Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Oh, Aish.

Some Rabbis just seem bored. Like, scary bored.

Follow the link above to watch a video of an Aish Rabbi in real confusion about the purpose of Chanukah.

I had no idea that someone can make a case against public Menorah lightings, and try and show 9through Torah's lense!) that it's actually "counter intuitive to Chanukah itself."

Two words, buddy:

Persumei Nissah.

Publisizing the miracle.

So, we take it seriously.

You don't.


It's funny how some people - supposed educators - can spend time knocking the efforts of others. I mean, this guy actually posts a video.


How come I've never seen a Chabadnik put so much effort into questioning and putting down the efforts of another "sect" of Jews?

The answer is simple.

Chabad is too busy spreading good and paving the way for redemption.

Yea, I hear them outside my window right now.

They're driving out of Crown Heights in Menorah-topped cars, with music blaring.

I would like to hear this guy on the video ask his pathetic ego-toned questions to the thousands that have transformed their lives because of a public Menorah lighting. Underlying his message is a total disregard for other Jews. It's grotesque.

When he says that instead of public menorah lightings, "we should look within" and "make sure we're as strong as we can be" - what does he propose?

Besides, how do we do that without all the other Jews in on it with us? Do you believe in the Jewish people or not?

And since when does "looking within" mean the exclusion of care for the "outside"?

It's shocking.

Again, some people just seem a little bored.

It's almost like they got Rabbinical ordination just so they can make lame preachy home videos.

Things like this make me incredibly grateful for the Rebbe, who's eternal guidance and vision always gets to the core of the issue. When you have the Rebbe to look to as an example for real action, there's no time to waste with such silliness.There's no time to be bored.

This Rabbi really should go catch a Menorah lighting somewhere.

You know, step outside. Get some fresh air.

Might do him some good this holiday season.


Mimi said...

Most of the comments on the Aish site were of a similar reaction.

Seems even people who are "into" Aish felt betrayed and hurt by his words.

I will post some of those comments here.


It is very uncomfortable to see an AISH production put down another branch of authentic Torah Judaism and its legitimate practice of outreach and Yiddishkeit.
Thousands of Jews from Moscow to Montreal have experienced pride in being Jewish for the first time in their lives upon seeing the Chabad public menorahs. This is something many thousands, perhaps even millions of Jews wouldn't necessarily experience in their homes as Rabbi Salomon is so fortunate to do. You can't keep it nice and quiet and at home if you don't know what a menorah is, or when Hanukah is.
I think Chabad shares the light of Hanukah with their majestic menorahs, in part, not to "compete" against other religions publicly or publicly "express" religion for their own selfish sakes, but to share it with others.
Again, there are at least thousands of Jews who would never otherwise see a menorah.
Having a menorah at the White House, featured on t.v. and in newspapers, can make a confused, lost or lukewarm Jew proud to be a Jew.
What does it mean when a Jew finds a public menorah embarrassing? What does it mean when we hear a "tsk tsk" and are told the best way to be Jewish is not to be too public with expressions of Yiddishkeit?
Hiding behind closed doors is fear-based, and has the taint of shame about being a Jew that has brought us reform Judaism, communism, complete assimilation, Jews supporting the people that want to anihilate us, and intermarriage, etc.
Is that really the message AISH wants to send out? Don't be tooo Jewish in public, keep it quiet at home, so non-Jews don't hate us. Become a closet Jew.
In this age of (once again) public acceptance of worldwide anti-Semitism , including right here in the USA (think Carter, Baker) public acceptance of a menorah is a GOOD thing. It is a good thing for gentiles, a good thing for Jews, and a good thing for America.


Are you out of your minds?
What rubbish is this? Is this what Aish really believes?? I know Chabad, and the idea behind teh public Menorot, including the one at the White House, is not to make Jews feel equal to Christians! Chabad, or at least the Chabad rabbis that I know, could not care less about what teh Christians think of them. The yare worried about Jews who are overwhelmed - or who are afraid that their kids are overwhelmed - by the Chritian light and song show that we live in. Does intermarriage, assimilation, unaffiliation and shrinking numbers not bother Aish at all? Shame on you. Rabbi Salomon needs to apologize - and in as public a forum as this video - to the rabbis who have given their all to bring Judaism to the rest of us.

I'm surprised at Rabbi Salomon's assertion that "Chanukah is about stregnthening ourselves from within..", as if to imply that publicity is not an integral part of this particular Mitsvah.

The Code of Jewish Law considers publicity of the miracle the most essential part of the Mitsvah. Here are a few examples: The Candles should be lit 1)Outside the home (when not possible, at the window) 2)After dark 3)Within eyesight 4)While people are still in the street-Which leads to another important point. The Talmud mentions the above law as follows: When is the time for kindling the Menorah? From Sunset, until the nation of Tarmod is gone from the street(They would supply firewood to those who still needed it). These people were not Jewish. Yet they are the target audience.

Additionally, I know first hand the positive effect the public display of the Menorah has on Jews in general and children in particular. Imagine a Jewish child in any regular city in the United states during this time of the year. Everywhere he turns, in the street, in school, in the Supermarket he sees x-mas. He wonders why his family should lose out on the fun just because they're Jewish. And then he sees a large publicly displayed Menorah, and he feels a sense of pride. It is more likely that he will be inspired to celebrate Chanukah at home.

With all due respect to Rabbi Salomon personal opinion, I think a respected website such as should present what Torah has to say about the issue.



Laws of Chanukah (copied from require "publicizing"
Where to Light

To best publicize the miracle, the menorah is ideally lit outside the doorway of your house, on the left side when entering. (The mezuzah is on the right side; in this way you are "surrounded by mitzvot.") In Israel, many people light outside in special glass boxes built for a menorah.

If this is not practical, the menorah should be lit in a window facing the public thoroughfare.

Someone who lives on an upper floor should light in a window. If for some reason the menorah cannot be lit by a window, it may be lit inside the house on a table; this at least fulfills the mitzvah of "publicizing the miracle" for the members of the household.

It seems that Rabbi Soloman forgot this basic rule of Chanukah!


I Love it!
We are Reform but we love the Chabad menorahs. It is so refreshing for my kids to be able to see Jewish symbols. The Rabbi wasn't trying to be equal. He wasn't asking for 14 menorahs. My Christian neighbors were infuriated that they wouldn't allow the Menorah. Happy Hannukah.


Low self esteem: Those who have a healthy understanding of their own identity and are therefore not intimidated by public displays; or those who are insecure with themselves and say "what will the Goyim say, let's stay inside"?

And this one said...

working together towards the same goal
Has Rabbi Solomon considered that perhaps a way to "strengthen
ourselves from within" is to display symbols that might awaken the
dormant Jewishness of the 4 out of 5 million Jews in North America
facing assimilation? Isn't that after all the message of Chanukah,
which means "education", reaching out and trying to reach the flame of
Jewish souls that might not visit an Aish center or any synagogue but
might feel a flame of pride in seeing a menorah in a Seattle airport?
Is it "counter-intuitive" to worry about the celebration of Chanukah
that Jewish souls from "without" might not be having? Aish Hatorah is
valiantly trying, through the internet and public mediums, to reach
out to these unoffiliated Jews. Why put down other Jewish
organizations who are working for the same goal, but perhaps in a
different way? Let's work together to bring as many Jews as we can
closer to G-d and to our beautiful traditions without putting down
each other's methods.

Anonymous said...

im not a somone that would usually say anything bad about another jewish organization, cause eevn tho i think aish is doing it all wrong but at the end of the day they are some what bringing jews closer to judaisim, but this is just stupidity, as everyone else already commented the mitzvah of chanukah is pirsumei nissa. and the public lightings are great, yesterday i was talkin to a jewsih family, i put on teffilen with the father, and his 9 year old daughter was saying she dosent like this small town cause u dont se enough menorahs, in la u see them all over, well i showed her my car with a menorah on top and she was happy, the point being that even the kids know that the public menorahs are good, i dont know were this rabbi is from or who he is, but tell him were to go,while im on the topic of aish a few years ago a freind of my familys was getting married to a guy who was going to aish for 10 years, on the day of the wed he came to my house to speak to my father about a few thing before the wed, my father asked if he put on teffilen, he said no so my father told it would be a good idea for the day of the wedding, he agreed put them on, and said he wanted to buy a pair, (which was arranged)but he had never put on teffilen before in his life. 10 years going to aish, never bean asked to put on teffilen??? what is wrong with them???

Chana said...

It's really ridiculous that there are people that still think this way. I guess it just means there are still more sparks to elevate, right?! I was at Matisyahu's concert last night (Tues. night in Manhattan) and to see such outward Jewish pride was truly awesome and inspiring beyond words. Also, how lucky we are to have the Rebbe who has instilled in us the right values and ideas of Yiddishkeit. I'm so thankful for that.

Mimi said...

Chana Poltorak by chance?

Chana said...

Nope, sorry! I'm a newcomer to the hilltop - your nail salon post completely drew me in - I can't even tell you how much I related to that type of inner struggle over such things. I'm enjoying reading past posts too :)

Mimi said...

Wow, well, thank you Chana.

Where ya from?

I'm always so interested in "my readers."

Any fav past posts?

E-mail me if ya want!

- M

litzo said...

holy cow! this definatly would not have crossed my path had i not visited your blog. out of curiousity how did you come across a distorted aish video? i cant imagine that we look to others to compare (or congratulate) ourselves.

i viewed another one of Rabbi S's videos just to be fair. my conclusion is just what i hope we dont do.


if we are meant to "strengthen ourselves from within" this holiday, where did the philosophy of positive re-inforcement go?
what about focusing on the good a movement or orginization does (such as aish, for they do have good intentions). in that spirit it is very easy to ask of others to push themselves and do more good. why not post 10 breakthoughs that aish experienced this chanuka and ask others to make another 10 records themselves this year?

where in the Torah, or Judaism for that matter, does it tell us to compare.

chabad vs. aish
menora vs. tree
el al boycotters vs. non debating individuals

we can learn from others. we should learn from others. we can learn what to do and what not to do.

but quit with the immature, rediculous comparrisons. go ahead, lead your life how it should be lead. learn tanya. learn Torah, learn whatever you want! follow its directives and be a better person.

without looking across your shoulder and wondering what the other is doing.

Cee said...

Ive got some sad news for you, this is a special sneak peek at of how a lot of these people think privatly. If you ask me it's a very selfish way of libing. Not caring about others, just continually trying to "perfect" yourself.

What did the Rebbe say? If you only know Alef, then you should teach Alef?

He didnt say, ignore the rest of the world and lock yourself in a room until you know Beis and learned the entire Gemara ten times over.

Yehuda said...

Ironically, I once heard from a mekurav of Aish that, "Rabbi Noach wineberg came up with a "huge chidush! If one knows only Alef, one should teach alef."

I didn't correct him on the source, as the Rebbe's view was that it is not important that people know the source. The main thing is that people hear the message.

Back on topic, the Maccabees sure strenghened themselves from within with those wars they faught. They never took a public stance at all, refusing to go along with the Greeks and Hellenists.

"Im a Jew and I'm proud and I'll sing it out loud" For us, this is basics.

Anonymous said...

Who/how did he become "Frum"???? By some Kolel person sitting and learning "Rishonim" or the latest of the “Acharonim” in some underground basement in Bnei-Brak or in Ohr Sameach? (Why do the call it “Ohr” anyways???...) or by someone "going out" to the dark street to light a spark - or in this case a Menorah (which the Mitzva is actually for the "outsider" primarily...) maybe he has to get back to basics like "Kitzur Shulchan Aruch" instead of "Rishonim - or Acharonim" of late - ...and make his own “little” Pshetlach…

We will light up the world anyways....and maybe by next year he will become part of it…

I will pay for ½ of the cost of a menorah on his car.

Ohr Ben Moshe

someone who knows you said...

Mimi, I am disappointed in you. This extremely acerbic attack is both unwarranted and beneath you. Though you have a right to disagree with the rabbi's message, and even to blog about it, there is no reason to make it into a bitter personal attack on the rabbi. I watched the video, and was shocked to find that it was so mild--from your post and the comments, I expected to hear something radically different. The rabbi is careful not to condemn the Chabad rabbi at all, and in fact, he doesn't mention the word "Chabad" even once in the video. He is not "questioning and putting down the efforts of another "sect" of Jews" as you claim (as he doesn't even mention that the rabbi involved was from a different "sect"), but is merely attempting to make a rather innocuous point. I don't think that his intent was to say that on Chanukah we should hide in our homes, but rather that our emphasis should not be on making the menorah into a symbol on equal footing with the christmas tree. You have a right to agree or disagree, but perpetrating personal attacks and anti-Aish comments merely makes you look bad and unfair. Please stick to promoting your own philosophy without encouraging sinas chinam by bashing others. Thanks.

Raizel said...


I am pleased that so many viewers/readers felt so strongly about this issue and decided to have their voices and opinions heard. Your comments (both published and non-published) are an important part of our continuing process for clarity of purpose.

I am, however, dismayed that a number of the more passionate ones stooped to name-calling, character assassination, and vitriolic calls for apology. Please feel free to disagree. That is your right and privilege. But it is also mine; and mutual respect should be practiced on all ends of the spectrum.

Accusations that I am anti-Chabad are reckless, misguided, and patently false. I am permitted to dissent with the public menorah policy while, at that same time, appreciate, commend and support their incredible efforts throughout the world on behalf of the Jewish people. I have many friends who live and breathe Chabad philosophy and know many who have benefited from their dedicated Outreach efforts.

The Rabbi's intentions in this case were pure and laudatory. But the end result was more scorn and anti-Semitism - not things we need at this point in time.

As a Kiruv activist for the past 20 years, I am fully cognizant of the need to reach out to the disenfranchised and underexposed Jews in our midst. I have dedicated much of my life toward that end. I just believe that we need to carefully examine the best strategies to reach those lofty goals. Thank you.

Mimi said...

Someone who knows me:

Well, gosh, if you know me, you can say Hi you know.

Clearly, you're not someone who feels passionate about this issue in general. As a Chabadnik, the Rabbi doesn't have to be bitter and yell and scream to hear the perversveness in his tone, his message.

Secondly, you make a huuuuge mistake in thinking that this is about equating a Menorah to a Christmas tree. Thier public displays of trees come from...where?

I'll give you a hint.

It starts with an "M" :)

Furthermore, the fact that he doesn't mention the word "Chabad" in his little speech only furthers my view of him being, well, a coward. Everyone knows who he's talking about. While many have caught on to the brilliance of very public Menorah lightings, everyone knows it's Chabad. Come on.

I don't know if you can call me "anti-Aish", but I am definitely ANTI this mans ego, convoluted message, put-down, and bad filmaking.

I agree that my reaction is a little harsh (while, admitedly, only the half of it) in comparison to his seemingly mild tone, but...there are some things that just get me fired.

How can you not be?

I'm almost dumbfounded at how you extracted his message(which was NOT about xmas trees), and how someone can be okay with it.

- M

Mimi said...


Uh oh.

I have so much more to say about his completely un-redeeming message!

Does it suffice for YOU?

- M

Raizel said...

I ENTIRELY DISAGREE with what Rabbi Solomon said!! However, I think that your response should be about dispelling his bizarre comments about Chanukah, considering it doesnt make any sense, rather than accusing him of being egotistical and just a bored Rabbi. You have a lot of power with your words, don't bash and critisize him as a person as you have no right to do so.

Mimi said...

Raizel, the message and meaninging in Chanukah has been written a million times over. I don't need to write one more.

This post was my emotional reaction.

My intellectual reaction, about it "not making any sense" was also written up by the many equally disturbed commenters. You can read them.

I would feel rather stupid actually explaining exactly how messed up this is, and why.

It's first grade stuff.

Or, actually, pre-school.

Raizel said...

Mim, these are my comments to Rabbi Solomon, that I submitted on Aish's website. I will inform you of his response.

I am rather appalled at Rabbi Solomon's comments regarding the fiasco with the Menorah and christmas trees at Sea-Tac airport.
Firstly, the way he portrayed the situation relegated the airport of any responsibility they had in their refusal to put up a menorah. Granted, that the situation could have been handled differently, he was speaking of a fellow Jew and as someone who has a lot of people listening to his words, should be even more careful not to even be implicating anything bad about other Jews.
Secondly, Chanukah is not about being internal and enclosed, it by definition is about publicizing the miracle! It is all about dispelling the darkness of an ego-centered world and filling it with the light of a G-D centered world. That is why it is so public! We shout to the world, "there is a G-D and He is present in every aspect of your life!"
A friend of mine has a very popular blog, in which she wrote an article in response to this video, included in the comments are many people's responses.

In Rabbi Solomon's response to all the outrage sorrounding his comments, Rabbi Solomon does not address anything about the true message of Chanukah. I think that needs clarification.

Thank you!

Happy Chanukah and Chodesh Tov

Raizel said...

I understand that you are writing your emotional reaction, but lashon hora is lashon hora! Why is what you wrote on a public forum, that many people read, an ok thing to do??

Explain it please!

Raizel said...

To "Someone who knows me"

As far as his message being mild, dont confuse a neutral toned voice with having a mild message. He was making a very clear, loud statement, just without actually saying it.

As you can see from above, I wrote a comment on the Aish website so Rabbi Solomon maybe will clarify his intentions.

Anonymous said...

It disappoints me to see that someone hasn’t discussed probably the most obvious facet of this growing debate, which in fact has nothing to do with Menorahs or Chabad, or Aish. What is more important, and I think a fundamental principle that all Jews can agree upon, is to treat other Jews and non-Jews alike with respect and gratitude. What bothers me so much about this issue is that instead of approaching the airport in a respectful manner, a 24-page lawsuit was enacted that asked that the trees be taken down if the Menorah could not be put up by Friday. It seems to me that threatening a lawsuit to a critical mass of people whom we rely on and live with on a daily basis is not only unwarranted in this case, but downright discourteous. I have no qualms about Chabad or public menorahs, and I think that we need to separate that element from the issue; all peoples will seek out Judaism when expressions of respect, gratitude and understanding become its primary mode of expression and action.

Nemo said...

Um, there was no mention or intention to have the trees removed, not according to any statements that Rabbi Bogomilsky made. Please cite a source for your statement, otherwise we are just to assume that you have been sold by the media, and incidentally, who went so low as to a picture of the trees being removed. The picture should have better been a Menorah which is the underlying issues.

Mimi said...

Wow, Nemo. You're RIGHT about the picture, didn't even pick up on that. Now that's seriously...warped. Absolutely warped. Like it's some Christian site...

And he's talking about getting to the real issue.

I'm at a loss.

[ ]

- M

Nemo said...

It's reprehensible that you write that the airport was not approached in a respectful manner. You have obviously chosen which facts to focus on {the law suit}, and which to simply ignore. The airport was approached in the appropriate manner nearly TWO MONTHS AGO with a request to erect the Menorah.

But while you're on the topic of condemning Jewish organizations for using their constitutional rights and their rights of litigation, let's condemn some other organizations who saw fit to sue for a cause. Remember a few years back when the OU joined a group of religious and vegetarian organizations that sued the fast-food industry for statements that marketed their French Fries as fit for people with dietary restrictions? The issue there was that the fries were marketed as vegetarian and that people would eat the foods without knowing that it came in contact with animal products. Where's the respect in that litigation? There the issues didn't even directly affect kosher consumers because anyone who keeps Kosher wouldn't dream of eating at Macdonald's. But in this situation where there is an issue of equal representation, a case with endless positive ramifications for the Jewish community, you suddenly go up in arms?

Sure, the outcome of the situation wasn't ideal- the media gave it a terrible spin. But that's no excuse for Jewish people not to be able to express themselves freely.

Anonymous said...

I don’t want to get into a heated debate over this, but I believe I need to defend my issue and since you ask for a source I have cited it below. Grad, the rabbi’s lawyer stated the following (quoted in the Seattle Times 12/11/06. By, Stuart Eskenazi) “Grad said he believes that the law is clear regarding Christmas displays in public places — anyone wanting to put up an alternative display must be accommodated.” Whether Mr. Grad is correct or incorrect in his assumption is something that the courts must decide, exploring this assumption means pursuing a lawsuit. In order to avoid a protracted lawsuit during a busy travel period, the airport was forced to remove the trees thus eliminating Grad’s grounds for a lawsuit. If the airport was approached to erect the menorah two months ago I think that that should have been the end of it, or at least a revisited discussion for another time, not a threatening lawsuit. The airport has in fact been willing to have a discussion of the matter in the future “A key element in moving forward will be to work with the rabbi and other members of the community to develop a plan for next year’s holiday decorations at the airport,” the port statement said. ( I do believe that the Jewish people have a right to express themselves freely, but by the same token as Jews we have to be aware of how were are perceived and what kind of message we are sending to other Jews and non-Jews alike. The bottom line here is that we could have explored a better path in which we handled the situation, and the airport is open to pursuing such a path. It seems that we can build a better understanding with one another if we stop and think about the other person first. Isn’t that the Jewish way?

Mimi said...

[Nowhere in your sources did it address Rabbi B asking for the trees to be put down.]

" Jews we have to be aware of how were are perceived and what kind of message we are sending to other Jews and non-Jews alike."

The only message we should be concerned to send right now is the, um CHANUKAH one.

What's so complicated?

"It seems that we can build a better understanding with one another if we stop and think about the other person first. Isn’t that the Jewish way?"

The Jewish way?

Oh, so noooooow we wanna talk about the Jewish way?

Yea, the Jewish way.

Here it is:

It's Chanukah.

Put Menorahs everywhere.

Anonymous said...

In your previous post you so poignantly encapsulated the Jewish way, “Also, with this little happening came the realization that the world really goes round because of the kindness of others, no matter how seemingly small it may be.” If this is what truly matters, shouldn’t it influence all of our human interactions? I hope that the answer would be yes, and that Jewish behavior should be a model for EVERYONE to emulate.
Happy Chanukah

Nemo said...

Reiteration of Mimi's point- There is NO inference whatsoever from that article that implies there was ever any expressed or implied intent from Chabad to remove the tress. His assertion regarding the legality of a Christmas tree being sufficient to warrant a Menorah is merely to establish the legal principle that such displays are legal in a public space.

While in the short-run a legal threat can be seen as hostile and unwanted, it happens to be the way to get things done in the long run. Look at the oft-cited case of Chabad vs. the City of Pittsburgh in 1989. Although it didn't seem like such a pleasant idea to go up against the city, in the long run, it established the constitutional right and legal precedent to display a Menorah in government space.

Taking legal action isn't a form of attack; it's not a form of terrorism like the media would have you believe. It's likewise not a form of telling you to accept us no matter what as Aish would want you to believe. The legal system was meant as a way of insuring due process, fairness and efficiency.

thinkingrandom said...

As someone who actaully saw the legal papers that were and were not filed by the lawyer working with this case,
There was never ANY request by anyone to take down the Chrismas Trees.
Truth be told, The airport was asked to put up a Chanukah menorah by an airport employee who knows Chabad, and asked the rabbi to get involved, The lawyer may have said that LEGALLY
if u have a holiday display The supreme court has ruled previously that Chanuka Menoras are legal as they are general symbols of freedom as is is a Chrismas tree.
ANd if they only had chrismas trees and no menoras as an american citizan that was a violation of our RIGHTS....
Thats all,
Anyway you people don't seem to have a clue about what really went on....
Just know

Anonymous said...

incidentally in the Pittsburgh case you can look up the papers on line and find all the various Jewish prganizations who were opposed to the Menorah.

another anonymous said...

"The only message we should be concerned to send right now is the, um CHANUKAH one."

"The Jewish way?
Here it is:
It's Chanukah.
Put Menorahs everywhere."

Aside from your utterly rude and unnecessary sarcasm, you also seem to have abandoned reason altogether. Because it's Chanukah, suddenly the only message we care about is the Chanukah one? Our concern for the other basic principles of Judaism evaporates during the Chanukah season? This makes very little sense to me.

In addition, since when is the primary purpose of Chanukah to "put menorahs everywhere"? Of course we are supposed to do pirsumei nisa, but where in halacha or anywhere else does it tell us that the purpose of Chanukah is to put menorahs everywhere? I am truly baffled. You have a perfect right to believe that public menorahs are a good thing for the Jewish people, but to state it as if that is the only aspect of Chanukah that matters? Come on.

Mimi said...

Another Anonymous:

I have abandoned reason altogether?

That was the point of Chanukah!

Okay, now I'm just kidding around.

(Though, that IS a Chanukah discussion...)

You're right, my statement was broad. My basic sentiment still stands, but you took me a little too seriously. I hear your points.

Jackie F said...

I agree completely with Chabad's general aim of "putting menorahs everywhere"-- although it might not quite be "the message of Chanukah," I think it's a positive idea overall.

But I think that one potential halachic/hashkafic concern does come out as a result of Chabad's victory in the Supreme Court to display menorahs in all types of public places:

Remember that our country requires a separation of Church and State. That being the case, our country cannot publically sanction any religious practices or any religious symbols. For any public building to display a religious item (think, let's say, if they put crucifixes in baseball stadiums because the Catholics wanted it or something) would be completely forbidden. The only consideration that legally permits the display of menorah publically is the fact that they have been legally defined as "cultural" and "secular" instead of "religious."

Now, I think that the benefit of having menorahs in public places (yay, pirsumei nisah) outweighs this cost. But for other Jews to think that this is a huge cost indeed--that the official secularization of the menorah is an insult to halacha-- and therefore not a good idea, is also a halachically valid approach.

Let's not forget that.

Oh, and hi Mim! I've been reading your blog for months--might as well begin commenting already! Happy Chanukah!

Anonymous said...

Jackie, I have yet to see from the 'opposition' any question of the secularization of the Menorah. The issue is whether we can display our faith and message publicly and at the expense of the notoriety.

Mimi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mimi said...

Hi Jackie!

Here we go :)

You speak of the "official secularization of Menorahs."'s only on paper. We all know what a Menorah is, don't we? If Chabad's victory involved Menorah's being secularized on paper - who really cares? Don't we all know what a Menorah is? You say "legally" - but...who's terms are we working on?

Also, a menorah being secularized on paper is noooooothing compared to the secular attitude some Jews take regarding Chanukah, a festival which essentially marks our victory over secularism.

It's shocking.

And anyways, can you ever really secularize a Menorah? The fact that Jews think that's possible is...scary.

A Menorah is something that transcends the definitions some legal papers give it, don't you think?

This is especially relevent when you consider all the positive that comes out of public Menorah lightings...

Thanks for adding to the discussion, Jackie. I hope to see more.

- M

Saturday, 23 December, 2006

anonym00kie said...

this post is such a turn off

sometimes you have great thigns to say, but when you get on these - bashing everyone else rants - its just delegitamizes everything else you say..

Mimi said...


I know, I know.

Some things just get me upset...I'm sorry?

But delegitamizes everything I say? Hmmm.

Dovid said...

Mimi, great post, and great follow-up discussion. Blog on!

Mimi said...

(Thanks Dovid - I needed that, good timing. Also, I like this whole "blog on!" expression....very empowering.)

Anonymous said...

the halacha of ner hanukkah is to light a ner in once house....not in a public lighting a menorah with a blessing in public places goes agaisnt halacha and shouldnt be done....

Nemo said...

Um, go relearn Halacha re: lighting the Menorah in a Shul... It is lit with a Brocha even though it's not fulfilling the actual Mitzva of Ner Channukah. So, before you go off haplessly Paskening Halacha, maybe do a bit of research or even a bit of common knowledge.

Chevie said...

Many people don't take the time to take a stand and publicize misrepresentations and perversions of things that we so strongly believe in. Thank you for spreading the word and the light. I love your blogs.

Anonymous said...

I love reading your blog - you have such a beautiful chassidish perspective - but this post was hard to read. I don't think the Rebbe would be happy that we, as chassidim, are publicly writing such things about other Jews.... Maybe the prespective of the video is wrong, but we don't respond to something wrong with another wrong... maybe better to post about the beauty of the litzvah of menorah, and the Rebbe's perspective on pirsumei nissah, all the beautiful menorah lightings, etc. It doesn't bring more light into the world to attack someone else publicly.
Keep blogging and inspiring your readers!

Chaya said...

As a Lubavitcher, I understand the automatic defensiveness. But maybe there is something we can learn from what he said (I do not agree with him). He said that we should look within. Although Chanuka is a time for pirsum hanes, chanuka is no over (for this year). Maybe now we can take a lesson from this and look within our own circles. Is Lubavitch perfect?

Anonymous said...

nemo---and where in halacah do we light in airports? oh thats right we just light at home and in shul. So airports or any ohter public place seems to be off limits

litzo said...

hey mimi how about a mood-lifting, uncontrovertial post? you know some of your good stuff that gets me laughing or more acurately- thinking/ thanks

Pragmatician said...

With all due respect, I agree.
Pirsumei Nes is important, very much so.
But we are still in Galus!

i said...


its ok to respond to something controversial with your own emotions.

but its 'wrong'?!
its 'negative' !? (gasp!)

why cant we be real people, with real characters, real opinions, and real contentions?

do we want to be like some bleeding-heart peace loving liberals, who must always guardeth thy tongues lest we be people?

mimi got upset at the aish's guy attitude. she expressed it. done. thank you mimi, you're a real live person. viola.

Mimi said...

I: Who is you, I? Do I know you? Can e-mail me...

Mushky said...

I think that it was a very well expressed post.

Mim, you key in on many things that I am sure many overlooked.

It is a legitimate reaction, and one that needed to be shared.

Thank G-d you were the one who did it.

Spoken like a true Chossid Mim.

Thanks for that, and to copy Dov...

Blog On Sista!

chang said...

oh i love it.

you're right.
and you're also right.
and you're wrong.
and you're also wrong.
so there.

we should only fight about holy things...
my oh-so-wise-bubby says the reason why there is a whole conflict with mishichist/anti is the Rebbe wanted to keep moshiach on our minds...even though it seems to be a negative thing, holy machlokes is better than forgetting!

Here's to thinking about the aibishter WITHOUT machlokes.

i said...

no, you don't know me; im a friend of gonzonic.

you've a good blog; keep it up.

never ever have your readers preferences in mind when you blog; i can well imagine it to be the most detrimental thing.

Anonymous said...

I'm not so comfortable with this criticizing other yidden...
but i did want to share a story that was published in the jewish press which shows the power of a public menorah:

The Menorah That Lit Up My Life
By: Laura P. Schulman, MD
Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Two years ago I was in Baltimore on business and happened to pass by the public menorah in front of Johns Hopkins University just as the first light was being lit.

My eyes welled with tears. Although I was raised a secular Jew, my family has always celebrated Chanukah. To be away from my family that first night of the holiday felt cold and lonely. Now, seeing the lights of the first night’s flames of that big menorah, my heart lit up also and I felt the warmth of my people all around me.

The next day I was walking by the waterfront and a young man in a black hat ran up to me and politely asked, “Excuse me, are you Jewish?”

Somewhat surprised that anyone would care, I answered in the affirmative.

“Do you know that it’s the second night of Chanukah tonight?” he asked earnestly.

I nodded.

“Do you have a menorah?” he inquired, looking a bit anxious.

“No,” I replied.

“Do you want one?” he asked hopefully.

“Do you have one?” I asked, almost shouting with joy.

“Yes, and I’ll get you one!” he replied, almost as excited as I.

He ran off and returned moments later with an entire menorah kit in a box: little brass candleholder, box full of the right number of candles, and complete instructions. Also a DVD full of Chanukah stories, how-tos, even recipes. I politely declined the offer of a donut (fried foods are traditional on Chanukah, but I have to pace myself) and raced off to my hotel room to examine the contents of the box and watch the DVD.

Childhood memories of Chanukah lights, my father telling stories of the Maccabees the miracle of how one day’s worth of oil somehow lasted for eight all came flooding back. I knew I had been given a gift that Chanukah in Baltimore: the gift of the return of Judaism to my life, and of my life to Judaism.

All this because of a menorah on the steps of a public institution. And all because I “happened” to be passing by that day and the flame of the menorah ignited the spark that had been sleeping in my Jewish heart for nearly 50 years.

When I returned to Seattle the following week, I called a rabbi for the first time in my life. I told him what the menorah in Baltimore had stirred in me. Over the next two years, with his wise and gentle guidance I found my way as a fully observant Jew. The spark that was rekindled by a public menorah is now a steady burning flame.

How grateful I am to live in a country that is founded on the right to worship as we choose, in the manner in which we choose. I thank our founding fathers who crafted the Constitution of the United States of America, which recognizes our freedom to express and practice our religion. And I thank those who have the courage, in these sometimes dark times, to defend those rights.

We never know how many hearts and lives are touched and, yes, even transformed, by the sight of the miraculous Chanukah lights, shining into the darkest reaches and reminding us of miracles long ago and not so long ago.

All those selfless souls whose courage and staunch commitment fuel the kindling of light the world over deserve our heartfelt gratitude. I know they have mine.

Laura P. Schulman, MD, is a physician/musician living in Seattle. She recently spent two months learning Torah in Israel and is now is in the process of planning her aliya.

Nemo said...

"nemo---and where in halacah do we light in airports? oh thats right we just light at home and in shul. So airports or any ohter public place seems to be off limits"

Sorry, I was out of town and didn't have time to respond to this....

The reason we light in Shul for Pirsumei Nissah is because the majority of Jewish people used to be found in Shul in the olden days. Therefore, the original institution of Pirsumei Nissa lightings were made in Shul.

Nowadays when the majority of Jewish people are NOT in Shul, and in fact are willing to congregate publicly in town squares, malls, the White House and the like, the same Mitzva of Pirsumei Nissah applies there. The point is not to light in Shul necessarily, the point is to light it where PEOPLE will see it.

Anonymous said...

great point Nemo!!!!!!

Simple and to the point!!!


Anonymous said...

The power of Bloggers...

Thanks to Mimi, and her community of readers; Aish actually took down the Rabbi's "shpil"...


Anonymous said...

nemo---you maintain that it was lit in shul because thats where people were and now they arent so we must light why dont we stop lighting in shul?

Nemo said...

First of all, it's not I that maintains that; the Ritva in Maseches Shabbos maintains that it was lit in Shuls because that is the "Makom Harabim."

Secondly, that is a very illogical question...

We light everywhere because there are Jews everywhere {to be Motzei} and for the purpose of Pirsumei Nisah. That isn't a reason to cancel the age-old Minhag of lighting in Shuls which was instituted in the Gemaras times, particularly when the Shuls haven't been altogether abandoned {R"L}. Additionally, there are is another reason for lighting in Shul specifically- in commemoration of the Menorah in the Beis Hamikdosh.


Anyway, it seems to me that you're not looking for answers, you're simply looking for an argument.

Anonymous said...

i agree we shouldnt stop lighting in point was--you maintain we should light anywhere there are people but that simply isnt true. No rishon holds that. Ner should be lit in shul and at home. If that wasnt the case, the mitzvah would have been formulated in a way that says "light the candle wherever a large number of Jews are"

Itzhak Schier said...

Those people who are against menorahs in public forget one very important thing. Those menorahs are NOT for ONE MINUTE intended to bring any sort of kovod to the one who lights them. They are there to light the path for the forgotten Jew who happens to see them in the midst of a sea of Xmas decorations, and is reminded that he is Jewish. Some of our display menorahs are probably not even lit with a brocho because, like the electric car menorahs, they are not halachically correct. (I'd be the first one to call 911 if I ever saw anyone driving with a menorah on top of their car which uses olive oil and real flames, because where I come from, that's called a Molotov Cocktail on wheels!)

Those who oppose the menorahs mistakenly think that they are there for us, for the Jews who BH know who we are, for the Jews who know that al pi halacha those are not kosher menorahs, for the Jews who worry about menorahs becoming secularized. No. We can pass them right by as we rush home to light our own super-mehadrin olive oil Rambam menorahs at home.

They are there for the Jew who does not know when Chanukah even takes place, or was taught by misguided assimilationist parents to forget about Chanukah and enjoy the Xmas displays at neighbors' homes and at the department stores instead. Or for the Jew who chas vesholom has a tree at home instead of a menorah.

I guess I was 15 when I happened to be in a semi-rural town in New Jersey, learning how to use my new camera while my parents shopped at a nearby outlet mall. Among the pictures I took was one of, yes, a menorah, on a public square in the middle of a town where hardly any Jews resided.

I did not know it then, and only realized it 11 years, a full beard, and a black hat later when I went through my old attempts at photography for disposal before I moved abroad, but seeing that menorah, which I was able to recognize as clearly "one of ours" due to its shape, was my first encounter with Chabad.

Nemo said...


There's an essential point that you are CONSCIOUSLY missing out- That public Menorahs were never meant for fulfilling doing the Mitzva of Ner Channukah, K'tikuna. Therefore you are also failing to distinguish between a Menorah that is lit it one's home and a Menorah which is lit publicly.

You being the ignorant and argumentative person that you are said firmly above, "lighting a menorah with a blessing in public places goes agaisnt halacha." I showed you on Halachik grounds that you can make a Brocho on a Menorah which is lit publicly can be made with the same logic as the lighting in Shul and not as a fulfillment of Mitzvas Chanukah {although, as we will soon see, it is Motzai people who do not have Menorahs of their own}. Just as we light in a Shul, a public place, with a Brocho, for the benefit of those who have congregated there, we can {i.e. Reshus} similarly light in any public place and light Menorah with a Brocho.

So now we must understand the purpose of the Shul lightings. The Bes Yosef {who was a Rishon} brings down four reasons for lighting in Shul. According to three out of four reasons, there is sufficient and even encouraging grounds to light Menorah publicly. The reasons brought down are:

1. Zecher Lmikdosh
2. Because of the guests who would regularly stay in Shul
3. Because we CANNOT fulfill the Mitzva as it was meant to be done for Pirsumei Nissah {"Mipesach Beiso Mibachutz"} because we live amongst non-Jewish governments.
4. To be Motzei anyone that isn't familiar with how to light on their own.

Besides for #1 above which is a reason that it should be lit specifically in a holy place, the other three reasons are quite telling on their own; #2 because there are people who do not light at home, #3 because nowadays we can light publicly, and #4 because there are certainly people that do not know how and would otherwise not light the Menorah.

I can, without a doubt, accuse you of being an antagonistic Misnagid. If you want to be Mivater on the Mitzva of helping another Jew out and Pirsumei Nissah, you can go ahead and do as you please. But please get lost before you criticize a Mivtza which has been instituted by the Rebbe, who was bigger and better than you, particularly when you don't know what you're talking about.

Anonymous said...

a "mitzvah institued by the Rebbe"...exactly my point...its not a mitzvah to light in public places. ANd you didnt answer my question....why didnt halacah formulate the mitzvah in a way that says light in any public place....this way there would be no confusion. And im just enagaging in debate so and i think your personal attacks are unwarrented.

Nemo said...

MIVTZA not Mitzva

Anonymous said...

my mistake...but still havent answered my question...

Nemo said...

That is the answer to your question. It's not a Mitzva, it's a Reshus, i.e. if you want to do it, you are aloud.

Nemo said...

I just looked up the Beis Yosef {Orach Chaim 671} and there was an interesting line which sheds lots of light on the matter. He says that one of the reasons to make a Brocho on the Shul lighting is because "its a great sanctification of His holy name when it is lit in Makheilos."

Now correct me if I'm wrong, but he didn't use the term 'Kehilos' which might {but not even necessarily} strongly imply a communal center like a Shul, but rather the term 'Makheilos,' which means gatherings of people.

For you to

Anonymous said...

on of the reasons to light for the shul lighting....not any other. I agree you could light eslewhere but to say a bracha is what i am against.

Nemo said...

That's because you are an ignorant Misnagid who cannot accept a simple truth. The Beis Yosef says that it's a Kiddush Hashem to say it WITH the Brocho in public and you want to ignore that fact because you subjectively Pasken Halacha to suit your opposition, and baselessly I should add.

I'm not name calling here, I'm identifying the other side of this "debate"... if you could even call it that- a debate is when both sides have a valid point. You don't have a point or any Mekoros, besides your personal preference...

"to say a bracha is what i am against."

YOU're against it? Who are you, pray tell?

Want to criticize Lubavitch? Find something a little easier to corner us with, like Moshiach or something.

Anonymous said...

maybe i missed it but where does the beit yosef say say a bracha in any public place....thats the reason for lighting in shul...i want a source that says....say a bracha when you light in any public cant take a reason from lighting in shul and apply it to another mitzvah. For example, you cannot say wieght 6 hours after cheese to eat meat because of taste. That was only waiting after meat. and do you really want to get into a debate about how the rebbe isnt the moshicach?

Anonymous said...

one more not attacking you as a person in anyway im just trying to understand and for you to attack another person is wrong. Not to mention if i was a non-religious jew searching for answer you would have turned me off from judaism. You should be careful how speak to people.

Nemo said...

Don't deign to invoke Ahavas Yisroel. A smart man once told me, "99% the time that people cry 'Ahavas Yisroel, Ahavas Yisroel,' they're basically saying 'agree with me.'"

You've once again proven your ignorance though and to what avail, I don't know. You have to wait six hours after cheese.

I wasn't implying that we should have a Moshiach discussion at all, though, if I wasn't sick of this already, I might even be willing.

And, according to you that there's a problem because there's no Sif in Shulchan Oruch that clearly delineates the Halachos of lighting Menorah in shopping malls, we have a tremendous problem. You can basically scrap the concept of Shaaylos U'teshuvos, and pretty much the entire Halachik process, which Paskens based on underlying concepts.

According to you, we must always be Machmir because Shulchan Oruch never said so.

Anonymous said...

well this is over once you ACTUALLY think you wait six hours after cheese. The rashbah i beleive someone who holds that is an apikores. ANd if you were sick of the convoversation you would have stopped

Anonymous said...

im done with this coversation.

Nemo said...

It was the Maharshal actually. He says that only the Maharam had to because of a certain Michshol that occured with him. But that's Daas Ha'Shach.

You obviously chose to ignore the Rama and the Taz who Pasken that you must wait six hours L'chumroh. L'maaseh many people do wait six hours.

Nemo said...

Oh man, you are in deep trouble now. I just reread the Shach {SH"A Yoreh Deah 87:3 S"K 17} and it seems that he also agrees that you must wait six hours after hard cheese despite the zealous opposition of the Maharshal.

Shame on you for insinuating any question that I am an Apikores. I have the Rama, Taz and Shach as my basis and here you come quoting an opinion which was Paskened against by all Poskim to be Mozai Shem Rah.

Anonymous said...

your still an apikores for believing the rebbe is the moshiach

Nemo said...


Anonymous said...

its funny that no rishon or gemara mention this halacha.

Nemo said...

Whatever... been there, done that. I'm not gonna have a banal discussion with an insolent Am Ha'aretz.

Anonymous said...

exactly...there isnt one rishon who holds that...

Nemo said...

Um, no, because I've had the discussion nearly a thousand times and it's become quite a bore for me.

But, since you are so interested, here's a start...

And, you really are proving your poor knowledge. You couldn't actually be an Apikores for believing that the Rebbe is Moshiach even IF it was against Halacha. An Apikores is someone that denies any one of the 13 principles of faith.

Anonymous said...

um you still cant show me a rishon can you