November 27, 2018
On December 2 through December 10th, we will be celebrating the festival of Channukah, the “Festival of Lights” the miracle of how a small cruse of oil, enough for but one day, lasted for eight; Channukah ,celebrating not the military victory, but the miracle of a Menorah,whose oil gave light well after it should have been consumed. Channukah is the embodiment of the supremacy of right over might ,of the delivery of the strong into the hands of the few, the corrupt into the hands of the poor, the wicked into the hands of the righteous, the arrogant into the hands of the Torah.The prophet Zechariah culminates the entire story of Channukah very succinctly ” Not by force, nor by might, but by my spirit, says the L–d of Hosts.”
I would like to share with you a famous story of General George Washington and a lone Jewish soldier at the Battle of Valley Forge.
It was the winter of 1776 the soldier waits until his fellow comrades are asleep.He removes a small menorah from his back pack and remembers the words of his father who lived in Poland.
“My son when you light the menorah it will illuminate the way for you.”He recited the blessings for the first night of Channukah.
He watched the gentle flame and tears welled up in his eyes, he could not help but remember how his entire family had suffered under the cruel Polish lords.
Many of the American soldiers wanted George Washington to give up, so that the war would end.
He wanted America to win and become a free country, where Jews and all people of the world could live in peace in a free society.
Suddenly he felt a gentle hand on his shoulder. “Why are you crying soldier?Are you cold? It was General George Washington. The soldier sprang up.”I am praying that you should win the war General.
What are all these candles? Asked the General.
These are the candles that all Jews light for eight days in honor of a great miracle!”
George Washington’s face lit up.
“Jew’s are the children of the prophets, and you say we will win.”He shook the soldiers hand and left.
The war came to an end; George Washington led his army to victory.He became Americas first President and the soldier settled in New York.
The next year the first night of Channukah, there was a knock on the veterans door, upon opening it ,he came face to face with George Washington. President Washington entered the small apartment on Broome Street in New York City and told the veteran ,”Behold the wonderful light.The light of hope of the Jewish people”. Washington continued,”It was your menorah and inspiring words that led me to win the war.Soon you will receive the Medal of Honor from the United States of America, together with all the brave men of Valley Forge.But tonight, please accept this medallion”the veteran looked at the medallion and saw an etching of a Channukah Menorah under it was written:” A token of appreciation for the light of your candle.George Washington”
When I came across this story I thought how appropriate it would be to share it with our members on this beautiful festival of lights.
May the radiance of the Channukah Menorah lights, bring abundant health and peace, to you and your dear families.
Twist and Shout
March 11, 2019
“וַיֹּ֤אמֶר הָמָן֙ לַמֶּ֣לֶךְ אֲחַשְׁוֵר֔וֹשׁ יֶשְׁנ֣וֹ עַם־אֶחָ֗ד מְפֻזָּ֤ר וּמְפֹרָד֙ בֵּ֣ין הָֽעַמִּ֔ים בְּכֹ֖ל מְדִינ֣וֹת מַלְכוּתֶ֑ךָ וְדָתֵיהֶ֞ם שֹׁנ֣וֹת מִכׇּל־עָ֗ם וְאֶת־דָּתֵ֤י הַמֶּ֙לֶךְ֙ אֵינָ֣ם עֹשִׂ֔ים וְלַמֶּ֥לֶךְ אֵין־שֹׁוֶ֖ה לְהַנִּיחָֽם”
“Then Haman said to King Xerxes: There is a certain people dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom who keep themselves separate. Their customs are different from those of all other people, and they do not obey the king’s laws; it is not in the king’s best interest to tolerate them.”
(Scroll of Esther, ch 3, v 8).
Throughout our history and long exile, the Jewish People have been subjected to historical revision and the twisting of the facts by our enemies. Corrupt and tyranic rulers and their ill-advised ministers never appreciated nor respected the ethical, moral, and civil contributions made to their people by the small percentage of Jews in their midst. From Pharoe, Haman, the Crusades, the Cossacks, the Communists, Hitler, Arafat, Hamas, PLO, Hizbollah, and so on, have made every effort to destroy us physically and historically.
Today, regrettably, it is no different. With all the available resources of libraries and the internet, it is incredible how our detractors are so ignorant of facts, and yet they are elected to represent their constituents even in our Democratic nations. They destroy with their rethoric the moral and ethical foundations of mankind. As a result of their agenda, the filthy language emanating from their mouths are underming the decency of the fabric of society. Respect for G-d, the family, Law and Order, abuse of drugs, are constantly being eroded by their re-interpretation of the social order. By gaining constant publicity and shouting their absurd way of life, many, including a small number of Jews, fall for their idiotic sound bites.
הוֹי הָאֹמְרִים לָרַע טוֹב, וְלַטּוֹב רָע: שָׂמִים חֹשֶׁךְ לְאוֹר וְאוֹר לְחֹשֶׁךְ, שָׂמִים מַר לְמָתוֹק וּמָתוֹק לְמָר.
“Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah ch. 5, verse 20)
Esther, when told by Mordecai of Haman’s intention to destroy the Jews once and for all, told Mordecai:
” וַתֹּ֥אמֶר אֶסְתֵּ֖ר לֵךְ֩ כְּנ֨וֹס אֶת־כָּל־הַיְּהוּדִ֜ים הַֽנִּמְצְאִ֣ים בְּשׁוּשָׁ֗ן וְצ֣וּמוּ עָ֠לַי “
“Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Shusan, and fast for me.” (Esther chapter 4, verse 16).
The response was the traditional Jewish dictum:
“רַבִּי יוּדָן בְּשֵׁם רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר אָמַר שְׁלשָׁה דְבָרִים מְבַטְּלִים גְּזֵרוֹת רָעוֹת, וְאֵלּוּ הֵם, תְּפִלָּה וּצְדָקָה וּתְשׁוּבָה”
“Prayer, Charity, and Repentance annul the evil decree” (Breisheet Rabba, Ch. 44).
United in prayer to G-d has always been our salvation. Hence we have been celebrating Purim for 2,500 years.
Let us pray that historical justice shall prevail, the foundations of civil society restored, and live the spirit of Purim:
“לַיְּהוּדִים הָיְתָה אוֹרָה וְשִׂמְחָה וְשָׂשֹׂן וִיקָר”
“The Jews were filled with joy and gladness and were honored everywhere.” ( Esther ch. 8 v. 16).
May we celebrate and pray for peace for all mankind in a civil world, Amen.
Rabbi Tzvi Berkowitz
National shomrim Chaplain