Every Home a Chabad House, 5747 (1987)

Every Home a Chabad House, 5747 (1987)

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During the week of Chanukah, 5747, the Rebbe Shlita, spoke publicly several times. On the eve of the fifth candle he addressed a gathering of children and senior citizens and on the eve of the sixth and seventh candles he again spoke for the people who were gathered in the synagogue.

One theme which the Rebbe introduced at the children’s rally was the idea of making your own home a place worthy to be a Chabad House by dedicating it to Torah, prayer and acts of lovingkindness. This he termed getting spiritual “Chanukah gelt.”

Chanukah teaches us to increase our efforts and to illuminate the world around us. This must be the goal of every Jew to bring G‑dliness into the world — starting with their own homes.

To our Jewish brethren we must teach the principles of Judaism and to our non-Jewish compatriots we must radiate good will and encouragement to convince them to observe the Seven Noachide Principles as universal G‑d-given laws.

A determined effort must be made to set up many more public Menorahs to publicize the miracle of Chanukah and teach the world to have faith.

All of these efforts should be documented and photographed to be included in a forthcoming book.

We have adapted these different talks into one essay which we present here and which we believe clearly conveys the Rebbe’s message.

Older Children — Wiser Children

A year has passed since our last Chanukah rally. In addition to growing a year older, all of you, who are members of Tzivos Hashem (“The Army of G‑d,” the name of the youth movement), have certainly also become wiser. Your newly gained wisdom is associated with the wisdom of Torah which G‑d gave to the Jewish people so that we may be “a wise and understanding nation” (Devarim 4:6).

Having grown smarter during last year and having increased your Torah study and observance of mitzvos, you are now ready to receive a new mission for the future.

It is appropriate and fitting that you should start the new mission during Chanukah, because the special “order of the day” for Chanukah also stresses the general theme of Tzivos Hashem, to illuminate your home and your surroundings with the light of Torah and mitzvos in an ever-increasing way.

We just lit five Chanukah candles, as we are going into the fifth day of Chanukah. Five candles represents the majority of the eight candles of the holiday. Generally speaking we have the rule: “A majority is like the whole” (Horayos 3b), once you have the majority it is much easier to accomplish the whole thing. So, on the fifth night of Chanukah it becomes easier to illuminate the world with the light of Torah and mitzvos.

Each of you knows that you are very precious in your parents’ eyes. If you should ask your parents for additional “Chanukah gelt,” and your parents will see that you have a genuine desire for this increment, they will surely give it to you.

The New Mission — Spiritual Chanukah Gelt

The new mission for Tzivos Hashem is to request of your parents to give you symbolic “Chanukah gelt”; they should help you make your room and your house a place where G‑d will say “I will dwell in their midst” — G‑dliness and spirituality will dwell in this place. How can this be? When you make your home a house of prayer, Torah and charity. A place where you will pray to G‑d for your needs, where you study and review Torah and from where charity and acts of lovingkindness emerge to assist those people who need help, and those institutions which seek assistance.

If all these good things already exist in your home, then they must be increased. When your parents see how sincerely their children request this “Chanukah gelt,” with such devotion and enthusiasm, they will certainly grant you your wish and make your home a place of prayer, Torah and charity.

The Chabad House Starts at Home!

You children should start the process by being living examples and bringing Torah, prayer and charity into your own rooms. Start the day with the prayer of “Modeh Ani — I offer thanks,” place a pushkah for charity in your room and have a Siddur or Chumash from which to study Torah. This will motivate your parents to make the whole house a place of Torah, prayer and tzedakah and then your acquaintances and neighbors will be influenced likewise to make their homes houses of Torah, prayer and charity.

When your mission is completed, G‑d will also give you more “Chanukah presents,” His blessings and benedictions, so that you will be able to do even more Torah and mitzvos.

G‑dliness Dwells in the Chabad House

Chanukah is associated with the Beis HaMikdash, as we recite in the Al HaNissim prayer:

Then Your children entered the shrine of Your house, cleansed Your Temple, purified Your Sanctuary.... (Siddur)

Although we have no Beis HaMikdash today, nevertheless many aspects of the Beis HaMikdash may be related to the mini-sanctuary — the house of prayer and study — as well as the Jewish home and the inner Jewish soul. When the Torah commanded us to build the Tabernacle our sages note that Scripture does not say “I will dwell in it” but “I will dwell in them” — in each and everyone (see Shaloh, Terumah, p. 325b). The Jewish home as well as the soul and being of every Jew has the potential to be a place where the Shechinah will manifest itself. How? By being permeated with Torah, prayer and charity and by illuminating the rest of the world with these qualities thereby making the mundane world a dwelling place for G‑dliness.

Thus, during Chanukah, whose theme is the rededication of the Beis HaMikdash, there is an opportunity to draw new strength to establish and dedicate a mini-sanctuary; in the essential, intrinsic soul, and in the Jewish home — the house of prayer and study — the Chabad House.

The goal must be to create Chabad Houses. Although the Temple was called “The Shrine,” nevertheless in the Al HaNissim prayer we specify “the shrine of Your house,” meaning an actual building. Therefore, we speak of establishing new Chabad Houses and expanding the existing Chabad Houses. This process of expansion is especially appropriate during Chanukah, for the mitzvah of lighting the Chanukah menorah is observed by increasing the number of candles every day.

In speaking to the children, the language and idioms used were appropriate for them. The “new mission” assigned to the children charged them to request of their parents to dedicate their homes, and especially their own rooms, as Chabad Houses for Torah, prayer and good deeds. This will be accomplished by placing a Chumash, Siddur and charity box in their rooms.

The children were advised to make this request for additional “spiritual Chanukah gelt,” and I assured them that their parents would certainly acquiesce to their sincere request.

Everyone Should be Involved

I now want to address those who are older than Bar/Bas Mitzvah and especially those who are married and actually have their own homes, that they should make the effort to dedicate their homes to Torah, prayer and charity and make them Chabad Houses. Adults may also connect this with the accepted custom of “Chanukah gelt” and adolescents may ask their parents, husbands request of their wives, wives of husbands and so on; in that way everyone will add a helping hand to the establishment of Chabad Houses.

It is important to utilize the remaining days of Chanukah to publicize this effort and create a “holy storm” in order to establish Chabad Houses all over; pleasantly and peacefully, but vigorously and tumultuously! Only in that way will the momentum be created to continually increase the work, just like the Chanukah candles.

Those who must influence others in these matters should keep in mind an important principle. A student usually is satisfied to perform a fraction of what he sees his mentor do. Thus, if you want your students and followers to carry this act out to the fullest degree you must set a vibrant and enthusiastic, living example. Only that way will you see success.

Public Menorahs — The Light of Faith

The Gemara says the Menorah must be placed at the outside of the doorway so as to advertise the miracle. This concept is realized even more strongly when the Menorah is placed in a visible public place. Then the miracle of Chanukah is publicized even so much more.

It therefore behooves us to use the remaining days of Chanukah to set up public Menorahs in every city, town and hamlet, to create the broadest possible advertisement of the miracle in the most popular places of the city or town. The lighting of these public Menorahs should be used to encourage people to kindle Chanukah Menorahs in their own homes and to bring the light of Torah and mitzvos into their homes; to make their homes houses of Torah, prayer and charity.

At such a propitious time we should not forget our non-Jewish compatriots. Since a public menorah has a message for all members of society, we should utilize the opportunity to encourage all people to learn and observe the Seven Noachide Laws. The light of the Menorah illuminates the public domain and neutralizes the “rebellious footsteps.” It also provides an opportunity to urge humanity to fulfill the Seven Noachide Laws because they are G‑d’s commandments for mankind. Life according to the Seven Noachide Principles will be free of any rebelliousness against social laws, congruous with the message of the Menorah.

Our land is a “benevolent kingdom,” a democratic republic, which represents the political antithesis of the wicked Greek government that was overthrown by the military actions of our ancestors in the story of Chanukah. In our country the President has proclaimed and encouraged the observance of the Seven Noachide Laws not as a part of the man-made laws of the land, but as a Divine decree of the Holy One, Blessed be He, the Creator and Ruler of heaven and earth. It is hoped that the President will continue to champion these principles, together with the general increased momentum in this area.

From Viceroy to President: “I Fear the G‑d”

In the Torah portion studied on the fifth day of Chanukah we find the Viceroy of Egypt proclaiming: “I fear the G‑d!” Pharaoh, who at that time was one of the most powerful rulers in the world, had appointed the Viceroy to rule over the land and had decreed that:

Without your say no man will lift a hand or a foot in all Egypt. (Bereishis 41:44)

No mean position! Yet, in this position of supreme power, as ruler of a land which was pretty much G‑dless, the Viceroy Yosef suddenly proclaims, “I fear the G‑d!”

Our President, too, proudly testifies “I fear the G‑d” and that everyone should fulfill G‑d’s universal commandments — the Seven Noachide Laws. We must publicize this fact so the observance of the Seven Noachide Laws will become universally accepted and performed.

The Shabbos Year

This year presents us with unique and greater opportunities and potentials in these matters.

A Shemitah year is called “G‑d’s Shabbos” (Vayikra 25:4). This year Rosh Hashanah also occurred on a Shabbos, and now Chanukah begins and ends with Shabbos. The import of this is that the nature of Shabbos infuses the activities of the year so that in our Chanukah activities we will see the Sabbatical blessing “all your work is done,” and the pleasure of the “Shabbos delight.” This makes all our efforts easier and without opposition.

In fact, we have seen that whenever Jews wanted to set up public Menorahs and advertise the miracles they met with success beyond their expectations. Under such optimal conditions, G‑d’s desire is not that we should become complacent or ease up on the effort, rather, that more activities should be undertaken and even greater success will be attained, as the lesson of the candles themselves indicate the process of continual increase.

Double Shabbos — Double Hope

And most importantly, the double-Shabbos Chanukah emphasizes our prayers to reach that “day which is all Shabbos and rest forever.” May it begin with “tasting” the sweetness of the future life on the eve of the eternal Shabbos.

To action:

Spread the word near and far: In the remaining days of Chanukah there should be an appreciable increase in all of these items. Set up Menorahs to be kindled in public places which will give great publicity to the miracles of Chanukah and establish more Chabad Houses, for prayer, Torah and charity, which will illuminate the world with the light of Torah and mitzvos.

To increase the enthusiasm and momentum of carrying out this project all of these activities should be documented and photographed, and they will be included in a forthcoming book. Our sages tell us that it is commendable to publicize the names of those who do good deeds. This is based on the Midrash which says that if Reuven (Yaakov’s eldest son) had known that Scripture would relate his part in saving Yosef he would have carried Yosef on his back to his father (see Vayikra Rabbah 34:8). Naturally, all of these good efforts should continue and increase after Chanukah.

May G‑d grant that by virtue of these good deeds we will quickly merit the dedication of the Third Beis HaMikdash — “The Shrine of Your House” — where we will witness the kindling of the Menorah by Aharon the Kohen Gadol. We read about this function on the last day of Chanukah and may it truly be soon with the true and complete redemption through our righteous Mashiach.

May it come to reality this year, during Chanukah, and may we proceed with our righteous Mashiach to kindle the lamps in the courtyards of the Holy Temple and see the kindling of the Menorah inside the Sanctuary — the lights of Tziyon — when we will be seen in Tziyon with the fulfillment of our prayer:

Show us Your mercy, O L‑rd, and grant us Your salvation...that glory may dwell in our land. (Tehillim 85:8-10)

The Jewish Home — A Home for the Shechinah

To summarize:

The essential theme of a person’s Divine service during Chanukah is to make the Jewish home a place for the Shechinah to rest. This mini-Sanctuary must be a place of Torah, prayer and acts of lovingkindness.

To this end the children should request permission of their parents to make their rooms and the whole house a place of Torah, prayer and charity.

So, too, should the wife seek of her husband, and the husband of his wife, assistance and cooperation to make the entire house a place of Torah, prayer and good deeds.

May it be the Heavenly will that this will constitute the request of the Jewish people of G‑d, for Chanukah gelt, children, health, long life, and abundant prosperity — and all in abundance. This will also include the potential for success in making the Jewish homes Chabad Houses — so that what will emerge will be a worldwide Chabad House where Torah, prayer and good deeds are practiced, fostered and encouraged, for the glory of G‑d will be revealed and all flesh will see G‑dliness!

May this come with the coming of our righteous Mashiach, speedily and truly in our days with the true and complete redemption.

A free translation from a talk of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory.
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Translated excerpts of talks delivered by The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, at his periodic public addresses.
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