THE YEAR WAS 1775, and the place was Valley Forge.
George Washington was Commander-in-Chief over the Continental army in the American Revolutionary War against Britain, who were heavily favored to win.
The weather was freezing and food was scarce. The situation was bleak.
There was only one Jew in the entire American army.
He had escaped the cruelty and humiliation of life as a Jew in Poland.
And though conditions as a soldier in Washington’s army were extremely harsh, the promise of living in a free land inspired him.
So did his Chanukiah.
His father had sent it with him to do exactly that, and being the first night of Chanukah, he lit it. And, as it burned before him, he was shocked to find that General Washington himself was standing over him, asking about his welfare.
“Why are you crying, soldier? Are you cold?”
Pain and compassion were in his voice.
I couldn’t bear to see him suffer.
I jumped up, forgot that I was a soldier standing before a General, and said what came from my heart, like a son speaking to his father.
“General Washington,” I said, “I am crying and praying for your victory.
And I know that with the help of God we will win.
Today they are strong, but tomorrow they will fall because justice is with us.
We want to be free in this land . . .
They will fall and you will rise!”
General Washington pressed my hand.
“Thank you, soldier,” he said. He sat next to me on the ground, in front of the Menorah.
“What is this candlestick?” he asked.
I told him, “I brought it from my father’s house.
The Jews all over the world light candles tonight, on Chanukah, the holiday of the great miracle.”
The Chanukah candles lit up Washington’s eyes, and he asked joyfully, “You are a Jew from the nation of Prophets and you say we will be victorious?!”
“Yes sir,” I answered with conviction.
“We will win just like the Maccabees won, for ourselves and for all those who come here after us to build a new land and new lives.”
The General got up and his face was shining.
He shook my hand and disappeared in the darkness.
Apparently, the story did not end there.
On the contrary, this is what supposedly followed the following year:
I was sitting in my apartment in New York, on Broome Street, and the Chanukah candles were burning in my window.
Suddenly, I heard a knock at my door.
I opened the door and was shocked:
my General, President George Washington, was standing in the doorway, in all his glory.
“Behold the wonderful candle.
The candle of hope of the Jewish People,” he proclaimed joyously when he saw the Chanukah candles in my window.
He put his hand on my shoulder and said, “This candle and your beautiful words ignited a light in my heart that night.
Soon you will receive a Medal of Honor from the United States of America, together with all of the brave men of Valley Forge.
But tonight, please accept this token from me.”
He hung a golden medallion on my chest and shook my hand.
Tears filled my eyes and I couldn’t speak.
The President shook my hand again and departed . . .
I came to, as if from a wonderful dream, then I looked at the medallion and saw an etching of a beautiful Cha-nukah Menorah.
Under it was written: “A token of gratitude for the light of your candle—George Washington.”
It’s supposed to be a true story.
The question is, is it only a story, or is it a CHANUKAH story?
Was the light of the Menorah and the words of the soldier mere inspiration, or in fact a portal to a higher level of reality that ended up impacting the flow of history?
It may not be clear that this was the case in Valley Forge in 1775.
But it is clear that this has been the case other times in history, and continues to be true for those who know how to reveal, and not again conceal the Hidden Light of Creation.