It is that time of year again: the month of Elul (yemei rachamim, days of mercy). The Alter Rebbe , the first Chabad Rebbe, gives a moshul (an example) of how accessible G-d is to us during this month. He compares this to a King who leaves his palace and goes out to the fields to greet the common people. In Elul, Hashem comes out to the field, with a smiling countenance, waiting for our petitions and prayers in preparation for the upcoming New Year. So start praying! This is the time to ask for everything that you want and need.
In past generations people had patience. They had no choice. They had to work hard, cut wood to make fire so they had eat, grind wheat to make flour so they could bake bread, stand in long lines to get their food rations filled etc. etc. People suffered a lot and had no options to even defend themselves. They learned to suffer patiently.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe in a sicha on parshas Balak said the following:
My husband and I have been considering downsizing: perhaps getting a smaller home or even a condo. But then I begin to panic. Where will we store all the things we have accumulated over the years?
When we first got married, we had very few things. We lived a simple life, no luxuries, and it was very easy to pick up and move. It was also a very happy life. The less material items we had, somehow the happier we were.
But as time went along we accumulated things: more furniture, more clothing, more dishes, more pots etc. etc.
So many of our youth are confused (actually not only youth….many mature adults as well). WE are in a very deep galus, a very dark spiritual situation where people are looking for happiness from external sources. People are not happy deep inside. People have lost that enthusiasm and simcha that chassidim have always had. Why is that?
I think mostly because we are still in galut, exile! Jews have had enough of galut. We need redemption.
So what does it mean when we say Pesach is the season of our freedom: zman cheruteinu? Of course we commemorate leaving Egypt and becoming a free nation. But we know that every Jewish holiday is not just about commemorating the past. Each holiday is applicable on a spiritual level even today.
So what is true freedom?
Each and every one of us has limitations and things that prevent us from serving Hashem with true joy. We have various problems, whether spiritual, material or even within our own personalities.
How do we increase in simcha just because adar enters?
The strange thing is that when adar enters, very often we find ourselves challenged by difficult situations, depression, sadness, worry and many problems. Because this is the month where we need to get rid of Amalek. And that requires a fight, a battle. It is a battle against apathy, impurity, negativity: those things that affect our service of Hashem with happiness.
So how do we win that battle? By increasing in happiness. Even if we don’t feel like being happy.
This is a generation where we are very hung up on not depriving our kids of anything.
The friend has a cell phone, our child must have one.
The neighbors daughter is going on birthright, our daughter must go. G-d forbid she should feel left out or deprived.
The cousin has the latest gadget, our son must have it too.
One thing no Jewish parent wants to be “accused “ of by our children is depriving them of what they feel entitled to have.
But is this a proper mentality?
Let’s analyze the results of this mentality.
As we learn this weeks Torah portion (and actually the previous portion and the next one as well), we see how much the Jewish people suffered in Egypt and how Moshe, the Redeemer, announced the redemption but then he had to leave Egypt only to return many years later.....but the Jews never despaired of being redeemed even though it certainly could have brought doubt to their minds.
CHANUKAH....it is all about light. The neshomah is all about light.
But what is it about the chanukah menorah that draws a Jew so strongly?
We light in total 36 candles over the eight days of Chanukah.
Inside those lights is hidden the light that Hashem created and hid during the first six days of Creation. A light so powerful that it will only be revealed when Moshiach arrives. A light that explains the suffering all the Jewish people have endured throughout galus.
And that light is what draws every Jewish soul.