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

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Vol. 18   No. 10

This issue is sponsored
l'iluy Nishmas
R' Leibush ben Yaakov Shimon z"l
niftar motzei Chanukah 3 Teves 5770

Parshas Mikeitz

Some More About Chanukah
(Adapted from the Besamim Rosh)

They Rested on the Twenty-Fifth

After citing the well-known acronym - Chanukah - Chonu 'Chaf-Hey', 'they rested (from war) on the twenty-fifth (of Kislev)', the Besamim Rosh explains that the war actually ended on the twenty-fourth, and what the acronym therefore means is that the twenty-fifth was the first full day of rest. He then cites the opinion of the Rambam, who explicitly writes that the war ended on the twenty-fifth. In that case, we will need to understand why Chazal instituted lighting the first Ner Chanukah on the eve of the twenty-fifth (enabling the Yom-Tov to bear the title 'Chanukah'), and not on the eve of the twenty-sixth, which was when the Chashmona'im rededicated the Beis-Hamikdash and lit the Menorah for the first time after the victory.

Based on the question that we will discuss later (refer to 'Some Old Answers '), killing two birds with one stone, he answers that the first day (the twenty-fifth) was to commemorate the victory that took place on that day, and not to commemorate the rededication of the Beis-Hamikdash, which took place only on the following night.


The Reward of Kindling Lights

The Gemara in Shabbos teaches us that someone who lights regularly will merit children who are Talmidei-Chachamim. After connecting the reward to the Mitzvah by citing the Pasuk in Mishlei "Ki Ner Mitzvah ve'Torah Or", Rashi interprets the Gemara with reference to both Shabbos lights and Chanukah lights.

To answer the question why Chazal refer to having children who are Talmidei-Chachamim rather than to the person himself becoming a Talmid-Chacham, the Besamim Rosh quoting the P'ri Chadash, answers either that it is speaking in a case where he is already a Talmid-Chacham or where he is simply not capable of becoming a Talmid-Chacham. (Perhaps one can also answer that the key to becoming a Talmid-Chacham lies in one's own hands. If he takes a Seifer and proceeds to learn diligently, he will become a Talmid-Chacham in any event; whereas if he doesn't, then kindling these lights or those lights will not help him to become one).

The Or Zaru'a and the Eliyahu Rabah explain that the Pasuk in Mishlei refers predominantly to Ner Shabbos, which preceded Mishlei, and not to Ner Chanukah, which was instituted only later. Bearing in mind that the main Mitzvah of Ner Shabbos is incumbent upon women, who are Patur from the Mitzvah of Torah (indeed, they are not even permitted to learn it), Chazal could not possibly have said that a person who lights regularly will become a Talmid-Chacham.


Some Old Answers to an Old Question

The Besamim Rosh cites the famous 'Beis-Yosef's Kashya' (although the Kashya already appears in the Rishonim) why it is that, seeing as there was enough oil in the flask to last for one day , Chazal fixed eight days of Chanukah and not seven - the duration of the miracle.

And he offers no less than eight answers:

1. See end of 'They Rested on the Twenty-Fifth' (cited above).

2. They divided the oil in the jar into eight parts, pouring one part in to the Menorah each night.

3. After pouring the oil into the Menorah, the jar remained full, in which case the miracle was discernible on the first night, too.

4. On the first night, they poured all the oil into the Menorah, and in the morning they discovered that all the lamps were still full.

5. Although the oil in the jar was sufficient for one night, when they poured it into the Menorah, some of it remained on the walls of the jar, so that the oil in the Menorah was insufficient even for one night.

6. The Ba'al ha'Itim explains that although the miracle of the oil lasted only seven days, the Chachamim initiated eight, to commemorate the Mitzvah of B'ris Milah, which was reinstated.

7. Whereas, according to the Shiltei Giborim, it was because it was not only the Menorah that they rededicated, but the entire Beis-Hamikdash, which the Greek soldiers had defiled, including demolishing the Mizbei'ach, which it took eight days to rebuild. This too they inaugurated.

8. And finally, he cites the answer of the Shiyurei Kenesses ha'Gedolah - that the first day was to commemorate the fact that they found the jar of oil in the first place - a miracle in itself.

* * *

Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from the Riva)

Cows and Corn

" and he dreamt again and behold seven ears of corn came up on seven stalks " (41:5).

Why, asks the Riva, did Par'oh have to have two dreams, one about cows and one about ears of corn? And if, as the Pasuk will explain later, he needed to dream twice, why could he not have dreamt twice either about cows or about corn? Had Par'oh dreamt only about cows, he explains, Yosef would have interpreted the dream in connection with nations (that one small nation was destined to conquer another), since T'nach sometimes compares nations to cows (see for example Amos, 4:1). And it was the dream concerning the corn that led him to interpret it the way he did.

Whereas on the other hand, had Par'oh dreamt only about corn, he would not have known that the years of famine would cause the years of plenty to be completely forgotten. This he knew only from the fact that after the thin cows had swallowed the fat ones, it could not be seen that they had.


The Butler's Two Sins

"And the chief butler spoke to Par'oh saying - 'I recall my sins today!'. (41:9)

The only sin of which the butler was guilty was 'allowing' a fly to enter the king's cup, asks the Riva, so why does he refer here to 'sins'?

That is not quite right, he replies; he was also guilty of serving Par'oh wine which contained a fly. He ought to have poured the wine out and served him a fresh cup.

Alternatively, he says, the chief butler was also referring to the sin that he performed against Yosef, by not recommending him to Par'oh, as he had promised he would.


Yosef Dreamt Two Dreams as Well

"And with regards to the fact that Par'oh dreamt the dream twice, this is because the matter stands ready before G-d and G-d is hurrying to carry it out" (41:32).

The question arises, asks the Riva, that Yosef himself also dreamt the same basic dream twice, yet many years elapsed before they came to fruition?

That, he explains, is because, where Par'oh dreamt the two dreams on the same night, Yosef's two dreams took place on different nights.


Past, Present or Future

"Will we find (ha'nimtzo) a man like this, in whom there is the Spirit of G-d?" (41:38).

Rashi translates the word "ha'nimtzo" in the future, based on Unklus' translation 'ha'nishkach'.

Had the Pasuk referred to the past ('Was there ever such a man ') the Riva explains, then Unklus would have translated it as 'ha'eshtakach'; and had it referred to the present ('Is there to be found another man like him'), then he would have translated it as 'ha'mishtakach').


Having Children in Time of Famine

"And Yosef fathered two sons before the year of famine arrived" (41:50).

Rashi explains that this is on account of the prohibition of being intimate with one's wife during a time of famine. The Riva queries this from Yocheved (the daughter of Levi) who was born as they entered Egypt, as Chazal have taught us. According to Rashi, seeing as this was the third year of the famine, how could Levi have been intimate with his wife Osah whilst the famine was in progress?

And he answers that we can assume that the conception took place after the brothers discovered Yosef's identity (and they knew that the famine would end immediately), only it took nine months (or perhaps seven) for them to collect their families arrange their affairs and return to Egypt with Ya'akov their father, which was when Yocheved was born.

The Riva then cites the Chizkuni (and likewise R. Elchanan) who answers that whereas on the one hand, Yosef had to abstain from intimacy because, to his knowledge, his father and brothers were suffering from the effect of the famine, his brothers, who knew that the family was not short of any basic needs, did not need to do so. Nor were they obligated to do so on account of Yosef's suffering, since it is not necessary to afflict oneself because of one individual.


When a Boy Becomes a Man

"And the man did as Yosef had said " (43:17).

Chazal explain that 'the man' was in fact Yosef's son Menasheh. Bearing in mind that Yosef was thirty when he first stood before Par'oh, and thirty-nine when Ya'akov arrived in Egypt, the Riva points out, Menasheh could not have been more than nine at the time. In that case, why does the Torah refer to him as 'a man', a title that is reserved for somebody who has reached the age of Bar-Mitzvah?

To answer the question, he refers to an answer of Rebbi Yehudah ha'Chasid that he quoted in Vayishlach. There he asked on what basis G-d killed Er and Onan for their sins, seeing as they were only eight, when the Heavenly Court does not punish before the age of twenty?

To which Rebbi Yehudah ha'Chasid replies that it is all a matter of intelligence. There are people of under thirteen, he explains, who are highly intelligent. And that is what G-d takes into account when punishing. One of the proofs he cites for this startling Chidush is from David, who told his son Shlomoh that if he forsakes G-d, then G-d will forsake him - even though he was no more than eleven or twelve years old.

Presumably, this Chidush is confined to somebody who is Chayav be'Dinei Shamayim, since how would human judges know how to gauge a person's intelligence, And besides, we have a principle that all measurements are fixed and are not subject to change from case to case.

Interestingly, the Bartenura at the end of Sanhedrin, cites the fact that in last week's Parshah, the Torah refers to Shimon and Levi as "Ish" as the source for thirteen as the age of Bar-Mitzvah (since Shimon and Levi were both thirteen at the time [see Tos. Yom-Tov there]). One wonders how the Bartenura will explain the current Pasuk, which implies that the age of Bar-Mitzvah may be as low as eight or nine. Whereas if he explains the Pasuk here like Rebbi Yehudah ha'Chasid, then his proof will no longer be valid!

(See also Rabeinu Bachye 34;25 and Footnote)

* * *


"And Ya'akov said to them 'You have caused me to become bereaved! Yosef is no longer here, Shimon is no longer here; and now you will take Binyamin! That is the end for me (olai hoyu kulonoh)!' (42:36)

The word "kulonoh" also appears in 'Eishes' Chayil' - "ve'At olis al kulonoh".

This tells us that the pain that Ya'akov felt over sending away Binyamin rose above that of the loss of Shimon and of Yosef. This is because the loss of Binyamin would have been the third (a Chazakah), and Chazal have said 'although what happens to children cannot be taken as final (af-al-pi she'ein nachash), it can be taken as a sign (yesh Siman)!'


"And Reuven said to his father "You may kill my two sons (es sh'nei bonai tomis) if I don't return him " (42:37).

The word "tomis" also appears in Iyov (5:2) - "for envy kills the fool".

The Ba'al ha'Turim citing the Medrash, interprets this with reference to Dasan and Aviram (from the tribe of Reuven), about whom the Pasuk says in Tehilim "And they were envious of Moshe in the camp". It was because Reuven 'opened his mouth to the Satan' and said "You may kill my two sons", that Dasan and Aviram died.


Moreover, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, the Gematriyah of "es sh'nei" is equivalent to that of 'Eilu (spelt with a 'Yud') Dasan va'Aviram'.


" because by now we could have already returned twice (ki atah shavnu zeh pa'amayim)" 43:10.

The last letters of the words "ki atah shavnu zeh" spell Hashem's Name, the Ba'al ha'Turim observes. This is because G-d accompanies Tzadikim.

"And double (u'mishneh) the money they took "

The same word also appears in Yirmiyah (17:18) "u'mishneh Shiboron Shovrem" (and devastate them with double disaster [in connection with the pursuers of Yisrael]). If the brothers of Yosef, who obtained the money by accident, came to pay him double, then the nations who pursued Yisrael and took their money by force, will certainly have to pay back double everything that they took.


" and bring the man a gift - a bit of balsam and a bit of honey, wax, lotus, pistachios and almonds" (43:11).

Six species, the Ba'al ha'Turim points out, correspond to the sons of Leah, each of whom took one species.

* * *

Mehadrin min ha'Mehadrin
(Adapted from the Beis Halevi)

In the Gemara in Shabbos (23), Rebbi Zeira tells how initially, he used to share in the Chanukah lights of his host by paying a P'rutah.

The Beis Halevi asks how it is possible for an Amora to perform the Mitzvah of Hadlakas Ner Chanukah not in accordance with the Minhag of the Mehadrin min ha'Mehadrin, where each person kindles his own Menorah. This is not a problem according to Tosfos, he points out, who hold that 'Mehadrin min ha'Mehadrin' the Ba'al ha'Bayis kindling one Menorah only, but adding an additional light each night. The Kashya applies according to the Rambam exclusively, who requires each person to kindle his own Menorah and to add one light each night.

And he answers that the world it seems, has a misconception in the interpretation of 'Mehadrin' and 'Mehadrin min ha'Mehadrin'. It is not that each person kindles his own Menorah but that the Ba'al ha'Bayis kindles one lamp for each person present each night (Mehadrin), or one lamp for each person on the first night, two on the second and so on (Mehadrin min ha'Mehadrin). As a matter of fact, when describing Mehadrin and Mehadrin min ha'Mehadrin, the Rambam specifically writes that he (the Ba'al ha'Bayis) lights a lamp of lamps for each person.

The Shiltei ha'Giborim too, writes (in connection with Mehadrin) ' a lamp on behalf of each man and each woman, but not on behalf of the children, who are not obligated to light'.

Now we can understand Rebbi Zeira, who initially gave his host a P'rutah in order to light on his behalf, in accordance with the Minhag of the Mehadrin min ha'Mehadrin.

The Beis Halevi goes on to prove that Tosfos too, agrees with this explanation with regard to the Mehadrin, but I have cited his words regarding the explanation of the Rambam, as this is the opinion that is prevalent among the Ashkenazim.

* * *

Table of Chashmo'na'i Kings
(covering 103 years [3621 - 3724])

(Adapted from the Mamleches Kohanim)

1. Matisyahu the son of Yochanan Kohen Gadol (instigator of the revolution against the Greek tyrants) - ruled for one year 3621-3622.

2. Yehudah ben Matisyahu Kohen Gadol ( known as Yehudah ha'Maccabi) - ruled for six years (3622-3628).

3. Yochanan ben Matisyahu Kohen Gadol - ruled for six years (3628-3634).

4. Shimon ben Matisyahu Kohen Gadol - ruled for eight years (3642-3668).

5. Yochanan ben Shimon - ruled for 26 years (3642-3668).

6. Aristobulus ben Yochanan - ruled for two years (3668-3670).

7. Alexander ben Yochanan (also known as Hurk'nus, and better still, as Yanai) - ruled for eighteen years (3670-3688).

8. Alexandra (Alexander's widow) - ruled for nineteen years (3688-3697).

9. Aristobulus (2) ben Alexander - ruled for three years ... (3697-3700).

10. Hurk'nus ben Alexander - ruled for twenty-one years ... (3700-3702).

11. Antignus ben Aristobulus - ruled for three years (3721-3724),

At that stage, the slave Hurdus (Herod) wiped out the entire family of the Chashmona'im and adopted the kingship. For the remaining hundred and three years until the destruction of the second Beis-Hamikdash (in 3828) during the reign of Agrippas (2), it was he and his descendents who ruled over Eretz Yisrael.

* * *

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