Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Blessings for You and Yours

I know that Chanukah is almost a week past, but there was one story/video that I wanted to share with you that was so special, I figured that time hasn’t dimmed its meaning.
I try to attend at least one Kotel Chanukah Lighting each year. Lighting the menorah so close to the place where it was once lit by the Kohen Gadol is such a moving event that, really, every deserves to experience it.
I picked up my machatenesta (son’s mother-in-law) Judy from the Old City and we walked down to the Kotel. It drizzled as we huddled together against the cold. At this point, some folks would have given up and went home for some hot cocoa and a dry chanukiah-lighting, but we toughed it out.
And we felt so privileged that we had.
It was the seventh night of Chanukah. The Minister of Tourism Stas Misezhnikov (Yisrael Beitenu) lit the menorah on the Upper Plaza. Then the Rishon LeZion, the Sephardi Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Shlomo Amar lit the chanukiah next to the Kotel, in the presence of the Minister of Tourism and the Rabbi of the Kotel and Holy Places HaRav Shmuel Rabinowitz.
His words were so filled with blessings for the Jewish people that we were moved to tears. His blessings were for everyone present and for you too.
That’s why I’m writing this now. I want you to hear the blessings that the sincerely learned and holy rabbi, HaRav Amar gave you. The following is an abridged version of his words (and I would like to thank my dear friend Leora for her excellent translation). HaRav Amar’s words were truly poetic, and, of course, lose a great deal in the translation. Any mistakes in translation or transcribing are all mine.
Be blessed:
The Rishon LeZion spoke, “I would like to bless everyone present and through you, all of Am Yisrael, and all our soldiers, in the merit of this day – seventh day of Chanukah – and Rosh Chodesh (the new month) Tevet in this holy place outside Bet HaMikdash, from whence the Schechnia has never departed.
May we merit to light the menorah one day soon in the Bet Hamikdash by the Kohen Gadol, and may that great light shine a new light over Israel - a holy pure light will glow in all the hearts of Am Yisrael. May this light increase our joy, bring light into our homes, and may we not hear tragedy. Instead, may we only hear the voices of joy and gladness, the voices of bride and groom. May the sound of smachot (joyous occasions) fill all our homes.
May this month be the end of our difficulties, the beginning of the redemption of our souls, and we hear only good news, especially good news about our soldiers and about our captive soldiers.
There is a hint in a previous Torah portion, Parshat Miketz (ketz means end) of an end to our travails. Then after Miketz is the portion of Vayigash, which is an acronym for Vayavo Gilad Shalit (Gilad Shalit came home), IY”H!
And after that is the portion Vayechi Yaakov (and Yaakov lived). “And the spirit of Yaakov revived.” [Ed. These are all blessed allusions for our people.] May our spirit be revived with the coming of the Messiah. Amen.
The moments that connect the (Jewish months) of Kislev and Tevet are very special. Kislev, the month with a kis (pocket) and lev (heart) and Tevet, the month that denotes tov (good), when Hashem will do good for His people.
As we lit the pure menorah, we all prayed that we will soon merit to see the Kohen Gadol light the menorah in purity in Bet HaMikdash.
My children, girls and boys, soldiers and citizens, the King of the World should bless you and fulfill your wishes for good and blessing; give you smachot (joy) in your homes; may you merit making weddings and smachot for your sons and daughters; may you increase your Torah learning, mitzvot and good deeds. May Hashem remove sickness from you, may He remove fear and any obstacles and mishaps. May Hashem grant you success and parnasa (a livelihood). May Hashem bless you a thousand-fold, and, BE”H, may the Redeemer come to Zion.”
When the Chief Rabbi finished his words, as raindrops drizzled around us, the entire crowd sang the Chanukah hymn Maoz Tzur. It was an incredibly uplifting and unifying experience. Spontaneously, children and parents danced together in happiness.
And then everyone lingered a bit to keep the blessing fresh upon their hearts for just a little while longer.
I know Chanukah is over, but I bless all of you that HaRav Amar’s words should be fulfilled very soon, IY”H.
Happy After Chanukah.
I videoed the Kotel ceremony, and you can see those blessings on video at

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