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Chanuka in Russia

December 11, 2009

This Chanuka, I’ll be going to Russia to visit my 96-year-old grandmother. If the book of Job were to be staged in the 20th century, my grandmother would have been the perfect candidate for the role. Widowed at the age of 23 (her husband was put to death by the Stalin regime for “sabotaging” the work at his factory) and loosing her first child as a result of negligence, exiled by the Communists and bombed by the Nazis, she endured everything without becoming bitter or loosing her faith in people. Even years of “regular” financial hardships, such as living with a family of six in a 10-square-meter (100 sq. feet) room in the same apartment with 9 other families (sharing a single kitchen and a single bathroom) did not affect her good humor.

Rashi in this week’s parsha (Vaeshev) observes that the story of Yosef came as a result of Yaakov’s wish for some peace and quiet. Often, we feel that life is a constant stream of challenges. Why can’t things just work out, we think. Rav Reuven Fireman once observed that since Hashem brings each person into the world in order to enable him to achieve a change and realize his full potential, He constantly gives us opportunities for growth. Life can be compared to playing chess with a world champion. There is no way in the world that He’ll let you get away from pursuing the path of development. For this reason, peace and quiet are incompatible with our task in life.

My grandmother is a tremendous source of inspiration to me. Whenever I think of everything she has gone through in life, I feel great appreciation to Hashem for sending me my small trials and problems. I admire her ability to withstand all the difficulties life has thrown her way and still retain her joyous personality.

Chanuka coincides with the darkest and coldest time of the year. Yet, it is exactly at this time that we light the lights and celebrate. As Chanuka approaches, I wish us all that the happiness of the holiday should stay with us even as we work our way through both personal and national challenges ahead of us.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Alex permalink
    December 18, 2009 3:05 am

    Я тебя люблю моя Кузявочка.Что б ты у меня была здорова со своими детками и Гоэлем.

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