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Wednesday, February 28, 2024 - 19 Adar I 5784
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Striking a Match

When we sit and contemplate the Chanukah lights, we can almost hear them tell their tales. As the traditional flames flicker against the darkness, the stories seem to tell themselves.

First and foremost, they tell the story of Chanukah. The darkness of night represents the period during the second Temple, when the Greeks attempted to cut off the Jewish people from their traditions and their G-d, and to force them into a culture of idolatry. In those difficult days there were those who succumbed. They were called mityavnim, Hellenists. These Jews joined forces with the Greeks and adopted their culture, and even turned against their fellow Jews who persisted in their traditional faith.

The flames of the menorah, twinkling against the darkness, represent the band of Hasmonaim, led by Matityahu the high priest and his son Judah the Maccabee. With a cry of "Whoever is for G-d, join me," and a slogan of "Who is like You among the gods, Hashem," the Maccabees gathered all loyal Jews under their banner. With heavenly miracles they managed to vanquish the Greeks and once again raise up the light of Torah and holiness in the Holy Temple and the kingdom of Judea.



A similar story took place more recently, in the past century. The darkness was represented by the clouds that descended over Europe some seventy years ago. Over a period of five years, the Nazis implemented their reign of terror and blood. They came very close to carrying out their ghastly plan to destroy the Jewish people.

In the aftermath of the Holocaust, the Jewish people were in a very bad state. Ostensibly they were in an even worse state than in the time of the Hasmonean revolt. And then, like a beacon of light in the darkness, the Lubavitcher Rebbe assumed the mantle of leadership. The Rebbe called his followers together and ordered them to kindle a light in every Jewish heart.

Heeding the Rebbe's call, Chassidim of Chabad fanned out to all areas of the world to reach out to every Jew and remind them of their true identity. And to this day, more and more emissaries join their ranks, to set up outposts in ever more remote locations, to serve as living examples to the Jews and gentiles around them--not only on Chanukah but year round.



Someone once asked the Rebbe: What, in essence, is the role of the Rebbe? The Rebbe answered: To spark the light of faith in the soul of every Jew. The Jew continued to discuss this point with the Rebbe for a while, and finally asked boldly: Can the Rebbe light the spark in my soul? The Rebbe answered, "I have given you a match. But lighting it is up to you."

Millions of menorahs are being lit in homes in Israel and in cities around the world. They are evidence that the matches that the Rebbe provided us with have been struck and still burn. The fire of faith and anticipation for Redemption that the Rebbe has sparked within us will soon materialize, with the true and complete Redemption.


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