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Pop Quiz: By what name did Pharaoh call Yosef?

by Rabbi Shmuel Choueka

One of the most famous questions in Halachic literature involves the lighting of the Hanukah menorah. We all know that we celebrate Hanukah for eight days because the pure oil which the Hashmonaim found when they rededicated the Temple was supposed to last one day, but it lasted eight days. The obvious question is, if so the miracle was only 7 days since there was enough to last for one day; why then is the holiday 8 days?

Hundreds of answers have been offered to this question. One interesting one is based on an amazing statement by one of the Rabbis that this flask which was found by the Hashmonaim was put away many years earlier because of something special which happened to it. It seems that the Kohen used to fill up a flask using a ladle and that was enough to fill up the seven lamps of the menorah. One time, the Kohen filled up the flask with the usual amount in the ladle, and he realized that the flask was still not full. He again ladled in more oil and it still wasn't filling up the flask. He did it for a total of eight times, and by then he realized that this is a miraculous flask. He therefore hid it for the future, and this is the one which lit the menorah at Hanukah time for eight days.

We therefore celebrate eight days of Hanukah to commemorate that special miracle that Hashem prepared the cure before we even recognized the ailment. Let us celebrate Hanukah confident in the knowledge that Hashem always prepares the antidote before the illness. Shabbat Shalom and Happy Hanukah.

by Rabbi Reuven Semah

[We thank you, Hashem] for all the miracles, for the rescue, for the acts of strength... (Siddur: Al Hanisim)

The holiday of Hanukah is truly a happy time for us. The miracles that Hashem did for the Hashmonaim provide light for us in today's exile. We celebrate for eight days the miracle of the oil in the Bet Hamikdash.

Rabbi Isaac Sher asks an important question which will shed new light on the entire concept of the miracle of Hanukah. The Ramban on his commentary of Perashat Bo lays down a fundamental rule. An open and supernatural miracle teaches us about all the hidden miracles. All the "acts of nature" are also miracles. There is no such thing as a natural act. Everything that happens in this world is a result of the direct intervention of Hashem, which is the same thing as a miracle. When a supernatural miracle occurs, it illustrates to us that just as Hashem made this wonder happen, so too about all things. If so, asks Rabbi Sher, what is the lesson of the miracle of Hanukah? If all acts are miracles anyway, why are we obligated to publicize the miracle? After all, don't we believe that everything is a miracle?

The answer is contained in the story of Hanukah. The Greeks were successful in invading and defiling the Holy Temple. For three years, the Bet Hamikdash stood, empty of the Holy service, empty of Kohanim. How did this happen? Did Hashem abandon his temple? Did the Temple become the property of the Greeks? G-d forbid! Hashem was and is the owner of the Bet Hamikdash. He never gave up on bringing back His Holy presence there. But Hashem was, so to speak, hiding His face, waiting and watching our deeds. The only reason why the Greeks were able to enter at all was because we let them. The Jews abandoned the Temple by not standing up with their lives to keep the Bet Hamikdash holy - until the day came when Matityahu the Cohen Gadol felt the terrible desecration taking place, and he couldn't endure it any longer. When he raised the banner of rebellion, it was not to defeat the Greeks for that seemed impossible. It was to remove the disgrace of the Temple, that no Jew fought for the Shechinah. That's all Hashem was waiting for to bring about the spectacular victory and return the Shechina to the Bet Hamikdash.

The lesson of the Hanukah miracle is clear. It is not the miracle that we celebrate, but our ability to bring back Hashem's presence to us, even if an open miracle is needed to do so. Our sacrifice for the Temple service brings it back to us. Our sacrifice for the Shechina in the Temple will bring it all back to us.

Happy Hanukah and Shabbat


"And may Hashem grant you mercy before the man." (Beresheet 43:14)

The Hafess Hayim points out the importance of watching each and every word which comes out of our mouths. We saw previously, when Ya'akob and his family were leaving Laban's house, Rachel took Laban's idols without anyone else knowing about it. When Laban accused Ya'akob of stealing them Ya'akob said, "With whomever you find your gods, he shall not live." The Rabbis teach us that because of that statement, Rachel died prematurely.

When the brothers returned from Egypt the first time and told Ya'akob about the harsh treatment they received there, Ya'akob was very careful with his response. He didn't allow any curse on the "ruler" of Egypt to pass his lips. Rather, he sent a small gift and told his sons, "May Hashem have mercy on you."

If Ya'akob had not been so careful with his words, he could have quite easily cursed Yosef unwittingly, and in effect, brought about Yosef's early demise. (Tallelei Orot)


"And as I am already bereaved (of my child, so also) I am bereaved." (Beresheet 43:14)

Ya'akob thought that he was sending Binyamin into a perilous place; in reality, he was sending him to his loving brother, who wielded great power in Egypt. Perhaps no place was more secure for Binyamin than "Yosef's" Egypt. The entire narrative demonstrates that those circumstances which are seemingly hopeless can be in actuality beneficial. Yosef's afflictions were necessary to his attaining the highest power in Egypt. His brothers, however, who feared the dreaded vice-regent of Egypt, were in error, for that dreaded and evil Egyptian was none other than their loving brother, Yosef. The lesson to be noted is that men fear imaginary enemies, while all we should really fear is Hashem. All circumstances of life are in themselves meaningless, except for Hashem's favor or disfavor. (Peninim on the Torah)

Answer to pop quiz: Safnat Pa'neah.

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