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

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Vol. 16   No. 10

This issue is sponsored jointly
in loving memory of
HaRav Simcha ben HeChaver Moshe Hain z"l
on his twelfth Yohrzeit
and of
Rav Zalman Yosef ben HaRav Aryeh Leib Sharfman z"l
who was Niftar 22 Kislev
L'iluy Nishmas
Sheva Gittel bas Levi Liksenburg z"l
L'mishpachas φεειχ

Parshas Mikeitz

Flawed Human Logic
(Adapted from the Beis Halevi)

The Medrash, commenting on the Pasuk "And it was at the end of two years, that Paroh had a dream … " cites the Pasuk in Iyov (28:3) "He sets a limit for the darkness". 'He set a limit for how long Yosef should remain in jail', the Medrash explains. The moment the designated time arrived, "And Paroh had a dream".


To explain the Medrash, the Beis Halevi defines cause and effect, something on which everything in the world is based. For example, he says, if someone purchases goods, which he then sells at a large profit, human logic dictates that purchasing the goods was the cause and the large profit, the effect.


But that, he points out, is not correct. The truth of the matter is that it was decreed in Heaven that the person was destined to make a lot of money, and the reason that he purchased the goods was in order to fulfill the Divine decree. It therefore transpires that the profit was the cause and purchasing the goods, the effect, and not other way round, as human logic would have it.


And that is what the Medrash is coming to teach us. Human logic would dictate that Paroh's dream caused Yosef to leave jail. The truth of the matter is however, that it was Yosef's imminent release from jail that caused Paroh to have his dream.

Paroh's dream was the tool that G-d employed to implement His decision to take Yosef out of prison and place him on the Throne of Egypt.

This is precisely what the Medrash is saying: 'Because G-d set a time limit for how long Yosef was to remain in jail, and that time limit had now expired, that was why Paroh had his dream' (and not vice-versa).


Every Word has a Meaning
(Adapted from the Beis Halevi)

When Paroh repeated his dream to Yosef, he described the seven thin cows as 'dalos' (poor-looking), even though that was not how he saw them in his dream. It seems that Par'oh was testing Yosef, to see whether he would spot the discrepancy (a sign that he was an emissary of G-d, as he made himself out to be) or not.

Yosef did indeed realize what Paroh had done, making no mention of the word 'dalos' when he repeated the dream to Paroh. Yet he also realized that if Paroh inserted the word, it must have a bearing on the dream's interpretation. How is that?


All of Paroh's wise men interpreted Paroh's dreams in connection with seven cities and such-like, seeing as prophetic dreams generally come in riddles, and are not necessarily related to the actual topic of which the dreamer dreamt.

Certainly, in this case, unaware of the events that G-d had in store for the country, it would have made more sense to connect the dreams to their mighty ruler's conquests than to the national farming situation.

Yosef was the only one who realized that the interpretation of the dream had to be taken literally, and must be connected with produce, however unlikely that may have initially appeared. And that was because Paroh used the word 'dalos', and we find the Lashon 'dal' in connection with produce, as the Gemara in Bava Metzi'a specifically states, based on the Pasuk in Shoftim (6:6) "Vayidal Yisrael me'od" (and Yisrael were impoverished), which talks about Midyan forcibly harvesting all their corn.


Paroh may have used the word "Dalos" to test Yosef. But Yosef figured if that was the word the King used, it must have some significance in connection with the interpretation of the dream - as indeed, it did!

* * *

Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from Rabeinu Bachye)

Food, Break & Hope

"And Ya'akov saw that there was corn (Shever) in Egypt" (42:1).

The word "Shever", says R. Bachye, actually means 'sale', as we find in Devarim (2:6) "Ochel tishb'ru me'itam (Food you shall purchase from them)".

Interesting, he says, Ya'akov declined to use the word 'food' (ochel), only "Shever" and "tishb'ru". And he explains that this is because it also has connotations of 'breaking', which in turn, has connotations of Galus, which Ya'akov foresaw, was about to begin.

Yet the same word (read with a 'Siyn' instead of a 'Shin') 'Sever' also has connotations of hope (like we say in Pesukei de'Zimra "Ashrei she'Keil Ya'akov be'ezro, sivro al Hashem Elokav". Both of these Ya'akov saw in connection with the events that were about to take place. He foresaw that the Galus was about to begin, but he also saw that there was hope that Yosef would be found alive.


Ya'akov's Tzoros!

"And may Keil Shakai grant you mercy … " (43:14)

The Medrash, which is partially cited by Rashi, explains that Ya'akov used this Name of Hashem here (which can mean 'the G-d of enough'), in the form of a plea to Hashem to put a stop to his endless suffering; Whilst he was still in his mother's womb, Eisav began quarreling with him about which world each of them was destined to inherit; After they emerged from the womb, his brother, attempted to kill him; He fled to the house of his uncle Lavan, see how many trials and tribulations he suffered there - as he himself testified later "By day the heat consumed me and by night, the cold". He left Lavan's house, Lavan chased after him; no sooner had he escaped from Lavan than Eisav came to kill him, and he lost the many head of cattle that he was forced to pay Lavan. There followed in quick succession the Tzarah of Dinah and Rachel. And finally, there was sprung on him, the Tzaros of Yosef, Shimon and Binyamin and there are others, including Lavan's scheming tactics and the death of his beloved wife Rachel in her prime.

He therefore chose the Name of Hashem Keil Shakai, as if to say 'May the One who said to the world 'Enough!' (when He created and wanted His Creations to stop expanding), shall also say 'enough!' to my troubles!'


Binyamin's Reward

" … and the goblet was found in Binyamin's sack" (44:12).

At that point, says R. Bachye, quoting a Medrash, the brothers began to deride him; they called him' thief, son of a thief' (with reference to his mother Rachel, who stole Lavan's images), and they began to strike him between his shoulder-blades. And because their suspicions were totally unfounded, he merited that the Shechinah would later rest in his portion (" … between his shoulder-blades", as the Torah writes with reference to the location of the Kodesh Kodshim, ve'Zos-ha'Brachah [32:12]).

And what's more, says R. Bachye, because Binyamin had to rent his clothes (even though he was totally innocent), he merited that from him, would descend Mordechai, who was destined to rent his clothes (upon hearing the news of Haman's evil decree). True, the brothers rent their clothes too (in spite of the fact that they too, were innocent of the act of which they were being accused), nevertheless, they at least, deserved to be punished in this way, for having caused their father to rent his clothes, when they informed him falsely, of Yosef's demise.


So we see, the author concludes, what a major role Midah keneged Midah plays, both in the realm of reward and in the realm of punishment.


The Ten Martyrs

"He will be my slave, and you will go up in peace to your father" (44:17).

Citing Kabalah, R. Bachye comments on the fact that the Parshah ends with these words, as they hint at the ten martyrs (which are discussed in the Piyut on Yom Kipur and in the Kinos on Tish'ah be'Av), as we shall now explain.

The episode of the sale of Yosef began with the special shirt that his father made him, which led from one thing to another until the brothers sold him, and ended with their dipping that very shirt into the blood of a goat that they had just slaughtered, and 'innocently' showing it to Ya'akov, with the words "This is what we found! … Is it not the shirt belonging to your son?'

This was considered an act of terrible cruelty, and that was why they had to be severely punished - bodily, beginning with the slavery in Egypt (which began as soon as Yosef died), and ending with the cruel deaths of the ten martyrs - Midah ke'neged Midah, because the body is the shirt of the Soul. And this is what the Pasuk hints at when it concludes the Parshah with "and you shall ascend in peace to your father"; For it was the death of the ten martyrs that completed the atonment for the sin perpetrated by the ten brothers (whose reincarnation the ten martyrs were), and it was only then that they were finally able to ascend in peace to their Father in Heaven.

And this explains, R. Bachye adds, why the word "ho'anoshim" (the men) appears ten times in this Parshah.

* * *


" … and he (Par'oh) dreamt, and behold seven ears of corn sprouted from a single stalk … " (41:5).

The Ba'al ha'Turim remarks that the word 'on a stalk' (be'koneh) occurs again later in this Parshah (Pasuk 22) and one more time in Parshas Terumah (in connection with the Menorah). This is because satisfaction is synonymous with light (Conversely, Chazal teach us, starvation has an adverse effect on one's eyes).

He also observes that whereas the good ears of corn grew on one stalk, as Paroh specifically stated, no such thing is mentioned in connection with the bad ears of corn.

And he attributes this to the fact that whereas the good years were pretty much all the same, the bad years deteriorated from year to year.


"And it was, that just as he (Yosef) interpreted it for us (the butler and the baker), so it happened … " (41:13).

The Gematriyah of "just as he interpreted (ka'asher posar)" is equivalent to that of 'she'chalomos holchim achar ha'peh' (because dreams go after their interpretation).


" … I did not see anything like them, as evil-looking, in the whole of Egypt" (41:19).

The only other time that the word "like them" (koheinoh) occurs in T'nach, is in Shumu'el 2, 12:8, where the Navi tells David " … and I will increase for you like this (koheinoh) and like this again (meaning another six wives and yet another six)".

Hence we find the Pasuk in Koheles (7:26) lamenting "And I discovered something that is worse than death (the epitome of evil) - an (evil) woman".


"And the brothers of Yosef came and they prostrated themselves before him (vayishtachavu lo) … " (42:6).

The Gematriyah of "vayishtachavu lo" , says the Ba'al ha'Turim, is equivalent to that of 'be'ka'n niskayem ha'chalom' (with this the dream came true).


" … ve'ho'echod einenu … Vayomer aleihem Yosef … " (42:13/14).

Based on the juxtaposition of the two phrases, the Ba'al ha'Turim informs us that when the brothers said "ve'ho'echod einenu" (and one of us is no longer with us), Yosef struck his goblet and said 'I divine that his name is Yosef!'


"And he incarcerated them for three days" (42:17).

Corresponding to the three things that they did to him, says the Ba'al ha'Turim - the stripping off of his shirt, throwing him into the pit and selling him.

* * *

(Adapted from the B'nei Yisaschar)

A Time to Annul Talmud Torah

In the Pasuk in Tehilim (119:126) "Eis la'asos la'Hashem, hefeiru torosecho" (When the time comes to do for Hashem, they annulled your Torah), the Gematriyah of 'eis' is equivalent to that of 'koneh' & 'veshet' (wind-pipe and esophagus, respectively).

This hints, says the B'nei Yisaschar, at Chanukah (where the main Mitzvah is to thank Hashem and to praise Him - with the wind-pipe) and Purim (where the order of the day includes eating and drinking - involving the esophagus).

And on these days, Chazal decreed that one is obligated to annul one's learning in order to kindle the Menorah and hear the Megilah.


Praised Be Hashem (the Name 'Takeh')

In the last Pasuk in Tehilim "Kol ha'Neshamah Tehalel Koh … "The Gematriyah of the first letters of the words "Kol Ha'Neshamah Tehalel … " are equivalent to that of 'Chanukah & Purim' combined, both of which are designated to praise Hashem, the one by saying Hallel, the other, by reading the Megilah (as the Gemara in Megilah [14a] explains 'reading the Megilah, that is its Hallel!')

The same letters, the B'nei Yisaschar points out, spell 'Takeh', one of the seventy-two three-letter Names of Hashem which emerge from the three Pesukim in Beshalach (14:19-21). In fact, he says, that is the Name that Moshe Rabeinu used to kill the Egyptian. It serves to subdue the Resha'im, something that occurs on Chanukah and Purim.


Ten Days - Two-hundred and forty Hours - and Amalek

The combined ten days of Chanukah (eight) & Purim comprise two-hundred and forty hours, which is the Gematriyah of Amalek. This is hardly surprising, says the author, seeing as Chanukah and Purim are specifically designated to destroy the power of Amalek. Indeed, the Pasuk in Balak (24:2) refers to Amalek as "Reishis Goyim", and "Reishis", in turn, refers to 'Da'as' (knowledge/intelligence). Amalek is the seed from which there sprout all evil plans against Yisrael. Hashem commanded us to remember all the evil plans of Amalek to destroy us. When we do, then all the evil plans that our enemies foment against us are nullified, and the same happens during these ten days of miracles.


Chanukah and Purim, the B'nei Yisaschar continues, are connected to the Midos of Netzach (Victory/Eternity) and Hod (Beauty), respectively. The Gematriyah of 'Netzach and Hod' equals a hundred and sixty-three, which is equivalent to the Name of Hashem that signifies Da'as - E-he-veh, which in turn, appears in the first letters of the words "Es Hashamayim Ve'es Ha'aretz" (in the opening Pasuk in the Torah). And what's more, if you spell out these four letters in full (i.e. adding a 'Yud' to both the two 'Heys' and the 'Vav') it adds up to a hundred and sixty-three.

* * *

The Three Answers

The Beis Yosef poses the famous question as to why we celebrate eight days of Chanukah, when there was sufficient oil to burn for one day anyway, in which case, the miracle lasted for only seven days?

I always wondered what we would have thought had Chazal instituted Hadlakas Ner Chanukah starting from the twenty-sixth of Kislev through to the second or the third of Teives (depending on how many days Rosh Chodesh there are). We would surely find it odd, to think that the Maccabim kindled the miraculous lights on the twenty-fifth, and we commemorate the subsequent miracle by lighting on the twenty-sixth, irrespective of the reason why. I would have thought that if they kindled the lights on the twenty-fifth of Kislev, following which a miracle occurred and they continued to burn for eight days, then to commemorate the miracle, we would light our Menoros for the same period of eight days as they did, reason notwithstanding.


The Beis Yosef himself gives three answers to the question:

1. They poured one eighth of the oil that the crucible contained into the Mdenorah each night.

2. After they poured the oil into the Menorah, the crucible remained full for the next night's lighting (and so on each night).

3. Each morning, they found the lamp-holders still full, even though the lamps had been burning all night.


The Mo'adim ba'Halachah queries each answer:

1. Based on the principle 'Ein somchin al ha'neis' (one does not rely on miracles), it would have been Halachically unacceptable to pour oil into the Menorah that would only last for one eighth of the night.

2, & 3. In either case, no miracle would have occurred on the eighth day, since there would have remained oil, either in the crucible or in the Menorah from the night before?


In answer to the first question, I would suggest that what happened was that after pouring one eighth from the crucible, they discovered that the lamps of the Menorah were full, whereas the crucible was only seven-eighths full on the first night, three-quarters full on the second, and so on.


It strikes as strange however, as to why the Beis Yosef did not give the most simple answer of all. Why did he not answer that they poured out all the oil into the lamps, but in the morning, they found that it had only burned down one eighth, and that the lamps were still seven-eighths full. This is parallel to the first answer, only it dispenses with the question of 'Ein somchim al ha'neis'. Nor does the Mo'adim ba'Halachah's other problem apply, since the miracle will have occurred equally on each of the eight nights.

* * *


Although it is preferable to use olive oil on Chanukah, it is not crucial to the Mitzvah, and any fuel that burns well (even wax candles) may in fact be used.


The She'arim ha'Metzuyanim ba'Halachah (Kitzur Shalchan Aruch 139:5) discusses using electric lights, which, citing various Poskim, he forbids, either because the entire quantity of fuel needs to be present when lighting (the Beis Yitzchak [whereas here, the source of electricity is the grid, which may possibly be shut off]); or because even though the fuel does not need to resemble the fuel that was used in the Beis-Hamikdash, it must comprise a fatty substance similar to oil (the Levushei Mordechai [which electricity is not]).


Whether one may or may not, use a flashlight, would seem to depend on the two above-mentioned reasons: on the one hand, the entire source of fuel (the battery) is there at the time of lighting, whilst on the other, it is not a fatty substance that resembles oil.

* * *

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