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

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Vol. 15   No. 10

This issue is sponsored jointly
in loving memory of
הרב שמחה בן חהבר משה היין ז"ל
on his eleventh Yohrzeit and of
הרב זלמן יוסף בן הרב אריה לייב שרפמן ז"ל
who was Niftar כ"ב כסלו
and l'iluy Nishmas
ר' מרדכי בן יצחק ז"ל
whose Yohrzeit is ב' טבת
by his son

Parshas Mikeitz
(Shabbos Chanukah)

Zos Chanukah & Menasheh
(Part 1)

The B'nei Yisaschar, discussing the custom to refer to the last day of Chanukah as 'Zos Chanukah', cites his oft-mentioned premise that Chanukah refers to the preparation (training) for the coming of the Mashi'ach. He explains that this concept is particularly relevant to the last day of Chanukah, as he now sets out to explain.

The Leining on that day begins with the eighth day of the inauguration of the Mishkan, which corresponds to the Nasi of Menasheh, and ends with "so he made the Menorah" (which is surely no coincidence).

In Tehilim (80:3), the Pasuk writes "before Efrayim, Binyamin and Menasheh, arouse Your strength and go and save us".

One wonders at first as to why the Navi lists specifically these three tribes (comprising the children of Rachel) here, and why, now that he does, he changes their regular order, listing Binyamin in between the sons of Yosef?


In answer to these questions, the B'nei Yisaschar refers to the Chazal, who say that although the Mishkan was completed in Kislev, G-d ordered Moshe to postpone its inauguration until Nisan, the month in which Yitzchak was born. This automatically denigrates the month of Kislev. But He made up for this in the days of the Chashmona'im, when the inauguration of the second Beis-Hamikdash took place (as we shall see shortly).

Similarly, the first Beis-Hamikdash was completed in Mar-Cheshvan (also known as the month of 'Bul'), but it was postponed until the month of Tishri (the following year), which is also known as the month of Eisanim (the strong ones). Like Kislev in the time of the Mishkan, it was now Mar-Cheshvan that was put to shame, but, as the Yalkut explains, this will be rectified in the time of Mashi'ach, when the third Beis-Hamikdash will be inaugurated in the month of Mar-Cheshvan.

It now transpires that the months of inauguration of all three Batei-Mikdash are those which correspond to the sons of Rachel, as we shall now explain.

Following the order of the 'Flags' in the desert, says the Zohar Chadash, the months of Nisan, Iyar & Sivan correspond to the tribes of Yehudah, Yisachar & Zevulun; Tamuz, Av & Elul, to those of Reuven, Shimon & Gad; Tishri, Mar-Cheshvan & Kislev correspond to Efrayim, Menasheh & Binyamin; whereas Teives, Sh'vat & Adar correspond to Dan, Asher & Naftali. Consequently, the inauguration of the first Beis-Hamikdash (which corresponds to Avraham, who called it 'a mountain'), was inaugurated in Tishri, the month that corresponds to Efrayim; the inauguration of the second Beis-Hamikdash (which corresponds to Yitzchak, who called it 'a field') was inaugurated by the Chashmona'im in Kislev, the month that corresponds to Binyamin (the inauguration that took place following its original completion, the B'nei Yisaschar points out, was not the real thing, because the people remained subservient to the kings of Persia and Medes and subsequently Greece, and it was only with the victory of Chanukah that they were free of the yoke of the nations, notwithstanding the fact that this freedom was to be short-lived). And the inauguration of the third Beis-Hamikdash (which corresponds to Ya'akov, who called it 'a house') will take place in the month of Mar-Cheshvan, which corresponds to Menasheh. So we see how the inaugurations of all three Batei-Mikdash are connected to the months that correspond to the children of Rachel, the B'nei Yisaschar concludes, and he cites the Pasuk in Tehilim "He places the barren one of the house (with reference to Rachel) a happy mother of children".


Now the inauguration of the third Beis-Hamikdash will correspond to Ya'akov, whose Midah is Emes (the middle Midah, as it were - that strikes the balance between Chesed and Gevurah, which is why it is also known as Tiferes [glory]), which is everlasting (as hinted in the letters that comprise it, forming as they do, the first, last and middle letters of the alphabet, giving it a broad base on which to stand). Consequently, it too (the third Beis-Hamikdash), will last forever.

And it is because the third Beis-Hamikdash will correspond to Ya'akov that its inauguration will take place in Mar-Cheshvan, the month that lies in the middle, between the two previous inaugurations (Tishri and Kislev), in accordance with his Midah, as we just explained. And it is for the same reason that Mar-Cheshvan is also referred to as the month of 'Bul', as we already mentioned. Because just as Emes comprises the first, the middle and the last letters of the alphabet, the letters 'Bul' comprises the first, the middle and the last letters of the Torah ('Beis' - of "Bereishis"; 'Vav - of "Gachon" and 'Lamed' of "Yisrael"). In fact, the first Beis-Hamikdash too, was completed in Mar-Cheshvan, only G-d instructed them to postpone it, so that it should take place in Tishri, as we explained. The inauguration of Mar-Cheshvan was destined to take place only in the future, in the time of Mashi'ach, in the month that corresponded to the middle child of Rachel (Menasheh). And there is another sound reason as to why it is essential for the third inauguration to take place in this month. It is because it is in that very month that Yisrael completed their rebellion against their king, David ha'Melech, as we find in Shmuel (1 12:32) "And Yaravam initiated a Yom-Tov in the eighth month (Mar-Cheshvan) which he concocted in his heart [the word "mi'libo", contains the same letters as 'mi'Bul' - from the month of 'Bul']). They announced there 'See your house David!", so it is befitting that they rectify their sin by inaugurating the third Beis-Hamikdash in the days of Mashi'ach ben David, "And seek (then) Hashem and David their King" in the month of Mar-Cheshvan.

* * *

Parsha Pearls

(Based on the Da'as Zekeinim mi'Ba'alei Tosfos & the Rosh)

Hashem's Way

" … and Paroh dreamt" (41:1).

Hashem, says the Da'as Zekeinim M.T., does not do things the way that we do them. We wound with a knife and heal with a plaster; Hashem strikes with a knife and heals with a knife. He struck Yosef with a dream, and He healed him with a dream.


No Indication

"And he placed me in jail, me and the chief baker" (41:10).

Why, asks the Da'as Zekeinim M.T., does the Pasuk see fit to insert the word "me" twice?

Citing R. Yehudah ha'Kohen, he answers like this. What the chief butler was telling Paroh was that he and the chief baker received exactly the same treatment, and that there was nothing in their sentences that might have given Yosef the least hint that the one would be restored to his post, whilst the other would be sentenced to death, as he predicted.


It Happened on Rosh Hashanah

"And he changed his clothes (Vayechaleif simlosav) and he came before Paroh" (41:14).

It was on Rosh Hashanah that Yosef was taken out of jail, say Chazal, and this is hinted, says the Da'as Zekeinim M.T. in the words "vayechalef simlosav", which has the same numerical value as "be'Chad be'Tishri" (on the first of Tishri), despite the fact that 'simlosav' is missing a 'Vav'.


Rakos & Dakos

"And behold seven other cows … thin and very badly shaped … " (41:19).

Sometimes the Torah writes about cows that were 'rakos' and sometimes it refers to them as 'dakos'. How do we know which is which?

The Da'as Zekeinim M.T. explains that wherever the Torah uses the word "ro'os (in the same phrase) the word is "rakos", and wherever it doesn't, the word is "dakos", making it easy to remember which is which. And the Si'man for this is the Pasuk in Bereishis (6:5) "RAK RA kol ha'yom".


Nevuchadnetzar Gets Angry

"And it was in the morning, that his (Paroh's) spirit was agitated" (41:8).

This was because he did not know the interpretation of the dream. Based on a slight change of wording in Melachim, Rashi explains that Nevuchadnetzar was even more agitated than Paroh, because he forgot the actual dream, too.

In that case, asks the Rosh, how will we explain the fact that the latter was infuriated with his wise men (to the point of ordering them all to be executed), but not the former? Surely, one would have expected Paroh to be more angry with his courtiers for not interpreting the dream that he related to them, than Nevuchadnetzar with his, for not being able to tell him what he had dreamt?

And he answers by citing Chazal, who attribute Nevuchadnetzar's anger, not to the fact that his wise men were unable to answer him, but to a piece of bad advice that they had given him in the past, which led to the current situation.

And he bases the Chazal on the Pasuk in Daniel (2:11), which states "ve'ochran lo isi, di yechavinah Kodam Malka". Translated simply, this means that 'there was no-one who was able to relate it (the dream) to the King', but which, by changing the 'Ch' in "ve'ochran" to a 'Hey', interpret it to mean that 'Aharon was not there … ', with reference to the Urim ve'Tumim (which the Kohen Gadol wore, and) which could be consulted to decipher things such as hidden dreams. And this reminded Nevuchadnetzar that it was following the advice of these very same wise men that had led him to destroy the Beis-Hamikdash which housed the Shechinah, together with its holy vessels (or to kill the Kohanim who were fit to wear the Urim ve'Tumim, as the Da'as Zekeinim M.T. explains). And that was why he blamed them for his current predicament, and ordered them to be put to death.


And why, you may well ask, did Hashem cause Nevuchadnetzar to forget the dream as well as its interpretation, asks the Rosh, but Paroh, only the interpretation?

The answer, he says, lies in the fact that it had become necessary to raise the status of Daniel (by providing him with all the necessary information to remind the King of his dream and to interpret it). And this, in turn, was necessary, because Nevuchadnetzar was currently angry with the Jewish exiles, who found it abominable to prostrate themselves before the image of the sun, as he expected them to.

Paroh, on the other hand, was not angry with Yosef's family (indeed, they were not there for him to be angry with); so it sufficed for Yosef to be able to interpret his dream, without having to remind him of its content.


Divine Justice

"We are slaves to my master, both us and the one in whose possession the goblet was found" (44:16).

The Pasuk suggests that first and foremost, the brothers would be slaves, and that Binyamin would be a slave too. But surely, comments the Rosh, the Pasuk should have inverted the order, beginning with Binyamin, who was guilty of the theft, and incorporating the brothers, who might somehow be considered accessories to the crime?

Not at all, he answers. When Yehudah made this statement, he was referring to his previous statement "G-d has found the sin of your servants", and what he meant was that, first and foremost, G-d was punishing them for having sold their brother into slavery, and that they were therefore prepared to become slaves to Yosef. And if, at the same time, Binyamin was incorporated in the punishment, so be it.

And this explains why later, when Yosef insisted that the brothers return home, and Binyamin alone remain as his slave, Yehudah rejected his offer and threatened to retaliate. If the punishment was Divine retribution for the sin of the sale of Yosef, that they could accept. But if it was the personal whim of Yosef (which it would have had to be, if he wanted only Binyamin to serve him), then they would were ready to object in no uncertain terms.

* * *


"And Ya'akov their father said to them 'You have bereaved me; Yosef, you said, a wild beast devoured him, Shimon you said, the king of the land bound him and now you want to take Binyamin; I bear the pain of all of them' " (42:36).


"And Reuven said to his father "My two sons you may kill *with a curse*, if I don't bring him back to you' " (42:37).


" … may G-d Al-mighty grant you mercy before the man … I have been informed through Ru'ach ha'Kodesh that if I am bereaved of Yosef, I am also bereaved of Shimon and Binyamin' " (43:14).


"And Yosef saw that Binyamin was with them, so he said to Menasheh … 'Bring the men to the house and show them that the animal was Shechted correctly; Remove the sciatic nerve and prepare the cooked-dish in their presence, because they will eat the midday meal with me' " (43:16).

* * *

Stories of Chanukah (cont.)

The End of a Traitor

(Adapted from 'Kol Agados Yisrael')

Assuming the man sitting atop a particularly large elephant wearing a golden coat of mail to be the Greek king, he addressed the top warriors surrounding him and asked for one who was brave enough to attack him (the 'king'), and to kill the elephant and its rider. It was Elazar, Yehudah's own brother who took up the challenge. With the words 'Salvation belongs to Hashem' ringing on his lips, he raced towards the designated elephant, sword in hand, which he wielded expertly, ferociously cutting down Greek soldiers to the right and to the left, as they came within range. Reaching the large elephant, he stood underneath it and thrust his sword into its underbelly. Sadly, the dead creature fell on top of him and crushed him to death. More heartbreaking still was the fact that the person riding atop the elephant was not even the king.

Whoever subsequently heard about Elazar's deed, declared that he had outshone all the heroes who had preceded him. Indeed, his brave deed also inspired the other troops in Yehudah's army to redouble their efforts in their fight against the army of Jupiter and Lysias, and they fell upon them with renewed vigour, killing many of the enemy, and forcing Jupiter to withdraw his troops, and a lull in the fighting ensued. It was then that the King found a messenger from Greece waiting to inform him that his rival Philip had begun a rebellion and was creating havoc back in Greece, and Demetrius, the son of Silecus had led an attack at the head of an army from Rome, with the intention of wresting his empire from his control.

The news frightened Jupiter, and without more ado, he sent a message to Yehudah, asking for an unconditional truce, to which Yehudah readily agreed.

Jupiter and Lysias swore that, as long as they lived, they would never again attack the land of Yehudah. With that, Jupiter took a large sum of gold from his treasury, and he sent it as a gift to the Beis Hamikdash.


When the treacherous Menela'us learned of the truce between Jupiter and Yehudah ha'Maccabee, he feared for his life, and he went to hide in one the many towers that abounded in Yerushalayim. Meanwhile, Jupiter ordered his men to search for Menela'us, the man who had incited him to attack Yehudah in the first place, and to bring him before him in chains. Following the king's instructions, they went to search for him. They found him hiding among the palaces of Yerushalayim, and they gave chase. Realizing that his end was near, Menela'us climbed to the top of a tall tower, and lay down on the roof, in an attempt to escape his pursuers. But they were close on his heels, and when he heard their footsteps climbing the stairs leading to the roof where he lay, a terrible fear gripped him, and he jumped from the roof of the tower, landing in a pit full of ashes, where he choked to death. Whoever heard of the end of Menela'us readily admitted that Hashem had meted out a befitting end to the man who had betrayed his G-d and his people, and who had incited the kings of Greece to acutely harm Yisrael, to burn their houses and to contaminate the Mizbei'ach of Hashem, whose ashes are sanctified in His Name. That is why he ended up being choked to death by ashes, dying the death of a scoundrel.

* * *

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