Baruch HaShem after being partners in everything for nearly 15 years, my Rabbanit and I have shared every thought and experience together. During the preparations for the miraculous days of Chanukah, we found ourselves sharing our miracles of the past, present and the ones we’ll need from HaShem for the future. Real Torah chinuch (education) for our children and the rest of HaShem’s children is a constant topic of discussion. Regardless of what country or Jewish community you go to, there are so many confused adults that used to be children. Indeed there are so many confused children that will one day become our next generation of adults. How is it possible that the generation with the most freedom and abundance of free information since Mount Sinai is also the most confused about HaShem? It all agrees with the prophecies of the End of Days, yet we just can’t get ourselves to accept this reality without a fight to make things better. Without extraordinary Emunah in a miraculous Divine Intervention it is very easy to become pessimistic about the future. As David HaMelech said:
“And those who know Your Name will trust in YOU, for YOU have not forsaken those who seek YOU, HaShem.” (Psalm 9:11)
וְיִבְטְחוּ בְךָ יוֹדְעֵי שְׁמֶךָ כִּי לֹא עָזַבְתָּ דֹרְשֶׁיךָ יקוק (תהלים ט יא)
To move closer towards a solution, we thought that maybe we should try to analyze things like we did in business? A large part of our 35+ year combined careers in Wall Street investment management involved doing research and analysis on different economies, businesses, markets, and sometimes even people. From inflated markets, to identifying Ponzi schemes [early], to even uncovering financial engineering (i.e. fraud) by unethical management personnel of major corporations. These were all tasks that consumed parts of our day to day lives. We helped many investors save their assets by helping them steer clear from all types of scandals and flawed ideas, which would typically take advantage of the naïve and overly optimistic nature of human psychology. Although most ideas sound good at first, the real risk is only determined once you identify and explore the red flags. It’s no secret that every idea, big or small, has red flags. The only question is how big is the red flag?
Although learning Torah and doing Kiruv began a few years before exiting the Wall Street industry completely, our last 4 years have been fully dedicated to learning and teaching ourselves and others the truth of HaShem and His Torah. We’ve spent nearly every waking hour trying to reawaken and reeducate ourselves and others about the true purpose of life, as decreed by The Creator. Without sugar coating the truth or modernizing it with the poison of political correctness, we’ve been miraculously blessed to merit sharing the truth with many people via hundreds of lectures. Throughout the countless scenarios we’ve encountered, there are two that stand out today—one from a lecture at a Yeshiva in the US last year, and one at a different Jewish School this year.
As part of my opening words to a group of teenage Yeshiva boys in the US, I wanted to gauge where we stood and asked a couple of questions. First, how many people would want to be like Moshe Rabbeinu? The silence was deafening. No one wanted to be like the greatest Jew that ever lived, the prophet of all prophets who spoke to HaShem face to face. To follow up, I asked, how many people would want to be like LeBron James, the famous NBA basketball player. Sadly, by the time I began describing who he was, nearly all of the Jewish hands were raised with a smile to match their Greek aspirations. In the second school we asked a different set of questions. First, how many people believe that we (i.e. humans) came from monkeys? The question that should have been frowned upon and mocked by the Jewish kids who learned Chumash, sadly received no less than 6 Jewish hands that were raised high and proud to attest to their false belief. And these were only the ones who were willing to admit that they believed this. Only HaShem knows how many more were hiding similar false beliefs and doubts about our Torah, despite their Torah education R’L. As a follow up, we asked how many people believed in HaShem, and were happy to see that all of the hands were raised—including the six that admitted to believing that their ancestors could be in a zoo today. Such a wide disconnect from Torat Emet (Truth of Torah), to say the least. Needless to say, we addressed these issues in each of these lectures until everyone started nodding their heads in agreement that maybe they have to reevaluate their beliefs in order to make a change (i.e. TeShuva). Baruch HaShem!!!
It is clear that these are not the only kids with wrong and foolish beliefs and ideology. In fact, I would dare to say that you can find some in every school, yeshiva or otherwise. The statistics may inevitably deteriorate to include every class if the chinuch continues as it has been. If this is not a red flag that every Jewish organization, Rabbi, teacher, parent and even common Jew is worrying about, then they are part of the problem. This is the BIG RED FLAG. We cannot simply blame the schools, teachers, or even parents. The truth is that we are all at fault. We continue failing our Creator and His children by refraining from providing a “complete” Torah chinuch that includes Mussar, kosher & objective science, and a true understanding of the value of Torah. We’re so focused on competing with the goyim (nations), that we’re slowly becoming spiritually and morally corrupted just like them.
Real chinuch is not just what the Rabbi or teacher teaches, but how the parent implements it at home. Even if they teach the purest Torah, it’ll likely be to no avail if the parent still lives and promotes a secular lifestyle to their household that focuses on materialism and Greek mentality. Real chinuch is not just what the parent says, but what they value and appreciate enough to say “wow, that’s amazing!” If the only excitement in the house is over money, sports, and food then why would any kid want to do Torah homework for the rest of their lives? Real chinuch is not just what each Jewish organization has on the itinerary to get people to sign up, but what is the real main event is. It has nothing to do with the size or look of the buildings, but rather what Torah is being taught inside them. Millions are being donated and spent on taking Jewish kids on trips to Israel, hiking, rafting etc., yet almost no one seems to notice that with each trip, many of the kids are becoming less and less Jewish. If all of the role models are more excited about the next Thanksgiving basketball or football game than they are about a Rashi commentary regarding the weekly Parasha before Chanukah, then why would any kid aspire to become Moshe Rabbeinu? In fact, why would he even want to remain Jewish, R’L?
On the famous Gemara (Shabbat 21B) question “What is Chanukah?”
The sages bring multiple insights of what happened as well as the root of the word Chanukah. In Megillat Taanit and Pesikta Rabbati (2:1) the Sages link the name Chanukah to the Chinuch (= חינוך Rededication) of the Alter at the Beit HaMikdash, after the few Maccabees miraculously won the war. The RAN gave another Chidush by breaking up the word Chanukah into two parts, with Chanu (חנו)- referring to Am Yisrael resting after winning the war, while the Kah (-כה) is referring to the twenty-fifth day of Kislev (i.e. the first day of Chanukah).
To apply the words of the Sages of our living Torah to our circumstances, we thought of a small Chidush that could put things in a clear perspective. Since the word Chinuch ( חינוך) can also mean education, and the letters of Kah (-כה) can also mean “like HaShem,” and also the acronym for Kol HaChaim (Entire Life(כל החיים , then we can also learn from here the following: Chanukah is the annual reminder from HaShem that once we give the unrelenting Torah Chinuch of the Maccabees to ourselves and children—which simply means to make the Torah as the number one most important & exciting part of our day to day lives—then we will ultimately be able to rest (חנו)peacefully our Entire Lives in this world and the next, just Like HaShem (Kah (כה desires for us.
How do we go about this? As mentioned in the newly published 57 year old article by Rav Ovadia Yosef zt’l: The Vilna Gaon used to say “when I was young, I used to think that I would repair the world with the Kingdom of Heaven. I got older and I realized that it’s not in my power to do this, therefore I said I’ll repair my city. As I aged I realized it would be enough if I can simply repair my own household. And now I realize if only I would have repaired myself.” If each of us begins repairing ourselves and takes care of our own responsibilities to influence others, then the Tikkun Olam of the Kingdom of Heaven will be achieved once and for all. May it be His Will that we each take this miraculous holiday of Chanukah to perform the biggest miracle in creation—the right to do TeShuva.
Chag Chanukah SaMeAch
1. See Gemara (Sotah 49B)
2. I am no longer sure whether I am supposed to detail who Moshe Rabbeinu is, as much as I probably did not have to explain that LeBron James is in the NBA.
3. Gematria (i.e. numerical) value of the letters כה (kah) is 25
4. See Artscroll Gemara (Shabbat 21B) note 40
5. (i.e. KeHaShem)
6. Alon HaKodesh (10) Chanukah Edition