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Rabbi’s Blog: Chag Urim Sameach + Friday Mincha Update

12/07/2023 03:46:22 PM


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Dear OZ family,


Today, the 24th of Kislev, is a date that is mentioned in Tanach, and it is connected to the holiday we begin to celebrate in a few hours. The prophet Chaggai, exhorted his people in 518 BCE, that the 70 year exile would be over in 2 years, and the Temple still lay in ruins. In an incredible display of industry and enthusiasm, and against Persian enemies who stood in their way, the 42,360 Jews who had made it to Israel, managed to construct a working Temple within 2 years. Chaggai mentions that this work was completed on this day over 2,500 years ago, and they celebrated the completion on the next day. Then there is Biblical eveidence that the 25th of Kislev was, well before the Chanukah story, a day connected to our redemption, and rededication.


So much happened so quickly. Ezra, Nechemia, Zecharia and Chaggai tried to convince more Jews to make it to Israel, but as it turned out, only about one in a hundred Jews made their way home to Israel, when Cyrus allowed them to return from exile. Life was so good in Persia, and so difficult in Israel, and many Jews had assimilated and intermarried, to the extent that the Kohen Gadol’s own sons had married Babylonian women. This is indicated in the Haftara of this Shabbos, where Yehoshua Kohen Gadol is told to remove his putrid clothing in order to serve God in the new Temple. The Haftara also refers to the triumph of the Jews , not in might, or power, but in the Spirit of God. These two themes connect to the assimilation of the Helenized Jews in the Chanuka story, as well as the few who defeated the many in battle. To round things off, Zecharia refers to a Menorah being supplied with a steady stream of oil from many tubes, flowing from two olive trees.


The steady stream of oil is a hint to that last cruse of oil that was found so that the Menorah could be lit as part of the rededication of the Temple after the enemy was defeated. The two olive trees refer to the two Messianic figures, representing the two kingdoms of Israel, one, a descendant of King David, and one, a descendant of Yosef, paving the way for our redemption. As such, Zecharia’s vision is the perfect Haftara for Shabbat Chanuka. On this festival of Chanuka may we see that light is shed  on a confused and murky, political, academic and media landscape. I wish everyone a Chag Urim Sameach.


Please note, due to requests we have moved tomorrow's Early Mincha to 12:11pm (Mincha Gedola) for those that will be home tomorrow and who would like to daven Mincha before lighting the Chanukah Candles, as is usually preferred. Chanukah Candle Lighting will be at 4:10pm in the Main Shul, followed by Zman Mincha and Kabbalat Shabbat. 


Stay well and healthy

Rabbi Allen Schwartz


Rabbi Allen Schwartz

Congregation Ohab Zedek

118 West 95th Street

New York, NY  10025-6604

Phone 212.749-5150, ext 200







Mon, March 4 2024 24 Adar I 5784