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Nixon’s Accusations of Jewish Insecurity
Shmuley Boteach

 

The Lone Soldier Week 7
Lone Soldier

 

The Paradoxes of Oil as a Guide for Living
Yosef Y. Jacobson

 

The Rock Promoter and the Genesis of the Public Chanukah Menorah
Ruvi New

 

Why the Tea Party Resonates with Human Dignity
Shmuley Boteach

 

The Lone Soldier Week 6
Lone Soldier

 

The Lone Soldier Week 5
Lone Soldier

 

Jewish Ingratitude to Christians
Shmuley Boteach

 

No Gelt, No Glory
Simcha Weinstein

 

The Lone Soldier Week 4
Lone Soldier

 

A Time to Hate
Shmuley Boteach

 

The Lone Soldier Week 3
Lone Soldier

 

“My Heart Swells with Joy”
Yosef Y. Jacobson

 

The Lone Soldier Week 2
Lone Soldier

 

How Obama Lost his Magic
Shmuley Boteach

 

Rise of the Religious Charlatans
Shmuley Boteach

 

Rupert Murdoch: The 'Soft War' Against Israel
Rupert Murdoch

 

Do We Still Possess the Power to Choose?
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The Lone Soldier Week 1
Lone Soldier

 

A Spiritual Night in Hebron
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The Religious-Industrial Complex
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Ahmedenijad, Media Rock Star
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As the Economy Crumbles, Obama Makes Middle East Peace.
Shmuley Boteach

 

When Pastors who Burn Bibles Become Celebrities
Shmuley Boteach

 

If an American President Were Muslim, Would we Care?
Shmuley Boteach

 

My Purpose in Debating Christopher Hitchens on the Afterlife
Shmuley Boteach

 

Suicide Bombers in Heaven? Imam Rauf Won’t Say No
Shmuley Boteach

 

Extravagant Weddings and Bar Mitzvahs Humiliate the Jewish Community
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When Psycho Flight Attendants Become Heroes
Shmuley Boteach

 

Iran’s Descent Into Barbarity
Shmuley Boteach

 

Let the Families of 9/11 Decide the Fate of the Ground Zero Mosque
Shmuley Boteach

 

Time Magazine’s Bizarre Assault on Large Families
Shmuley Boteach

 

Tom Friedman’s Soft Spot for Terrorist Fadlallah
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Kaddafi’s Ship to Gaza, and His Ark in New Jersey.
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What We Lose When We Win
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Al Gore’s Moral Confusion
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Peace and Zealotry
Simon Jacobson

 

Theater review - 'The Adventures of Hershele Ostropolyer'
Yudi Lewis

 

What McChrystal’s Firing Says about American Values
Shmuley Boteach

 

The Rebbe and Viktor Frankl
Yosef Y. Jacobson

 

Michael Jackson’s Life Could have Been Saved
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The Psychiatrist and The Lubavitcher Rebbe
Yosef Y. Jacobson

 

BP, Kaddafi, and Britain’s Oil Comeuppance
Shmuley Boteach

 

Helen Thomas and the Open Season on the Jews
Shmuley Boteach

 

Did the Lubavitcher Rebbe Con the World?
Shmuley Boteach

 

Fergie’s Fall
Simcha Weinstein

 

Sderot Report
Noam Bedein

 

Why All The Stress?
Mimi Hecht

 

Obama’s Jewish Charm Offensive
Shmuley Boteach

 

The Jewish Woman’s 10 Commandments
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Is a Giant Mosque at Ground Zero Justified?
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South Park: Seriously Funny
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Mother’s Day for the Childless
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Open Letter to J-Street after their Attack on Elie Wiesel
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Life and Death
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Religion’s Summer of Discontent
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Is Israel Being Stubborn?
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When a Pope Needs Friends
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My Five Cents
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Condemn His Report, But Welcome Goldstone
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What The President Does Not Understand
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A Lesson from Zaidy and Nona
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Does a Kosher Butcher’s Fraud Mandate a Life Sentence?
Shmuley Boteach

 

Don’t Kill the Love
Yosef Y. Jacobson

 

A Fallible Pope, and Imperfect Church
Shmuley Boteach

 

Obama and the Deafening Silence of American Jewry
Shmuley Boteach

 

Obama's Hospitality: A Question of Character
Shmuley Boteach

 

From Globalism to Parochialism
Yosef Y. Jacobson

 

Matzah Moms
Mimi Hecht

 

Obama's Bullying of Israel
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A Fashionable Promise
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Why America Has No Chief Rabbi
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The Malady of a Maid
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The Human Miracle
Yosef Y. Jacobson

 

When Court Jews Defend Moral Cowards
Shmuley Boteach

 

Is it Okay to be Fat?
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Why America is the Most Depressed Nation on Earth
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My Blackberry Baby
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Never Again !
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Heads over Heels
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The Death of Conviction
Yosef Y. Jacobson

 

How to Deal with Destructive Emotions
Yosef Y. Jacobson

 

When You Are Not in the Mood of Your Spouse
Yosef Y. Jacobson

 

Discovering Your Depth
Yosef Y. Jacobson

 

The Consciousness of Freedom
Yosef Y. Jacobson

 

Ten Ways to Destroy Your Life
Yosef Y. Jacobson

 

The Enemy Within
Yosef Y. Jacobson

 

Are You a Hypocrite?
Yosef Y. Jacobson

 

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earcing for a Beer Relaio
By Yosef Y. Jacobson
 

The kindling of a menorah during the eight days of Chanukah commemorates an ancient miracle that occurred in our Jerusalem Holy Temple, 2144 years ago. Following the victory of the Jews over their Greek oppressors who desecrated the Temple, a little cruise of unsoiled olive oil found in the Temple lasted and burned for eight days, till the Jews managed to purchase new pure oil for the daily kindling of the Temple candelabra. To commemorate this display of Divine graciousness in a world usually enslaved to nature, the leaders of Israel instituted the eight-day holiday of Chanukah, in which we kindle a menorah each night.

In that sense, oil embodies the essence of the Chanukah experience and serves as the main focus of the festival of lights. Indeed, in many a Jewish household, the Chanukah lamps consist of wicks dipped in olive oil, similar to the Temple Menorah lamps. On this festival, it is also the custom to eat “latkes,” pan cakes fried and dipped in oil.

Why do we, living more then two millennia after the original Chanukah story, celebrate the event of an increase in olive oil? Why create an entire holiday that is based on oil?

The Kabbalah of Oil

Olive oil contains four qualities worth reflecting upon, particularly as they seem to conflict with each other.

A) Olive oil is produced by crushing and beating ripe olives. The olive must be severely humbled and pressed in order to emit its oil.

B) Olive Oil, as many other oils extracted from minerals, plants and animals, penetrates solid substances deeply. We all know how difficult it is to remove the oily grease that makes its way into our fingers or our clothes. Various oils have been used as remedies for bodily wounds and diseases, since oil penetrates the body far beyond its external tissue.

C) Oil does not mix with other liquids. When you attempt to mix, say, oil with water, the oil will remain distinct and will not dissolve in the water.

D) Not only will oil not mix and become dissolved in other liquids, rather staying in place or sinking downward, but furthermore, the oil will rise, floating atop the other liquids.

From spiritual to physical

Now, in Jewish Mysticism, all physical properties and qualities of any existing object are seen as continuums of their metaphysical properties. Every object originates in the realm of the spirit, embodied by a particular sublime energy. Then the energy evolves to assume a physical reincarnation, giving rise to particular physical characteristics that mirror their spiritual source.

[This, parenthetically, constitutes an extremely rich component of Judaism. From the vantage point of Torah, the truths of science, physics, chemistry, biology etc. and the truths of philosophy, spirituality and psychology are merged together in a perfect mosaic, since the physical evolves from the spiritual.]

The same principle applies to oil as well. The four above-mentioned qualities displayed in oil are essentially a physical manifestation of four spiritual and psychological attributes from where oil originates. They, in turn, evolve and assume the four physical forms of expression outlined above.

Four cardinal principles

Oil, naturally, produces light. If a human being wishes to become like oil, a source of light for himself, his family, his community and his world, he must learn to cultivate the four properties characterizing oil.

A) The crushing and pressing of the olives represents the notion of humbleness, the antithesis of arrogance and self-inflation.

B) The direct result of this "pressing" is your ability to "become" oil and penetrate others deeply. When you're haughty and pompous (either because of too much self-confidence or because of too little self-confidence), you are incapable of sharing yourself with others or allowing them to share themselves with you in a real and meaningful way. You are too afraid to let your walls down and let anybody even pick in, and you certainly are incapable of effecting other people's hearts and souls profoundly. If you are filled with your self you have no space in your life for the other and you cannot build a genuine relationship with the other outside of you.

When you “crush” yourself a bit, you can become open to another persons depth, entering into their life, and allowing them to enter into your life.

C) Yet, a genuine relationship should not cause either party to lose their individual identity and to dissolve in the personality of the other. The beauty and magic of a relationship lay precisely in the fact that two distinct individuals choose to share themselves with each other without dissolving into each other. Just like oil, you know how to feel and experience another human being deeply, while still not becoming consumed and nullified by the other's identity.

The master Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk once remarked: "If I am I because you are you and you are you because I am I, I am not I and you are not you; but if I am I because I am I and you are you because you are you, then I am and you are. Now we can begin to schmooz."

D) This threefold process of crushing yourself, bonding with others and at the same time remaining distinct - allows you to gain a true appreciation of your unique individual place in G-d's world. In a mature, sensitive and authentic way you come to realize that in some small fashion you own something that nobody else in the history of humanity ever had or ever will have. Just like oil, you, too, rise to your own top.

This is also one of the reasons why olive oil was used for anointing the kings of Israel. To ensure that the king’s gaining a position of power and going to the top does not cause him to become abusive or manipulative, we anoint him with oil, imbuing him with the lesson that true power must come with true humility.

Judaism, particularly its festival of Chanukah, came to teach ordinary human beings how to build lives that would reflect the paradoxical qualities of oil. If we wish to light up our lives and the world around us with the fires of goodness, morality and G-dliness, we ought to take a good and deep look at the olive oil in our Menorahs (1).

~~~~~~~~~ 

1) This essay is based on a letter by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, published in Shaarei Hamoadim -- Chanukah, pp. 172-3.

Posted on December 29, 2005
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