DECEMBER 14-15, 2001 30 KISLEV 5762
- Rabbi Reuven Semah
"And Pharaoh was dreaming" (Beresheet 41:1)
This week we celebrate the happy holiday of Hanukah. We celebrate the miracles that Hashem performed for us to enable us to continue our way of life - a way of life full of meaning in serving Almighty G-d. We also read this week the perashah of Mikess. In this perashah we read about the dreams of Pharaoh which he dreamt concerning the Egyptian people.
Rabbi Nissan Alpert sees a change in the focus of the Torah from the earlier chapters. Before, the Torah tells us of the dreams of Ya'akob and Yosef, but that has changed. Now we are told about the dreams of the baker and the wine-master. Pharaoh dreams and Yosef interprets those dreams. There is a hint here for us about the future exiles that the Jewish people will have to face. In the exiles the Jews will cease to dream their own dreams. They will no longer dream about their religious and spiritual yearnings. They will become occupied with interpreting the dreams of the gentiles. The Jew will help bring about the fulfillment of the nations' dreams, with the application of our national genius. We will invent the technology to further the dreams of the dream house, the dream car and the dream vacation. The great Jewish minds will apply themselves to the advancement of science instead of the advancement of Torah. Eventually, their dreams will become ours.
That, my friends, is the story of Hanukah. The Greek civilization thrived on the physical, art, culture, the beauty of the human form and the ability of the body to perform. The Jew took for himself the dreams and aspirations of the Greeks. The Maccabees fought with their lives to restore our own way of life.
It says in Tehillim (126), "A song of ascents. When Hashem will return the captivity of Sion we will be like dreamers." When Hashem returns our exiles to our holy land, then we will return to dream our dream - the dream of the fulfillment of the vision of our great nation living a life of joy in service of Hashem. Shabbat Shalom & Happy Hanukah.
- Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
"Not with strength or might, but with the spirit of Hashem" (Zechariah 4:6)
We are living today in times that are unusual and extraordinary. In our beloved Land of Israel, we are beset by tragedies and horror stories every day and the solution is nowhere to be found. In our wonderful USA, we have been stricken with a hard blow on September 11th and we are still reeling from the aftermath. As we come to Hanukah we look for answers to these troubling times.
When we contemplate the miracles which Hashem did for us, allowing thirteen righteous men to tackle the mighty Greek army, culminating in the victory of Hanukah, we are overwhelmed by His kindness. And to give it meaning, Hashem allowed the oil to burn for eight nights instead of one, thereby publicizing His love for us and showing us that the spiritual will overcome the physical. This is the meaning of the pasuk in the Haftarah: "Not with strength or might but with the spirit of Hashem will come success."
May this serve as a lesson to us in these times that only with the spirit of Hashem will we have any success and may we strengthen ourselves in the service of the spirit. Happy Hanukah.
- Rabbi Yaacov Ben-Haim
" And Yosef remembered the dreams which he had dreamed" (Beresheet 42:9)
Rav Hirsh explains Yosef's behavior when he first met his brothers. Yosef felt that two developments would have to occur before he could make himself known to his brothers: a) That if possible, he should be able to change his own opinion of his brothers, but above all, b) that his brothers should change their opinion of him. Their feeling toward one another would have to change; otherwise, they would not be able to resume their former close relationship. In that case, even if Yosef were physically restored to his family, his family would be lost to him and he to them.
It was only natural that Yosef's view of his brothers should be prejudiced by what they had done to him. These feelings could be erased only by proof that his brothers had a complete change of heart. He therefore felt he would have to test his brothers to see whether they would find it in their hearts once again to pry a son away from their father. This test was important for Joseph's own feelings so that, if his brothers passed it, he would be able to banish the last drop of bitterness against them from his heart. But the second consideration was this: Yosef remembered his dreams, how they had caused his brothers to suspect him of lust for power and to feel threatened by him, and how they considered it legitimate to commit the gravest crime against him in self-defense. How much more would they now have to fear him when he was not only a "king" in fact, but also has cause to hate them and to take his revenge on them!
For this reason it was imperative that the brothers should come to know Yosef's true character, and that he present himself to them in the light of his actual position of power. Until now, they had known him only as a "masbir" (retail seller); perhaps they had taken him for a lowly clerk taking orders from some petty official. He would therefore have to present himself to them as the "shalit" (governor). They would have to understand that he was in a position to do with them as he pleased. If he would then turn out to be their greatest benefactor instead, he would have reason to hope that this would cure them of all their erroneous notions about him. Then, at the moment when he would identify himself to them as their brother Yosef, the blindfold would drop from their eyes and it would be possible for both Yosef and his brothers to forget the past and to let bygones be bygones. Only under such circumstances could Yosef hope to be truly restored as a son to his father and as a brother to his father's children. These same considerations were also the ones that keep Yosef from establishing contact with his father during his years of prosperity. What would Ya'akob's heart have won if he had regained one son but lost ten others, if he would have had to see his children divided into two bitterly warring camps? To this end all of Yosef's plans were essential and - as it would seem to us - entirely worthy of a man as wise as he.
"And Pharaoh said to Yosef, 'After Hashem has informed you of all this there is no one who is as understanding and wise as you'" (Beresheet 41:39)
How could Pharaoh have trusted Yosef to such a degree that he appointed him to be the main administrator of the plans to save Egypt from the shortages of the forthcoming famine? True, Yosef was understanding and wise, but how could Pharaoh trust someone who was just released from prison and was previously a slave?
Rabbi Chayim Shmuelevitz, the late Rosh Yeshivah of Mir, replied that Pharaoh saw Yosef's extreme honesty in something he said before he related the interpretation of the dream. Yosef began by saying to Pharaoh that he had no power to interpret dreams on his own. It was entirely a gift from Hashem. Yosef didn't want to take credit even for a moment. This total honesty in one minor point showed that Yosef could be completely trusted. Note what happened here. Pharaoh saw one minor positive point in Yosef's character and extrapolated from this to see the good on a large scale. This should be our model in viewing people. Keep finding minor strengths and good qualities in others and then give the person positive feedback. This can help someone build a positive self-image. The more a person sees himself as having positive attributes, the more motivated he will be to utilize them for further growth. (Growth through Torah)
"They served him separately, and them separately and the Egyptians who ate with him separately, for the Egyptians could not bear to eat food with the Ibrim (Jews), it being loathsome to the Egyptians" (Beresheet 43:32)
Seforno comments that Yosef ate neither with his brothers nor with the Egyptians. In other words, Yosef ate alone, his brothers ate alone, and the Egyptians ate alone. He is implying that the Egyptians did not eat with Yosef because he was a Jew. Indeed, all of Egypt knew that their viceroy had once been a Jewish slave who had ascended to royalty. We must ask ourselves: How did an entire country know that Yosef was Jewish, while his brothers did not? Nachlas Tzvi contends that Hashem is capable of preventing an individual from becoming aware of a reality - even if the others around him are aware of that reality. Hashem did not want Yosef's identity to be revealed to his brothers. Even if there were signs all over Egypt "screaming out" Yosef's lineage and ancestry, the brothers would remain unaware. He says that this notion is especially true in the area of shidduchim, marriage matches. The whole world may be aware of certain characteristics of one of the sides, but if the shidduch is "nessib," destined to occur, the other side will never find out.
He cites an incident involving the Imrei Emet to validate this point. A man once came to the Imrei Emet to ask him advice and receive his blessing concerning a specific shidduch family that lived in another city. The Imrei Emet told him to go to that city and seek "information" about the family with whom he was considering arranging a shidduch. He followed the Rebbe's advice. Upon arriving in the city, he asked the first Jew that he met about the family in question. The man responded by lauding the family, citing the father as being one of exemplary character, particularly devoted to hesed, acts of loving kindness. Following the Rebbe's advice, he consented to the shidduch, and the boy and girl became engaged.
The very next day, this person went to shul to pray Shaharit. He heard how everybody in the shul was disparaging his future daughter-in-law's father as being a selfish and evil man. Upon hearing this, the man who had followed the Rebbe's advice immediately returned home to relate to the Rebbe the series of events surrounding the shidduch. "Why did the Rebbe advise me to go through with the shidduch with such a disreputable mehutan?" asked the man. The Rebbe answered, "Listen carefully to what I will tell you. I knew that this person is in conflict with the people of that city. I knew, however, that there is one Jew with whom he has not yet fought. I figured that if you come to the city and "happen" to meet that specific person who was not in contention with your mehutan, it was surely by design. It was a sign from Heaven that this shidduch was meant to be. What is meant to be is meant to be." (Peninim on the Torah)
This week's Haftarah: Zechariah 2:14 - 4:7.
This haftarah, which is read specially for Hanukah, speaks of the time when the Menorah of the Second Bet Hamikdash was inaugurated. The prophet Zechariah is shown a vision of a golden Menorah, complete with a bowl of oil and two olive trees to ensure that the supply of oil will never run out. An angel explains to Zechariah that the vision symbolizes the fact that Hashem provides for all of man's needs.
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