even though armies may come and surround Jerusalem, laying siege to it, God surrounds them and will protect us.

We take the joy of the Chanukah miracle with confidence and project it into the future and rejoice that the same Divine Guidance that protected us during the Chanukah story, will protect us during the coming month.

Second Paragraph

The theme of this paragraph of the Hallel is: Just as we were redeemed from Egypt, so too, will we be redeemed from the Babylonian exile. The Exodus was not just something that happened in our great history; it became part of our very nature and reality. It is part of our being.

It was the Exodus that gave us the power to fight against the Greeks and win the Chanukah victory.

It was the Exodus that empowered us to survive the Babylonian exile with confidence that we would return to Jerusalem.

It is the Exodus that empowers us to continue to survive despite all our troubles with the confidence that He, “Who turns the rock into a pond of water, the flint into a flowing fountain,” will transform everything around us so that we may return to Him in full glory.

Third Paragraph:

The word came to Jeremiah from God when King Zedekiah sent to him Pashhur son of Malkijah and the priest Zephaniah son of Maaseiah. They said: “Inquire now of God for us because Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon is attacking us. Perhaps God will perform wonders for us as in times past so that he will withdraw from us.”

But Jeremiah answered them, “Tell Zedekiah, ‘This is what God, the Lord of Israel, says:

I am about to turn against you the weapons of war that are in your hands, which you are using to fight the king of Babylon and the Babylonians who are outside the wall besieging you. And I will gather them inside this city.

I myself will fight against you with an outstretched hand and a mighty arm in furious anger and in great wrath.

I will strike down those who live in this city—both man and beast—and they will die of a terrible plague.

After that, declares God,

I will give Zedekiah king of Judah, his officials and the people in this city who survive the plague, sword and famine, into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and to their enemies who want to kill them. He will put them to the sword; he will show them no mercy or pity or compassion.’

“Furthermore, tell the people, ‘This is what God says:

See, I am setting before you the way of life and the way of death.

Whoever stays in this city will die by the sword, famine or plague.

But whoever goes out and surrenders to the Babylonians who are besieging you will live; they will escape with their lives.

I have determined to do this city harm and not good, declares God.

It will be given into the hands of the king of Babylon, and he will destroy it with fire.’

“Moreover, say to the royal house of Judah, ‘Hear the word of God.

This is what God says to you, House of David:

“‘Administer justice every morning;

rescue from the hand of the oppressor

the one who has been robbed,

or my wrath will break out and burn like fire

because of the evil you have done—

burn with no one to quench it.

I am against you, Jerusalem,

you who live above this valley

on the rocky plateau, declares God—

you who say,

“Who can come against us?

Who can enter our refuge?”

I will punish you as your deeds deserve,

declares God.

I will kindle a fire in your forests

that will consume everything around you.’

(Jeremiah Chapter 21)”

This is the paragraph of Hallel that describes our great trust in God because He is True and real. He is not like the idols of the other nations.

Jeremiah’s audience trusted that God would save them.

They trusted that God would never allow the Babylonians to successfully destroy Jerusalem.

They trusted that God would protect His Holy Temple.

Jeremiah is warning them that their trust is misplaced; not because of God being unable to protect them, but because they have rejected God and His multiple warnings that if they refused to change and live as good people and create a just and righteous society, that they would be destroyed by the Babylonians.

We sing this paragraph because it is Hanukkah,

because our trust in God after the Chanukah miracle is so real and tangible, because we have recommitted ourselves to live as He desires,

because we are committed to bringing His Light to the world.

We can use the trust of Hanukkah,

the confidence of Hanukkah,

the joy of Hanukkah,

the reconnection to God of Hanukkah,

to project deserved trust that God will surely protect us over the coming month.

It was this level of trust that was lacking in Jeremiah’s generation.

It is not lacking as we sing this Hallel on Hanukkah.

We have the ability to sing this Hallel to protect us from tragedy with full confidence that this time it will protect us.

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.


Burning to Give Light

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Portion of the Week, Spiritual Growth

“What is to give light must endure burning (Victor Frankl).”

“Joseph shall place his hand on your eyes (Genesis 46:4).” God promised Jacob that Joseph would give light to him and to the entire family, for all generations. Although this would be a time of great stability for the family, a period of darkness was soon to descend on the Children of Israel. It will be Joseph’s vision that will give light to the people even during the darkest times. Joseph would not have been able to provide such light had he not 1st endured terrible burning; sold as a slave, thrown into prison, and struggling to live as the son of Jacob despite his position as viceroy of Egypt. It was Joseph’s endurance even while burning that empowered him to give light to his family for so long.

God acknowledged the light provided by the Maccabees with the miracle of the oil that burned for eight days. The Maccabees continue to give us light thousands of years later. They too, would never have succeeded in providing such light had they not first endured burning in battle, losses, defeats, and terrible suffering. It was their determination to endure despite their burning that gave them the ability to give light just as a burning candle.

I am often moved when meeting with a family to prepare a eulogy how the most powerful memories are usually those of how the deceased illuminated the lives of his or her family by virtual of his ability to endure.

I have found for myself that the most effective way to endure despite the great suffering is to be aware that the endurance brings more light to the world. The key was to focus on the light I could create rather than focus on the demand to accept suffering.

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.


“Dancing with the Stars” and the Acquisition of True Beauty

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Reflections & Observations

Written by Debbie Isaacman

Dancing with the Stars is one of my favorite shows! I look forward to watching the

glitzy and dazzling costumes, the music which moves us to feel such a wide range of emotions from the quick paced rhythmic beats to the lyrical flow of music used for the waltz. Then of course there are the dancers themselves who come on stage every week and rise to the challenge of performing. The competition has the potential to facilitate not only the progress of dancing technique but also the personal growth and development of the contestants themselves!

From the moment one particular contestant took to the stage, he won my heart and that of many others as well. He was not your conventionally “handsome” celebrity but by virtue of the fact that he was a participant in this competion, showed that he had a winning combination of courage and charisma that was going to take him far. Not many people with a severely distorted and scared face would feel confident walking onto a dance-floor where their “unconventional” physical features would be seen by millions. JR Martinez had been a soldier who was involved in a landmine explosion while in Iraq. His injuries were very severe and it was not clear if he would make it. He did survive but in many ways he wished that he hadn’t after he saw what his face and body looked like.

I could identify with JR’s struggle as I too have a somewhat “unique physical appearance difference.” I was born with the radius bone missing in each of my arms, making my forearms somewhat smaller than everybody else’s. My doctor told me if you are to miss a bone, the radius is the way to go as it does not connect to the elbow which thankfully gives me the flexibility of movement and allows me to be completely functional. It has been pretty challenging going through life looking distinctly different especially in a world where beauty is a very sought after commodity. Many women will go to extraordinary lengths to achieve this state of beauty including having plastic surgeries and Botox treatment to ensure their physical beauty stays in tact. This preoccupation with physical beauty has a history going back to ancient times.

The Ancient Greeks or Hellenists, the protagonists in the Chanukah story, put great emphasis on the body and physical perfection. They were the ones who created the Olympic Games which was an arena to celebrate the human form and its accomplishments. One’s worth in this culture was dependent on outside appearance and physical form which by its nature is temporary and as such will eventually disappear. The Ancient Greeks did not learn the lesson that Jewish wisdom has always taught which is that beauty is not what you look like on the outside but who you choose to develop yourself to be from the inside. JR Martinez made a choice not to be defined by his physical appearance but rather it is through his courage, determination and fighting spirit that a special kind of beauty radiates.

We all go through life as soldiers fighting the toughest war of all and that is the one we wage with ourselves. The Chanukah story is all about triumph against the enemy by accessing those qualities which we have to draw from the depths of our being. When this occurs and we know and understand our worth in the world, then miracles can begin to happen. When we have come out of our own battlefields scarred by the experiences we have had and choose to use the light we contain within, we truly become shining stars in the world. We can use the Macabees, as our role models who have taught us how each one of us has the potential to be a hero in the world. We can see JR Martinez living this message today. He teaches us that despite obstacles and adversity that challenge our lives, we have the capacity to radiate light out into the world as he has done.

As you watch the candles flicker, know that the flames you see are a reflection of the light that shines within you and that is where true beauty lies!


Living at the Speed of Light

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

“Everybody at the speed of light tends to become a nobody (Marshall McLuhan; ‘McLuhan Probe’).” Our world seems to be moving at the speed of light, and it’s hard for many to sense their significance. The winds blow past us at breakneck speed as we desperately cling onto those things that provide us with stability. Many practice Judaism as their structure. Yet, there are increasing numbers of people who want to use their Judaism to connect to the world and find their meaning at the speed of light.

Chanukah, the Festival of Light, is a lesson in how to live at light speed. It all began with a call from the Macabees, “Whoever is for God join me!” In other words, Become an active participant!

Thousands of people are daily turning to The Foundation Stone to discover ways to find deeper meaning even at light speed. We respond to thousands of emails and calls, provide lectures, programs, workshops, and spiritual guidance. We need your help to continue and expand our work. Each article you read reflects time to think, write, edit, and post. We have thousands of recorded lectures to post as MP3s, but need your financial support to actualize, just as we do for the books we want to publish, and new workshops to offer.

Consider becoming an active participant in our expanding efforts and joining us as we learn to live with meaning even at the speed of light. Please make an end of year tax deductible contribution to The Foundation Stone and help us grow, hopefully, at the speed of light.

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.


“The Toy Store Redux” by Prof Gerald August

by developer in Holidays

A few years ago, the week before Chanukah, I went to a toy store in midtown Manhattan to buy a gift for a child. However, I made the mistake of going at lunchtime. So did a lot of other people. After I picked up the toy, I went to the lines for the cash registers. And the shortest line had 14 people in it.

I did not have patience for such a wait, but there I was. What should I do, standing there? I was looking around at the different people giving up their lunch hour and standing on line for 15 minutes to buy toys.

And it hit me. These people were spending time and money on other people. Parents were buying presents for their children. Uncles and aunts were buying presents for their nephews and nieces. Friends and neighbors were buying presents for the sons and daughters of their friends. I saw lines of people doing good deeds.

I realized I was standing not only in a toy store, but in a sacred space. This thought banished my impatience and I stood waiting in line with a calm I had never experienced in this situation.

Perhaps the same will happen to you.

Happy Chanukah


Driving Up Lombard

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

I never did it, but I’ve often heard about people who taught their children to swim by throwing them into a pool. At least the parent can jump in to help the child. My very dear friend, Dr. J.S. took the pool tossing idea one step further: He wanted me to learn how to drive a manual shift car, so he put me in his ancient VW Beetle and sent me from San Jose to San Francisco with directions, he said, to a “certain Lombard street.” “By the time you finish driving up Lombard, you’ll know how to drive a stick! By the way, don’t forget the choke,” he said as he waved goodbye.

I had no idea of what a choke was, but, he was right; I had to stop at a traffic light at the top of Lombard, one of the steepest streets in the U.S. A Rolls Royce pulled up just behind me. I couldn’t let the car roll backwards as I shifted into first. I used both hands to roll down the window so I could signal to the car behind me to back up 100 feet or so. Unfortunately, there were about ten cars behind him. I was stuck. I was forced to learn what the choke was. I did learn how to drive a stick shift that day. By the time I returned Dr. S’s car, his hair had turned white. Despite his bravado, and for some odd reason, he didn’t trust my driving. He sent me despite his concerns. I guess I wasn’t the only one who drove up Lombard that day.

The interesting thing is that I often find myself driving up Lombard: Being faced with a challenge, forced to overcome my fears, and develop new skills using whatever meager resources are available.

When Matityahu sent his followers into battle, he was sending them up Lombard. They were Kohanim – Temple Priests – not warriors. They won a few battles and had to drive up Lombard again as they negotiated with Antioch and Rome. I suspect that they were as nervous as I was at the top of Lombard, but their glory is in their willingness to constantly drive up new Lombards and master new skills no matter how meager their resources.

Chanukah celebrates Lombard people who refuse to measure their responsibilities by their resources and who approach every challenge with a sense of a small jar of oil burning as long as is necessary.

I never told Dr. S that I fit six large teenagers into his car. I can fit in a few more. Care to join me?

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.



by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

I am sitting and watching my menorah on the final night of Chanukah. It’s a peaceful feeling. The short flickering flames are soothing and claming and I slip into a meditation on all the miracles of and in my life. The stories of the miracles were storms, better represented by a forest fire, definitely not by the soft flames of a candle. I would not have needed miracles for situations as calm as a Chanukah light. The miracles were necessary when hot, burning, threatening flames were reaching deep into my life. Why, I wonder, do we acknowledge a miracle with such a small flame?

I light a 24 hour candle on the anniversary of my father’s passing because the “Candle of God is a person’s soul.” Are our souls only candles? My father was not a small candle; he was a torch of light. His flames burned bright and strong. “Beware of scholars for they burn like hot coals.” My father’s fires still burn inside of me whenever I study, whenever I have a question, whenever I am searching. Why, I wonder, do we compare a soul to a candle and not something just a little more potent? To God, he may have been a candle. To me, my father was a raging fire of truth.

I realized that the candles of miracles and my father are not supposed to represent them, but their impact on me. My father lit my fire. It is my responsibility to fan the flames into my own torch. Each miracle I have been privileged to experience lit a small light inside of me that I must now nurture and feed into a much larger flame.

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.


Thought Tools: Whale Oil or Olive Oil by Rabbi Daniel Lapin

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Reflections & Observations

Tonight we light the 8th and final light of Chanukah. Chanukah serves as an antidote to one of the most oppressive sensations that torments us all—shortage.  We agonize over shortage of money, space, love, health, and friends.  Scarcity is even promoted as a part of the sacred sacrament of secularism. It is indeed the rightful result for those who reject God.  In contrast, as we light one additional flame each night of Hanukkah we inject into our souls the idea that through God, each day can bring more and more, not less and less.

Just over 2,000 years ago, the Hasmoneans, led by Judah Maccabee, successfully rebelled against their Greek oppressors who had ransacked the Jerusalem Temple. The high priest, who was preparing to rededicate the Temple and relight the menorah, found only one small jar of pure olive oil. Ancient Jewish wisdom teaches that this jar of oil, sufficient for only one day, miraculously kept the menorah burning for eight full days.

Beguiled by the story, it is all too easy to ignore a deeper meaning—God’s blessing of bounty.  By the laws of nature there was insufficient oil to last until more could be gotten. But the laws of God transcend the laws of nature. One legacy of ancient Greece, which is the rejection of monotheism, contracts the bounty of the universe while God with His gift of infinite limitlessness expands it.

Secularists, today’s heirs of Greek philosophy, obsess irrationally on lack of resources. This, in spite of the fact that historical parallels ranging from Thomas Malthus’ notorious 1798 “Essay on Population,” all the way to my examples below, have proven to be needlessly hysterical.

America used to depend on whale oil for lighting. During the early 19th century, pundits warned that since whales were being harvested at an ever increasing rate, America would soon go dark. To conserve the remaining whale oil, they recommended extinguishing all lanterns no later than 10 p.m. They were right about running out of whale oil, but they were wrong about America going dark. In 1859, a railroad conductor called Edwin Drake struck oil in Titusville, Pa. America remained brightly lit by lanterns that burned paraffin.

Until the early 18th century, colonial homes were heated mostly by burning wood. Forests were vanishing and the rapidly growing colonies were running out of firewood. Eliminate immigration and ration firewood, was the call of the day. They were right about running out of firewood but it didn’t matter because we soon found and began burning a far superior fuel called coal.

During the 1980s, fax machines became popular and people installed additional lines to accommodate these devices.  Frightened “experts” like Paul Ehrlich, issued dire warnings about the price of copper. There was insufficient copper in the world to run two phone lines to every home.

They were right about there not being enough copper. They were wrong about its price. The miracle of God-given human ingenuity made copper as redundant as whale oil. We began sending data through impossibly thin glass filaments. Glass is made from sand and we are in no danger of running out of sand.

Lacking sufficient copper, whale oil or wood only seemed to be a problem. In reality, our God-given ingenuity developed exciting new technology that eliminated our need for each commodity just as it was becoming scarce.

I encourage you to consider giving yourself or others an abundance of learning. As an added incentive, our library pack – including the new Prosperity Power CDs – is 15% off for 48 hours (online, U.S. orders only). This collection of books and audio CDs can truly expand your horizons, providing messages from ancient Jewish wisdom that will benefit your family and financial lives. Studying Bible through the eyes of ancient Jewish wisdom is an effective catalyst of creativity.  Employing timeless truth to supercharge the soul has served generations of Jewish innovators, thinkers, and entrepreneurs and can do the same for you.

Hanukkah invites us all to express gratitude to the Creator whose beneficence is boundless. It reminds us that with His gift of creativity, challenges become optimistic opportunities to partner with God to solve all our material shortages.

Thought Tools

by Rabbi Daniel Lapin


Doing Away With The Trappings IV

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Portion of the Week

“Now Joseph could not restrain himself in the presence of all who stood before him, so he called out, ‘Remove everyone from before me!’ Thus no one remained with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers. He cried in a loud voice. Egypt heard, and Pharaoh’s household heard.” (Genesis 45:1-2)

We asked the following questions (See “Doing Away With The Trappings I, II, & III”): Although Rashi explains that Joseph emptied the room to save his brothers from embarrassment, we have to wonder why the verse says that he “could not restrain himself,” rather than, ‘he could not reveal himself.’ If Joseph was so concerned for his brothers’ dignity, why did he cry so loud that all of Egypt “heard, and Pharaoh’s household heard?” Why does the verse describe all of Egypt hearing Joseph before Pharaoh’s household? Would not the King’s household be the first to hear?

I believe that the last two questions offer the key to understanding this scene: Joseph’s revelation was intended to be as a regular person, as of “All of Egypt,” and not as royalty, “Pharaoh’s household.” Joseph cleared the room of all the trappings of royalty and power. He wanted the brothers to see him as their brother, the same one they sold into slavery, whose power was not in his trappings, externals, but inside of himself: He, who had been sold as a slave, could rise to the top of the most powerful nation on earth, and find his strength in himself, not his trappings.

Joseph could not restrain “himself” in the presence of his retinue. He wanted to be himself, not anyone else, not the viceroy of Egypt.

Joseph’s cry was not the response of a powerful man who would simply have executed the brothers for their previous sin. He did not want his brothers to be shamed by how they treated the great man of Egypt.

The brothers had fallen into a trap, one with which most of us are familiar; that of externals. They had stopped acting with their original confidence and began to search for, and respond to, externals. Joseph seized the moment of Judah approaching himself, acting with the same authority and confidence he used to convince his siblings to sell Joseph, to say, “I can reveal myself as I am only now that you are acting as you are.” Rashi describes all that Joseph had to do to prove to his brothers that he was Joseph, the original version, not the viceroy of Egypt.

Joseph was speaking to us as well…

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.


Doing Away With The Trappings III

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Portion of the Week

In “Doing Away With The Trappings I & II,” we studied Joseph’s strategy in preparing for the moment when he would reveal himself to his brothers. These great and powerful men who warred against Shechem and instilled fear in their neighbors had lost their grasp on greatness. Judah was not the only brother to “descend.” (Genesis 38:1)

They looked back at their decision to sell their brother, their flesh and blood, and to then lie to Jacob and destroy his life, and lost all confidence in their decisions. Judah did not only descend from his brothers; he descended from the authoritative leader he had been, and soon found himself in the bed of a prostitute. Joseph too, had “gone down,” not by his own volition, but as a man sold into slavery by his brothers. He too found himself in the bed of a strange woman, another man’s wife, but he ran with his internal dignity intact, willing to sacrifice all to maintain his essence. One brother, Judah, lost his bearings in his decline. The other brother, Joseph, did not. The victim was empowered. The powerful man was weakened.

Joseph could not allow Judah or any of the brothers to continue in their weakened state. A weak family would not survive exile in Egypt. Joseph wanted his brothers to rediscover their inner strength and dignity. Judah was the example of decline. He would have to be the example of regaining his essence. “Then Judah approached,” in confidence and power. The moment arrived. Joseph was ready:

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.