Lighting Candles of Ice
By Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Ginsberg, Mashpia, Yeshivas Tomchei T’mimim – Lubavitch, Kfar Chabad
Translated by Michoel Dobry

There is a well-known story about the students of the Baal Shem Tov who knew of their teacher’s love for light and its increase, but couldn’t get any candles. Once, the Baal Shem Tov came in and noticed that there was a lack of candles on a particular black, cold, and frozen night. He said, "Ohr (light) is gematria for raz (secret). One who knows the secret that light can illuminate in everything…" and he scolded the students for not bringing more candles. The students apologized and said that they weren’t able to find any candles. The Baal Shem Tov commanded them to bring down the icicles from the roof and to light them. Thus, they lit the candles of ice which shone with a brilliant light.

The month of Teives, which we enter during the culmination of the light-filled days of Chanuka, marks the depth of the winter, its cold, and its darkness, a period during which the days are the shortest and the nights are the longest. Even at daytime when the sunlight tries to break through the darkness, the skies are covered with thick clouds that blacken the revealed light.

Also from a spiritual vantage point, this is a cold and dark month. Not only does it have no joyful holiday or festival, it does have the Fast of the Tenth of Teives (which will soon turn into a day of actual joy and celebration), the start of the destruction of the first Beis HaMikdash and the subsequent exile. As the Rebbe MH"M explains in numerous sichos, this fast is more stringent than all others. According to the Abudraham, if the Tenth of Teives were to fall out on Shabbos, the fast would still be kept, as is written [regarding Yom Kippur, the Tenth of Tishrei], "on that same day." Furthermore, as stated in halacha, in those years when the fast comes out on Erev Shabbos, the fast is kept in full even after the start of Shabbos itself-something that we don’t find with any other fast.

Specifically during this time, the depths of the cold and darkness, when no point of revealed light appears and we find ourselves as far as possible from light and warmth, our holidays break through them. This is especially true in the "seventh generation those auspicious days which have been revealed to us in recent years, in an aspect of "candles of ice," which also burn from the strength of the "essence" that illuminates in this generation, the last generation of the Exile and the first of the Geula.

Immediately upon entering the month of Teives, we find ourselves in the holiday of Chanuka. More specifically we have reached its conclusion, the special day of "Zos Chanuka," which stands out in addition to all other matters pertaining to Chanuka, as explained in the teachings of our Rebbeim, especially in relation to us.

It is known that the Rebbe shlita was precise on many occasions to point out that we say first "our G-d" and only afterwards say "the G-d of our fathers." So too, we see that matters pertaining especially to us affect us first, as they stem specifically from us and afterwards, matters that pertain primarily to "our fathers."

This was the day that the Rebbe shlita held the Seudas Hodaa following his recovery on Shmini Atzeres, 5738. The Rebbe distributed "Kos Shel Bracha" to everyone (apparently in place of the "Kos Shel Bracha" previously scheduled for Simchas Torah). This means that only when his condition reached the point of "completely back to normal" could a celebration in thanks to the Almighty be made, as brought in halacha.

We have always seen the special appreciation the Rebbe shlita gave to this day, when he emphasized in his holy sichos the fact that then eight candles burn with full force. The Rebbe called upon everyone to fulfill all matters pertaining to Chanuka, specifically the Chanuka Campaign, in the strongest possible fashion. Also, in its simpler meaning, the Chanuka candles in the Rebbe’s place burned by day and by night (every day of the holiday). More specifically, they burned well into the night of Motzaei Zos Chanuka, when the Rebbe looked at them with that special Chanuka "Moshiach look," a personal look which defies explanation and description.

I remember well the sicha the Rebbe gave during that Seudas Hodaa of Zos Chanuka, 5738. We heard it via telephone hook-up during our shlichus in Migdal HaEmek (I remember this one especially because the misnagdim that were there then couldn’t stand the very idea, and made fun of it). The Rebbe spoke then about the great quality of Motzaei Zos Chanuka, as explained in Likkutei Torah, that the more lofty and sublime a matter is, the less definable is the obligation to fulfill it. The mitzva of wine libations is an explicit commandment of the Torah. The mitzva of water libations, however, is only by Rabbinic decree. Nevertheless, the latter (Simchas Beis HaShoeiva) produces a far greater aura of simcha than does the Scripturally commanded Nisuch HaYayin. Similarly, even though the Hakafos of Simchas Torah are not even by Rabbinic decree, rather Jewish custom only, nevertheless, the simcha they produce is even greater. We understand from this, the Rebbe shlita said then, how great is the simcha of Motzaei Zos Chanuka, that even Jewish custom does not require such an expression of joy. However, there exists here a matter so high and exalted that it is impossible to define adequately, even in the realm of Jewish custom.

We can bring as well the commonly known principle among chassidim that the days of Chanuka correspond to the days of Sukkos. As explained in chassidus, this is the reason why Beis Shammai likens this to the bulls brought as sacrifices during Sukkos which decrease from day to day. During Sukkos, we have the "chassidishe ushpizin," and chassidim say that they appear also during Chanuka. If so, we find that Zos Chanuka corresponds to Shmini Atzeres, the day of the Rebbe Rayatz, and Motzaei Zos Chanuka is the day of the Rebbe MH"M. As the Rebbe himself explains with regard to the day of Simchas Torah, it is actually a weekday which Jews turned into a holiday, Yom Tov Sheini for those outside of Eretz Yisroel. This perhaps sheds some light on the special appreciation we have seen the Rebbe shlita give in relation to this day.

It can perhaps also be explained in relation to the aspect of S’firas HaMalchus, which pertains specifically to the Rebbe MH"M, as is known. Malchus represents the conclusion, when all the Divine attributes and levels are apparently completed and all the shining has been finished. Then comes S’firas HaMalchus, the final attribute, which acts to bring an even greater continuation of holiness that will not stop there. Instead, it will descend more and more to the furthest and lowest point attainable. The purpose of S’firas HaMalchus is to reach specifically such a point that from the depths and darkness will be disseminated the call of "Everything is G-dliness and G-dliness is everything."

This comes to teach us that specifically when it appears that everything has been completed already, only then does the main point and emphasis begin. It is precisely here where the "essence" is revealed from behind all its boundaries and limitations to become infinite in all aspects. And this occurs where one is "absolutely positive" that He is nowhere to be found, concealed in every way imaginable. Yet, we find "and the night will shine as day" - not just that there will be light also at night, but "that the darkness itself will shine."

Therefore, specifically when the glowing days of Chanuka come to an end and we enter the dark and cold month of Teives, then the main purpose of the "seventh generation" is expressed - to kindle even "candles of ice," "that the darkness itself will shine."

We can perhaps explain here another interesting phenomenon that we have seen from the Rebbe shlita in recent years (which has been written about before in this column). When the Rebbe would encourage singing amongst the chassidim, the main emphasis would be on its concluding section, repeated over and over again, stronger and faster. In other words, the song truly began to "break through to the heavens" when it was about to finish. Then, the Rebbe shlita began to encourage the singing very strongly and the entire congregation proceeded to repeat endlessly the final section of the niggun.

For example, as seen when they sang the niggun of HaAderes v’HaEmuna during davening and farbrengens (both the regular tune and the "French" version), the Rebbe beat lightly in encouragement on his shtender. But when they reached the actual conclusion, after "HaT’hilla v’HaTiferes l’Chai Olamim," then the Rebbe shlita would start pounding faster and faster on his shtender with tremendous encouragement and the congregation would burst out with vigorous singing as he repeated the final section over and over again.

We have seen this also during the singing of Lecha Dodi on Friday night, when the Rebbe shlita would encourage the niggunim sung by the chazzan (also when they would start to sing and dance, with the Rebbe shlita’s encouragement for all to see, in 5753, "Yechi Adoneinu" to the tune of "Chayelei Adoneinu") at the end of "Lecha Dodi." During the entire "Lecha Dodi," the Rebbe customarily beat gently on his shtender in encouragement, and just when they reach the end, after turning back from saying "Bo’i v’Shalom," then the Rebbe shlita began pounding the shtender forcefully, and the congregation would burst out with vigorous singing as he repeated the final section over and over again.

The same thing happened during Chanuka. The main singing and dancing during "HaNeiros Halalu" is at the end, when everyone repeats over and over the words "Al Nisecha" at the conclusion of the niggun.

Also with the niggun "Shuva Hashem Ad Masai," when they reach the final melody section, then the Rebbe starts his strong encouragement and everyone repeats the end over and over. (In general, to my recollection, when we saw the Rebbe physically and sang this song before him, they almost never went back to the section of "U’neranena v’nismecha," rather they constantly repeated the last section or alternatively, after a few rounds, started from the very beginning of "Shuva."

Also, as we all remember, with the niggun "HaRebbe shlita MH"M Ohavim Ot’cha Kulam," the main encouragement and excitement came (to the point of leaping, literally) at the end, at "nisgaber al ha’ola-a-a-a-m," etc., etc.

As mentioned, perhaps all this is connected to the unique point regarding "S’firas HaMalchus," which is the last of all the attributes. When it appears as if the matter is finished, S’firas HaMalchus comes and acts with the power of its essence to reveal, renew, and strengthen it many times over from what it was before - to the point that the darkness and concealment will itself shine.

As explained at length in the Rebbe Rashab’s discourse from 5659 (note there, particularly the Rebbe MH"M’s maamarim based upon it, e.g., those coinciding with Parshas VaYigash [around Zos Chanuka and Hei Teives]), it is specifically the "mekabel" that influences the most prevalent concerns in the "mashpia." Therefore, S’firas HaMalchus, which is in "the realm of the mekabel," brings into expression the true foundation of the mekabel via G-d’s holy essence, higher than all things revealed. This is so because specifically when all "revelations" have been completed, then the "essence" gets to work at a much higher level.

Thus, also our generation, the seventh generation, corresponds to S’firas HaMalchus. In this generation, lower than all those that preceded it, when all the "revelations" have supposedly been completed, it is the one that brings the Sh’china down further and to the true and complete revelation. All this is possible because the source of S’firas HaMalchus is rooted in the highest levels, reaching G-d’s very essence - higher than all "revelations."

S’firas HaMalchus even reaches the main objective of it all - the coming of Moshiach, the essence of his revelation as Melech HaMoshiach, even before he takes action in this world. The call and declaration of "Yechi Adoni HaMelech Dovid L’olam," which represents the revelation of the essential existence of Moshiach, occurred even before "the light of Moshiach" and its revelation in the world. After this and as a result of it, the revelation comes for all to see through his activities, as explained at length in D’var Malchus, Parshas Toldos - this point is specifically found in the end of the Haftora of Parshas Chayei Sara.

As the Rebbe shlita explained on many occasions, apart from the simple reason explaining the connection between the Haftora and the Exile and subsequent Redemption, there is the fact that the saying of the Haftora was established by the Sages due to the deepening of the Exile and the cruel edicts of those who ruled over Eretz Yisroel at the time. When the reading of the Torah was banned, the Sages established the reading of the Haftora, which resembles the theme in the weekly portion. This reading was, as it were, instead of the Torah reading in those days, so that the theme of the parsha will remain, despite the rulings that prevailed in the Exile. Therefore, we find that the Haftora has a special connection to the nullification of the Exile and the rapid advance towards the Redemption.

In addition, on this basis, there is the special relation between Moshiach and the Haftora. Moshiach is connected to S’firas HaMalchus and the objective to bring the essence of the Revelation to the place where all has been revealed, as mentioned before. Therefore, specifically through the Haftora, coming after the Torah reading has already been completed, with the Maftir not counted as part of the other aliyos, there is an expression of the essence higher than all other revelations specifically where everything that can be revealed has seemingly been revealed.

From Motzaei Zos Chanuka, when we enter a cold and dark month, when everything possible has been revealed, and then we kindle the "candles of ice," we come immediately thereafter to the festive day of Hei Teives - "Didan Natzach" - the day of the "pidyon shvuyim" of the s’farim of our Rebbeim.

"And the year after, he established them." The Rebbe himself established this day the following year on Hei Teives, 5748, to be an auspicious day for a reawakening and acceptance of good resolutions in general, and regarding the s’farim in particular.

On the first Shabbos after the court decision, Shabbos Parshas VaYigash 5747 (Hei Teives that year came out on a Tuesday), the Rebbe said (the clear words of this sicha - black on white - were printed and edited ["and sealed with the king’s signet ring"]) that from now on, starting from that Tuesday (a double portion of good), a new era has begun with one outstanding matter of concern: "All stand and prepare yourselves for the building of the third Beis HaMikdash in the final and complete Redemption."

As we know, the Rebbe shlita did not look at the battle over the s’farim as a regular court case, but much more than that. As the Rebbe said especially at length during a sicha on Zos Chanuka, 5746, this case was the equivalent of "Petersburg," as the importance of the case was established from Above. This was a judgment on the unique path that the Rebbe shlita paved in the seventh generation - yet, a path based and founded upon all the previous generations. Nevertheless, it progressed in giant steps toward the main purpose and objective: to draw down the Sh’china not just from one heaven to the next, but from Heaven to earth, to fill the entire world with G-dliness, even this most lowly and external world, more distant than any other. Even from the Internet and the VCR, from Times Square and the Central Bus Station, from Thailand, Tokyo, and New Zealand, from all the signs and stickers and various "gimmicks," Yiddishkeit and chassidus will spread forth in abundance. This is the business of Melech HaMoshiach, who will bring the Redemption.

During the Alter Rebbe’s imprisonment in Petersburg, the charge arose in the Heavenly court as to whether the world was ready for the revelation of chassidus. In our generation, the question has been: is the world ready for the teachings and approach of the Rebbe MH"M? At the time of the court battle over the s’farim, there were those who were even brazen enough to suggest that today’s Lubavitch is, as it were, not the original Lubavitch ("Lubavitch iz nisht ahktiv" - "Lubavitch is no longer active")!

And the Rebbe’s response? Despite the fact that the whole world knows that such a charge is utterly baseless, when, baruch Hashem, it sees the great and wondrous activities of Lubavitch throughout the globe - nevertheless, when such a claim is brought before us, we must learn something from it. What do we learn? Now there must be a degree of activism in Lubavitch’s activities to the point that what we have done up until now will seem as if we were "inactive."

After Petersburg, the Alter Rebbe began taking Chabad chassidic teachings on a much wider and deeper path, far more than had been done previously. So too after Hei Teives, the Rebbe shlita came with his declaration that we are now in a new era, when all that remains is to prepare for Moshiach.

The matter was immediately clarified and emphasized further to the point where the Rebbe said (in the lengthy unedited portion of the sicha) that his intention is not, ch’v, to put a halt to anything. On the contrary, everything must continue with greater intensity and "shturem." However, now the emphasis is that everything must be filled by one central point - Moshiach and Geula.

The Rebbe said further (in the same sicha) that if they claim that this is just " vilde reid" (wild talk), there is no need to be concerned because the truth is based upon the Torah of Truth. This truth must be stated loudly and clearly without consideration of "what will the world say?" This is particularly true today when the world is ready. Thus, when the message is given over in a adamant yet gentle manner, it is accepted and causes much positive results.

Furthermore, the Rebbe continues, when there are those who claim that "there were eulogies and there was an embalming," we must state plainly that the actual reality is in accordance with the Torah of Truth, and thus, there is no need to be concerned about what people will say. The message simply must be conveyed clearly to a world ready to hear it and accept it, if it is given over in the path of Torah.

This also applies with regard to Eretz Yisroel. The true reality must be explained in accordance with Toras Emes. Even the Gentiles believe this, after all, it’s written in the "Bible." The world is ready to accept it.

This is what the Rebbe said at the beginning of the period that he termed "a new time and a new era." The words have not changed one iota, but have come to pass slowly in orderly stages. Back then, a few months after Hei Teives, also in orderly stages, we heard clear unequivocal declarations from the Rebbe, which became even clearer as time progressed. He began saying that the last buttons have already been polished despite the fact that until then we had always heard that the last buttons still need to be polished.

[Note: It’s a pity that we have to keep correcting over and over again (even in recent issues of Beis Moshiach) the mistaken statement that the Rebbe said that the buttons have already been polished in 5750. If you check the Rebbe’s sichos, you will find that this was said back in 5747 (although afterwards the Rebbe used the expression "we need to polish the last buttons"). It was also said in 5748, both before and especially after Chaf-Beis Shvat (not just in the famous Beis Nissan sicha, as has been written.)

Taking a glance, for example, at the sicha from Shabbos Parshas Lech Lecha 5748 (unedited, Toras Menachem, Vol. 3, p. 432): "Not only this, but even the ‘polishing of the buttons’ has been finished…" Shabbos Parshas Chayei Sara (edited, ibid., p. 481): "to the point that even the ‘polishing of the buttons’ has already been finished…" Shabbos Parshas VaYeitzei (edited, ibid., p. 543): "In the language of my saintly father-in-law, the Rebbe, leader of our generation - that there is nothing left except ‘to polish the buttons’ and after several decades of disseminating the wellsprings in the shlichus of the leader of the generation have passed, they have already finished ‘the polishing of the buttons’ - so with absolute certainty, nothing remains except the last act of "All of you stand ready and prepare yourselves" to greet our righteous Moshiach, etc.]

As time progressed, the Rebbe began filling every farbrengen and every other opportunity with Moshiach and Geula, to the point that the style of the sichos changed completely.

The subject soon began moving into the high gear, with all the implications connected to it, especially after the passing of the Rebbetzin, nishmasa Eden, on 22 Shvat 5748. Also this date the Rebbe noted as the beginning of a new era (sicha from 22 Shvat 5752).

Furthermore, starting from Yud Shvat 5750, marking forty years of his leadership, the Rebbe again noted the beginning of a new era, for now "Hashem has given you a heart to know and eyes to see and ears to hear."

All this leading to the unique style and demands of the famous 28 Nissan 5751 sicha of "Do everything you can" and everything that was added in the period that followed, as written, explained, and publicized in D’var Malchus from the sichos of 5751-5752. Then, the resolute clarification made at the Shluchim Convention 5752 where the Rebbe established that "the only thing that remains in the work of shlichus is to greet our righteous Moshiach in actual deed."

Finally, 5753-5754, and the public acceptance before the eyes of the whole world, acceptance along with encouragement with all his strength and total self-sacrifice, as is known and publicized, of the declaration of "Yechi Adoneinu Moreinu v’Rabbeinu Melech HaMoshiach l’olam va’ed!"

All of this was expressed to the fullest specifically when it appeared that this time all the revelations had been totally finished. After Gimmel Tammuz, however, the irresistible and indestructible essence, which is higher than all the revelations, is being revealed. It exists with full force and spirit, which is especially important when you have to light "candles of ice." For example, when the cry of "Yechi" bursts out from every corner and it appears, ch’v, out of place, such as the fact that the Rebbe is chai v’kayam. Literally and physically, shlita - breaking forth in every language and form, when it appears from a revealed standpoint that there is nothing to talk about. But it is specifically this conduct that brings the revelation of the essence in full, also among all other revelations, when we will see the Rebbe shlita, the King in all his glory, bringing all of us the true and complete Redemption speedily before our very eyes, "And the world will be filled with the knowledge of Hashem as water covers the sea."

Yechi Adoneinu Moreinu v’Rabbeinu Melech HaMoshiach l’olam va’ed!


Therefore, specifically when the glowing days of Chanuka come to an end and we enter the dark and cold month of Teives, then the main purpose of the "seventh generation" is expressed – to kindle even "candles of ice," "that the darkness itself will shine."



The Rebbe spoke then about the great quality of Motzaei Zos Chanuka, as explained in Likkutei Torah, that the more lofty and sublime a matter is, the less definable is the obligation to fulfill it.


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