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Selling land to the Arabs - a nation torn apart

Thursday, 9 December, 2010 - 9:48 am

Chanukah is always an especially joyous holiday for yeshiva students. As a student, I remember handing out doughnuts, latkes and menorahs in the streets of Israel and New York, sharing the light of Chanukah with our dear brothers and sisters. In the pre-9/11 days, I would get security clearance at Ben Gurion Airport and share the loot with all the duty free employees and passengers. It was over there that I wondered how the recipients felt about our Chanukah expeditions. And it was only twelve years later, this week in fact, that I finally found out.

With thanks to one of our congregants, I was enlightened:

As a waiter in a local New York restaurant, Sam was a regular with the yeshiva boys on their Friday tefillin route. After two years, when Sam found himself a new job in an upscale non-kosher restaurant, he was relieved to finally get away from the pesky boys.

That Chanukah he began reminiscing about his father lighting the menorah, and the joyous family celebrations that always followed, punctuated with games of dreidel, hours of singing and mouth watering, homemade doughnuts. He recalled his religious upbringing and felt his mood darken as he pondered his current dismal position, far removed from anything religious, serving pork in a lonely and unfriendly restaurant.

As if reading his thoughts, a mitzvah tank pulled up outside and ten yeshiva boys streamed out, laden with doughnuts, latkes, menorahs and more. Sam realized how much he had missed his old pals as they explained their efforts to track him down. Together they lit candles, sang traditional Chanukah songs and danced in brotherly love. For the first time in two long years, Sam felt connected to his heritage. Since that day, Sam welcomes the boys on Fridays with open arms…

As a child, Yosef was terribly abused. It was a miracle that his brothers only sold him into slavery instead of murdering him as they originally intended. For the next 22 years, Yosef suffered in silence as he was tortured and tormented in Egypt. After all that time, unbeknown to his brothers, he meets them face to face, only now he is second in command to the Pharoah. Anyone would expect a person in Yosef’s position to relish the opportunity for revenge.

Instead, after revealing himself, Yosef assures them he has no such intentions, for the entire saga was G-d’s plan, the brothers were merely the messengers chosen to execute the chain of events.

Few others would have reacted as righteously as Yosef. What a gem this man is and how worthy he is of his title, Yosef HaTzaddik, Yosef the Pious, for his entire character radiated a deep and unmatched goodness. How much better off we would be if we were to learn from Yosef and find the courage to forgive and forget.

This is ultimately what the miracle of Chanuka is all about. The differences of opinion today in Israel regarding selling land to the Arabs is almost tearing our nation apart. Sure we are all different. But whether religious or not, Sephardi or Ashkenaz, we all share one thing in common: a small flame of G-d burning deep within us. And when we stand before the menorah, we gaze at its candles and are reminded of our common fire and the ties that bind us. Let us unite together as one!


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