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Chanukah (5765)

This week's section always coincides with the holiday of Chanukah.

'Mikaitz' means 'At the end' and refers to the end of Joseph's imprisonment. But it also hints at Moshiach and the raising of the dead.

In fact, so do Josef's release and Chanukah.

First of all; all of them, Moshiach, Josef's release and Chanukah are miracles without precedence and totally above nature, but they affect the entire world.

Josef's miraculous rise from prison to become ruler of the entire world is like Moshiach who will elevate the Jews from exile, spiritually rule the world and eventually raise the dead.

Chanukah, with its amazing victory and discovery of one vial of pure oil that lit for eight days is like 'Moshiach' (which means 'anointed with oil') who will defeat the enemies of Judaism and illuminate the world with the 'oil' (deepest secrets) of the Torah (See Rashi on Song of Songs 1:2).

[The essence of the Torah is likened to oil because it floats 'above' even the spiritual while simultaneously permeating the entire creation; as oil floats above all liquids and permeates all solids.]

And the number eight hints at revelation above nature (above the seven days of creation) that will accompany Moshiach. The harp of Moshiach will have eight strings. Moshiach will bring the circumcision of our hearts and circumcision is connected to the number eight.

But what does all this mean to us? The story of Chanukah occurred over 2,000 years ago and that of Josef some 2,000 years before that! And even if they can be connected to Moshiach, so what? Moshiach will happen when G-d wants it to. What has it all got to do with us?

To understand all this here is a story.

In 1927 the previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak, was imprisoned by Stalin's police and sentenced to death as the arch enemy of communism.

But like Josef in this week's Torah section, he was also miraculously exiled, then released, to become the leading force in world Judaism.

He moved from Russia to Riga, Latvia in 1928 then again in 1940 to Brooklyn N.Y. where he began what became today's outreach Tshuva movement that is saving the world.

But what pained him most was that he was forced to leave his Chassidim behind at the mercy of Stalin's deadly and viciously anti-Semitic police network. There was literally no way they could cross the Iron Curtain between the U.S.S.R. and the rest of the world to see him.

But there are always miracles.

In the year 1945 in the city of Somerkand (in the communist satellite country Bukara not far from Iran) a large group of Chabad Chassidim were celebrating Simchat Torah (the eight and most joyous day in the holiday of Succot) with a Chassidic 'Farbrengen'.

A farbrengen is a VERY informal Chabad Chassidic gathering around a table with much vodka, deep soul-stirring speeches, stories and singing.

But in Somerkand, although it was far from the center of Russia, there was still ample reason to worry; the sword of death was waiting in every corner. Informers, secret police, and soldiers were everywhere and Chabad Chassidim were officially public enemy number one.

Nevertheless, tonight these Chassidim didn't worry. They only cared about one thing… seeing the Rebbe again.

The Rebbe was their Moses!

Jews without the Rebbe become selfish; without joy, without brotherly love; obsessed with reward and punishment. Look what happened at Mount Sinai when the Jews thought Moses wasn't going to come back. They turned to idolatry and worshiped the Golden Calf, just forty days after they heard G-d Himself forbid it!!

But there were other topics as well. The Chassidim talked about loving G-d, about serving G-d, about learning Torah. They brought interesting stories to drive their points home and sang deep Chassidic songs to open their minds and inflame their hearts.

But a few didn't want to sit. In fact one of most respected Chassidim, Reb Nisson Neminov, stood up and began dancing! It was Simchat Torah! A few Chassidim stood up and began with him. Dancing with the Torah and dancing for redemption, for freedom, for the Rebbe!! The Moses of our generation - the Moshiach of our generation!!

Then someone pounded on the table and most of the Chassidim sat back down for some more serious talk.

But Reb Nisson didn't. He took a few chairs put them in a row, sat on one and announced joyously "Who wants to take the train to the Rebbe!? Choo Chooooo!! We're going to the Rebbe 'ChooCHOOOO!"

The other Chassidim didn't catch his spirit. In fact this foolishness and noise annoyed them and they tried to tell him so; to get him to quiet him down and back to the table but it didn't work.

"Come! ChOO CHOOOO!" Reb Nissan called out as he pushed the chairs around the room. "Who wants to go to the Rebbe!!"

But the Rebbe was thousands of miles away and they were hopelessly locked in Russia. How could this nonsense possibly help? They didn't even want to think about it it made them sad. They were deeply involved in their Farbrengen and he was disturbing.

"Come and join me!" yelled Reb Nisson. "Don't you want to see the Rebbe? We have to do all we can, no matter how crazy! Choo ChOOOO!!"

A few of the Chassidim were wild enough to join 'the Rebbe train' and also stood up and began pushing the chairs around the room yelling "Choo Choo, we're going to the Rebbe!!" while the others just tried to ignore the nonsense.

But a few months later an interesting thing happened.

A small escape route opened from Lemburg to Warsaw by taking a train with forged Polish passports. It was very dangerous, expensive and very erratic. Some departures were arranged and announced only moments beforehand and many Jews got caught, sent back, lost all their money and even got severely punished.

So needless to say, few were willing to take the chance even if they had the funds for the trip, and not everyone that traveled actually made it to freedom.

But, lo and behold, ALL the Chassidim that participated in Reb Nemeoff's crazy 'Rebbe Train' made it out! Each and every one of them! And actually got to see the Rebbe!! While those who were 'normal' were not as fortunate.

This is the lesson of Yosef and of Chanukah to us.

Although things seem to be dark and impossible we must always try to get on the 'train' of optimism and that very optimism will open the door to Divine assistance. Just as Josef never lost hope of leaving prison and the Maccabees were optimistic in the face of impossible odds.

And without their optimism there certainly would have been no miraculous results.

The only catch is, there must be a worthy and a true goal: Yosef believed his dreams would be fulfilled and the Maccabees believed that G-d did not want a 'normal' Jewish race.

[The Greeks didn't destroy the Temple or even spill out the oil of the Menorah. They even supported Torah learning and the observance of the commandments. Their goal was not to destroy Judaism but to normalize it; that it should be spiritual like all the other religions but NOT G-dly. They didn't want crazy Jews like Josef, the Maccabees or those on Reb Nisson's Train].

And our goal is the most true, worthy and optimistic of all; bringing Moshiach.

Moshiach will, like Josef, change the entire world and like the Maccabees defeat all the enemies of truth. He will teach all mankind to know the Creator, bring peace, health and prosperity to the entire world, put an end to all suffering and eventually even raise the dead. Heaven on earth.

But it all depends on us.

The only way to make it all happen is to learn from Josef and the Maccabees: in the language of Chassidut; "Shtoot D'Kedusha".

We must be 'crazy' about Moshiach; learn about Moshiach, teach about Moshiach and do all we can to bring Moshiach one instant earlier.

Only then will we bring the true END of darkness and fill the world with the light of...

Moshiach NOW!!

Copyright © 1999-2018 Rabbi Tuvia Bolton. All rights reserved. No unauthorized reproduction or copying of this material shall occur without prior permission.

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