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Seeds of the Soul

Seeds of the Soul

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The world is a garden and each of us possess a seed - our soul - that we must nurture to make the garden a beautiful place.

Rabbi Menashe Wolf grew up in Australia and has traveled the world studying and leading Jewish experiences. He currently directs Chabad of Park Slope. 'Seeds of the Soul' is a message from his soul to yours - encouraging meaningful and mindful living.

Chanukah Lightpoint #8

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Timing is everything. The precise placement of the holidays on the calendar is not coincidental. Although they commemorate historic events, they relate to their seasons too.

Chanukah, the holiday of light and warmth, is celebrated in the heart of winter. At the coldest time of year we light the Menorah candles.

Hot and cold are metaphors; symbols of emotions. Heat conjures images of passion and love; cold reminds of distance and disengagement.

We all go through our 'winters'. Our times of disenchantment, the moments when we are uninspired. Those days and months when we are frozen in our places, stagnant in our growth.

The Menorah injects light into that dark place. It provides the tools to climb out of that hole and reignite our passion.

What's the message of the Menorah? Don't try deal with the darkness. Don't grapple with your issues. Like quicksand, the more you try to fight your insecurities the deeper you get stuck. JUST SHINE LIGHT. Focus on positive things and fill your headspace with bright images. Just like a candle - as soon as it shines the darkness around it melts. The illusion of challenge fades away in the face of real positivity.

Chanukah Lightpoint #7

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Tonight we light two sets of candles: Menorah and Shabbat. For most of us the only challenge this presents is finding place for both and deciding which to light first (the Menorah). But some people can't afford both candles - and are faced with a difficult dilemma: Which to light, the Menorah or Shabbat candles?

The Talmud addresses this problem and answers unequivocally: Light the Shabbat candles. Shabbat candles were instituted to ensure that there's light in the house on Shabbat eve when its prohibited to light fire. Since their purpose is to increase happiness and peace in the house they take precedence over the Menorah.

This doesn't mean that they take the place of the Menorah; they achieve the Menorah's goal for it. The Menorah is a symbol of peace. Peace between the Jews ans tbeir opressors, peace between evil and good, peace between the world and its creator. The Shabbat candles, that bring peace into the home, are the ultimate representation of the Menorah message.

Tonight, when you light the Menorah followed by the Shabbat candles think about the peace that they are meant to bring. Peace in the world, peace in your relationships and peace in your heart.

Shabbat Shalom and Happy Chanukah!

Chanukah Lightpoint #6

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We are taught from a young age about the Chanukah miracle. We're told that the holiday is a celebration of ancient miracles from the time of the Maccabees.

While this is true, it's not the whole story. The military victory was more than a one time accomplishment; it saved the Jewish community from compete assimilation and absorption into the Helenist Greek society. It paved the way for their to still be Jews today.

The flip side is, that without us still being here, the Maccabees' efforts would have no value. Their heroic struggle would be lost to history.

When we light the Menorah and affirm our commitment to our heritage and faith, we continue the legacy of the Maccabees.

When we light our Menorah we continue the Chanukah story. Because in truth the miracle of Chanukah is not only that the Menorah burned for eight days; it's that it continues to burn today.

Chanukah Lightpoint #5

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There is a perplexing detail about a candle that holds in it a deep secret. Every candle needs fuel for the flame to burn. Whether wax, oil or anything else, the fire feeds off something. Yet, the fuel itself cannot produce fire. Have you ever tried lighting wax? Have you tried lighting oil? Fascinatingly, what lights the fire doesn't light on fire. The fuel needs a wick to channel it in order to sustain the flame.

There are things in our lives that fuel us. They are the most important and dearest things to us. It may be family, values or certain lersonal behaviours. Religiously, it is the Mitzvot - the Divine directives on how to live. But these ideas don't ignite a flame. They dont create a passionate living. They can be cold commitments. They need a wick. They need to be channeled in order to produce passion.

The wick is the midfulness. The knowledge and awareness of what we are doing and why we are doing it. The wick is the Torah study that animates our religious performance. With the proper awareness and cognition our important behaviours come alive with fiery passion. Through the channel of the wick - being mindful - the fuel creates and sustains the fire.

Chanukah is a time to focus on the wick as much as the candle. Don't only ask yourself what is important and which values hold priority. Ask yourself WHY they are important. Think deeply into yourself to find what they mean to you. Study Torah and discover why we do what we do as Jews. Surprise yourself with an excitement that you didn't know you had. Give your candle a wick.

Chanukah Lightpoint #4

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Life is a constant struggle between light and dark. The forces of good in the world are always challenged by the vile hate of evil. The positive impulses we possess have to contend with our negative drives.

Maimonides wrote that we should view ourselves and the word as a balanced scale. Any drop of weight on either side and it will tip. We tip the scales to one side through our choices.

Tonight we have reached the halfway point of Chanukah and with that we have filled half the menorah. It is half light and half dark; 4 out of 8 candles are lit a while 4 remain dark.

The challenge is to to tip the scales. To make the world more bright until the darkness is completely overshadowed by light.

Chanukah Lightpoint #3

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The Menorah is unique. It is perhaps the only Mitzvah that is meant to be done outdoors. Most of us don't follow this, but ideally the Menorah should be placed outside the door of your home.

On Chanukah we learn that it is not enough to have light within, you must share it with the world. It is not enough to be educated, inspired or elevated. You must educate another, inspire someone else and uplift the environment all around you.

We all have a powerful light. It's time to shine it on the world and make it a brighter place.

Chanukah Lightpoint #2

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The flames we light each night tell a story; if you listen closely, you can almost hear them whisper a message.
Tonight we lit two candles. With just one extra flame, we doubled last night's light. 
In life, it is not only the big things that make a difference. One small step forward, adding just one little bit, can sometimes make a world of a difference. The small extra effort can drastically increase your impact and brighten up the darkness of the world. 
Tonight's the candles told me to keep moving forward. Today has to be better than yesterday, and tomorrow greater than today. 

Chanukah Lightpoint #1

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Have you ever felt that you weren’t living a life true to yourself?

Society indoctrinates us into a subtle firm of groupthink. Without us even realizing it, the zeitgeist of popular opinion pervades our thinking. The challenge of life is to free ourselves; to discover and express our uniqueness.

This is the eternal narrative of Chanukah. The Hellenists tried impressing their culture and values on the Jewish people. Eventually, they coerced them to behave as they did. But the Jews fought back. For their freedom – both religious and personal. The freedom to live the life that was true to them. The freedom to serve G-d in their unique way as revealed to them at Sinai.

After being victorious in battle, the Maccabees went to reclaim the Holy Temple and experienced the miracles of the oil - that they found it at all and that it lasted for 8 days.

At times we are Maccabees - courageous and strong - and try to reclaim our inner Temple; to get control of our lives and put ourselves in the driver's seat; to fight off the Greeks - the influences of our surroundings. But sometimes we feel hopeless - like we have no fuel to inject a ray hope and light to brighten up the situation. We have difficulty mustering the inner strength to express ourselves against the tide of society. We can’t find any oil.

The Menorah story teaches us that there is always one vial of pure oil left. Deep inside of us we have a point of light that cannot be violated or contaminated. We each possess a precious soul. It may not seem like much. But this tiny bit of oil is so powerful that it can keep burning. If we can only discover that part of ourselves, the inner light that have, we can find confidence and strength to express our true selves.

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