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  • Rabbi Mordechai Lipskier

Let's wrap it up. Or maybe not.

Chanukah

Is there a reason we give Chanukah gelt? Aren’t presents just as good? Especially for children from wealthy homes, who already have all the money they need and more, is there any purpose in giving them Chanukah gelt? The Rambam describes the decrees of the Yevanim: “The Greek kingdom issued decrees against the Jewish people, [attempting to] nullify their faith and refusing to allow them to observe the Torah and its commandments. They extended their hands against their property and their daughters.”

A closer look at the story makes it clear that the objective of the Yevanim was not to take Torah away from us, but to strip Torah of its holiness. Study Torah as you would any other intellectual work, they insisted, but not as a G-dly wisdom. Similarly, the Yevanim didn’t want to kill the Jewish girls but rather desecrate their sanctity. Be married and have families, they declared, but do it just like us, devoid of any holiness. And likewise with regards to the Jews’ money. The Yevanim didn’t want to take our money, they wanted to desecrate it, stripping it of it’s holy potential by forcing us to use it for materialistic, self-indulging purposes. The objective of giving Chanukah gelt[1] is to reaffirm our commitment to using money in a yiddishe way. It’s a time to realign ourselves and our children with the Torahdik approach to money, most notably, the value of sharing what we have with others. Our children must know that money has the potential to ch”v desensitize us from holiness and from the plight of others just as the Yevanim desired, but we must retain our yiddishe sensitivity. Money can buy us fame and power, or it can beautify mitzvos and build magnificent yeshivos. Money can fuel conflict and lust R”l, or unity and tzedakah. So, yes, Chanukah gelt is a holy custom with a vital message, not so with presents. And, the more money a child has, the more crucial the lesson of Chanukah gelt becomes. Chanukah is just the beginning. Children learn by example. They develop spending habits and priorities based on what they see us do throughout the year. May Hashem bless all Yidden with an abundance of gelt to be spent on good, holy and happy things and may we be zocheh to see the lighting of the menorah in the third Beis HaMikdash very soon. Gut Shabbos and a freilichen un lichtiken Chanukah, Rabbi Mordechai Lipskier [1] Likutei Sichos vol. 10 pg. 290

The Flint family l’zecher nishmas Reb Avraham Michoel ben Yaakov Shimon Halevi a"h

The Moshe Group Moshe and Rivky Majeski