1. The first thing of interest to Tzivos Hashem at its gatherings is the “order of the day,” which is found in the Torah, the rule-book of Tzivos Hashem. Because it is the Torah of light, these orders and instructions are clear and illuminating.
The “order of the day” for this gathering on Chanukah is that Jews must kindle the Chanukah lights. This is accompanied by praise and thanks to G-d for giving us this mitzvah and for that “He performed miracles for our forefathers in those days at this time.,” This mitzvah is performed in a manner of “publicizing the miracle:” everyone should see the mitzvah being fulfilled, and its effect.
What is the lesson from this mitzvah? The Chanukah lights emphasize the theme common to all matters of Torah and mitzvos. That theme is that “mitzvah is a lamp and Torah is light:” The purpose of Torah and mitzvos is to kindle and illuminate a Jew’s soul, and thereby to light up the Jewish home, the Jewish people, and the entire world.
We see this openly in the Chanukah lights, the mitzvah of which is to kindle them. Thus the Jewish home is openly illuminated, to the extent that even a non-Jew passing in the street sees that a Jew’s efforts light up the surroundings.
Furthermore, one is commanded to ascend in holy matters, in all matters of Torah and mitzvos. Once again, this is openly evident on Chanukah, when we kindle an extra light on each successive night.
Moreover, this mitzvah is performed with joy, as stressed in the blessing made on this mitzvah in which we bless and give thanks to G-d for giving us this mitzvah. Likewise, we bless and thank G-d for the miracles which He performed for our forefathers “in those days, at this time.” This reminds all Jews, and members of Tzivos Hashem in particular, of their great merit in belonging to G-d’s army and receiving His Torah and mitzvos. As we say in the “Al HaNissim” prayer recited on Chanukah: “Your Torah,” “the decrees of Your will” — which includes the mitzvos performed at special seasons of the year, which in turn infuses joy into the fulfillment of all the mitzvos.
The lesson from Chanukah for the whole year then, is that a Jew must illuminate himself, his home, and his surroundings with the light of Judaism. This is achieved through revealing his G-dly soul — “the soul of man is the lamp of G-d,” and conducting himself according to G-d’s instructions given in the “Torah of light.” Then one is successful in illuminating the entire world, extending to the true light of the future redemption, when everyone will walk in the “light of G-d” forever.
2. Besides the above lesson which applies to every day of Chanukah, there is another lesson to be derived from the particular day on which this gathering is being held. The Baal Shem Tov taught that nothing happens in G-d’s world by chance, but everything is ordained by Divine Providence — and therefore the particular day on which this gathering is being held certainly provides lessons for a Jew’s service to G-d.
There are several aspects to today: It is
2) Rosh Chodesh;
3) We begin to recite “V’sein Tal U’Mottor” today;
4) the seventh light is kindled.
Let us examine each of these separately.
On the third day of the week (of creation), “it was good” was said twice — “good for heaven and good for creatures.” This teaches that a Jew must engage not only in activities that are “good for heaven,” but must also involve himself in activities that are ‘ “ ‘good for creatures.” He must remember that G-d has commanded, “You shall love your fellow as yourself,” of which Rabbi Akiva said, “it is a great principle in Torah.”
Simply put, everything which you children have the merit to observe (e.g. during Chanukah kindling the lights, reciting “Al HaNissim”), you should see to it that your friends observe them also. This is related to the idea of Chanukah, which, we have noted previously, is to illuminate one’s surroundings and eventually the whole world, by fulfilling the mitzvah of the Chanukah lights.
Should you ask, “How can a small child illuminate the entire world?,” the Torah gives the answer in its first verse: “In the beginning G-d created the heavens and earth.” G-d is the sole Master of the world, and therefore He is able to bestow upon a Jew the necessary powers to carry out his task of illuminating the world.
On Rosh Chodesh, the moon is renewed after it was totally eclipsed. From this day on it constantly waxes until it becomes completely full (on the fifteenth of the month).
This contains a lesson for Jews, who “count according to the moon” (i.e. the Jewish calendar is a lunar one), and “who are destined to be renewed like it (the moon).” If in the past a Jew transgressed, and fell prey to the wiles of the Yetzer (Evil Inclination), he can still overcome the Yetzer. From now on he has the ability to engage only in holy matters, constantly rising higher and higher in sanctity — just as the moon, although previously completely dark, becomes renewed on Rosh Chodesh and from then on its light constantly increases.
This too is associated with Chanukah. The Greeks had tried to make the Jews “forget Your Torah and violate the decrees of Your will.” They “defiled all the oil in the Hechal,” and Jews “could not find pure oil in the Mikdosh.” Nevertheless, the Jews were miraculously victorious against their oppressors, and thereby added to sanctity — “Your children ... instituted these eight days of Chanukah to give thanks and praise to Your great Name.”
Although these events associated with the wicked Hellenic government occurred thousands of years ago, a remnant is still with us — the Yetzer, which tries to make Jews “forget Your Torah.” It is the task of Tzivos Hashem not to be swayed by its arguments, but to triumph against it and add to Torah and mitzvos in a new manner — “to be renewed like it (the moon).”
“V’Sein Tal U’Mottor” is the prayer for rain to fall. The previous Rebbe drew an analogy between G-d’s blessings and rain: Just as rain is beneficial for growth only if a person first ploughs and sows, so G-d’s blessings need prior preparation by man for them to work their effect.
Chanukah is an auspicious time to merit additional blessings from G-d, blessings that will be in the form of miracles (similar to the miracles of Chanukah which happened “in those days, at this time”). We therefore need to do extra “ploughing and sowing” so that these blessings will be translated into actuality.
The special blessing of Chanukah is the powers bestowed upon Jews to be miraculously victorious against those who wish to make them “forget Your Torah.” The appropriate preparation for these blessings to be utilized properly is a firm, unyielding stance, to the extent of mesirus nefesh (self-sacrifice), in all matters of Torah and mitzvos — similar to the behavior of “Matisyahu, the son of Yochanan the High Priest, the Chashmonean and his sons.” Through this we merit total victory over the Yetzer, in a manner of “miracles, redemption, mighty deeds, saving acts and wonders.”
The seventh day of Chanukah, which begins with the kindling of the seventh light the night before, serves as the appropriate preparation to the eighth day of Chanukah. Every day of Chanukah needs preparation. The eighth day, which is the conclusion and “seal” of Chanukah — i.e. the decisive and final battle in the war against the Yetzer — certainly does. And it is the seventh day and light of Chanukah which provides this preparation.
May it be G-d’s will that everyone properly utilize the directives and strength bestowed on Chanukah for use during the whole year. This means to extend the illumination of the Chanukah lights, which are the idea of “mitzvah is a lamp and Torah is light,” throughout the year. A Jew’s life thereby becomes lit up with Torah and mitzvos, which automatically makes one’s physical matters also radiant forever and ever.
3. [The following sicha was said by the Rebbe Shlita in Russian.]
Chanukah is an auspicious time to say words of encouragement and inspiration to Jewish children who live in countries where it is not so easy to keep Torah and mitzvos in general, and the mitzvah of Chanukah in particular. G-d bestows special blessings and abilities on such people to enable them to overcome all difficulties, and to properly observe the mitzvah of Chanukah and all the other mitzvahs. This observance is in the manner of “ascending in sanctity,” adding to the light every day; and with thanks and blessings to G-d for choosing us from all other nations, and for giving us His Torah and mitzvos.
The observance of Torah and mitzvos is perfectly permissible according to the Constitution of the U.S.S.R. It says that every Jew, child and adult, is free to observe mitzvos, and the government is responsible to assure his/her rights.
Through such conduct, a Jew illuminates his daily life and his home with the light of Judaism and sanctity. The fulfillment of G-d’s promise that the darkness of the exile will end is thus hastened, and the light of the true and complete redemption will begin to shine forth.
4. Chanukah and Yud-Tes Kislev are connected. Chanukah celebrates the miracle with oil, and oil symbolizes the Torah’s secrets — the esoteric part of Torah, Chassidus. It is therefore appropriate that any place which has not yet printed the Tanya should endeavor to do so during Chanukah. If that is not possible, the printing should be finished by the 24th of Teves, the yartzeit of the Alter Rebbe, the author of the Tanya. If that still is not possible for some places, the printing should be finished by Purim Koton (in the first Adar), or at, least by Purim proper (in the second month of Adar).
May it be G-d’s will that from the redemptions of Yud Kislev, Yud-Tes Kislev and Chanukah, we speedily proceed to the true and complete redemption through our righteous Moshiach.