The Rebbe Rashab נ"ע had just turned twenty-two when he delivered this maamar, late in 1882. His father, the Rebbe Maharash נ"ע, had passed away only two months beforehand, on Yud-Gimmel Tishrei, and, as afterwards recorded by his son, the Rebbe Rayatz נ"ע, a long time was yet to pass before he would recover from the blow.

In later years the chassidim of those days reverently recalled the first delivery of this maamar, and the impact of its message. For this maamar, one of the first fruits of a prolific lifetime harvest of such discourses, clarifies some of the most basic seminal concepts in Chabad thinking, such as: the unity of the Creator; infinite revelation as perceived by finite mortals; the symbiosis of Torah and mitzvos; the dynamics of self-refinement through the joyful service of G‑d; and man’s ongoing task of lighting up the dark world outside.

When this maamar first appeared on the eve of Chanukah two years ago, we wrote:

The last-mentioned task makes this maamar especially timely. We are living in a year in which the Rebbe Shlita is reminding us that the four Hebrew letters indicating the date תשע"נ (5751) are the initials of the words,תהא שנת אראנו נפלאות — “This will be a year in which ‘I shall show you wonders.’ (The latter phrase echoes the prophecy of the future redemption, “As in the days of your Exodus from Egypt, I will show you wonders.”* ) There are times when the hushed workings of Divine Providence operate behind the scenes incognito, so that “the person to whom a miracle occurs does not recognize the miracle that has happened to him.”* Niflaos (“wonders”), by contrast, are events that cannot pass unseen. These promised manifestations of the Creator’s involvement in the world will be so visible that He will show them to us.

With the advantage of hindsight, the rest of the world soon witnessed what the Rebbe Shlita had predicted: the formidable threat of the Gulf War came and went, leaving the Holy Land, exactly as the Rebbe Shlita had promised, “the safest place in the world.”

This year has been similarly designated by the Rebbe Shlita: the four Hebrew letters indicating the date תשנ"ג (5753) are the initials of the words, תהא שנת נפלאות גדולות — “This will be a year of great wonders.” Together with the entire House of Israel, we and our readers are waiting and praying to see how those wonders, too, will soon become manifest, as the Rebbe Shlita is immediately restored to robust health, and brings the world to the sublime fulfillment of its cosmic role. For wonders, as explained above, are manifestations of Divinity in this world.

As a foretaste of those manifestations, equally visible for all to see, are the lights of Chanukah. Their classic position is at the door of one’s home, facing outward, for they have two functions — to tell passers-by of the wonders that they commemorate, and to light up the dark world outside. The present discourse of Chassidus gives the reader an insight into the deep-seated meanings of the Chanukah lights. Moreover, it shows him how he, too, through implementing these concepts in his daily life, can light up the dark world outside.

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