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A Darchei Noam Chanukah Message to Our Children
by Rabbi Yakov Horowitz

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A Darchei Noam Chanukah Message to our Children

As Jews worldwide observe and celebrate Chanukah with our children and grandchildren, it will serve us well to use this opportunity as a teachable moment regarding the Torah-true approach to kanaus (zealotry) – that it is to be practiced with regret, restraint and only when no other option is available.

Our children need to hear from us time and again that, “Deracheha Darchei Noam,” the path of [those who follow our holy Torah] is one of pleasantness (Mishlei 3:17).

We should stress that the Jews living in the time of the Chashmanoim would have loved nothing more than to live their lives in peace, and be free to practice Hashem’s Torah. It was only when our way of life was threatened that Yehudah Hamacabbe and his brothers took up arms to defend themselves.

An often-quoted analogy on the matter of kanaus compares a homeowner to a cat – both of whom are chasing a mouse. They seem to be doing the same thing; only that the homeowner is upset while chasing the mouse, while the cat rejoices. (Kindly read an excellent column in this week’s Mishpacha magazine by my dear chaver, Yonasan Rosenblum, False Zealotry and its Vicitims, and Hate Has No Off Button.)

Members of our generation were fortunate to receive a Darchei Noam mesorah from our Rebbeim – Rav Moshe, Reb Yaakov, Rav Pam, Rav Ruderman zichronim tzadikim li’vracha – on how we should interact with others who do not share our core beliefs. Nowadays, when this golden derech is often shouted down in very public venues and in the media, by members of our community who seem to be perpetually engaged in kanaus with nary a trace of the homeowner’s regret noted above, this message is all the more important to convey to our impressionable children.

Best wishes for an enjoyable and meaningful Chanukah,

Yakov Horowitz

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