Friday, December 19, 2008

"The dawn is breaking."

"The dawn is breaking."
(Genesis 32:27)Kislev 22, 5769/December 19, 2008

"The darkest hour is just before the dawn." The old saw is well worn, but true, nonetheless, and never more so than when describing Yaakov avinu's - our father Jacob's all night wrestle with the angel who confronted him on the banks of the Yabbok river. The maxim, or at least the truth contained in it, predates the incident depicted in Genesis, chapter 32 by some thousands of years, as it describes the primordial six days of creation: "And there was evening and there was morning, one day." (Genesis 1:5) In other words, darkness before light. Similarly, Yaakov's prevailing against Esau's guardian angel and literally holding out for the first rays of a new day perfectly presages the descent of his children into the darkness of Egyptian exile, and their subsequent emergence from that spiritual blackness into the revelatory light of Torah, which they received at Mount Sinai.

We are rapidly moving to the shortest and darkest days of the year as we draw near to the winter solstice. But even this overwhelming darkness of the natural world is soon to be vanquished by the ever increasing bright lights of Chanukah:

"...You gave the mighty into the hands of the weak, and the many into the hands of the few, and the defiled into the hands of the pure, and the wicked into the hands of the righteous, and the malicious into the hands of those who engage in Your Torah. And You made a great and holy name for Yourself in Your universe; and to Your nation, Israel, did You grant a great salvation and liberation, as on this day. And subsequently Your children came to Your holy abode, and they cleared out Your Palace, and they purified Your Temple, and they kindled lights in the courtyards of Your holy place. And they established these eight days of Chanukah in order to give thanks and praise to Your great name." (from the al hanissim Chanukah prayer)
Today again the forces of darkness seem to be closing in, just as the long night of 2000 years of exile for the nation of Israel seems to be nearing an end. Let us be strengthened by the example of our ancestor Yaakov, who despite the injuries inflicted upon him by the enemy, held fast to his dream of ultimate redemption for himself and for his progeny, declaring for all generations, "I will not let you go, until you have blessed me." (Genesis 32:27)

Tune in to this week's Temple Talk, as Rabbi Chaim Richman and Yitzchak Reuven discuss the trials and tribulations of Yaakov avinu, the challenges that he, and we, have to face, and the upcoming Chanukah festival of lights.

This week features the latest Bat Melech video teaching with Rabbanit Rena Richman, entitled, Partners in Love - Part IV: Matches between man and woman - husband and wife are, indeed, made in heaven. But it is up to us to invest the effort to be the best partners we can be and nourish the love that brought us together. The final chapter of a four-part series exploring the Torah perspective on love and marriage. Click here to view.

Today also features the new Light to the Nations teaching by Rabbi Chaim Richman, entitled, "Roofs and Attics, part II: Maimonides' Laws of the Chosen House, chapter six: The chambers which opened onto both the sanctified court of the Priests on the one side, and the less sanctified cheil, on the other side, are of a matter of concern for the priests, whose duties and responsibilities differ according to the relative level of sanctification." Click here to view.

Meet Rabbi Yitzchak Kogen from Jerusalem. At 82 years old, he is the most senior of the thirty kohanim - priests - who have now received their bigdei kehunah - priestly garments - being produced by the Temple Institute. The garments are designed and manufactured in accordance with biblical requirements and are suitable to be worn by the priests while performing the Divine service in the Holy Temple. These garments are being sold only to kohanim who can prove that they are of the descendants of Aharon, brother of Moses, and father of the priestly dynasty. The garments are to be worn only for the purpose of performing the Divine service in the Holy Temple. To learn more about his triumphant battle against darkness, please click here.

The Temple Institute calls upon the G-d fearing public, all those who wish to perform the commandment of morat haMikdash - showing reverence to the (site) of the Holy Temple, to join us in ascending to the Temple Mount this upcoming Chanukah. As was the case last year, many leading rabbis will be participating in the aliya. If you are interested in ascending the Temple Mount in strict accordance with Jewish law, please contact us for the specific date and hour of the ascent. We will be happy also to answer any questions concerning the proper preparations necessary for the aliya.

Youth Conference 2, a follow-up to the successful youth conference sponsored by the Temple Institute in the month of Av, will be held on December 28th, the eighth day of Chanukah. Participants will take part in the sifting of the Temple Mount remnants at the Zurim Valley and later ascend to the Temple Mount itself. For more information, please click here.

"In the merit of Yosef..." Midrash teaches that the Sea of Reeds split before the children of Israel when it beheld the bones of Yosef. What was it about Yosef hatzaddik - Joseph the righteous - that caused the very forces of nature to be undone? By gaining mastery over those very forces within his own being he was able to influence the natural forces around him. Click here to view Rabbi Richman's short teaching on parashat Vayeshev (Genesis 37:1-40:23).

A joyful Chanukah to all,
Yitzchak Reuven
PO Box 31876
Jerusalem, Israel 97500

No comments: