The glimmering illumination that is Hashem’s love | Harav Y. Reuven Rubin Shlita


The glimmering illumination that is Hashem’s love

By Harav Y. Reuven Rubin Shlita


The resilience of our Torah leaders has shaped the wonder that is Klal Yisroel. From our very beginning, our nation has defied all odds and thrived despite the most difficult times.  Where does this ability to hold on and even grow, despite adversity, originate? Which wellspring gives us this courage and hope? Chazal call the Sefer of Bereishis “Toras Avos” the Torah of our Forefathers, which intimates that everything in this first Book of the Chumash contains a myriad of teachings that we the children of those first holy ancestors need to learn and absorb.

Visiting my close mentor and friend Rav Moshe Kupetz (may he soon see a total refuah shleimah- please daven for Sholem Moshe ben Baila) he shared with me a Medrash Lekach Tov that was extremely moving. Parshas Vayishlach is unique in that the vast majority of the sentences start with the Hebrew letter vav which usually means “and”.  We are taught that sentences starting this way generally hint at future sorrow. This parsha contains the blueprint of all future epochs of our people’s Diaspora. It tells us about the sale of Yosef Hatzaddik by his brothers and the beginnings of our descent into Mitzrayim. Little wonder then that all its sentences start with a touch of sadness. Yet, there are eight sentences that start with other letters. Whilst sharing this insight, Rav Moshe sighed and said that no matter how many times one learns Chumash, there will always be new surprises. Most people would never see this pattern, yet there it is, and when needed it comes forth. Eight sentences of hope mixed in with all the woe. Perhaps this represents the eight days of Chanukah, which is a time of illumination created in the midst of the darkest time of our people. When we are faced with difficult challenges we are meant to embrace the knowledge that in this mix can be found light, and it will be this light that will ultimately be eternally cerebrated.

We have a unique law on Chanukah. The Talmud tells us, and the Shulchan Aruch records, ha’roeh mevareich, one who can’t light for himself or herself and sees the candles of someone else nevertheless makes the second blessing of “Who has wrought miracles for our forefathers.”

When seeing someone put on tefillin, take a lulav, or blow shofar, we don’t make a blessing. Only on Chanukah does one make a blessing when seeing someone else do the mitzvah. Why?

“Chanukah is about seeing things, people, ideas, and miracles that are actually right in front of us, even though we may not be able to visibly see them”

The Kedushas Levi, Rav Levi Yitzchok of Berdichov, tells us that Chanukah is the holiday of seeing. The different Jewish holydays correspond with our different senses. On Purim our hearing is heightened as we listen to the Megillah. On Pesach our sense of taste is sharpened when we eat matzo and marror. On Chanukah, he says, we evaluate our sense of sight, testing how well we see.

What kind of seeing are we honing? It is not our physical sense of sight. In our times of Fake News we must certainly accept that not everything we see is to be believed. No, for a Yied there is a higher sense of seeing. It’s the understanding that Hashem is in our lives constantly, His illumination is there within our lives, permeating even the difficult challenges that life throws at us.  The highly respected Rav, Rabbi Efrem Goldberg, offers a brilliant example of this dynamic:

What is the difference between a room that is filled with darkness versus one filled with light? Is there any change to the room itself? Whether the light is on or off in the room, the furniture remains the same, the layout of the room, the placement of the door, and the height of the ceiling are a constant.

What, then, is the difference between the light being on or off in my room? Just one’s perception, the ability to identify and see the reality, the truth and that which was right before you all along.

Chanukah is about seeing things, people, ideas, and miracles that are actually right in front of us, even though we may not be able to visibly see them.

The Chashmonoim didn’t see their few numbers, weak army, and impossible task. They saw the mighty hand of Hashem, the obligation to fight, and they saw Divine protection that would accompany them.

Chanukah is about lighting the candles and using them to harness our sight, not in the ophthalmic sense, but our deep vision of what is true, precious, and dear.

The Torah holds secrets that await us with every reading.

As a Rav I have had to prepare Torah verta for every sort of occasion and each Shabbos Kodesh. I have found that an appropriate Torah insight will present itself just when needed.

Eight sentences of light, eight days of Chanukah, even in the midst of our Golus, they flicker and offer hope.

We often find ourselves enveloped in a cover of darkness, the power that our Avos bestowed on us is that even in such a haze, there is the glimmering illumination that is Hashem’s love.

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