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

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Vol. 13   No. 10

This issue is sponsored
in loving memory of
ha'Chaver Simchah ben ha'Chaver Mosh Hain z.l.
on his ninth Yohrzeit
and of
ha'Rav Zalman Yosef ben Aryeh Leib Sharfman z.l.
who was Niftar on the 22nd Kislev

Parshas Miketz
Incorporating Chanukah supplement

Diplomatic Interpretation
Adapted from the P'ninim mi'Shulchan ha'Gro

"And Yosef said to Paroh, 'Paroh's dream is one. What G-d is doing He has told Paroh'. The seven good cows are seven years ... . And the seven lean and bad cows are seven years ... they are seven years of famine. This is the thing ... what G-d is doing He has shown Paroh" (25-28).

These Pesukim contain a number of difficulties, says the G'ro.

Why did Yosef explain the purpose of the bad cows first (although they appeared last in the dream, and would be the last to come to fruition). He did indeed begin with the good cows, and went as far as to explain that they represented seven years, but stopped short of saying that those years would be good ones? That he only mentions in the following Pasuk (29).

Secondly, why did he repeat the fact that G-d was showing Paroh what He was about to do (albeit in a slightly different format)?

Thirdly, what prompted Yosef to advise Paroh to appoint an officer to organize the storage and distribution of corn, when the king had not asked for his opinion on the matter?

And a side difficulty, which the G'ro sill resolve in the course of his explanation is why Par'oh needed to dream his dream twice, once in connection with the cows, and once in connection with the corn?


Let us first take a look at the interpretation given to Paroh by his interpreters. They claimed that he would father seven daughters but they would all die, or that he would capture seven lands but that the enemy would recapture them. The royal interpreters went wrong in that they assumed that the king's dreams, like anybody else's, would be personal. So it did not occur to them (as obvious as it may seem) that the dream was referring to years of plenty and years of famine, as what did that have to do with the king personally?

But Yosef realized that a king's dreams affect his kingdom, without necessarily affecting him directly, and that explains his opening words "G-d is informing Paroh what He is about to do" ... What He is going to do in the world, though not necessarily to Paroh. Only Yosef was afraid that, unless the dream affected him personally, at least to some degree, he would not accept his interpretation. So he first began with the bad years, a hint that the main purpose of the dream was indeed the famine. And he then repeated what he had already said, that G-d was showing Paroh His plans, beginning with seven good years, which were only in preparation for the bad ones. And that was something which affected Paroh directly, since in his capacity as king, he was responsible for the good of his people, and besides, he was the one who would be able to prepare for the famine during the years of plenty. That is why Yosef continued with the advice to appoint an officer to take charge of the preparations, the very essence of the dream, combining its national (or international) ramifications with Paroh's personal connection.

And as for the dual character of the dream, says the G'ro, that was not two dreams but one, exactly as Yosef told Paroh, only the cows symbolized the ploughing, and the corn, the reaping, both of which would be so deeply affected by the forthcoming events.


We just discussed the three things that comprised Paroh's dream, the years of plenty, the years of famine and the appointment of a Parnes (a charge d'affairs). The Or ha'Chayim refers to the Gemara in B'rachos (55a), which lists these three as the things that G-d personally announces. In that case, he explains, not only were the years of plenty and the famine announced in the dream, but Yosef's appointment was too. True, his name is not specifically mentioned there. Yosef realized however, that seeing as G-d had withheld the information from the best brains in the country, and had informed him, and him alone, it was clear as daylight that this was inherent in the dream (particularly, bearing in mind the story with the butler, and the role that he played in the entire episode).

From the fact that the thin cows swallowed the fat ones, the Or ha'Chayim explains, Yosef understood that the sustenance during the years of famine would come directly from the bountiful years, and from the fact that G-d informed Paroh what was going to happen, he learned that Paroh must take action to organize this. And all this was vital, he explains, because without positive preparation, the seven subsequent years of plenty would have caused the people a. to eat, drink and be merry, and b. to cease all work in the field, as they would have considered it unnecessary to do so.

Yes, it was crucial for somebody to take charge of those preparation and it was clear as daylight that that somebody was Yosef.

Paroh, it seems, arrived at the same conclusion.

* * *

Parshah Pearls

To Pass, to Stand and to Stay

"And behold seven other (lean) cows came up after them ... and they stood beside the (fat) cows ... And the (lean) cows ate the healthy-looking ones" (41:3/4).

The Torah hints here at the lesson that Chazal derive from the opening Pasuk in Tehilim, observes the S'fas Emes. Based on that Pasuk, Chazal first compare the Yeitzer-ha'Ra to a casual passer-by, then (unless one prevents him from stopping) to someone who has stopped to watch, and finally (if one does not chase him away) to a Balabos who has come to stay.

Here too, the seven lean cows (with their connotation of evil, symbolizing the Yeitzer-ha'Ra) first "came up", then they "stood", and finally, they "ate up" their hosts.


Not All on One Stalk

"And behold, seven ears of grain came up on one stalk, healthy and good. And behold, seven thin ears of grain, beaten by the east wind, came up after them." (41:5-6).

Why, asks the K'li Yakar, does the Pasuk not add "on one stalk" in the second Pasuk (with regard to the thin ears)?

The answer is that the one stalk symbolized the fact that the years were consecutive. Consequently, regarding the seven good years, which were consecutive, the Torah writes "on one stalk". It does not do so with regard to the seven bad years however, because, as Chazal explain, the famine stopped after two years, when Ya'akov arrived in Egypt, and only resumed after his death.


The Cows and the Corn

"And it was in the morning (after Paroh had dreamt his second dream concerning the grain), that his spirit beat inside him" (41:8).

The first dream (about the cows) did not bother him unduly because, he figured, 'If there is no meat, let them eat corn.' It was the second dream, which left Egypt without even corn, that agitated him (Sifrei D'rush).


Opportunity Lost

"And the chief butler spoke to Paroh saying ... " (41:9).

The question is asked why the butler did not approach Yosef (in jail) on the quiet, and repeat to him the king's dream, as if it was his own, and then, after Yosef interpreted the dream (as the butler must have known he would) present it to the king in his own name? This would have boosted his prestige (and presumably his pocket) no end.

The butler, answers the Ohel Ya'akov, knew that the king's dream would not have affected the king alone, but the entire kingdom (which would not have been the case had the dream been his own), so to convey the dream as if it was his own would have elicited an incorrect interpretation.

Interestingly, the chief butler was able to distinguish between a personal dream and a royal one, when that same distinction seems to have eluded the king's own interpreter (see main article). But maybe the interpreters' ineptitude was due to G-d's intervention, so that Yosef should step in and rise to power.

It seems to me however, that the butler might have had another reason for not playing that game. Assuming that he would have pulled it off, the king would have appointed him as an official interpreter. Now imagine what would have happened the next time the king had a dream!


Why Yosef Shaved

" ... and they rushed him from the pit and he shaved" (41:12).

'In honour of the king', comments Rashi.

And if not for the honour of the king would it not have been necessary to shave, after such a long stay in prison, asks the Toras Moshe?

Only the Gemara in Rosh-Hashanah (10) states that Yosef was released from prison on Rosh-Hashanah. In that case, he would not, under normal circumstances, have been permitted to shave. So Rashi concludes that it must have been in honour of the king, and, as the Shach rules in Yoreh-De'ah (Si'man 198), shaving is permitted for a D'var Mitzvah.


Alternatively, I would suggest, Rashi's comment is based on the fact that, if not for the aspect of Kavod Malchus, why does the Torah find it necessary to mention the fact that he shaved?


The Chareidi Mensh!

"Is there another one like this with the spirit of G-d in him?" (41:38).

Paroh thought (like many secularists do) that a true G-d-fearing Jew is inevitably a 'Batlan', a man whose head is in the clouds and who knows nothing about worldly affairs. Presumably, he also walks around looking like a 'sh'loch'.

Imagine his surprise when the G-d fearing Chareidi Jew, Yosef walked in ... well-groomed, beard trimmed, and fully conversant in matters that concerned the wellbeing of the state. No wonder he proclaimed in amazement 'Is there another specimen like this, so neat, so precise and so au fait with it all, even though he has the spirit of G-d in him?' (R. Bunim from P'shischa).


In Spite of it All

" ... because Hashem has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction" (41:52).

Here was Yosef, highly successful, widely esteemed. Yet he refers to Egypt as the land of his affliction, comments Abarbanel.

Indeed it was, he explains. For Yosef to be outside Eretz Yisrael and so far away from his beloved parental home, was a terrible suffering, in spite of it all.


To Plead Guilty

"And the brothers said to one another 'But we are guilty for what we did to our brother ... And he turned his face from them and he wept ... " (42:21).

As long as a person acknowledges that he sinned and confesses to having done so, it is possible to forgive him. But as long as he proclaims his innocence, this is not possible.

When the brothers initially responded to Yosef's accusation that they were spies, by insisting that they were innocent this merely aroused Yosef's ire; but now that Yosef heard them discussing their guilt at having sold him, he reacted with pity and compassion, says R. David from Z'biltuv.

Interesting, is it not, that in western law-courts, somebody who wants to get off with a lighter sentence, pleads guilty, and he gets it?


Enough is Enough

"And Ya'akov their father said to them 'You have bereaved me. Yosef is no longer here, Shimon is no longer here and you now wish to take Binyamin. All these Tzaros have befallen me!' " (42:36).

What was Ya'akov trying to say with this last phrase? Who does not know the deep pain a father experiences when he loses his children?

The P'ninim mi'Shulchan ha'G'ro explains it like this. When Ya'akov was afraid to go in to his father to be blessed in lieu of his brother Eisav, for fear that his father might discover his trickery and issue him with a curse instead of a blessing, Rivkah responded with the words 'Olai kileloscho b'ni'. She promised him that if there would be a curse, then she, the perpetrator of the trick, would be the one to receive it, and not him. However, if we are to understand her words literally, then what she ought to have simply promised him was that his father would not curse him. What she seems to have meant, explains the G'ro, was that he would suffer no more Tzaros, beyond the three hinted in the word 'Olai' which is spelt 'Ayin', 'Lamed' and 'Yud', the first letters of 'Eisav', 'Lavan' and 'Yosef'. Other than that, his mother was telling him, he would not suffer any major Tzaros, in which case, he did not need to fear his father's curse.

And that was the gist of Ya'akov's complaint here, "Olai hayu kulonoh". Once he lost Yosef, "Olai" (Eisav, Lavan and Yosef) had all passed, so why , he wanted to know, was he now losing Shimon and Binyamin as well?

It was only later, after it transpired that the troubles with Shimon and Binyamin were short-lived, that Ya'akov realized that his mother had been right after all.


'A Diviner Like Me'!

"Did you not know that a man like me practices divination?" (44:15).

Yosef was saying, 'You cannot argue that you stole my goblet in order to prevent me from practicing divination, which is forbidden according to your religion (like Rachel did when she stole her father's images). Because you surely must have realized that a man of my caliber will have no problem with finding a replacement with which to divine' (Meshech Chochmah).

* * *

Stories of Chanukah

Antiyochus Epiphanes
(Part 2)
Adapted from Kol Agados Yisrael

The End of a Rasha

At that time, Matisyahu the son of Yochanan Kohen Gadol arose together with his five sons to help Yisrael to fight the evil Antiyochus. They attacked his army and they won the first battle. But Matisyahu, who was already extremely old, knew that his end had come. So he called his five sons to his bedside. He told them that he was about to die, and ordered them to continue fighting on behalf of their afflicted brothers, and not to give up until they had driven the enemy from the land. They promised him that they would indeed do so. Matisyahu died and was buried in the burial plot of his righteous ancestors.

After the conclusion of the seven days of mourning, Yehudah, the most strongest and most able leader of the brothers, led the army to war against the Greeks, whom he dealt a serious blow, routing the army and forcing them to flee.

When Antiyochus heard about it, he was furious, and he sent another huge army to attack Yerushalayim. Once again, G-d delivered the Greeks into the hands of Yehudah, and they fled in all directions, leaving many dead on the battlefield. When Antiyochus heard about the latest defeat, his anger knew no bounds, and he swore that he would attack Yerushalayim with a vast army, including an enormous contingent of cavalry, and that this time he would personally go at the head of the troops, and would wipe Yisrael off the face of the map, so that their name would never be mentioned again.

True to his word, he opened the royal treasury, took out silver, gold and precious stones and hired an army 'as vast as the sand by the seashore', which he led against Yehudah. However, on the way, G-d struck him with a severe plague of boils, which covered his body from head to toe. There was not one inch of his body that was not affected, and to make matters worse, he also suffered stomach cramps. Antiyochus' pains grew progressively worse, yet he did not humble himself before G-d, nor did it enter his mind to mend his ways. Quite to the contrary, he continued to insist that he would wipe Yisrael from the face of the map, until its memory would be forgotten forever. The suggestion that he return home to recuperate, and attack Yehudah once he had recovered from his wounds, only served to infuriate him even more, and he ordered his officers to advance on Yerushalayim, 'because', he said 'I am the almighty, the sea and the land are mine, and who can stop me from doing whatever I please? One word from me,' he ranted, 'and my servants will turn the sea into land and the land into sea'.

His chariot was standing directly in front of one of his war elephants, and no sooner had he finished speaking, than the elephant suddenly split the air with a trumpeting sound, which caused the frightened horses to prance wildly up and down. This in turn, caused the chariot on which Antiyochus was standing to overturn, landing on him and breaking every bone in his already plagued and aching body. The boils that covered him burst open, and his body stank like a carcass lying in an open field. His servants attempted to pick him up and carried him on their shoulders, since he was no longer able to sit in the chariot. The stench however, got progressively worse, and it was not long before they could bear it no longer, so they threw him on the ground and fled.

Antiyochus finally realized that the Hand of G-d had turned against him, and he humbled himself before Him. Finally he announced that G-d was righteous with regard to everything that had happened to him and that he had received his just desert!'

And when his pains grew worse, he swore that if G-d would heal his terrible wounds, then he would go to Yerushalayim and fill it with silver and gold, and spread purple throughout the city. He swore that he would open all the treasuries that he and his predecessors had filled and dedicate all their contents to the G-d who dwelt there. He would circumcise himself and travel from one nation to another, announcing that there was no G-d like the G-d of Yisrael.

But G-d did not accept his prayer, nor did He harken to his pleas. Antiyochus' flesh melted away, his bones rotted and his intestines poured out onto the ground. And so this wicked man died an agonizing death, in shame and disgrace, in a foreign land.

* * *

Chanukah Supplement

This section is sponsored l'iluy Nishmos
Ya'akov (Jack) and Menuchah (Marjorie) Sher z.l.
by their grandsons

What's In A Name?

Adapted from ha'Mo'adim ba'Halachah

A third reason for the name 'Chanukah', and the one which seems the best-suited, is that suggested by the Maharsho in Shabbos. He cites the Gemara in Avodah-Zarah (52b), which informs us that the Chashmona'im hid the bricks of the Mizbei'ach, which the Greeks had broken, and were therefore forced to construct a replacement. And the new Mizbei'ach required consecration ('Chanukah'). The Ramban at the beginning of Be'ha'aloscha, already alludes to the Chanukas ha'Mizbei'ach of the Chashmona'im, and Rashi in Megilah (30b) gives it as the reason for the Minhag to Lein Parshas Nesi'im (in Noso) on Chanukah. But it is the Maharsha who suggests it as the reason for the name 'Chanukah'. It later transpired that the Or Zaru'a, which had not yet been printed in the time of the Maharsha, already preceded him.


The Chanukas ha'Mizbei'ach is mentioned in Megilas Ta'anis, which adds the following 'And why did they see fit to fix eight days of Chanukah? What happened was that in the days of the kingdom of Greece, the Chashmona'im entered the Heichal; they rebuilt the Mizbei'ach and plastered it with lime, and they manufactured new vessels for it. And all this took them eight days'. Incidentally, this offers a new and rather novel answer to the Beis Yosef's Kashya (why eight days and not seven?). According to Megilas Ta'anis' recording of events, the Maharsha's explanation is particularly approproiate.

The K'naf Ra'ananah queries the Maharsha however, based on the opinion that the initial Kedushah of Eretz Yisrael was established once and for all. That being the case, he asks, the destruction of the Mizbei'ach and its reconstruction would have been no different than a stone that became invalidated, and which needed to be replaced. After all, the Mizbei'ach per se was attached to the ground, and as such, it would retain its sanctity, due to its location, which remained unchanged. It is obvious, he argues, that in the latter case, the Mizbei'ah would not have needed to be re-consecrated, once the stone was replaced. In that case, a new Mizbei'ach, in the same sanctified location, should not have required consecration either?

The Mo'adim ba'Halachah however, disagrees. In his opinion, rebuilding the Mizbei'ach would definitely have needed consecration, (even if replacing one new stone would not). But it is not even clear, he maintains, that after replacing one of the Mizbei'ach's stones, the Mizbei'ach would not require consecrating (seeing as, in any event, until the stone was added, the Mizbei'ach would have been Pasul)!


And yet a fourth reason for the name 'Chanukah' (although it is really an extension of the Maharsha's explanation) is given by R. Yitzchak Aizek from Slonim, who cites a dispute between the Ramban and the Ba'al ha'Ma'or on the Gemara in Avodah-Zarah (prior to the Gemara that we cited earlier) 'And the wild hoards came and defiled it (ve'chileluhah)', which Rashi explains as follows: 'When the gentiles entered the Heichal, its vessels went out to Chulin and became Hefker. The gentiles therefore became the stones' new owners, and when they subsequently used them for idolatrous purposes, they became invalidated (and had to be replaced)'.

The Ba'al ha'Mo'or maintains that it was only the stones of the Mizbei'ach that could be defiled and invalidated in this way, but not the K'lei Shareis (the holy administering vessels). The Ramban disagrees, and R. Yitzchak Aizek supports his opinion with a Gemara in Nedarim (62a), which specifically states that after Beltshatzar used the holy vessels (with direct reference to the drinking vessels), they became disqualified.

In that case, it became necessary to consecrate, not only the Mizbei'ach, but also either the new Keilim that they had to manufacture for the Beis-Hamikdash, or the old ones that they melted down and re-made. Either way, they would need to be consecrated by being used for the Avodah, as the Rambam rules in Hilchos K'lei Mikdash (1:13). And that was the consecration that took place at that time. Incidentally, this explanation is also inherent in the words of Megilas Ta'anis that we quoted earlier.

* * *

Chanukah Thoughts
Adapted from the B'nei Yisaschar quoting the Rokei'ach

Nine Days of Chanukah

The B'nei Yisaschar uses the Ro'kei'ach's observation that the Torah in Parshas Emor deliberately juxtaposed the Parshah of the Menorah and that of Sukos, to hint to us that Chanukah must be celebrated for eight days like Sukos, to answer the Beis-Yosef's Kashya (why they incorporated the first day, the twenty-fifth of Kislev, as part of Chanukah, even though no miracle occurred on that day). Due to the above juxtaposition, he explains, the Chachamim of that time understood that this was the Torah's wish. So they took the hint and complied.

Moreover, he continues, this also helps us to understand why they waited until the following year to institute Chanukah, rather than doing so there and then. They knew already about the above juxtaposition, only, seeing as the first day was not an intrinsic part of the miracle, they thought that perhaps the oil would burn for nine days, and that the eight days would begin only from the second day, on the twenty-sixth of Kislev. And it was only when the oil had lasted for eight days (and not nine) that they were able to conclude, in time for the following year, that the first day was an intrinsic part of the miracle, and that Chanukah would begin on the twenty-fifth of Kislev.


Hallel and Hoda'ah in Letters and Words

'The first letters of 'Zayis Zoch Kosis La'mo'or Leha'alos' add up to 94, equivalent to the numerical value of 'Hallel ve'Hodo'oh'.

He also writes that the paragraph 'bi'Yemei Matisyahu ... ' contains 125 words, which is equivalent to that of 'Kohanim'. The B'nei Yisaschar however, points out that, according to our text, it contains 89 words, up to and including 'le'hodos' ('to thank', which is confined to Chanukah), and the last three words 'u'le'Hallel le'Shimcho ha'Godol', teach us that we are also required to recite on Chanukah the Hallel that we recite on other Yamim-Tovim.

With this we can understand why, although the Gemara, when describing the character of Chanukah, writes that it is in order to say Hallel and Hoda'ah, the text that we say inverts the words Hodo'oh first, and Hallel afterwards. The full text, including the last three words, now adds up to 92, the numerical value of 'Hallel ve'Hodo'oh'.

Together with the 16 words in 'Al ha'Nisim', we now have a total of 108 words, which is equivalent to that of the Ribuy of "Tov" (in the Pasuk in Bereishis, describing the original light "ha'Or ki tov"). The 'Ribuy' of "Tov" (which is spelt 'Tes', 'Vav' 'Beis') is 9x6x2, which equals 108. And the goodness of that light (which clearly functions in the Chanukah Menorah) is that it saves us from Gehinom (whose numerical value is also 108).


The Thirty-six Lights

The Rokei'ach also explains that the thirty-six lights that we kindle on Chanukah correspond to the 36 hours of light that Adam ha'Rishon experienced before it became dark on Motza'ei Shabbos, as the P'sikta teaches us. And these thirty-six hours are hinted by the four 'Tagin' (crowns) on the 'Tes' of the word "tov" (that we just quoted in the previous pearl). 'Tes' equals 9, and the 4 crowns signify multiplication, so that 9x4=36.

So you see, he says, how the Mitzvah of Ner Chanukah is connected to the original light, that was then hidden (see Rashi Bereishis 1:4). And this explains why the oil burned for eight days with a supernatural light.


The Menorah hints to the Chochmas ha'Torah, and, the Gemara says in Yuma (33b) "Someone who wants to become wise should turn to the south. That is why, when lighting in Shul, we place the Chanukah Menorah on the southern wall of the Shul. Consequently, when we light the Menorah each year, we are exposed to a great relevation of the deeper aspects of Torah. And that in turn, explains why this Yom-Tov is referred to as Chanukah, because it is a taste (an inauguration) of the great light that was hidden at the time of the creation, and will be revealed to the Tzadikim in full when the fourth Galus comes to an end with the coming of Mashi'ach. A little of that light, it seems, was already revealed with the termination of the third Galus, which occurred with the downfall of the Greeks in the days of the Chashmono'im, to shed a little light during the dark days of the fourth Galus.

And this also explains the Gemara in Shabbos (23b) 'Someone who is accustomed to light Ner Chanukah will have sons who are Talmidei-Chachamim (though according to others it refers to Shabbos) .

The B'nei Yisaschar also points out that the words 'Or', Ner' and 'Me'oros' appear a total number of 36 times in the Torah.



In the dream that Daniel interpreted for Nevuchadnetzar, gold symbolized Bavel, silver, Persia and Medes, and copper (nechoshes), Greece. The Rokei'ach therefore points out that Parshas Terumah ends with the word 'Nechoshes', and that of Tetzaveh begins with the oil for the Menorah, a rather neat hint that in the days of the Greeks, they would introduce a Mitzvah that was connected with kindling a lamp. The opening words in Tetzaveh are "And you shall command the B'nei Yisrael, and they shall take to you pure olive oil ... ". The future tense of the command points to a command that would take place later, and indeed in Parshas Emor the Torah begins the Parshah of pure olive oil for the Menorah with the words "Tzav es B'nei Yisrael", which has the same numerical value as 'bi'Yemei Matisyahu ben Yochanan' (1,100).

And do you know what, says the b'nei Yisaschar, "Nechoshes" itself spells the first letters of 'Ner Chanukah Shom Tadliku'.

* * *

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