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L’chvod Rav Avi, Rabbi Lopatin, Rabbi Linzer, Rabbi Love, Rav Katz and the rest of the faculty and staff, Obviously, we are grateful that you have created a holy place of learning for both Chai and Tzachi. But do you realize the profound influence you have had and continue to have in our lives? Thank you for helping us to create an open orthodox home where Torah is observed consciously. Thank you for modeling for us how to live the Torah that we learn. Thank you for helping us to raise our children with the knowledge that they could question anything that did not make sense to them, and that that is a proper and healthy attitude to apply to all aspects of Torah living. It brings us tremendous comfort and gives us strength knowing that Yeshivat Chovevei Torah is here to inspire and guide all of us.

With heartfelt thanks,
Estelle and Harvey Posner
Parents of Chai Posner (YCT ’10) and Tzachi Posner (YCT ’17)

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Friday, 02 March 2012


February 24-25, 2012/ 2 Adar 5772

By Rabbi Avi Weiss

From a strictly halakhic perspective, the kindling of the menorah is not an act of serving God.  No doubt the menorah is a holy object, but still the Talmud concludes that "lighting [it] is not considered a service." (Yoma 24b)

Perhaps this means that the lighting of the menorah creates a holy atmosphere that serves as a backdrop to the actual Temple service where we approach God.  This is accomplished through its representation of three major themes in human experience--- creation, revelation and redemption.

The menorah brings us back to the creation story, where the first creation was light. (Genesis 1:3)  In the center of the Garden of Eden were the tree of knowledge and tree of life. The menorah looks like a tree.  It is adorned with flowers, knobs and cups.  The flowers represent the buds that spring forth fruit; the knobs are shaped like a round fruit; and the cups are symbolic of vessels into which nectar is poured. (Menahot 28a) As Eden was a society of peace, so the menorah sets the tone for what hopefully would be an experience of inner peace as we serve God in the sanctuary.  Its lighting accentuates

the powerful beauty of the tree; it ignites serenity within us.

The menorah resonates with the image of Sinai as well.  It brings us back to the moment when the Torah was given where light was abundant.  (Exodus 19:16)  The three branches on each side are associated with worldly knowledge.  Yet, the wicks in each of these branches turn toward the inner shaft - teaching the idea that everything has its source in Torah.  The lighting of these wicks focus our energy on our primary means of connecting to God -- love of the light of Torah.  (Mishlei 6:23)

The menorah may also allude to the Messianic world.  Not only do the wicks point inward, the flames reach toward heaven, reminding us of our mission to be a light to the nations of the world. (Isaiah 42:6)  From this perspective, when viewing the lighting of the menorah our thoughts focus on the fact that the tabernacle experience should encourage us to fix the world, bringing it to ultimate redemption.

These ideas should speak to us today.  Upon entering a synagogue and seeing the eternal light, it ought to echo inner peace, love of Torah, and a striving toward perfection. When creation, revelation and redemption converge in the synagogue we can't help but feel spiritually drawn to God.



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