As mentioned in some of the other seforim in the Vedibarta Bam series it was never my ambition to be a publisher nor was I trained to be a writer. The purpose of the seforim I printed until now and will, please G‑d, publish, is to provide a medium which will unite our family, past, present and future.

When Yehudah pleaded with Yosef to release Binyamin, he stressed the bond between Binyamin and Yaakov by saying “venafsho keshurah benafsho” — “and his soul is bound up with his soul” (Bereishit 44:30). The word “keshurah” (קשורה) in Torah numerology adds up to 611, as does the word “Torah” (תורה). Yehudah’s message was that the relationship of Yaakov and his children was not just biological but that they were soul-mates. This unique bond was created by the Torah Yaakov conveyed to his children, and similarly Torah is the language which unites the Jewish people of all generations.

Towards that end I publish these seforim and pray that they be used by my children, grandchildren and future generations. Words cannot adequately describe how gratifying it is to hear one of our young grandchildren say Zeide, I read it in your sefer.”

On Chanukah we celebrate our victory over the Syrian-Greeks, whose goal was “lehashkicham Toratechah” — to stop the Jewish people from studying Torah and make them ultimately forget it. The best way to celebrate such a victory is through engaging in the study of Torah. This is also why the emphasis of Chanukah is the kindling of the Menorah, since candles and light are analogous to Torah and mitzvot. As King Shlomo says, “For a mitzvah is candle and Torah is light” (Proverbs 6:23).

When the sages instituted the kindling of the Menorah on Chanukah, they ordained that it be neir ish ubeito” — a candle for a man and his family. More than on any other Yom Tov, the emphasis here is on family and household. And most probably this may also be an explanation for all the family gatherings that commonly take place during Chanukah.

As is customary, our family too would arrange a Chanukah party for the entire family. It was a chance for me to meet my uncles, aunts and cousins. And in more recent years, after my wife and I married and had a family of our own, it gave our children an opportunity to meet their cousins and great uncles and aunts. The highlight was when my grandfather Rabbi Tzvi Hakohen Kaplan ע"ה would deliver his address and message. Even my children, some of who are amongst the oldest grandchildren may remember my mother, Buby Hadassah’s ע"ה rogelach, which were a favorite, but they are too young to remember my grandfather and especially not his dvar Torah.

Almost every year he would say something similar, and in another part of this book, I printed it under the caption “My Ziede’s Chanukah Message.” The gist of his message was that his and my grandmother Buby Yehudis’ wish is that their children and grandchildren conduct homes in the spirit of authentic Torah teaching. Their greatest desire was that their offspring not just be shomrei Torah and mitzvot but also lomdei Torah, ones who set aside time for Torah study.

Let the following suffice to portray the love for Torah he possessed and transmitted to his children. My grandfather was an exceptional Talmid Chacham. According to my uncle, Reb Shimon Hakohen Kaplan ע"ה, his admittance to the very prominent Yeshivah of Mir prior to his bar mitzvah made him the youngest student every accepted there. After his marriage, he settled in the city of Mir, where he taught in the yeshivah ketana of the Mirer Yeshivah.

My grandparents arrived in the United States, together with their five children on November 18, 1924. Soon thereafter, my grandfather joined the faculty of Yeshivah Torah Vodaat where he taught Torah to many students over his 27 year tenure. My mother, the oldest of the children, was 12 years old. There were no frum schools for girls so she attended a public elementary and high school in Brooklyn, New York. Her Torah education she received at home under the tutelage of her parents.

In the 1930’s when marriage became a subject, my grandfather wrote to Rabbi Yeruchem Levovitz ע"ה, the Mashgiach at Mir Yeshivah in Poland, asking whether he had a Torah scholar of high caliber suitable as a prospect for marriage for his daughter, my mother. After Reb Yeruchem’s positive reply, my mother traveled to Mir, all alone, and my parents’ wedding took place in the neighboring town of Steipz.

She then came back to the United States with my father, Rabbi Shmuel Pesach Bogomilsky ע"ה, and he assumed a position as a Rav in Bronx, New York, where he quickly became renowned as a great Talmid Chacham. Unfortunately, this period of fame was all-too-brief: he expired while delivering a derashah a few years later.

My mother remained widowed for almost a decade and would only consider marriage to a talmid chacham, since it would benefit myself and my brother Rabbi Shmuel Pesach שי' Bogomilsky. Her wish was realized when she married Rabbi Eli Moshe Liss ע"ה who for many years served as a mashpia at the Lubavitcher Yeshivah in Brooklyn, New York and our connection with Lubavitch is thanks to him.

Times have, thank G‑d, changed in the United States but our desires remained the same as our parents and grandparents. It is our fervent wish that our children raise their families in the spirit of Torah and Chassidut and that they be a source of Yiddish and Chassidish nachas to us.

If it were up to me and my wife Bracha, we would make a Chanukah party and invite our children and grandchildren, but unfortunately that is not feasible, since they are living in different states and some grandchildren are studying in out-of-town yeshivot or abroad. Therefore, when our children and grandchildren will all read and study this Vedibarta Bam on Chanukah, we hope they will reflect on their parents and grandparents, Bracha and Moshe, alluded to in the word Bam. May the Torah spoken in this book unite us all so that we will enjoy an inspiring and luminous Chanukah.

In this book there is considerable discussion of the connection between Chanukah and Mashiach. In fact, in the sefer, Ma’or Einayim, of the Chassidic Rebbe, Reb Mordechai זצ"ל of Chernobyl, it is explained that King David’s statement “Arachti neir limeshichai” — “I have prepared a candle for my anointed” (Psalms 132:17) means that Chanukah is a preparation for the revelation of Mashiach, and when we light the candles we are treated to a semblance of the great light that we will enjoy in those days. Let us hope that this will be realized speedily in our times. Moreover, when Mashiach arrives, may we be able to proudly present our dear family to him.

About the Sefer

In the entire Babylonian Talmud Chanukah is mentioned only a few times in Mishnah and discussed over a few pages of Gemara in the tractate of Shabbat. Nevertheless, it has earned itself a venerable spot in Talmudic, halachic, homiletic and Chassidic literature.

Many sefarim have been written which expound the Halachic details and miracles of the Yom Tov. Multitudes of chapters have been written in countless sefarim which elaborate on the significance of the Yom Tov and its practical implications in one’s life. In the works of the great Chassidic leaders too, Chanukah holds a very prominent place and many of them see Chanukah as the link and preparation to the most glorious and eagerly anticipated revelation of Mashiach and the Messianic Era.

To capsulize everything in one sefer is an impossibility, but it was my endeavor to present this sefer as a comprehensive anthology on Chanukah. In it the reader will find halachic observations, homeletic interpretations, insights on the miracles, and practical implications which can be derived for our daily life from this luminous eight-day celebration. In addition, included is also an English translation of Megilat Antiochus The Scroll of the Hasmoneans, which is read in some synagogues on Chanukah, and contains some enlightening history of that period.

Since the Chanukah lights commemorate the kindling of the Holy Menorah of the Beit Hamikdash, a special section has been added on the Menorah and its oil to discuss in detail how and where in the Beit Hamikdash it was placed and kindled. We also provided insights that can be derived from some of the Torah’s commands regarding the making of the Menorah itself and the oil used for its kindling.

In keeping with the style of all the previous sefarim in the Vedibarta Bam series, the thoughts have been presented in a question and answer form. This method has received acclaim since it enhances the reader’s comprehension and challenges his or her thinking.

Acknowledgments

A sefer cannot be produced single-handedly. The cooperation, input and assistance of many is a prerequisite. To make it a reality, a minimum of a writer, editor, secretary, graphic designer, publisher and distributor are necessary. Our team consisted of all of these and some played more than one role.

In retrospect, the reward for most valuable player on our team goes to Yitzchok Turner, In addition to his skill in the art of layout and typography which makes this sefer aesthetically attractive, he served as the secretary who painstakingly copied the entire sefer from my not-easily-readable hand-written notes. Were it not for his unlimited patience and refined character, he undoubtedly would have stopped copying even before finishing the first page.

Thank G‑d, the Vedibarta Bam series has entered into many homes of all Jewish circles and is used and studied considerably. Besides my expressing appreciation, may the zechut for Talmud Torah he propagated through his efforts be a source of eternal blessing for him and his family.

Rabbi Yonah Avtzon has made it his goal in life to disseminate the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s teachings, through his organization Sichot In English. His success in this endeavor is impressive and enviable.

I thank him most profusely for making available to me his facilities and for his dedicated efforts in bringing my books to all facets of the Jewish community in United States and abroad.

My editor, Dr. Binyamin Kaplan has been working with me since the first volume of this series was published. He is a genius at taking my writing and, with the stroke of his pen, making it a literary piece of work. He is now living on the West Coast and a full-time employee of the O.U. To accommodate my needs he edits my writings in the late hours of the night and the early hours of the morning. His Torah knowledge, quick grasp of a subject, and extraordinary writing skill are assets which I cherish greatly. May he and his aishet chayil be blessed with much success in their endeavors to raise a chassidishe family.

Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky

Rosh Chodesh Kislev, 5763