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On Chanukah, every type of soul can be inspired. Every soul has that power on Chanukah.

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Chanuka is a time to focus on the Jewish educational needs of our children, says Rabbi Yirmi Cohen, and just like the sealed cruise of oil, education needs to be pure and holy. (Photo: uberdox.aishdas.org)

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It is with pleasure that I begin my first Parsha column for TheJ.ca.

As we begin Chanuka, the festival of lights, this year, the Candles have so much more meaning and relevance for all of us as we get through Covid-19.

The Miracle of Chanuka we celebrate both a military victory and a spiritual one.

A small group were victorious over a large mighty army of the Syrian Greeks. That was a huge miracle. Yet, trangely, the bigger miracle and fuss on Chanuka is all about the Menorah. They miraculously found one pure cruise of oil, enough to burn for only one day, but miraculously, it burned for eight days. That is why we eat latkes fried in oil, the oil representing the Torah. The Greeks opposed the Jews studying Torah and especially as a divine Torah from G-d. The emphasis is on spiritual victory, and that is why the main emphasis is the Menorah lighting rather than the physical victory.

It is interesting that the mitzvah to light the Menorah is specifically after sunset and the candles must burn into the night. Why? Because we shine light into the darkness. As we place the Menorah near the window or doors of our homes, we send a message to the world. Darkness is temporary. You need only a small candle to light up a dark room. A little bit of light pushes away a lot of darkness. Also, every night we light an additional candle because a Jew must always add & not stay where he or she was yesterday. For many months, it has been “dark,” with the Covid Pandemic.  

The Jewish people also experienced a very dark period. Our Temple was destroyed, it was filled with idols. Torah and many of our commandments were outlawed. Yet it started from one cruise of oil. One brave “Maccabee,” took the initiative & it led to the Chanuka victory.

Chanuka is also from the Hebrew word, “Chinuch,” which means education.

Chanuka is a time to focus on the Jewish educational needs of our children.

And just like the sealed cruise of oil, education needs to be pure and holy.

Thank G-d, today, we can all study the Torah & observe the Mitzvot, proudly.

I’m reminded of the legendary Natan Sharansky who was sitting in a Soviet Gulag for his Zionist activities. It was Chanukah and he so much wanted to light the Menorah. He managed to make one from wood he found some candles. He was thrilled! On the sixth night of Chanuka, his Menorah and candles were confiscated. He ran to the duty officer to ask what happened. “The candlesticks are made from state materials. This is illegal.” Sharansky replied, “In two days I will return to you this state property.”

The officer called his superior and was told, “A camp is not a synagogue. We won’t permit you to pray here.” Sharansky immediately declared a hunger strike, saying, “You are violating my religious and national rights.”

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A commission from Moscow headed by Major Osin was to arrive in his camp. He was a very cruel Communist.

The Major tried to talk him out of his hunger strike. “Give me back my Menorah & I will end my hunger strike. Tonight is the last night of Chanuka,” Sharansky said. Finally, Osin found the Menorah in the desk. He brought him a candle. “I need eight candles,” said Sharansky.

Then Sharansky asked for his Major’s hat to say the blessings. At the end, Sharansky added in Hebrew, “May the day come when all our enemies who are planning our destruction will stand before us and hear our prayers & say Amen.”

“Amen,” Omin whispered back.

They both stared silently at the burning Menorah. On Chanukah, every type of soul can be inspired. Every soul has that power on Chanukah.

Prime Minister Shimon Peres (left) welcomes released Prisoner of Zion Antatoly Sharansky as he steps off the Westwind plane arriving from Frankfurt at Ben-Gurion Airport. (Photo: Government Press Office)

I will never forget the moment with the Lubavitcher Rebbe in 1990. He asked that there be a “Chanukah Live Menorah Lighting.” This was the first televised Chanuka rally. We watched the Menorah being lit with the Lubavitcher Rebbe in New York, a Menorah in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Kotel & also in Red Square & the Kremlin. I saw the Rebbe wipe a tear from his eye. This was once a place where Jews were tortured & now was a place where Judaism was being celebrated in freedom.

Today, when a Jew studies the Torah and performs the Mitzvot, he and she are a shining Menorah.

We will recite the third blessing, “the Shehecheyanu” “G-d, who has granted us life, sustained us and enabled us to reach this time.” As we gather around the Menorah and we add a few calories, savouring the delicious latkes, let us also add in doing more Mitzvot.

May G-d bless us all with good health & joy.  May we merit to light the Menorah, in Jerusalem, in the third Temple, in our days, Amen!  Happy Chanukah!

Rabbi Yirmi Cohen attended the Eitz Chaim day school in Toronto and received his Rabbinic Ordination in 1993 by the Chief Rabbi of Kfar Chabad, Israel, Rabbi Ashkenazi. He has been a Life Insurance Broker & financial advisor since 1998 & is a part time Rabbi at the Ohalei Yoseph Yitzchak Congregation in Toronto since 2003.

 
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Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

We thank you for your ongoing support.

Happy reading!

Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

We thank you for your ongoing support.

Happy reading!

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