Chazaq, Stories to Inspire, and TorahAnytime hosted the following powerful shiurim for Chanukah. On Sunday, November 28, Rabbi Meir Simcha Sperling, TorahAnytime Speaker, shared a story about a man who walked into shul and sponsored a large, lavish kiddush for his community. He made the kiddush as a sign of gratitude for being saved after being hit by a car while walking to shul. The next week, another man sponsored a kiddush for the community. He made the kiddush as a tremendous hakaras ha’tov for the fact that he walked to the same shul as the man who made the kiddush the week before and for the previous 20 years that he always arrived safely and was never hit by a car.
Rabbi Sperling posed the following question. “Why do we celebrate Chanukah for eight nights? The neis was that there was enough oil for one day.”
He then asked, “Why should oil burn at all?” People will answer that oil burns because of nature. “Who made nature? Who made the sun rise?” The fact that we can walk and talk and we are waterproof – all of these things that are part of nature are all miracles. Chazal taught that the miracle of Chanukah is also that nature is that oil burns. Hashem controls nature and set it up to work. That itself is a neis.
Rabbi Sperling asked, “Do we thank Hashem for all the things that don’t happen?” Let’s remember now, as we light the menorah, how Hashem blesses us with so many natural blessings, and we should realize that this story opens a world to us. He said, “Why wait for a wake-up call to appreciate what we have? Let’s tell Hashem: Thank you so much for all the things we have. There are so many things in life that we need to appreciate.” Also, just because everyone has something doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be thankful for it. He suggested dedicating 20 seconds to list thank-yous to Hashem.
Next, Rabbi Yechiel Spero, author of Touched by a Story and TorahAnytime speaker, shared an inspiring teaching of the Arizal. The g’matria of neir (light) is 250 and people possess 248 limbs. The two extra limbs are Hashem’s so-to-speak two arms embracing every single Jew. He then shared a story about a young man named Dovi who, at the age of 14, lost his older brother Eli who was 17, and shortly after that he lost his father. All this loss was too much to bear. Dovi decided to learn a masechta in memory of his brother and his father. His rebbe helped sponsor the siyum, and Dovi asked if he could invite the politician Moshe Leon, who is currently the mayor of Yerushalayim, but he wasn’t mayor at that time.
Mr. Leon came to the siyum, and he shared the story of why Dovi had invited him. When he was campaigning, his manager suggested it would be good to shoot some photos in the Shuk in Meah Shearim. So he went there and saw Dovi examining a lulav and esrog. Mr. Leon asked him about the halachos of lulav and esrog and Dovi explained them. Mr. Leon asked why he was so conversant, and he explained that his father and older brother died and now he was the man of the house. Mr. Leon said, “If you make a siyum in their memory, please call and invite me.” He then shared that he wanted to pay for all of Dovi’s expenses; and when he gets married, he wants to sponsor his wedding and his apartment. He added that, though he worked hard and lost the election, he believed that Hashem sent him on this campaign trail so he could meet Dovi.
Rabbi Spero taught that this is the message of Chanukah. Sometimes we seem to be facing insurmountable odds; but if we realize that Hashem is wrapping His arms around us and He loves us, we will be able to do and accomplish anything.
By Susie Garber