The Chofetz Chaim writes that there are only two Jewish festivals during the winter: Chanukah and Purim. At Chanukah, the enemies of the Jewish people tried to take away from us, G-d forbid, our holy Torah, which is our soul and spirit. At Purim they tried to destroy us physically, G-d forbid, by attacking our bodies. What was the result? We were victorious, and we retained both our spirit and our lives.
Winter alludes to our long and dark exile. During this bitter exile, we confront daily challenges threatening our spirit and the existence of the Jewish people. Each year these two holidays, Chanukah and Purim, arrive to remind us that our exile will not last, and no evil will befall us. We will leave our exile with our Torah and our bodies intact.
An integral component of the Moadim is to derive lessons from them and to develop strategies to strengthen our Emunah, the cornerstone of our faith. It is incumbent upon us to utilize these Yomim Tovim as important events that supply the inspiration needed to persevere through Galus and reach the Messianic Era, which, speedily and in our days, will be realized.
Do you draw lessons from each of the Moadim, making them meaningful? Are you aware of the symbolism behind the customs behind them?
Undoubtedly, the Moadim mentioned throughout the Torah were given to Bnei Yisroel as a means to draw closer to Hashem through their observance. These events are intended to remind us of the seminal events in our history such as Yetzias Mitzrayim and Matan Torah, the Exodus from Egypt and the receiving of the Torah on Har Sinai, demonstrating how Hashem took care of us in the wilderness. The Chachomim, moreover, added additional rituals and ceremonies to commemorate these events. They added Yomim Tovim as well, for the valuable lessons that can be gleaned from their observances. Our holidays are replete with lessons, and their breadth and depth are all-encompassing and all-embracing. There is so much for the Jew to learn from.
That is what we hope to accomplish at meaningfulmoadim.com, a website that aims to highlight the beauty, symbolism and the life lessons inherent in the Moadim. Short vorts, discussions about the tefilos, minhagim and objects used in rituals are discussed. New material is continually being added, as well as new features. You will not necessarily find any chiddushim, but meaningfulmoadim.com serves as a forum for many ideas and concepts. Reader input is welcome via a comments box.
Here are some excerpts from the Chanukah section:
“While both Israel and the Greeks were highly intellectual, the Greeks viewed all reality through the lens of the physical world where compulsion rules. The Greeks and the Jews, therefore, had an entirely divergent understanding of the function of the intellect as the definer of reality….This chasm is what caused the “darkening of the eyes of the Jewish people.”
The Custom of Eating Doughnuts on Chanukah
“HaRav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt’l teaches that after ousting the Greek forces from the Beis HaMikdash, the Chashmonaim were able to be me’taher – to purify – everything except for the stones of the Mizbe’ach. The Mizbeach which the Greeks had ruined had to be put away into genizah and be replaced with new stones. In order for us to remember what happened to the Mizbe’ach, the custom was to eat something which required an after-bracha of Me’ein Shalosh, such as Al Hamichya, for this is the only bracha which specifically asks Hashem to have rachamim, pity, “Al Mizbaichecha” – on Your Mizbe’ach….”
Other than “Nes Gadol Hayah Sham,” can you suggest what the four letters on the Dreidel stand for?
An Excerpt from the Purim Section:
“Mazal Adar Dagim.” The Jewish people are compared to fish. Just as fish live in the sea, the environment in which the Jewish people live is the Torah, which is compared to water. Just as fish multiply so too the Torah was “doubled” in Adar: 1) Moshe Rabbeinu taught us the Torah was created in this month and 2) the Jews resolved to re-accept the Torah in the time of Mordechai and Esther.
It is hoped that Meaningful Moadim will add meaning and fulfillment to these special days on the Jewish calendar that we all eagerly await and so fondly appreciate.