When we feel darkness and sadness, it’s hard to go on. That’s when we need to feel that Hashem is with us in our pain. Mrs. Sipy Nissanian, beloved Bais Yaakov of Queens pre-school teacher, shared how painful it was when she and Rabbi Avraham Nissanian of Eshel Avraham, lost their dear son Yaeer a”h in 2002, at age 19. It was too hard to go on, she confided, but with help from Chai Lifeline Bereavement and Dr. Norman Blumenthal, she was able to live through this horrible grief, and she and her husband have helped other parents who had to deal with this type of unspeakable loss.

Every year, on Yaeer’s yahrzeit, her daughter Moreeyah Soleimani brainstorms with her mother how to honor Yaeer’s memory.  Moreeyah always has great ideas, and last year on his 20th yahrzeit, she thought of the Light It Up campaign, as written about last year in the Queens Jewish Link. In the past, they hosted lectures, shiurim, and brachah parties in his memory.

Moreeyah came up with the Light It Up idea because she feels that today people are too focused on “me.”

The Light It Up brochure suggests several small, easy-to-accomplish things that you can do for 10-15 minutes a day. You can start with just one. Some examples include smiling at someone or putting down your phone, making eye-contact with your spouse and children, and being grateful for all the blessings you have. These are some of the main ideas.

This year, to commemorate Yaeer Netzer z”l, the Nissanian family hosted a beautiful shiur at Congregation Ohel Simcha featuring Rabbi Moshe Bamberger, Mashgiach Ruchani at the Beis Medrash L’Talmud-Lander College for Men and author and sought-after speaker.

Rabbi Nissanian greeted the large crowd and shared that the actual yahrzeit for his son is after Yom Kippur, and they had originally planned an event for after Sukkos, but world events changed that, and they decided to schedule it for before Chanukah.

Next, Rabbi Bamberger spoke about the Light It Up brochures and campaign that is meant to inspire people to do small acts that could change a person’s life, and he noted that those small acts can then change the world. He taught that the greatest people understand that small things in life are so important. “Small things change a world.” He shared a famous story about Rabbi Yisrael Salanter who founded the Musar movement. As a young man, he wanted to change the world and so he set out to different countries, but he was not able to change it. So, he decided to change his country. He traveled to different cities, but he was not able to change it. Then he attempted to change a city, but it didn’t work. He tried to change his family but again to no avail. Then one day, he looked in the mirror and decided he would try to change himself. Once he did that, his family, his city, his country, and his world changed. “Changing a world starts with changing ourselves with small, simple things.” He shared how small acts like doing a kindness, learning Torah, or forgiving someone are all part of the Nissanians’ wonderful Light It Up initiative.

He shared a story about Rav Shimon Alster who was just niftar and who was a very inspirational figure and a tremendous talmid chacham. Rav Alster used to say that the defining characteristic of a great person is his small deeds. Big people care about the small things. There was a story about Rav Alster. There was a poor man who used to come to the lobby of Lander College selling trinkets at slightly higher than regular prices. One day, Rav Olster came upstairs with 30 pens and asked if anyone needed a pen. He’d purchased these at a high price from this poor man. The students asked why he did that, when he could buy the same item more cheaply from a store. Rav Olster explained that the man had dignity, and this way he could contribute to him without taking away his pride. He understood the human condition and expressed it in action and in deed.

In last week’s parshah, we see that small equals big. The day before Yaakov’s encounter with Eisav, he remained alone. Rashi says that he left behind some little jars on the other side of the bridge, and he went back to retrieve them. Yaakov was not poor, so why did he go back for those little jars? Rabbi Bamberger answered that, for a tzadik, everything Hashem gives him is precious. There is no such thing as something small to a great person. That night that the angel fought him, he was victorious. It isn’t a coincidence that the battle with the angel occurred the same night Yaakov went back for the jars. “Yaakov knew the importance of every little thing that could change the world.”

The pure jug of oil that was found on Chanukah is connected to the jugs that Yaakov went to retrieve. Hashem told Yaakov that, since you, Yaakov, went back to find the little jugs, I will reward you with the jug of oil to be found during Chanukah time. The actual jar of oil found that night was the jar Yaakov went back to find.

Rabbi Bamberger emphasized that the miracle of Chanukah is the miracle of appreciating how great something small is. One candle can spread to millions and it loses nothing.

He then spoke about the significance of a seal on the jar. The seal is small, yet it was very important, because it indicated that the oil was untouched and pure. “Without the seal, we couldn’t have Chanukah!”

Rabbi Bamberger shared two stories illustrating the idea of one small thing accomplishing greatness, and then he spoke about the name Yaeer, which means to give off light. Twenty-one years later, he is spreading light. Netzer means blossom; Hashem takes the seed of chesed and allows it to blossom at the right time.

He shared how the “Light it Up” campaign in memory of Yaeer Netzer gives us the ability to take small seeds and wait for Hashem to let them be nurtured. We can help that come about.

His neshamah should have an aliyah. To receive the brochure with the above list, go to www.eshelavraham.com

By Susie Garber