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“LISHMA” … FOR ITS OWN SAKE

Roy Neuberger - Dec. 07, 2018


This Friday night there will be six lights on the Chanukah Menorah in addition to the Shabbos lights. The house will be full of light. What is special about the Chanukah lights is that you cannot use them for seeing your way. They are just for looking.

 

This is so anti-Western. In the surrounding culture everything is utilitarian; nothing is for itself. When the Greeks conquered the Land of Israel, they tried to impose upon us their degenerate lifestyle. This is an abomination.

 

Every morning we say, “May we and our offspring and the offspring of Your people, the House of Israel, all of us, know Your Name and study Your Torah ‘lishma’ … for its own sake!” “Lishma” is a world unto itself. The cultures of Esau and Ishmael do not understand this concept. Everything is to be used: people are to be used; the world is to be used.

 

And how? “For me!” Everything is for “me”! This is the culture of egotism. But understanding of the Reality of Hashem is impossible in a culture that is all “for me.” Thus “I” becomes the center of the universe.

 

Hashem, on the other hand, is completely giving. Everything is done for us, His creations. As we say, “Gomail chassadim tovim … Who bestows beneficial kindnesses.” The Patriarchs understood His ways, and that is why our Prayer refers to“chasdei Avos … the kindnesses of the Patriarchs…”

 

This is the Life of the Jew: Torah “lishma” – for its own sake – chessed – giving.

 

This is how we try to imitate Hashem.

 

A light burning for its own sake … illumination for its own sake, and we place those lights where they are visible “pirsumai nisa,” to demonstrate to the world that we are different, that we live “lishma,” with no ulterior motive, not to dominate the world, but so that Truth should dominate, and the world should be pure and complete, as Hashem created it.

 

The idea of using everything as a tool for some other purpose has no end. With their evil tools they have dug up the world. There is no end to their destruction. Once loosed, it is incapable of stopping until it has destroyed everything, G-d forbid.

 

And so, the only hope for the world is the Children of Israel, because we are lishma.

 

Joseph dreams. Did his dreams indicate his desire to dominate his brothers?

 

No, my friends. The sina, the strife began when they believed that his motives were antagonistic to them. Yosef was acting lishma, just the way his mother was acting lishma when she gave the signs to her sister. Who could be more pure than she? Who could be more pure than her son, Yosef? That is how he prevailed against his Evil Inclination in the House of Potiphar, and that is how he became King of Egypt!

 

And that is why“a voice is heard on high. Rachel weeps for her children; she refuses to be consoled for her children ….” (Jeremiah 31:14ff; Haftara Second Day Rosh Hashanah) Hashem hears the voice of Rachel, and says,“restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears…. There is hope for you … the words of Hashem … and your children shall return to their border….”

 

May we see it soon in our days!


 

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