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

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Vol. 20   No. 10

This issue is sponsored
l'iluy Nishmas
R' Leibesh ben Yaakov Shimon z"l
whose third Yohrzeit is 3 Teves

Parshas Mikeitz

The Other Chanukah
(Adapted from the Mo'adim be'Halachah)

The Shivlei ha'Leket, citing Rashi, explains why Chazal instituted the Takanah to Lein the Parshah at the end of Naso (concerning the Korbanos of the Nesi'im at the Chanukas ha'Mizbe'ach). He reminds us how Moshe stood on Har Sinai for a hundred and twenty days. He descended on Yom Kipur when G-d informed him that He had forgiven Yisrael for the sin of the Golden Calf. When Yisrael heard this, they were overjoyed and happily set about building the Mishkan, which they completed together with all its vessels in three months (from Tishri till Kislev), on the twenty-fifth of Kislev.

The commentaries cite this Rashi, to explain the Remo, who rules that 'It is a bit of a Mitzvah to indulge in partying on Chanukah'.


Rashi on the Torah, commenting on the juxtaposition of the Parshah of the Menorah next to that of the Nesi'im, cites the Medrash that Aharon was distraught when he saw the princes magnificent inauguration of the Mishkan, in which neither he nor his tribe participated. The Medrash relates how G-d put his mind at rest by pointing out that he would kindle the lights in the evening and prepare them in the morning. According to the Ramban, this Medrash refers, not to the daily kindling of the Menorah in the Mishkan and the Beis-Hamikdash, but rather to the inauguration of the Menorah that would take place at the hand of Aharon's descendants, the Chashmona'im - inauguration for inauguration. And he cites a Medrash which explains how this Chanukah, as opposed to the Chanukah of the Nesi'im, came about through wonders and miracles, and that this Chanukah would be called after them - 'the Chanukah of the Chashmona'im'.

Another advantage that this Chanukah would have over the Chanukah of the Nesi'im, says the Ramban, is that it would last forever, even when the Beis-Hamikdash was no longer standing, whereas the Chanukah of the Nesi'im was destined to last only as long as the Beis-Hamikdash stood. And this explains beautifully the juxtaposition of the Parshah of the Menorah next to that of the Nesi'im.

* * *

Parshah Pearls
(from the Da'as Zekeinim mi'Ba'alei Tosfos)

The Man

" the man did as Yosef had said, and the man brought the men (Yosef's brothers) to Yosef's house" (43:17).

The man, say Chazal, is none other than Yosef's son Menasheh.

But how can that be, wonders the Da'as Zekeinim mi'Ba'alei Tosfos, citing R. Chayim in the name of R. Eliezer Avi ha'Ezri? In Pirkei Avos (5:21), commenting on the Mishnah 'the age of Mitzvos (Bar-Mitzvah) is thirteen', Rashi gives the source for this as the Pasuk in Vayishlach, which refers to Shimon and Levi, who took their swords to kill the men of Sh'chem, as "ish", who were thirteen at the time.

If you reckon the years of Menasheh, he cannot have been more than nine at the time under discussion. How is that? As the Torah specifically states, he was born shortly before the years of famine began. Even if he was born at the beginning of the seven years of plenty, add to that two years of famine, since that was when Ya'akov and his family arrived in Egypt, and Menasheh would have been nine. Yet the Torah refers to him as Ish?


The Wonder Goblet

'Is this not the one in which he drinks, the one with which he divines"?

The man (Menasheh) cannot have meant that the brothers should have realized that his master would know their identity through his divining cup, because how could he divine with a stolen cup?

What he must have meant, says the Da'as Zekeinim, was that they ought to have realized that on the one hand, the theft of his personal drinking cup, the one which he generally used to divine, would not go unnoticed for one moment, and that on the other, the viceroy of would have had other means of divining at his disposal, or that he would command others to discover the identity of the thief.

And this was also what Yosef himself was referring to, when, in Pasuk 15, he said to the brothers " did you not know that a man of my caliber is able to divine?"


That's Not What
Yehudah Said

"And he (Menasheh) said 'Now too, like your words so it shall be/is; With whoever it (the goblet) is found, will become my slave and you will be free!' " (44:10).

But that is not what Yehudah said, asks the Da'as Zekeinim. What Yehudah said was that with whoever the goblet is found will die, and the remaining brothers will be slaves?

What Menasheh meant, he therefore explains, was that what Yehudah decreed on the brothers will apply to the thief, and he added that, not only would he be more lenient with the thief, but that he would be more lenient with the brothers too, and allow them to go home.


Alternatively, he says, Menasheh meant to say that he believed their claim of innocence, because , as they had explained, if they returned the money that they found in their sacks, they would be most unlikely to steal. But that argument did not hold water with Binyamin, who had yet to prove his innocence - a hint that Binyamin had probably stolen the goblet without their knowledge.

Consequently, he would allow them to go home, and retain only the thief (Binyamin) as a slave.

* * *

This issue is sponsored
l'iluy Nishmas
R' Mordechai ben R' Yitzchok z"l
(Martin Chrysler)
by his family

Chanukah Supplement

The Other Chanukah
(Adapted from the Mo'adim be'Halachah)

The Mo'adim ba'Halachah, citing R. Ya'akov Emdin, presents a new reason for the name Chanukah. He attributes it, not to the inauguration of the Beis-Hamikdash in the time of the Chashmona'im (which he does not of course, deny), but to the inauguration of the second Beis-Hamikdash, more than two hundred years earlier.

He refers to Chagai ha'Navi, who specifically writes that the second Beis-Hamikdash was established on the twenty-fourth of Kislev, and inaugurated on the following day on the twenty-fifth. And the inauguration took place in two parts, he explains; by means of Korbanos during the day, and kindling the Menorah in the evening, since the Menorah can only be inaugurated in the evening, as the Gemara states in Menachos. And it is because of the inauguration of the Beis-Hamikdash that took place at that time, that they referred to 'the days of the miracle of the lights that occurred then' (it is unclear whether the author is referring to the miracle of Chanukah (that took place two hundred years later), or the daily miracle that they witnessed in the desert and beyond. (See first article in 'Chanukah Thoughts'.)

This interpretation of Chanukah will support the Minhag to indulge in festivities and to rejoice on Chanukah, a Minhag which the commentaries struggle to explain. Bear in mind that the Chanukah of the Chashmona'im was 'to thank (Hakadosh-Baruch-Hu)', as the Gemara in Shabbos specifically states, and not to indulge in the more physical activities that mark Purim.


A second better-known interpretation of Chanukah is based on the fact that the Mishkan was completed on the twenty-fifth of Kislev, the year after they left Egypt. Only it was kept on hold until Nisan, when it was finally erected. The Medrash explains that when the people complained about the delay, wanting to know what had gone wrong with their efforts to build a House for G-d, G-d justified the delay, inasmuch as He wanted this great event to take place in the month that Yitzchak was born. And to compensate Kislev for the loss, He promised to initiate another Chanukah, performed by the Chashmona'im at a later stage. Indeed, the Rishonim attribute the reading of the Parshah of the Nesi'im on Chanukah to this Medrash.

This interpretation of Chanukah too, supports the Minhag to indulge in festivities and to rejoice on Chanukah.

For more details on this latter interpretation of Chanukah, see main article Parshas Mikeitz.

* * *

Chanukah Thoughts
(from the Chasam Sofer)

Why Did He Need Its Light?

The question is asked by the Gemara in Shabbos (22b) regarding the Menorah in the Mishkan. And the Gemara elaborates - 'Did Yisrael not travel by His light as they travelled through the desert'?

Why, asks Tosfos, does the Gemara find it necessary to mention the forty years in the desert? Does the entire world not 'travel' by His light, at all times, in all generations?

Tosfos therefore suggests that the Gemara is referring (not to Hakadosh-Baruch-Hu, but) to Aaron ha'Kohen (and to his sons) when they entered the Heichal to do the avodah (though Tosfos do actually conclude that the Gemara in Menachos indicates that it goes on Hakadosh-Baruch-Hu).


The Chasam Sofer corroborates Tosfos' conclusion, and, in answer to Tosfos' Kashya, he cites the famous principle that the Kingdom of Hashem follows the kingdom of man. Consequently, just as a royal palace is guarded, so too, were guards posted in the Beis-Hamikdash (in Yerushalayim). And just as one kindles lights at night to illuminate the darkness, so too, did they kindle the Menorah in the Beis-Hamikdash - by night, but not by day, due to the maxim 'Of what use is a lamp in the day?' In the desert however, they never needed to kindle a light even at night, seeing as the Pillar of Light illuminated the darkness like day throughout the camp.

Hence the Gemara's Kashya is justifiable. Why did Hakadosh-Baruch-Hu require the Menorah even at night-time, seeing as, in the kingdom of man, they would not have lit a lamp. Why was it then necessary in His Kingdom.


The Gemara answers the question with which we began by attributing the kindling of the Menorah, not to the aspect of the light that it provided, but to the miracle that was attached to it - i.e. that the 'western lamp' although the first to be lit, was always the last to go out. And this served as a clear sign that the Shechinah rested in Yisrael.


Should One mention Chanukah in Birchas ha'Mazon?

The Gemara poses this question on daf 24a.

There is no question with regard to mentioning Purim in Birchas ha'Mazon, seeing as the main objective on Purim is rejoicing and festivity. It is a question regarding Chanukah, where the main objective is to thank and to praise, which initially have no place in Birchas ha'Mazon, which is confined to food and drink.

And the Gemara replies that one recites it in the B'rachah of 'Nodeh L'cho', which comes to thank Hashem for the Mitzvah of B'ris Milah and Torah.

The Chasam Sofer explains that if not for B'ris-Milah and Torah, why would we need to thank G-d? Is it for the traits that we share with animals? It can only be that, through food and drink, we gain the strength to serve Hakadosh-Baruch-Hu. And this is pertinent to Chanukah, when the Chashmona'im risked their lives on account of Avodas Hashem.



Maccabi is equivalent to the first letters of Mattisyahu Kohen Ben Yochanan.

* * *

In Those Days at this Time
(Adapted from the Mamleches Kohanim)

Write on the Horn of an Ox

One of the harsh decrees issued by the Greeks against the Jews was to have them write on the horns of their oxen 'I want nothing to do with the G-d of Yisrael'.

To explain why specifically on the horns of their oxen, the B'nei Yisaschar cites the Mishnah in Bava Kama (37b). The Mishnah there presents the Halachah obligating the non-Jewish owner of an ox that gores an ox belonging to a Jew to pay full damages (Nezek Sholeim) even the first three times. And this, despite the fact that an ox belonging to a Jew pays only half damages (Chatzi Nezek) until the fourth time that it gores (a Halachah which Chazal refer to as 'Keren' ([horn]).

And the Gemara there attributes this to the fact that the gentiles failed to observe the seven Mitzvos that they were given, for which reason G-d "declared their property Hefker", as it were, as is written in the Navi Chavakuk (3:6).

And it is because the Greeks took offence to this law, which differentiated between the Jews and them, says the B'nei Yisaschar, that they initiated this decree, as if to say that if the Jews would give up their connections with their G-d, the laws of damages would no longer draw this distinction.

According to others, this decree (about which we wrote at length in volume 17), included writing the same statement on the bolts of their houses, says the 'Mamleches Kohanim', resulting a). in many people removing the bolts from their doors (with terrible consequences, as we discussed there), and b). in widespread apostasy. And this also followed the decree to others, like prohibiting the mere mention of G-d's Name on pain of death by the sword.

Another similar decree cited by some commentaries is the prohibition against reciting 'Baruch Atah' in the form of a B'rachah and 'Amen' after a B'rachah that one hears. As a matter of fact, it was to counter that decree that the Chachamim of that time instituted the recital of 'Ein k'Elokeinu '. This is because the opening letters of the first three verses 'Ein k'Elokeinu, Mi k'Elokeinu' and 'Nodeh l'Elokeinu' spell 'Amen', whereas the first words of the fourth and fifth verse respectively, are 'Baruch' and 'Atah'.


And it may well be, the Mamleches Kohanim suggests, that it is on account of these decrees which were introduced with the intention of stamping out Yisrael's connection with G-d, that the Chachamim introduced the concept of 'Pirsumei Nisa', the Mitzvah to publicise Hashem through His miracles.


The Decree on Marriage

Another of their evil decrees concerned women who were about to get married, who were forced to spend the night before their marriage with the Greek mayor of the city. Not only was this an invasion of privacy of the worst kind, one that simultaneously defiled the inherent sanctity of a Jewish woman and also deprived the young couple of the joy of marriage (kol soson ve'kol Simchah kol choson ve'kol kaloh), which is intrinsically bound with the union between a man and his virgin wife. Although there were many who married clandestinely, (as we explained in volume 16,) there were others who declined to marry, creating a decline in the birth-rate of the Jewish people of that time. And this is all the more true according to those who interpret the decree as being a prohibition against getting married. This situation lasted three years and eight months.

* * *

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