Weekly Chasidic Story #1044 (s5778-13/ 23 Kislev 5778)

The Patient Menorah

The Chanukah menorah stood prepared but unlit, even though it was past 10:00 at night.

Connection: Chanukah: Dec. 12-20

The Patient Menorah


One morning during Chanukah of 5773 (12/72), a group of teenaged boys including Shmuel Lipsch from the Chabad Junior Yeshiva in Tsfat set out to the Golan Heights to bring the light of Chanukah and other mitzvot to the residents of many of the small scattered communities there. After a long afternoon and evening of hard work and bright success, when they finally departed for home it was nearly ten o'clock at night.

As they approached the highway exit to the town of Hatzor - 15 minutes before Tsfat - they decided to detour to the large shopping center near the exit where they knew the stores would still be open, even at this late hour, to spread the light of Chanukah there too. As they went from one shop to another, they came upon a store where positioned on a shelf near the plate-glass window was a Chanukah menorah, set up with the proper number of candles for that night, but as yet unlit, as if it were waiting just for them.

The students entered together. Immediately the shopkeeper approached them and welcomed them with great joy. "I was praying you would come. I know that the Chanukah lights bring blessing to my business. I would never let the menorah go unlit, not even one night" she added enthusiastically.

The teenage boys were puzzled. "It's already quite late at night. Why did you wait for so long for someone to come? Why did you not just light the candles yourself?"

"Because," she smiled, "I am not Jewish.

"I am a Druise woman," she continued. "I live in the Druise village of Tuba az-Zanghariyya."*

Not only were the boys surprised by her answer, they were more confused than before. "Why are the Chanukah lights of such significance to you if you are not Jewish?"

She related to them at length and with great sincerity why the lighting of the Chanukah menorah was so important for her. From the content of her words the yeshiva students grasped instantly that the lights were not just an "aid" for her business; it was clear that she was well aware that the fulfillment of a commandment brought an increased relationship to the Commander, to the Creator of All.

Indeed, the spiritual sensitivity revealed in her reply led the boys to suspect that perhaps she had a connection to Judaism beyond the mitzvah of Chanukah. They began to question her about her background.

It did not take more than a minute to verify their hunch, as in answer to their first question, about her family, she innocently revealed that her mother was Jewish! (In the Muslim world, religious status follows the father, so she never had a clue that she herself is Jewish according to Torah law.)

The young boys explained that through her mother she too possesses inside her the unique G-dly soul of a Jew, and therefore she is 100% Jewish. It must be, they added, that her strong commitment to having a lit menorah on the eight nights of Chanukah each year was caused by her divine Jewish neshama-soul burning within her, seeking to express itself.

Her reaction was pure happiness. She asked to clarify whether her sisters and brothers are Jewish too. With great emotion she proclaimed that she would tell all her siblings that she is Jewish and that they are also. She thanked the boys profusely.

That night the menorah of the store was lit and the blessings were said by a proud Jewess, newly ready to take her part among the Jewish people.**
Source: Translated and adapted by Yerachmiel Tilles from an article by Rabbi Yitzchak Lipsch published in "Lubavich": the weekly newsletter of the Chabad community in Tsfat (Dec. 12, 2012).

** R. Lipsch's note: The boys too were proud (including one of my sons); they had been instrumental in bringing one more lost soul back to its roots, their mission as young chasidim of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

* Translator's note: Tuba az-Zanghariyya is less than a half-hour's drive from Tsfat, and even closer to Hatzor. It is located close to Kfar Nassi.


Yerachmiel Tilles is co-founder and associate director of Ascent-of-Safed, and chief editor of this website (and of KabbalaOnline.org). He has hundreds of published stories to his credit, and many have been translated into other languages. He tells them live at Ascent nearly every Saturday night.

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