Festival of Lights
Channukah celebrates the victory (165BCE) of the Maccabees over the Syrian tyrant Antiochus IV and subsequent reclamation of Jerusalem.According to the Talmud ,only a one day supply of non desecrated oil was found in the Temple the small band of Maccabees prepared it for rededication by removing all the Syrian idols.Miraculously, the oil lasted for eight days until oil that was fit for use in the temple could be obtained. The message remains clear the Maccabees refused to renounce their Jewish faith.Because of their heroism we are here today.
Each year, Channukah brings a new set of flames, to teach us new lessons and inspire a renewed sense of wonder at the miracles, large and small, that illuminate our lives every day of the year.When we feel overwhelmed and afraid, it is good to recall that the most powerful of miracles of Channukah, are the ones created by our ancestors through their grit , determination and force of conviction.The lighting of the Channukah Menorah teaches us not to forget the Maccabees, those persecuted through the ages and just within the past year the mass murder in Pittsburgh,Pa.Poway,California,and Jersey City,New Jersey.
In the words of Rabbi Menachem M.Schneerson “And this abundance of light extends through the entire year until next Channukah – when again we will light the lights and bless G-d for giving us life, for performing miracles, and empowering us to join in holiness through ,lighting the Channukah lights.”
On behalf of my dear family I would like to wish all our members and their families a beautiful and radiant Channukah.
One Nation Under G-d
January 23, 2020
“וְנָתַתִּי גִשְׁמֵיכֶם בְּעִתָּם וְנָתְנָה הָאָרֶץ
יְבוּלָהּ וְעֵץ הַשָּׂדֶה יִתֵּן פִּרְיוֹ.”
3 “‘If you follow My decrees and are careful to obey My commands, 4 I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees their fruit. 5 Your threshing will continue until grape harvest and the grape harvest will continue until planting, and you will eat all the food you want and live in safety in your land.”
(Leviticus 26, 3-6).
The constitution of the Jewish People is the Torah – the GUIDE to our life as individuals and as a nation. Taking care of our blessed resources is a responsibility of everyone in this world collectively. To remind us annually of this obligation, Jews observe the festive holiday of Tu B’Shvat. Tu B’Shevat (ט”ו בשבט), the 15th day of the Jewish month of Shvat, is a holiday also known as the New Year for Trees. The word “Tu” is not really a word; it is the number 15 in Hebrew.
Tu B’Shevat is the new year for the purpose of calculating the age of trees for tithing. See Lev. 19:23-25, which states that fruit from trees may not be eaten during the first three years; the fourth year’s fruit is for G-d, and after that, you can eat the fruit. One custom is to eat a new fruit on this day, or to eat from the Seven Species (shivat haminim –
described in the Torah as being abundant in the land of Israel. The Shivat Haminim are: wheat, barley, grapes (vines), figs, pomegranates, olives and dates (honey) (Deut. 8:8).
Some people plant trees on this day throughout Israel and in Jewish communities throughout the world.
In the 16th century, Kabbalists, the rabbinical scholars who delve into the inner meanings of the Torah. developed a seder ritual conceptually similar to the Passover Seder, discussing the spiritual significance of fruits and of the shivat haminim.
This year, Tu B’Shevat will occur sunset Febr 9, 2020 – nightfall February 10, 2020.
The blessing of the Torah, as demonstrated by the observance of Tu B’Shvat, is the blessing of one nation under G-d.
. Psalm 29:11: “ The Lord will give strength unto His people; the Lord will bless His people with peace.”
Enjoy the fruit but remember to thank and bless G-d for the beautiful universe we live in.
Rabbi Tzvi Berkowitz
National shomrim Chaplain