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

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Vol. 21   No. 10

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

Parshas Mikeitz

Rosh Hashanah Dreams

"And it was at the end of two years to the day (shenosayim yomim) that Par'oh dreamt, and behold, he was standing over the river" (41:1).

Citing the Gemara in Rosh Hashanah (11a), the Da'as Zekeinim mi'Ba'alei Tosfos says that Yosef left prison on Rosh Hashanah. This is hinted, he points out, in the words "va'yechalef simlosov" (and he changed his clothes) whose Gematriyah is equivalent to that of 'be'chad be Tishri' (on the first of Tishri). That being the case, Par'oh's dream occurred on the night of Rosh Hashanah.


The Torah adds the word "yomim", the Oznayim la'Torah explains, to teach us that the two years were complete years from day to day from the time that Yosef interpreted the dreams of the butler and the baker. Consequently, just as Par'oh dreamt his dreams on the night of Rosh Hashanah, so too, did the butler and the baker two years earlier.


Citing the Maharsha in B'rachos (55), the author explains that a dream that is dreamt on Rosh Hashanah is more likely to contain the truth, since, after all, it is the Day of Judgement, on which G-d decides 'whom He will lower and whom He will raise, who will die when his time arrives and who, prematurely; and about the countries it is decided, which will suffer starvation and will have plenty'.

The Gemara there (Daf 18) describes how, on the night of Rosh Hashanah, even spirits glean information 'from behind the curtain' regarding decrees on the year's produce, and how they even pass on the information from one to the other.

And that, the Oznayim la'Torah posits, is what prompted Yosef to take the dreams of Par'oh and his servants seriously, and not to dismiss them as 'thoughts of the day that they carried on to their beds' (See Daniel 2:29).

And thus Yosef concluded, a dream concerning full ears of corn that looked good and ears that were empty and parched-looking, depicted a warning that a famine was in the offing. Moreover, one may well add, a dream concerning healthy-looking cows and cows that looked thin and miserable boded no good for the plowing seasons of the forthcoming years. (Note, the Ramban explains that Par'oh's first dream about cows was connected with plowing, based on the Pasuk in Mishlei "The abundance of the produce is dependent upon the strength of the ox [that pulls the plow]".)

And it is because the dreams of the butler and the baker took place on Rosh Hashanah, that the Torah writes there that they dreamt "on one night (be'laylah echad)", which has connotations of a special night, which indeed it was - Rosh Hashanah night. Furthermore, when the butler related the events of that night to Par'oh, he too, referred to it as "on one night" - perhaps hinting that the current night too, 'happened to be' Rosh Hashanah.


Impressionable Dreams

" And it was in the morning his spirit was agitated, and he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt and for all its sages " (41:8).

The fact that Par'oh was agitated about the dream served as another indication that the dream was a prophetic one. And the same can be said about the dreams of the butler and the baker, whom Yosef found aggrieved when he saw them the following morning. Regular dreams leave no impression on the dreamer. And it is when a person wakes up agitated about his dream that he should know that his dream contains a prophecy.

And we find this with prophecy in general, as Yirmiyah ha'Navi attested with regard to his prophecy - "and it burned within me like a raging fire".

This too, prompted Yosef to take seriously first the dreams of Par'oh's valets and then those of Par'oh himself.

Many years later, a similar reaction on the part of Nevuchadnetzar following the dream that he could not even remember, prompted Daniel too, to take him seriously and seek its interpretation (See Rashi on the current Pasuk).

* * *

Parshah Pearls

Why the Cows?

"And behold from the canal seven cows emerged " (41:2).

Seeing as the decree of famine affected both the animals and the people, the Oznayim la'Torah asks (in Pasuk 5), why did Par'oh first dream about the cows? He assumes that the Pasuk is referring to the recipients of the punishment.

If it is, I would suggest that it is to do with Chazal, who have said (to explain why Tzara'as on one's clothes precedes Tzara'as on the body), that G-d always strikes a person's possessions before striking him personally.

The Ramban however, whom we quoted in the main article, explains that the two dreams referred, not to the recipients of the punishment, but to its format - the cows to the plowing, the corn, to the harvest. According to this, the question is automatically answered, inasmuch as plowing a field precedes harvesting the corn. Consequently, the Torah mentions it first; indeed, Par'oh dreamt it first, because chronologically, it was destined to occur first.


Yosef's Reward

"And Par'oh removed the ring from his hand and he placed it on the hand of Yosef " (41:42).

When Achashverosh raised first Haman and later Mordechai to power, the Pasuk describes how he gave them the ring.

Par'oh, the Oznayim la'Torah observes, went one step further. He personally placed the ring on Yosef's finger; he then dressed Yosef in linen garments (for which Egypt was famous) and hung the golden chain around his neck.

This was Yosef's reward for refusing to touch the wife of Potifera with his hand, or with any other part of his body. And the linen garments were for leaving his tunic with her - all measure for measure.


Yosef's Appointment

"And he rode him in the chariot that was second to his, and they proclaimed before him 'He is second to the king!'" (41:43).

All of the above honour (see also the previous Pasuk) Par'oh afforded Yosef in a pompous ceremony, elevating him to the highest position in the land. He then changed his name to Tzofnas Pa'ne'ach and arranged a marriage with Osnas, the daughter of Potifera. This Par'oh did to ensure that the people, who do not take kindly to a stranger ruling over them, would accept him - now that he had an Egyptian name and had married the daughter of a respected citizen.


The author also points out that this is the only time that Yosef's new name is mentioned. Otherwise, the Torah always refers to him as 'Yosef'. Apparently, he declined to be called by the name given him by Par'oh, preferring to call himself by the 'Jewish' name given him by his father, just as he openly admitted to the butler that he had been stolen from 'the land of the Ivrim'.


In Pasuk 45, the Oznayim la'Torah gives two additional reasons as to why the king personally involved himself in finding Yosef a wife - before he took over his new position.

1. Because, had he not married him off to the daughter of Potifera, there was a strong chance that the latter might meet him in the street, and claim that he was his servant. But now that he was married to his daughter, Potifera would do whatever he could, to substantiate Yosef's claim that he had been stolen from the land of the Ivrim, and that he was not a slave. 2. Because marrying Potifera's daughter would remove the stigma that Yosef carried - accusing him of having raped Z'leicha, Potifera's wife. Had that been the case, Potifera would never have given him his daughter's hand in marriage.


Why did they Drink Wine?

" and they drank and became inebriated together with him" (43:34)

From the day that the brothers sold Yosef, neither they nor he drank wine (Rashi). Drinking wine, they figured, which is indicative of joy, was inappropriate.

That Yosef drank wine at this point, says the Oznayim la'Torah, is understandable, seeing that he recognized his brothers. But why did the brothers, who did not yet recognize him, drink?

And he answers that they didn't really have much choice, bearing in mind their predicament. Yosef was missing, and Shimon's fate remained in the balance. The minister before whom they sat was a powerful man, and after having been accused of being spies, they were once again at his mercy. One wrong move, and they faced the likelihood of a stiff jail-sentence, and perhaps even worse - and their father and his household had no food!

So they drank, aware of what the severe consequences of not drinking might be.

* * *

This issue is sponsored l'iluy Nishmas
Mordechai ben Yitzchak z"l
by his son

Chanukah Supplement

Chanukah and Purim
(Adapted from ha'Moa'dim be'Halachah)

Although the Rambam and the Poskim regularly mention Chanukah and Purim in the same breath, there are major differences between them, says the Mo'adim ba'Halachah.

For example, Purim has a Chumra that Chanukah does not, in that Megilas Esther is inserted in T'nach, has all the stringencies of any other Seifer, and must be treated accordingly. In fact there is no other Mitzvah de'Rabbanan that can match it.

Chanukah, on the other hand, has the unique Chumra that require a poor man, even one who lives on Tzedakah, to sell his coat if need be, in order to purchase oil for the Mitzvah. In fact, this obligation is non-existent even with regard to Mitzvos whose obligation is min ha'Torah. Indeed, Chazal put a ceiling of one fifth of one's money, on the performance of any other Mitzvah. The only Mitzvah which shares this stringency is that of the four cups of wine on Pesach (which is also mi'de'Rabbanan),

The Magid Mishnah claims that the Rambam (the source of the current ruling), learns the Din of Ner Chanukah from that of the four cups. This is because the reason for the two Mitzvos is one and the same - namely, 'Pirsumei Nisa', publicizing the miracle. In that case, seeing as the reason for both stringencies comes from the Rambam himself, we have no source from Chazal for comparing Ner Chanukah to the four cups.

The G'ro however, cites two Gemara's in Pasachim as the Rambam's source: The Gemara there (Daf 112a) rules that a poor man is obligated to accept something (a little bit of fish) in honour of Shabbos from the soup-kitchen. In the event that the Gabai Tzedakah does not give him, the Rashbam extrapolates from the Gemara, he is obligated even to sell his coat in order to purchase it himself. And the Gemara there on Daf 105a, gives precedence to the Kidush ha'Yom (i.e. the night Kidush) over the day and the night meal (Kavod ha'Yom ), and to Ner Chanukah over Kidush ha'Yom.

From the combination of these two Gemoros, the G'ro extrapolates that one needs to sell one's coat in order to Two Pfulfill the Mitzvah of Ner Chanukah too.


Another aspect of Chanukah's unique status is the concept of Mehadrin and Mehadrin min ha'Mehadrin, which we find neither by Purim nor by any other Mitzvah (even min ha'Torah). Nor can it be compared to that of Hidur Mitzvah, which simply means paying a little more to enhance the Mitzvah, whereas Mehadrin effects the performance of the Mitzvah itself by adding not just one, but two levels of excellence to it. Even more interestingly, whereas Hidur Mitzvah remains the choice of each and every individual, the whole of Yisrael have undertaken to fulfill the Mitzvah like the Mehadrin min ha'Mehadrin.


Mehadrin & Mehadrin min ha'Mehadrin
What is Mehadrin?

The basic Mitzvah is for the master of the house to kindle one lamp for his entire family. 'Mehadrin' means that each male member of the family kindles his own Menorah. The reason that women (who are obligated to perform the basic Mitzvah just like men, since they too, were included in the miracle) tend not to light is not clear. Some commentaries ascribe it to modesty, since the basic Mitzvah is to kindle the Menorah outside at the entrance to the courtyard of one's house.


What is Mehadrin min ha'Mehadrin?

This is subject to a Machlokes between the Rambam and Tosfos. According to the Rambam, it entails every member of the family kindling, not just one lamp, but adding one light each successive night.

Whereas Tosfos explains that it is the master of the house who adds the extra light each night, not each individual.

The Taz points out that the Ashkenazim do like the Rambam, and the Sefardim, like Tosfos, something which we find nowhere else in Shulchan Aruch.

* * *

Two Postscripts
(Adapted from the Kol Agados Yisrael)

After the Defeat of the Greek Army

After the miraculous defeat of the Greek army, Yehudah the Kohen Gadol and the entire group of the Chashmona'im returned from the battlefront and entered Yerushalayim. They destroyed all the Greek altars there, removed all the images that the Greek soldiers had placed in the Beis-Hamikdash and rebuilt the Mizbe'ach. They placed a Korban (Olah) on the Mizbe'ach, but were unable to find any holy fire with which to burn it. So they cried out to G-d, who responded by extracting fire from the stones of the Mizbe'ach, which consumed the flesh of the Korban. They then arranged the wood and burned the Korban, thanked G-d and blessed Him.

When they subsequently came to kindle the Menorah, they searched the entire House but found no oil. And it was only on their second attempt that they came upon one solitary jar of oil, with the Kohen Gadol's unbroken seal, that contained only enough for one night. They kindled it that evening, and miraculously, it lasted eight days, until they brought fresh oil with which to kindle the Menorah.


After Yehudis Killed Aliporni and Severed his Head

After severing King Aliporni's head and bringing it to the besieged city of B'sul, Yehudis advised the people to hang it from the wall. Then early in the morning, they should all arm themselves and assemble at the top of the mountain ready to attack the Greek garrison. When the Greek soldiers would discover their king lying dead without a head, they would flee, and the Jewish army would then chase after them and destroy them once and for all.

And that is precisely what happened. In the early morning, when Aliporni's men saw the Jewish soldiers assembled at the top of the mountain, they informed Bago, Aliporni's personal valet and ordered him to inform the king at once of the Jews intentions. He hurried to the king's tent to pass on the information. But to his horror, he found the dead, headless king wallowing in his own blood. He emitted a terrible scream and rent his garments. When the generals heard Bago's scream they came running to see what had happened, and when they saw the dead king, pandemonium broke loose throughout the camp, and all the soldiers took to their heels and fled in all directions. At that moment the Jewish army swooped down the mountain and chased after them. They decimated the Greek troops.

The victorious troops returned from the battlefield to strip the Greek camp and came away with large quantities of booty. Uzi'ah then sent messengers to Yerushalayim to spread word of the great victory that G-d had wrought on behalf of the Jews, The Kohen Gadol and the elders came from Yerushalayim to bless Yehudis for her brave actions, and all the people answered 'Amen' to their blessings. Then all the women went to greet Yehudis with song and praise, and they praised her and blessed her. Yehudis responded by taking olive-branches and distributing them to the women who accompanied her. They promptly wove them into wreaths and placed them on her head. And Yehudis sang a song of thanks to G-d and went up to Yerushalayim. She took the portion of booty that the men of B'sul gave her and donated it to the Beis-Hamikdash, and returned to Yerushalayim.

Yehudis lived to the ripe age of a hundred and five. For the duration of her life and for many years afterwards, no sword passed through the land.


A Third Postscript

Thirty-two battles did the Romans wage against the Greeks, but they were unable to defeat them. So they made a pact with Yisrael. According to the agreement, if a Roman was crowned king, then all the officers and governors would be Jews; whereas if a Jew was crowned king, then it was the Romans who would be appointed officers and governors.

And so they attacked the Greeks once more, and this time, they soundly defeated them and humiliated them.

The defeated Greeks, curious to know how the Romans had turned the tide on them, sent a delegation to Rome to find out how the Romans had achieved such a victory. The Romans replied : 'If a man possesses a pearl and a jewel, then he uses the pearl as a base for the jewel; If he has a jewel and a diamond, then he uses the jewel as the base for the diamond. What does he do if he has a diamond and a Seifer-Torah? He uses the diamond as a base for the Seifer-Torah!' 'Now go back and tell your leaders', the Romans told the Greek emissaries, 'that Yisrael and their Seifer-Torah is on the side of the Romans, and that all the nations of the world must humble themselves before them, because there is no nation like Yisrael, and there is nothing more precious than their Torah!' Twenty-six years the Romans abided by the truce before abrogating it.

* * *

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