Thoughts on the Weekly Parshah by HaRav Eliezer Chrysler
Formerly Rav of Mercaz Ahavat Torah, Johannesburg

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Vol. 9   No. 10

This issue is co-sponsored
by an anonymous donor
"in loving memory of our dear parents
Sol and Sarah Van Gelder z.l.
and our dear sister Jean Kaye z.l
l'iluy Nishmas
Mordechai ben Yitzchak
whose Yohrzeit will be on 2nd Teves

Parshas Miketz
(Shabbos Chanukah)

Paroh's Dream
(adapted from the P'ninim mi'Shulchan ha'G'ro)

"And Yosef said to Paroh, Paroh's dream is one, and G-d has informed Paroh what He is doing. The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven† good stalks are seven years. And the seven thin cows are seven years, and the seven lean stalks are seven years of famine" (41:25/26).

Why did Yosef speak about these seven years and those seven years without telling Paroh what they signified (until the very last set - "... and the seven lean stalks are seven years of famine")? And why did he avoid mentioning the seven years of plenty until later, asks the G'ro? Secondly, he asks, why did Yosef repeat the fact that G-d was telling him what He was about to do (here, and again in Pasuk 28).

And thirdly, why did he take the liberty of advising Paroh to choose a wise person? Who asked him for his advice?


To answer these questions, we have to first understand the error of Paroh's soothsayers that rendered them incapable of interpreting Paroh's dream correctly. Their mistake lay first and foremost in their preconceived notion that the king would only dream about something personal, as is the case with ordinary citizens. It never occurred to them that, as the reigning sovereign, he might dream about something concerning the kingdom over which he ruled. And because famine did not concern Paroh personally, the obvious interpretation that Yosef gave, eluded them. So they told him that he would father seven daughters, or capture seven nations ... .


Yosef on the other hand, knew that the dreams of a sovereign king are just as likely to concern his kingdom as himself. That is why he got it right first time. That is why he began his interpretation by stressing that "G-d has informed Paroh what He is doing" (even though it did not concern him personally).

However, afraid that Paroh would not listen to him when he heard an interpretation that did not concern him, he put it to him in a way that was more palatable. Yes, he said to him, the seven fat cows and ears of corn were seven years, but G-d's main objective was the thin cows, and even more, the seven lean ears of corn (depicting a bad harvest). As a result, although the dream did not concern Paroh directly, it did concern him indirectly, inasmuch as the onus of preparing the land for the devastating famine lay on him. Because G-d had designated him to save the population from starvation.

And only then did Yosef begin to describe the task on hand.

The reason that G-d informed Paroh in advance, he told him, was because seven years of plenty, preceding the seven years of famine, were about to begin. The seven years of plenty were not an intrinsic blessing, nor should they be treated as such, but they were a means to alleviate the famine that would follow.

And now that Paroh knew this, it would go without saying that he would appoint a man to oversee the preparations, since that is what any king would do under the circumstances. Indeed, that was the dream's main objective.


Discussing the details of the dream, the G'ro elaborates further. He explains why the dream needed to be repeated (once with the cows and once with the stalks of corn), despite the fact that it was one and the same dream, referring to the same fourteen years. The cows, he says, represented the plowing, and the stalks of corn, the reaping.


And what did Yosef mean, asks the G'ro, when he first declared that "the famine will destroy the land", and then, referring to the appointment of an officer, he added "and the land will not be destroyed by the famine"?

It seems that the famine itself was capable of destroying the land, and would indeed have done so, were it not for the years of plenty that preceded it. On the one hand, the plenty was incapable of improving the situation during the years of famine. On the other, it did succeed in preventing the famine from destroying the land.

And this is what the Torah is hinting when it describes how the thin cows swallowed the fat cows, yet the fact that they had done so was totally imperceptible. If swallowing the fat cows did not have any effect on them whatsoever, asks the G'ro, then what was the point of the exercise?

The answer is that although the swallowing had no positive effect, it did have the effect that the thin cows remained alive. And that is why Yosef added "And the land will not be cut off by the famine" (even though the corn of the seven good years were not able to effect the famine in a positive way).


And finally, when Yosef advised Par'oh to appoint officers to feed the people during the time of famine, he was merely interpreting the bad cows consumption of the good ones. Since, as we already explained, the famine would not destroy the good years, this must mean that they will eat the remains of the good years during the famine. Consequently, "Let Par'oh appoint officers", to ensure that corn is preserved for the bad years, when they arrive.


The Dinim of a Guest

(based on the Mishnah B'rurah
and Biy'ur Halachah, Si'man 677)

A Married Guest

1. Seeing as the basic obligation of Chazal is to light one light per household, when a man is away over Chanukah, his wife is obligated to light in his stead.


2. To avoid all problems, one is therefore advised, before traveling, to instruct his wife or another member of his family to light Chanukah-lights during his absence. Someone whose wife did light on his behalf is absolved from the intrinsic obligation to light elsewhere. The only obligation to light will then stem from 'Mar'is ha'Ayin, in which case he will be obligated to light without a B'rachah.


3. If he is sure that his wife is lighting on his behalf, but he wants to light nevertheless, he can have in mind not to be yotze with his wife's lighting, and light himself with a b'rachah wherever he is. It is preferable though, to light without a b'rachah, or to light (even with a b'rachah) early, at a time when he is certain that his wife has not yet lit. For example, assuming that she lights after Ma'ariv (as most people do) he lights before Ma'ariv, immediately after sunset (which many in Yerushalayim do anyway).


4. If he does not know for sure that his wife has lit on his behalf, then he is obligated to light wherever he is with a b'rachah. In the event that he arrives home without having lit elsewhere that night, he will be obligated to light at home with a b'rachah (even if he subsequently discovers that she did light), since presumably, that is what he had in mind to do.


5. According to some Poskim, where the Minhag is to light inside, a guest (even a married one), is obligated to light his own Menorah (without a b'rachah), because of Mar'is ha'Ayin. This is due to likelihood that not everyone knows that he is married or that his wife is lighting on his behalf, and will suspect him of not having lit. In such a case, it will not even help to pay a small amount to one's host for a portion in the oil (see 6.). And a guest who has his own room should certainly follow this opinion.


An Unmarried Guest

6. An unmarried guest who does not have anyone to light on his behalf, can if he wants, be yotze by giving his host a small coin for a share in his lights (or his host can transfer to him a small portion in the oil or in the candles). However, it is preferable that he lights separately (so that nobody suspects him of not lighting). This might not be necessary in the case of a Yeshivah-Bachur who eats permanently at his host's table.


7. In the event that the guest buys a share in his host's lights, the latter should add a little oil (over and above the minimum half-hour requirement) or use larger candles than he would normally do.


8. The Shulchan Aruch adds that if the guest has his own exit to the street, then he is obligated to light there anyway, because of Mar'is ha'Ayin. But nowadays he adds, when it is customary to light indoors, this is no longer applicable. It is unclear whether Mar'is ha'Ayin applies in Eretz Yisrael, even though, many light by the windows in full view of the street. The reason for this is because so many other Minhagim customs are practiced - some people light by the windows, some, by the front doors, others outside by the front entrance, and others again, still light inside in the dining-room (making it difficult to suspect anyone of not having lit).


A Casual Visitor

9. Someone who pays a casual visit to a friend who lives in the same town, is obligated to return home in time for lighting the Chanukah-lights. If however, he insists on remaining, he can ask his wife or another member of his family to light on his behalf.


10. This stringency does not however, apply to a person who travels with his family, to his parents or to his parents-in-law over Chanukah.


(adapted from the Ta'amei ha'Minhagim)

All in all, we kindle thirty-six lamps, says the B'nei Yisaschar, corresponding to the thirty-six hours that the original light of the Creation shone, before it was hidden.

It also corresponds he says, to the thirty-six Masechtos which contain the Gemara's explanation. But really, the two explanations are one and the same, for, as the commentaries explain, when G-d hid the original light, he hid it in the Torah.

The Greeks' main objective was to replace the Chochmah of the oral Torah with Hellenism, and the thirty-six lights reflect the victory of the Chashmona'im, because, as the Pasuk writes (albeit in connection with Purim) 'la'Yehudim Haysah Orah ... '!


New Wicks or Old

The Levush writes that not only is using the same wick a second time not considered a 'Bizuy Mitzvah' (degrading the Mitzvah), but it is even preferable, since used wicks tend to burn better (which is why a man kindles the Shabbos lights when preparing them for his wife on Erev Shabbos). This is in fact, how the Shulchan Aruch rules (at the end of Si'man 673).

The Kolbo disagrees. Firstly, he says, it requires a new wick to commemorate the new miracle each night; and secondly, because of 'Zeicher le'Mikdash' (seeing as they lit a new wick each night in the Beis Hamikdash, it is appropriate that we do likewise).


Havdalah versus Ner Chanukah

The reason that although in Shul, one lights Ner Chanukah before Havdalah, at home one does the reverse, is in case one forgets to recite Havdalah in the Amidah, and goes on to perform a prohibition by kindling before Havdalah. In Shul however, it is forbidden to change any Minhag, for whatever reason. Others ascribe this to the principle that 'whatever is more frequent takes precedence' (and Havdalah is the more common of the two).

The Mishnah B'rurah in Si'man 681 however, cites other opinions who disagree with the Ba'er Heitev (who cites the first opinion), and who give precedence to the Chanukah lights at home too. He therefore rules that in Shul one kindles the Chanukah-lights first, and at home, whichever Minhag one adopts is right.


Chanukas ha'Mizbei'ach

On Chanukah, we Lein the Parshah of 'Chanukas ha'Mizbe'ach' (the inauguration of the Mizbei'ach), because that is precisely what took place on Chanukah (as its name suggests), following a number of years of disuse, after the Mizbe'ach became tamei at the hands of the Greeks.

True, the Chanukas ha'Mizbe'ach in the Desert took place in Nisan. However, the Mishkan was completed on the twenty-fifth of Kislev, and it should have been celebrated then. Hashem postponed it until Nisan, the month on which Yitzchak Avinu was born. But He never withholds the dues of those who deserve them, so He promised that date (so to speak) that He would compensate it, and that a great Chanukah would be celebrated on it to make up for the initial deficiency. And the reason that the Leining on the first day begins with Birchas Kohanim, explains the Avuderham, is in order to give credit to the Kohanim, who were responsible for the great miracle.


Partners in the Miracle

On Chanukah, in 'Al ha'nisim', we say 'You quarreled their quarrels, and judged their judgements ... '; whereas on Purim, we say in the final b'rachah 'who quarreled our quarrels, and who judged our judgements ... .

This is because the miracle of Purim was the result of Teshuvah and Tefilah on the part of K'lal Yisrael. It is as if we were partners in the salvation. On Chanukah on the other hand, the salvation came entirely from above (notwithstanding the self-sacrifice of the Chashmona'im and their followers). The signs of Teshuvah that played such a major role in the Purim story, are not to be found in the story of Chanukah - Eizor Eliyahu.


Up Up, Down Down

... And in the same vein, the Korban Ani explains why on Chanukah, it is customary to spin a Dreidel, whereas on Purim one spins a Gregor. This is due to the fact he says, that on Chanukah they did not do Teshuvah, and the awakening came from above (so we spin from above). But on Purim, the awakening came from below, with their sincere Teshuvah. So we spin the gregor from below, too.


Why No Haftarah?

The reason that we do not Lein the Haftarah on Rosh Chodesh, Chanukah and Purim, is in order not to interfere with the people's work schedule, since they are all official work-days (despite the Minhag not to work on Purim).

On Tish'ah-be'Av on the other hand, we do Lein the Haftarah, because nobody may leave Shul until midday anyway, so nobody's work schedule will be upset.

And we Lein it at Minchah on fast-days, because it is conducive with the Teshuvah that is the call of the day, a reason that is not applicable to other days (No'am Megadim).


Parshah Pearls
Only Three Tzoros

"And Ya'akov their father said to them, you have bereaved me. Yosef is not here, Shimon is not here, and now you will take Binyamin. Everything has happened to me (olai hoyu kulonoh)" (42:36).

The word "kulonoh" appears one other time in T'nach [in 'Eishes chayil', at the end of Mishlei]). "ve'at olis al kulonoh" (and you rise above them all.

A hint, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, that the pain that Ya'akov felt on the imminent loss of Binyamin rose above the combined tzoros of Yosef and Shimon together. The reason for this is because he was the third son, and, as Chazal say in Chulin (95b), once one fails with three sons, one has a chazakah for failing. Indeed, this Pasuk is the Gemara's source for the principle (as if the Torah was saying that this was the final blow, the last straw that broke the camel's back), that would result in a chain of tzoros connected with his sons.


The G'ro asks what the Pasuk is coming to teach us, since everyone knows that a father suffers terribly at the loss of a child.

To explain this, he refers to the incident when Rifkah sent Ya'akov in to Yitzchak for the blessings. When he expressed his fears that his father might feel him, and upon discovering that he was not Eisav, curse him instead of blessing him, she replied, 'Your curse will be upon me (not you) (Olai kileloscha b'ni)'! Now why did she say that? If she wanted to assure Ya'akov that Yitzchak would not curse him, then she should have said so directly?

The answer is that in her words lay something deeper than meets the eye. What she was telling her son was, that she knew (with Ru'ach ha'Kodesh) that he would suffer three major tzoros, Eisav, Lavan and Yosef (whose first letters spell "Olai". In that case, she hinted to him, he did not need to worry about his father cursing him, since it was not included in the list. Here too, Ya'akov Avinu uses the same word "Olai hoyu kulonoh". What he was saying therefore, was in relation to what his mother had said. The Tzaros of Eisav, Lavan and Yosef had already occurred, and according to his mother's promise, he was not destined to suffer any more tzoros. 'The Olai that my mother referred to has already terminated', he was saying. So why was he now in the process of losing Shimon and Binyamin?

However, when Shimon and Binyamin were returned to him safe and sound, he saw in retrospect that his mother had not erred. Indeed, the seventeen Tzoros-free years that he was about to spend in Egypt until his death would turn out to be among the happiest years of his life (see Ba'al ha'Turim at the beginning of 'Vayechi').


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