Mind Over Heart

By: Rabbi Shlomo Ezagui


The Holiday of Chanukah represents the victory of light over darkness.

The philosophy of the Hellenists at that time (things haven’t changed much) was to dilute the purity of faith in G-d, and the unadulterated message of the Bible, with current thinking. A small group of people, stood up to a large and fierce army, and proved a most powerful point. Miracles happen. Life, is not all logical and rational. Darkness, can be conquered, by a focused, smaller quantity, of light.

This is the reason why we must light the menorah at night, towards the outside. To take the ever increasing, small, but powerful flames, and enlighten and illuminate, those who live in darkness.

A person’s soul is compared to the candle of G-d. The Bible is compared to light, “The Torah – Bible is light”, and wisdom, is compared to light.

Rabbi Shnuer Zalman, was a significant supporter of the Czar, against Napoleon. One of Rabbi Shneur Zalman’s followers, Moshe who was fluent in Russian and French was able to learn many important military secrets, and he was able to transmit important information to the Russian generals on the battlefront.

Once, when Moshe happened to be in the French General Headquarters, the generals were making plans about their next attack. Moshe pretended not to hear or see what was going on, and the generals paid no attention to him.

Suddenly the door burst open and in came Napoleon.

“What is this stranger doing here?” he demanded, pointing to Moshe. Napoleon rushed up to him, exclaiming, “You are a spy!”

Moshe’s heart was not pounding and his face did not pale, as he calmly replied in perfect French:

“Your Majesty, your generals appointed me to be their interpreter, and I await their orders.”

His cool manner and calm voice completely disarmed Napoleon. Moshe was saved from certain death.

When Moshe would relate the episode of his encounter with Napoleon, he declared – it was the deeper dimensions of Torah – the Bible, that saved his life, and he explained:

“Rabbi Shnuer Zalman taught us, that a person should use his natural powers for the service of G-d. One of these natural powers, is that the brain rules the heart. In other words, according to the nature which G-d created in man, reason, is basically stronger than feeling; a person has the power to control his emotions. However, it is not enough for a man to know this; but he must persistently train himself to exercises this power in his daily life and conduct, until it becomes a natural habit with him. In actual practice this simply means that whenever one feels a strong desire for something, one should say to oneself, ‘I can do without it.’ The exercise of such self-control is the ‘first step’ of spiritual improvement, and having mastered this ‘first step’ one can steadily advance further.

“Thus I have schooled myself to achieve absolute self-control, so that in everything I think, speak, and do, I let my mind rule my heart. And where it is important for the heart to express its feelings, the mind, too, must have its say, to make sure that the feelings do not get out of control.

“And so I trained myself to control my feelings, not to get excited under any circumstances, and not to be overwhelmed by anyone or anybody.

“And this is what saved my life.”

Chanukah is an opportune time for good resolutions. The Holiday of Chanukah is an auspicious time to use the light of our souls, the light of the Torah – Bible, and the light of our wisdom, to triumph over the internal, and external, darkness, which confounds our mission and purpose in this life.


To read more articles from Rabbi Ezagui visit him at http://koshercaffeine.blogspot.com

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