Back to Parsha Homepage | Previous Issues

by Daneal Weiner

From the Orchards of Jerusalem

A Freilicha Chanukah!!! A Happy Chanukah!!! Happy Hanukka!!! Or if you get paid by the letter, Happy Channukkah!!!

Everything you ever wanted to know about Chanukah is packed into this weeks

Parshas Mikaits

but in the abridged form. B'ez'H, we'll draw it out a little later on. Last week we left off with the brothers selling Yoseph as an attempt to prevent him from destroying the Torah tradition of their fathers. Eventually he was purchased by the Head Butcher of Pharaohs court, Potiphar. For a year Potiphar's wife tries everything including torture to get Yoseph to lay with her. Yoseph repeatedly refuses after which the Sages refer to him as Yoseph Hatsaddik, Joseph the Righteous. Potiphar's wife's problem was that she saw in her stars tremendous descendants coming from her and Yoseph. Well you know how fuzzy those messages from the stars are (unless your watching TV after midnight). What Mrs. P. didn't realize was that their adopted daughter Osnat, was to be wed to Yoseph. Not being a blood child she wasn't considered as part of the picture. Osnat, Chazal tell us was born to Dina having been raped by Shchem, two parshas back.

After a poor frame attempt by Potiphar's wife, Joseph ends up spending 10 years in jail. Potiphar, as we said, the Head Butcher to Pharaoh, certainly is not short of ideas for punishing a slave guilty of assaulting his wife. Yoseph's imprisonment is virtually a testimonial to his innocence. Potiphar knows this but to save face he puts Yoseph in jail. One of the finest jail pits in Egypt, with all the other 'royal' criminals. You thought the republicans were the first to think of that? Two fellow inmates have dreams. Joseph interprets one that it's dreamer will be released and Josephs asks him twice to remember him before Pharaoh in hopes of a pardon. There are a number of reasons given that due to Yoseph asking for help, Hashem left him in prison for two more years. Our parsha opens...

"Vayihe mikaits shnasayim yomim"- literally; And it was at the end two years days. ArtScroll says "It happened at the end of two years to the day..." Rav Wolfson says deeper, "It happened at the end the two years were like days..." but more on that later, G-d willing. So what happened? That everyone agrees on.

41:2-8> And Pharaoh has a disturbing dream which wakes him out of his sleep at night. Rav Moshe Shternbach says; What a nightmare!!! And he falls back to sleep!!!! (I get paid per the exclamation mark) Then he has another dream! Another shocker!!! It was so real that the Torah tells us at the end of verse 7 that only after he woke up did he realize it was a dream!!! And verse 8 starts..."And it was in the morning that his spirit was agitated." In the morning??? He fell asleep again!!! Can you believe it? Of course not. Because your thinking like a human being. But for a moment, think like the King Cretonne, the Monarch of Materialism, the Czar of Czelfishness. You think a self made god is going to give up a couple hours of good shut-eye?!? Speaking of the Baron of B'haimahs, were else in Jewish history do we find such a 'man'? Someone who can throw a party for 6 months straight? King Achshveirosh! He had some trouble one night, didn't he? He couldn't sleep! Ah, Rashi explains (on ýMegillas Esther 6:1ý), "It was a miracle."

41:14> "Pharaoh sent and summoned for Yoseph, and they rushed him from the dungeon. He shaved and changed his clothes, and he came to Pharaoh." The Gemorah Rosh Hashannah has differing opinions as to whether the two years to the day of Yoseph 's release was from the day he interpreted the dreams or from 3 days later when the interpretations came into fruition? All agree, however, that the day of his release was Rosh Hashannah! So how could Yoseph shave? The Me'am Loez explains that showing any disrespect to a king is can result in a death sentence (as we see when King David ordered the husband of Batsheva killed via a suicidal mission). This is certainly cause to allow shaving even on Rosh Hashannah.

Thinking backwards it is easy to say of course Yoseph dressed up to see the king, but where did we get the idea from? Here is where WE learn that proper dress is warranted when in the presence of important people. Not only that but our appearance helps our words to command attention as well. Imagine the next time you went to your doctor he greeted you in a old shirt he paints with and old worn jeans. Of course, this doesn't apply in America where they institute 'casual day'. And now, a few words from the president. "My fellow Americans. We've been breeding a lack of self respect and no appreciation for some time now. Sure, our young can tattoo themselves, poke holes all over the place, pay good earned money for some one to take a mower to their heads. The blue collar workers, the unions keep them degraded. But what about the white collar workers? They have to force themselves to dress up 5 days a week!! Almost dignified! I shudder to say 'respectful'. Carry themselves about in a professional manner! Can we let this feeling of self worth go on unchecked?"

As Rabbi Orlofsky once put it, "Imagine in medieval times, the owner of a fine linen shop standing in the doorway of his modest little establishment. He's watching the peasant folks go by and is thinking to himself, 'Boy, I would just love to change into some sackcloth right now! Get out of these fine linens, dump out a sack of barley and throw it over my shoulders. Yea, that would be nice.'"

So if we have some idea how much we should dress standing in front of the mirror or standing in the presence of someone important, how much more so should we look our best welcoming in the Shabbos Queen? And standing in prayer before the King of kings?

41:33>"Now let Pharaoh seek out a discerning and wise man and set him over the land of Egypt." Hold the phone, Yoseph! You were asked here. You were asked for you interpretation. But no one asked you for your 2 cents on what to do about it!?!

The Sha'arai Aharon brings down a couple answers to Yoseph's inclusion of this advice. The Ra'avam, in the name of his grandfather, says that Yoseph was stressing the degree of his belief that these were the true interpretations. None of Pharaoh's advisors would dare advice on something they weren't sure of because then they would be held accountable if they were wrong. Yoseph was willing to go the extra measure.

The Avraham Hachasid feels that Yoseph is risking his life but if things aren't arranged quickly, they will all die of starvation anyway, so what's the risk?

The Be'air Yoseph points out that Yoseph said that Pharaoh's two dreams were one. So what happened during that one dream? Pharaoh woke up in the middle of it and went back to sleep. Yoseph was simply adding that into his interpretation. "Pharaoh, you need to wake up fast and appoint a man and 'set him over the land,' that is, take over your job, and the you can go back to sleep." Pharaoh thinks, Great idea! 41:39> "You be in charge of my palace and by your command shall all my people be sustained: only by the throne shall I outrank you. Call the club house and reserve me the front 9 for...the next 14 years."

Actually, there was one little glitch in Pharaoh's plan. He knew the officers of his court weren't going to be thrilled with a Hebrew slave suddenly becoming Viceroy over all Egypt. On the books, probably from the old British mandate, was a little rule to just that effect. Certainly, as Pharaoh, he could change the rule as he did by the Wine Steward (when Yoseph interpreted his dream including the words (40:13) "k'mishpat harishone"- like the first law). Pharaoh knew that if things were to run smoothly then everyone would have to get along. So in 40:37-38 he first asked from hiscourt if it would be ok with them. Then he spoke to Yoseph directly.

Rabbi Yechezkel Fox says, "Wait!" One more little glitch. Who, in all Egypt, would have the hardest time taking orders from Yoseph? Someone, maybe, with unlimited access of the palace kitchen? Where food poisoning is the number one source of early dismissal for unappreciated Viceroy's? Potiphar, Chief of the Butchers! Who just so happens to have a daughter named Osnat. "My son-in-law! The Viceroy!" Everyone is happy! Even Leah!

Years ago, Leah was pregnant a 7th time and prayed for it to be a girl so that Rachel would have 2 tribes to her name. The fetus was already a male and, for her prayers, H' miraculously changed it to a female. Leah sacrificed a tribe as an act of kindness for her sister. Hashem always repays kindness with kindness. Through Leah's grand-daughter she will now get two tribes, Ephraim and Menashe.

41:45-46> "...thus Yoseph emerged in charge of the land of Egypt. Now Yoseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh, king of Egypt; Yoseph left Pharaoh's presence and he passed through the entire land of Egypt." Call me nit-picky but if he emerged, he emerged. What's added with the second verse? A free ride around Egypt? Do we really need to know he stood before Pharaoh in order to know that he left his presence- as if the last 2 chapters weren't talking about just that? Like I said, you could call ME nit-picky but I wouldn't recommend calling the Alshich HaKadosh such. He says verse 46 is not old news but an old message. One that can't be repeated enough.

How would the casual observer look at Yoseph's 1/2 hour rise from rags to riches. Wisdom? Strategy? Luck? This verse says "Nay!" to all of the above. "Yoseph was thirty years old..." At the end of last week he was 28 years old! His little bit of wisdom got him 2 more years in jail. Strategy? That requires a chain of events. There was no chain here other than "he stood before Pharaoh the king; Yoseph left Pharaoh's presence..." Yoseph gained the crown, Pharaoh, for all intents and purposes, lost the crown. Luck? See strategy. The only difference between luck and strategy is whether you see it coming or not. Only one power could have made Yoseph what he became faster than a get rich quick infomercial. HaKadosh baruch Hu!

So you want to give Yoseph some credit for interpreting the dream correctly, eh? Go back to the first verse of the parsha. "And Pharaoh had a dream..." "And Pharaoh"??? Who else? The Sages say, Yoseph, that's who! In last weeks haftorah the Prophet said it himself (Amos 3:7), (Don't you pay attention to the haftorah reading?) "For my L-rd Hashem will do nothing without having revealed His secrets to His servants the prophets." Hashem told Avraham what He was going to do to the Sodomites and he would certainly tell Yoseph what He was going to do to Egypt. H' is Emes- Truth. What got Yoseph were he was was the Truth, the whole Truth, and nothing but the Truth. So helped him, G-d.

Taking a jump in the parsha, the brothers are back a second time for food and they brought Benyamin with to prove they were not spies. Yoseph's wants to make feast. He says to the cook, (43:16) "u't'vo'ach tevach v'huchain"- slaughter meat and prepare it! It 'just so happens' (the 3 funniest words in Judaism) that the last 5 letters of these three words are the 5 letters of the word Chanukah (in English it would come out 'Chainuchvh' but in the Hebrew I promise it works perfect). And right in the parsha which just so happens to be read on Shabbos Chanukah, 9 times out of 10, according to the way the Jewish calendar just so happens to have been fixed.

But I digress. The Chanukas Hatorah says "v'huchain"- prepare? The only time we see this verb form in the Torah is regarding Shabbos. Shmos 16:5, when H' is telling Moshe about the mon. "And it shall be on the sixth day 'v'haichienu' when they prepare what they shall bring, and it will be double what they gather every day." The Chanukas Hatorah says this can only mean that its Friday in Egypt! The text implies the meal was at noon. Maybe the sun sets early in Egypt. Maybe they love an early Shabbos. One things for sure! (43:34) "They drank and became intoxicated with him [the brothers with Yoseph]" and (44:3) "The day dawned and the men were sent off, they and their donkeys." When the brothers left town, it was for sure Shabbos Day!?!?

All this is actually background to the Chanukas Hatorah's question of what happens next. 44:4> "They had left the city and had not gone far when Yoseph said to the one in charge of his house, 'Get up, chase after the men; when you overtake them, you are to say to them, "Why do you repay evil for good?"'" Yoseph sends a one man (?) posse out after his brothers and he instructs him saying, "When you catch up to them say this. Now don't say it before you catch up to them unless your voice is really loud. Don't say it during the catching up to them either because then they'll miss the beginning but WHEN you catch up to them." You here the question? Why didn't the Yoseph just say, "Chase after them and say..."?

To answer, one last piece of background information needs to be added to the above. The Midrash on this verse asks on the words "had not gone far", how far is that? It answers 2000 amos. The Techum Shabbos. A halachic border encircling a city beyond which one is not allowed to travel on Shabbos! Now the Chanukas Hatorah tells us what Yoseph really said to his servant. "I don't know how desperate the situation is for the house of Yaakov, back in Canaan. If it is a matter of life and death then the men will travel beyond the Techum. Then let them go. But if you catch up to them, if they stopped at the Techum- meaning that back home they're fine but they just wanted to get as far away as possible from me- then we'll detain them just a little longer!
Gevaldik vort!

I just so happened to be learning Gemorah Yevamos where it briefly mentions the prohibition on Shabbos of leading an animal. If its Shabbos, how could the Brothers lead their animals away? I looked again at the verses above about the departure. (44:3) "The day dawned and the men were sent off, they and their donkeys." Huh? Huh? Not they left with their donkeys. "SENT off, they AND their donkeys." The Egyptians gave the whack in the hinney and the donkeys kept on walking! I told this to a Rabbi with along white beard who thought it was great, it has potential, but he wanted to check a few Sforim at home first. It might sound good but so does smoked salmon and you wouldn't want to put that in your note book.

With that on the burner I said to the Rabbi the only problem now is the journey back to Egypt. The verse says (44:13) "They rent their garments. Each one reloaded his donkey and they returned to the city." Big problem! Even if we say the servant lead them all back, renting the clothes is for sure a no-no. Then the Rabbi suggested it was after Shabbos. Sounded a little hard. They left at dawn. No real measure of time...until...the next verse..."When Yehudah arrived with his brothers to Yoseph's house, he was STILL there." Unexpectedly so! What Viceroy stays home on a Saturday night?!?!?!?!?!?!? Only one expecting the possibility of after-Shabbos guests! Woooweeee! The light of Chanukah is showin' me the way! Baruch Hashem!! Shine Your light on me! Maoz tsur yishuasi, lecha na'eh l'shabayach..Ok, ok, it was the Rabbi's idea, but I backed it up! I brought it home! I made it work! Still, he'll get back to me on this too. Torah? or fish wrapping? Tonight at 11:00.

As long as we're up on the Chanukah spirit and down in space and time I wanted to briefly mention a couple ideas. In the opening I said this parsha contains the message of Chanukah in the abridged form. This isn't the only place it gets a brief mention. The Gemorah Yuma compares Queen Esther to the shachar, the sunrise. Just as the shachar is the end of the night, so too is Esther the end of the miracles. Obvious question, what about Chanukah which was after Purim? A miracle is a miracle, no? Ok, maybe a different species but the same family? The Gemorah explains it means the end of the miracles that were written down. We see, in fact, Esther was an end of miracles written down. Esther is a megilla, part of Tanach. Not so for Chanukah. Not only no megilla but not even a mishna. Hardly even any Gemorah for the magnitude of the event.

The Gemorah Shabbos is talking Shabbos 'candles' and happens to mention the opinion that the wicks and oils used for Shabbos can be used for Chanukah. This plus the 2 differing opinions. Now that the door is open, it spends some time on Chanukah (Gem Shabbos 21a). What's with the 'back door' treatment? What's the hush hush about Chanukah?

Most would describe a covenant as a relationship between 2 people. Taken for granted is the definition that a covenant is to the EXCLUSION of all others. When did the trouble start for the Jews under the Greeks? When King Ptolome ordered 70 Elders to translate the Torah into Greek. It was all down hill from there. Then it was translated from Greek to Latin. Now the written Torah is in the public forum. Now the Christians say, "Oh look, this verse is Jesus and this is Jesus, 1st coming, 2nd coming. 3rd coming." However many times it takes to smooth out the rough spots. Then Islam got a hold of it. "This is really Mohammed, not Isaac. Let's switch it. Gimme the eraser. No the big one that erases 1500 years." The written Torah became up for grabs. r'l. But what no one will ever get their hands on is the Torah sheh'b'al Peh, the Oral Law.

Chanukah is the salvation of the Jewish people. A miraculous salvation for our self sacrifice. It's on behalf of a covenant that Hashem made with our forefathers and no one is going to get their hands on it. It's hidden away even within the elusive framework of the oral law. A person can have every dictionary in the world and translate every word of a page of Gemorah. Without an oral tradition they won't have a single idea what the Sages are talking about. (They could still probably write a daf yomi column for the Jerusalem Post.)

Coming back to the parsha, when Pharaoh sent for Yoseph it says, "they rushed him from the dungeon." The Hebrew for 'they rushed him' is 'vayeritsuhu' (from the word 'rahts'- run) can also be read as from the word 'merutseh',- satisfy. Using the Zohar, Rav Wolfson points out that the message here is one of salvation. But not just with the satisfaction of being taken out of the pit. More like a pacification with the knowledge that the extra two years Yoseph was in the pit, was part and parcel to the end result of being taken out and crowned.

On this note, as I quickly blurted above, Rav Wolfson translates the opening line as , "It happened at the end the two years were like days..." The same Gemorah Shabbos above says that the 25th of Kislev is the 8 days of Chanukah. Shouldn't it say that the 25th BEGINS the 8 days of Chanukah? This answer will answer another question. How did the Chashmonaim let the oil burn for 8 days? Isn't there a law to light the Menorah in the Temple every day? And what ever oil is left is halachically possul- contaminated and can't be used again? The answer, which I won't do justice to, is "the two years were like days." What seemed like days for Yoseph were to years to the outside world. What was one day inside the Temple was 8 days outside the Temple. The message is salvation. To such a degree that all the years of suffering become but a few worthwhile days of waiting.

>From Tehillim we say that a day of Hashem is a thousand years to us. (G-d said on the day Adam eats of the tree he will die and he lived 1000 years minus the 70 he gave to King David.) And it just so happens that "Vayihe mikaits shnasayim yomim"-"It happened at the end the two years were like days..." must mean 'like two days.' Two days to Hashem is 2000 years to us. It would seem that our "Vayihe mikaits shnasayim yomim" must be very close. When our 2000 years of exile will be turned into just a couple days of worthwhile waiting. What a time that will be! May it come speedily and in our day! This Shabbos is a rare diamond when the light of the Mashiach and the light of Olam Habah come together! Have your sunglasses ready and make sure a bag is packed and have a brilliant Shabbot Shalom.

Back to Parsha Homepage| Previous Issues