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Haftarah: Amos 2:6-3:8

NOVEMBER 22-23, 2013 23 KISLEV 5774

Hanukah will be celebrated from Tuesday night, November 27 to Wednesday, December 5


"It was at that time that Judah went down from his brothers." (Beresheet 38:1)

The two parashiyot of Vayesheb and Mikess tell the story of Yosef being sold to Egypt and his subsequent rise to power as second in command to Pharaoh. Hanukah always coincides with the Shabbat on which we read either Vayesheb or Mikess, or both. Let us study our perashah which has a profound lesson for us in relation to Hanukah.

In our perashah we read how after the brothers had sold Yosef into slavery, Judah married a Canaanite woman and had three sons. His first two sons died, because of their sins, and then shortly thereafter his wife died. The Seforno explains that Judah was made to suffer in this way as a father, because of the grief he had caused his own father, Jacob, by instigating the plan to sell Yosef to the Ishmaelites.

This is strange, when we read what actually happened, for Judah's proposal to sell Yosef was a device to save Yosef's life. In fact, later on (49:8), when Jacob is blessing his sons and predicting the royal destiny of the house of Judah, his words are interpreted by Rashi as praising him for saving Yosef's life. How can we reconcile these two viewpoints? Was Judah being bad or good in instigating the sale of Yosef to save his life?

The answer is given by Rashi (38:1) that it was both. Of course he did a good deed in saving his brother's life. But his great sin was in trying to judge how far his brothers would be willing to listen to him and how much he should compromise on his position accordingly. We should never limit anyone on how far one is willing to go. Judah felt they wouldn't listen to him to free Yosef completely, and so he calculated a compromise and sold him. He limited the brothers' ability to rise to the challenge. Do not underestimate others, especially a Rabbi about a kahal, or do that to yourself.

On Hanukah, every Jew, no matter what his level is, can connect with Hashem.

A delegation once went to the Chozeh of Lublin to pour out their hearts about a vicious Jewish informer. They entered the Rebbe's room with a small piece of paper on which they had written their terrible suffering as well as the full name of the informer. The Rebbe read the paper carefully and said, "This person is illuminating all the worlds." They were baffled and asked the Rebbe's assistant how to proceed. "Go in to the Rebbe again," he advised. The next morning they went in with a paper identical to the first one. He read it carefully. "Now I see everything. Last night, at the exact moment I read the paper, the informer was probably lighting the Hanukah lights, and no matter how low, when he lights he illuminates the very heavens"

We need to stop and internalize the message and ponder the fact that we too light up the heavens when we light the Menorah. Do not underestimate your greatness. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

After Yosef was sold into slavery, the brothers, led by Yehudah, sent Yosef's multi-colored coat, dipped in goat's blood, to their father. They asked him "tb rfv, Recognize if you please, if this is your son's coat." Later on, when Tamar sent the staff and the ring belonging to her father-in-law, Yehudah, she also said to him these same words, "tb rfv, Recognize please if these are yours (so it shall be known that I conceived from you)." The Rabbis tell us that Yehudah was punished vsn sdbf vsn, measure for measure. He used words which caused anguish to his father and Tamar used these very words which caused him embarrassment. The concept of measure for measure is indeed very powerful, and is one of the ways by which Hashem's Providence is shown throughout all the generations. If we study this perashah well, we will see that what Yosef did to his brothers was also done to him, measure for measure.

When the Jewish people were lax in the service of the Temple in the times of the Syrian-Greeks, they lost the privilege of service in the Bet Hamikdash. When the Hashmonaim showed sacrifice and went above nature to rededicate the Temple service, Hashem also went above nature and gave us the military miracle and the miracle of the lamps lasting eight days.

We have to know that this is the way Hashem works, measure for measure. This should encourage us and inspire us to do the correct things and not do something against Hashem or against other people, because the element of measure for measure is always active. May we be privileged to see the Hand of Hashem for only good things. Shabbat Shalom and Happy Hanukah. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


The benefit of water to human health is an oft-discussed and rarely debated issue. Drinking about eight glasses a day will keep your body clean and remedy the effect of many toxins you will ingest in the food you eat and the air you breathe.

There was once a couple who constantly argued. Their relationship was stressful not only for themselves, but also for their children. At the advice of a concerned friend, they went to see a Rabbi who seemed to have a talent for bringing peace even to the most difficult of domestic battle zones.

The husband and wife were both pretty surprised when, after patiently listening to their emotional tirades about their respective spouses, the Rabbi reached for a large bottle of water and said, "This is Shalom Bayit water and is the answer to all of your problems."

"How can water solve the deep differences between us?" asked the curious wife.

"It is quite simple," replied the Rabbi. "You both have short tempers and a definite knack for pouring fuel on the fire. What I humbly suggest is that the next time you are ready to scream back at your spouse, take a mouthful of water and hold it in your mouth for a full ten seconds before swallowing."

We all know people who can get on our nerves and ruin an otherwise pleasant day. Keep a bottle of water handy in your "battle zones" - the office, the car, the dinner table. Next time you are about to lose your temper, fill your mouth with water and hold it for ten seconds. This will undoubtedly be the healthiest drink you will ever swallow. (One Minute With Yourself - Rabbi Raymond Beyda)


The Gemara (Shabbat 21b) says that if the Hanukah lights became extinguished, one is not obligated to rekindle it. The kindling of the Hanukah lights commemorates the miracle of the Hashmonaim's candle-lighting in the Bet Hamikdash and is the main misvah of the festival. Wouldn't it be logical that one should be obligated to rekindle any of the lights which are extinguished?

The Greeks' primary intent was to abolish the study of Torah so that Jews and non-Jews alike should engage only in secular studies.

With the halachah concerning the extinguishing of the light the Sages are conveying a very important lesson regarding the superiority of Torah study over all secular studies.

When a person studies a secular subject for a period of time and afterwards realizes that his comprehension was faulty, or the conclusion he sought to derive from his theories on the subject matter is incorrect and unfounded, he is greatly disappointed and considers his time wasted.

Torah study, however, is not the same. If one spends much time trying to comprehend a piece of Gemara and in the end cannot figure it out, or if one tries to draw certain conclusions from a Torah subject and afterwards realizes that he erred, the time spent is not wasted, and he receives Heavenly reward for the misvah of Talmud Torah - his studying of Torah.

Celebrating Hanukah with the kindling of light emphasizes the importance of Torah study, which is compared to light. The halachah about the light teaches us that if one studied Torah diligently and at the end it extinguished - i.e. he didn't properly understand it or was in error - the rule is not that he receives no reward until he rekindles it, i.e. studies the subject again and comprehends it properly - rather he gets Heavenly reward for all his time and effort.

The reward for secular knowledge comes from humans, and they give recognition only for accomplishment. There is a popular saying, "Kudsha Berich Hu chadi b'pilpula d'oraita" - "Hashem rejoices when he sees people engaged in arguing and discussing Torah subjects," regardless of the conclusions or whether the theories are right or wrong. (Vedibarta Bam)


"After that Your children entered the shrine of Your House, cleaned Your Temple, purified Your Sanctuary." (Al Hanisim)

Why did the Rabbis who authored this prayer include the two words "v'achar kach - and after that," which seem to be superfluous?

For a moment let us picture the situation: We find a might army ready to do battle with the people of Israel, who are absolutely unprepared militarily. They possess neither the numbers nor the arms to prevail against the enemy. We can imagine what took place when a man left his home to go to the battlefront, knowing his side was outnumbered and unprepared to win the war. His family, of course, is broken-hearted. His wife, children, brothers and sisters bid farewell to the young man with trepidation, not knowing whether or not they would see him alive again.

Finally the battle takes place and a miracle occurs. The tide is turned. Instead of the many being victorious over the few, the mighty over the weak, it is the other way around. Matityahu's sons and the Hashmonaim armies are victorious and win the war. Now, it stands to reason that the first reaction from the soldiers should be to immediately rush back home and tell their families that they are alive, safe and sound.

However, it wasn't so. After winning the war, these men first went to the Holy Temple to rid it of impurities, reestablish its sanctity and try to bring back the G-dly light of the Menorah. Therefore, our Rabbis tell us "v'achar kach - and after that" - i.e. after it was over - they did not run home to their families and bring them the good tidings. No, they first went to the Holy Temple, for they knew that winning a physical battle wasn't everything. They felt that until the House of Hashem was put in order, their victory was not complete. Our Rabbis wanted to impress upon us that these men who went out to battle realized that the greatest accomplishment would be to put the House of Hashem back in order. And this was the first obligation they proceeded to fulfill immediately after claiming victory. (Vedibarta Bam)

* * * * *

A quick tip to boost the power of your prayer. Hazal tell us (Masechet Baba Kama Daf 92A) that Hashem loves the tefilot of one Jew for another so much that anyone who prays on behalf of a fellow Jew with similar needs will have his prayer answered first. A special service has now begun to provide people with names of others who find themselves in a similar predicament. You can call with complete anonymity and get the name of someone to pray for and give the name of someone that needs our prayers. The name of the service is Kol Hamitpalel. Categories include: Marriage; Income; Health; To have children etc.

Call to 646-279-8712 or email (Privacy of email limited by the email address)

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