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Dedicated to the memory of my father and teacher


The following article is dedicated to the memory of my father and teacher, Seymour Oboler - Shlomo Ben Avraham Hakohen. His yahrtzeit - the anniversary of his passing - is the 8th day of Chanukah, which is on the third of Teves.

Dear Friends,

We began to explore the teaching that the light of the Menorah is a testimony to the presence of the Shechinah. We also mentioned other teachings which indicate that light is an expression of the Shechinah. How are we to understand the connection between light and the Shechinah?
In our search for an answer, let us examine a Divine promise to Jerusalem which speaks of both the "darkness" and the "light" that will exist in the world at the dawn of the messianic age:
"Arise! Shine! for your light has come, and the glory of Hashem shines upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth and a thick cloud the kingdoms, but upon you Hashem will shine, and His glory will be seen upon you. Nations will walk by your light and sovereigns by the brilliance of your shine." (Isaiah 60: 1-3)
The "glory of Hashem" that will shine upon Jerusalem is the Shechinah, explains "Metzudas David," one of the classical biblical commentators. But what is the nature of the darkness covering the earth that the light of the Shechinah will dispel? An answer can be found in the writings of a great Chassidic Rebbe, known as "Chidushei Ha-Rim," who was a leader of the Gerer Chassidim. To help us understand the spiritual meaning of darkness, he comments on the following verse from the Book of Exodus which describes the plague of darkness which struck the Egyptians:
"Moses stretched forth his hand toward the heavens, and there was a thick darkness throughout the land of Egypt for a three-day period. No one could see his brother..." (Exodus 10:22,23)
The Rebbe writes: "The worst darkness is when a person does not want to see his suffering brother and to extend to him support" (Mayana Shel Torah).
We are all the children of the Compassionate One, and each human being is a "brother" or "sister" that has a claim to our help and support. The failure to see the suffering of another is the worst form of darkness, and it is this darkness that will "cover the earth" at the very dawn of the new age. It is the spirit of selfishness that will spread to many nations during this period.
From Zion, however, is to come a "light" to dispel this darkness. Through this light, a human being will once again be able to see the suffering of a brother and a sister, and extend to them the help and support that they, as the children of the Compassionate One, are entitled to. The awareness that others are entitled to our love and concern is known as "tzedek" - justice-love. It is also a name for the Shechinah.
As Rabbi Hirsch taught us, tzedek is the Divine plan for all creation, and any action which brings us closer to this ideal is known as "tzedakah." In this spirit, a midrash offers the following interpretation of the prophecy, "And nations shall walk by your light":
"And what is the light that the Holy One, Blessed Be He, will shine upon Israel? It is the light of tzedakah, as it is written (Malachi 3:20): 'But the sun of tzedakah shall shine for you who revere My Name...' " (Yalkut Shimoni, Numbers, B'Ha'alosecha 8)

"The sun of Tzedakah," explains Metzudas David, is refering to the deeds of tzedakah that the people of Israel will perform - deeds that will give forth a great light. If the greatest darkness is the inability to see the suffering of others and the failure to give them support, then the greatest light is the ability to see the suffering of others and the willingness to give them support.
It is this light that we and all humanity are yearning for. As we say in our daily morning prayers:
"May You shine a new light on Zion, and may we all speedily merit its light."

Shalom,
Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen