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Is it within your reach?

Thursday, 8 June, 2017 - 6:30 am


The story is told (Harfordchabad.org/137289) that in 1907, Reb Yosef Yuzik, a Chassid of the 5th Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi Sholom DovBer of Lubavitch asked of the Rebbe:

“Rebbe, what is a Chassid?”

Replied the Rebbe: “A Chassid is a lamplighter. The lamplighter walks the streets carrying a flame at the end of a pole. He knows that the flame is not his. And he goes from lamp to lamp to set them alight.”


Why do I tell you this story?

As we are all lamplighters!

In this week’s Torah portion we read about the lighting of the menorah by the Kohen in the Beis Hamikdash - the Holy Temple.

According to Halacha – Jewish law – a non-Kohen, e.g. a Levite or an Israelite, may light the menorah, even though only a Kohen has permission to enter the room where the Menorah was kept.

If it is “out of my reach” how can I, a non-Kohen, light the menorah? One may do so with the use of a long pole. 

This is a message for each one of us. We may say: ME? Affecting someone else positively? ME? Encouraging others to grow in their Jewish observance? ME? To be a LIGHT for others? That level is out of my reach! 

The Torah teaches us that NO – You can do it; that you are not on that level or that it is out of your personal reach is no excuse! Use a long pole to reach and illuminate there.


Asked Reb Yosef Yuzik: “What if the lamp is in a desert?”

“Then one must go and light it” said the Rebbe. “And when one lights a lamp in a desert, the desolation of the desert becomes visible. The barren wilderness will then be ashamed before the burning lamp.”

Continued the Chassid: “What if the lamp is at sea?”

“Then one must undress, dive into the sea, and go light the lamp.”

“And this is a Chassid?” Reb Yosef Yuzik asked.

For a long while the Rebbe thought and then said: “Yes, this is a Chassid.”

“But Rebbe, I do not see the lamps!” Cried out Reb Yosef Yuzik.

Answered the Rebbe: “That is because you are not a lamplighter.”

“How does one become a lamplighter?”

“First, you must reject the evil within yourself. Start with yourself: cleanse yourself, refine yourself, and you will see the lamp within your fellow. When a person is himself coarse, G d forbid, he sees coarseness; when a person is himself refined, he sees the refinement in others.”

Reb Yosef Yuzik then asked: “Is one to grab the other by the throat?”

Replied the Rebbe: “By the throat, no; by the lapels, yes.”


Have a light filled Shabbos,

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman



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