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The Living Menorah

The Living Menorah

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Rabbi Shmuel of Lubavitch famously said, "One must listen to the Chanukah candles." Gazing at the beautiful candles isn't sufficient; one must also pay attention to the lessons they are imparting.

The soft glow of the candles lends added radiance and luster to the kaleidoscope of colors which it touches. The walls, the furniture, and even the dispositions of the people who are within its reach, are all enhanced by the Chanukah candles. Similarly, the lessons of the menorah affect all aspects of life — the more we listen to the flickering flames, the more areas of our life are positively affected.

The following are some of the lessons the candles have taught me:

  1. The word "Chanukah" shares the same root as the Hebrew word "chinuch," education. The Greeks worked tirelessly to cause the Jews to forsake and forget the Torah. When they were defeated, it was necessary to start reeducating the population at large, and specifically the children. One need not search far to uncover the link between Chanukah and education — a more fitting metaphor for education than kindling the menorah cannot be found. There's a popular axiom: "Children should be seen, not heard." It's evident that this phrase wasn't coined by an educator. Our children are our candles to whom we must listen. It is impossible to inspire a child without listening very closely to what he or she is saying — explicitly as well as implicitly.
  2. "Children should be seen, not heard." It's evident that this phrase wasn't coined by an educatorEvery educator — this includes parents as well as those who choose the sacred task of education to be their lifelong calling — is entrusted with beautiful candles made of the purest oils. The educator has two options: he or she can endeavor to safeguard the candles, protecting them against all harmful influences by keeping them safely ensconced in their carton; or he can kindle the precious candles, enflaming them with warmth and passion for their heritage — clearly, the choice of the consummate educator.
  3. A flame must be lit by using another flame. In order to educate a generation which is excited and passionate about Judaism, the educators must exude those same qualities. Children intuitively pay more attention to our actions than our words. We must rejuvenate our excitement about Judaism. We must pray with fervor and do mitzvot with zeal. Do it for the children. Hackneyed and stale Judaism just won't ignite a fire in our children's hearts.
  4. The menorah is proudly displayed on our windowsill; we do not attempt to conceal the pride we feel with regards to our glorious heritage. Similarly, it is our duty to raise a generation of "living menorahs," Jews who are proud of their Judaism and are not ashamed to behave as Jews — even when walking on the street, even in the workplace. Children who are raised with these values will certainly live up to their G‑d-given designation, and be an unabashed "light unto the nations." This army of light will undoubtedly chase away the darkness of exile and will proudly witness the kindling of the menorah in the newly dedicated Holy Temple in Jerusalem.
Rabbi Naftali Silberberg is a writer, editor and director of the curriculum department at the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute. Rabbi Silberberg resides in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife, Chaya Mushka, and their three children.
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Anonymous December 22, 2008

very inspiring and helpful Reply

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