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The Power of the Candles

The menorah brightens corners the Shabbos candles can't reach


The Power of the Candles

For every spiritual entity, Hashem created a physical counterpart.

Shlomo Hamelech (Mishlei 20:27) tells us that “the candle of Hashem is the soul of man.”

Shabbos is a day dedicated to the soul. As we usher it in, we light candles, whose glow reminds us that Shabbos is a day to focus on the neshamah. The candles invite us to rise, to aim higher, not to be so caught up in earthly things.

But there’s another occasion when we light candles — Chanukah. There are no white tablecloths, we don’t wear Shabbos clothes, it’s a regular weeknight.

The halachah is that the Shechinah doesn’t descend lower than ten tefachim (Succah 5a). One must rise, if only a little bit, to be included in Hashem’s company. However, on Chanukah, we’re not only allowed to light the candles below ten tefachim, but are enjoined to do so (Shabbos 21b). Additionally, certain wicks and oils that are prohibited for Shabbos candles, because they don’t burn consistently, are permitted for use on Chanukah (Shabbos 32b).

All this tells us that Chanukah can light up souls that Shabbos is unable to impact; it has the power to ignite oil and wicks usually too coarse to hold a flame of holiness.

And so, a person who has been stuck in tumah for a very long time can feel something stirring in them on Chanukah, pushing them to search for kedushah. What ignites these souls? What pushes them to begin their journey back to Hashem?

Another Jew who lit Chanukah candles.

Adapted from Feast of Faith by Rabbi Moshe Wolfson shlita

When He Comes: Part VI

There’s something in me resisting, almost even fighting, Mashiach’s coming. Where is this coming from and how can I overcome it?

We’ve all experienced this. We have a problem we desperately want a solution for, but something in us is resistant to resolving the issue. What prevents us from embracing improving a situation?

No matter how bad a situation we’re in, there’s a part of us that learns to thrive and do well despite the difficulty. That part wants a starring role. For example, it’s hard to snap out of a bad mood because the part of us that is moody is very short-sighted. It fears that when we cheer up, it will cease to exist as the “driver of the bus.” It will be relegated to a passenger seat as it’s taught to work for us, not against us. Meanwhile, it’s hijacking our ego, our sense of self, creating resistance to that which, logically, we should want with all of our heart. This dynamic can play out in even quite extreme circumstances.

The part of us flourishing right now in galus will no longer reign when Mashiach will come. In its fight for what it experiences as survival, this part of us resists Mashiach’s coming.

While hearing an inspiring story may awaken a longing for Mashiach, real, consistent, yearning for Mashiach, like all areas of spirituality, requires work of the mind and heart. We can try to figure out what parts of us are resisting Mashiach and give them up for our and the world’s ultimate well-being. We can also focus on the great happiness that awaits us when Hashem’s world will finally be perfect.

Step by step, we can grow into people who deeply and solidly await the Geulah, thereby bringing it closer.

Go with the Flow

Zahava M.

In the early years of my marriage, I knew that my job was to teach my husband how to be like me — a hard worker. It took many years for me to learn that, actually, I needed to become more like him.

I was working too hard, and I needed to learn to stop trying to control my life, to go with the flow, and enjoy each moment.

Ride the Train

Goldy Machlis, Kensington, New York

One of the constant struggles of mothers who work outside of the house is to get to work on time as they get their families out the door as well. Over the years, I’ve learned the skill, with each change of schedule requiring me to adapt the details.

As I was settling into my new schedule this year, very content at having finally figured it out, a thought came to my mind: “Those who say that only Hashem is totally in charge of whether I come on time to work or not, gimme a break! If you get your act together and leave early enough, you get to work on time. If not, not!”

And so, running right on time, I headed up to the train platform, already feeling the vibrations of the incoming train. And then, the train stopped. It remained standing for three whole minutes — an eternity on a busy workday morning. I thought I’d go out of my mind as I kept on willing the train to move. What was going on?

Suddenly, it hit me. Oh! Hashem, I’m so sorry! Of course, You’re in charge! I may be responsible to do everything within my power to be on time, but if You want, late I’ll be! Instantly, the train started moving. Boy, did I learn my lesson.

Then I got off the train, expecting the usual two-minute wait for the second leg of my morning journey — the bus. But the sign showed that the bus would be coming in five minutes. Hashem, I thought. I already learned my lesson when You made the train stop for three whole minutes earlier. You don’t have to teach me anymore!

Instantly, the sign changed, showing that the bus would be coming in two minutes, as it usually does. And indeed, it arrived right on time!

Hashem had lovingly taught me a lesson I’ll forever cherish.

“It’s very easy for a poor person to rely upon Hashem — what else is he supposed to rely on? It’s very hard for a rich person to rely upon Hashem — all of his wealth calls out, “Trust us!’”

Rav Moshe Leib of Sassov


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 821)

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