Parshat Miketz & Chanukah

A Student Publication of the Torah Academy of Bergen County
Parshat Miketz & Chanukah           1 Tevet 5763              December 6, 2002               Vol.12 No.9

In This Issue:

Rabbi Joel Grossman
Ari Michael
Etan Bluman
Channan Strassman
Rabbi Howard Jachter

This week’s issue of Kol Torah has been sponsored by
Eliezer, Sonya, Gershon, and Yehuda Kravits
in memory of the Yarhtzeit of הרב גרשון בן הרב יצחק.

Content with Life
by Rabbi Joel Grossman

“They drank and became intoxicated with Yosef” (43:34).  Rashi comments, “From the day when they had sold Yosef, the brothers had not drunk wine, but on that day they drank wine.”

What was so special about this day that the brothers drank wine?  There are two answers presented in the
מעינה של תורה.  One is that the brothers felt that if they did not drink the wine Yosef would accuse them again of being spies and refusing wine so they would not be led to give out the secret information they had gathered.  A second reason is that they saw that Binyamin had received larger portions of food than they had, yet they were not jealous of him.  They realized that they had removed from themselves the envy that had led them to sell Yosef into slavery, and consequently they felt they could drink wine again.

Removing envy is an area in which we should constantly strive to improve.  The Mishna in Pirkei Avot teaches that the three traits of jealousy, desire, and drive for honor take a person away from this world.  If we want to succeed in this world we must remove these bad traits from ourselves.

We have just completed celebrating the holiday of Chanukah.  The last day of Chanukah is known in our rabbinic literature as
זאת חנוכה, “this is Chanukah.”  Why did the last day of Chanukah get this name?  One celebrated answer is that the term זאת חנוכת המזבח appears in the Torah reading of that day.  Rav Moshe Feinstein, zt”l, presents another explanation.  He writes that oil burning, a common event, is also a miracle, and therefore the last day of Chanukah is called זאת חנוכה, this is the Chanukah oil that burns.

There is a story told about a person whose investment made him one million dollars.  He was very happy.  A week later, he was saddened to find out that his neighbor made a few million dollars on this investment.  This story typifies many of our lives.  We should be happy with what we have as the Mishna in Pirkei Avot says, “Who is a rich man?  One who is satisfied with his lot,” and we should not be jealous and envious of what others possess.

If we can look at every event that happens as an event that is divinely ordained to happen, then we will remove envy from our hearts, be able to live longer by appreciating life, be able to drink our wine with a feeling of gratitude, and be happy for the good fortune of others.  With that type of attitude there would be more peace in our communities and throughout Klal Yisrael.

Were the Chashmonaim Right?
by Ari Michael

There is a tremendous debate regarding the actions of the Chashmonaim in taking the kingship following their victory against the Greeks and the subsequent miracle of the oil.  Both the Rambam and the Ramban agree that their actions were incorrect, however they are at different ends of the spectrum of severity. 

The Rambam writes that if someone is anointed to be the king by a Navi during Bayit Rishon or the Sanhedrin during Bayit Sheni his kingship is valid unless he is from the tribe of Levi.  He then continues to say that although he disagrees with the actions of the Chashmonaim, he is not in a position to chastise them because they saved the Torah. 

On the other hand, the Ramban says that the Chashmonaim were wiped out because they took the kingship.  Firstly, they were forbidden from taking the kingship from Yehuda because it says in Parshat Vayechi (49:10), “Lo Yasur Shevet MiYehudah.”  Secondly, he says that when it says in Parshat Shoftim (18:1), “Lo Yihiyeh LaCohanim… Chelek V’Nachala Im Yisrael”, not only does this apply to the land the tribes would get, but to the laws discussed in the previous paragraph: kingship.  Therefore, by taking the kingship, the Chashmonaim sinned by disregarding this Halacha and were punished accordingly.

However, it seems a little odd that the Kohanim are excluded from the kingship.  In explanation, Rav Soloveitchik cited the Mishnah in Pirkei Avot (4:13) which says that there are three crowns, or titles, in Judaism: kingship, Kehuna and Torah, and the only one which can be acquired by anyone is Keter Torah.  Therefore, if the kingship and the Kehuna are clearly demarcated, they may not be brought together.  The reason for this is the national need to have leaders in different areas of life.  The Talmud Yerushalmi explains that the reason the Kohanim can’t be kings is that they have to do the Avodah in the Mikdash.  In other words, they already have a job.  Another aspect of that job is to be the spiritual leaders of Bnei Yisrael.  On the other hand, the job of the king is to take care of the political needs of the country.  Therefore, if the two jobs are joined, the leader will be unable to properly do both and the nation will suffer because of it.  Therefore, everyone agrees that the actions of the Chashmonaim were improper.  However, the Rambam accords them special respect because of their previous actions, whereas the Ramban says that although their previous actions were vital to the survival of Bnei Yisrael, their actions now may well destroy it, and they were therefore destroyed.

Adapted from a shiur given by Rabbi Yosef Adler

A Hidden Connection
Etan Bluman

Parshat Miketz begins with the words “And it came to pass at the end of two years.” The Chachamim say the word “And there was” means pain. Here it refers to Yaakov’s pain. Yaakov is pained over the loss of his son Yosef, over Yosef’s subsequent anguish during his imprisonment in Egypt, and over the anguish of Yosef’s brother, seeing Yaakov’s grief.  However the end of the Parsha hints that there will be a happy ending for Yaakov’s family. This can be seen when Yosef, now the viceroy of Egypt, gives his brothers a very big feast as well as many gifts. Yosef then tells his brothers at the end of the Parsha, “Alu Lishalom El Avichem” “Go up in peace to your father,” hinting to what is going to happen in the future.

During the miracle of Chanukah we commemorate a similar series of event.  First, the Jews are subjected to harsh laws by oppressors who hope that the Jews will forget their Torah. However, at the end, the Chashmonaim became victorious over their enemies and gave birth once again to Am Yisrael.

An additional link between Chanukah and Parshat Miketz can be found in Paroh’s dreams.  In his first dream, Paroh saw bad looking cows eating seven good looking cows.  In the second dream he saw seven good ears of dreams getting swallowed up by seven thin ears of grains.  Similarly, in the days of Matityahu the Chashmonaim and his sons, Bnai Yisrael although a weaker nation, were able to overcome the much stronger nation of Greece, because of Hashem’s intervention.

The Crucial Saying
by Chanan Strassman

In Parshat Mikeitz we are told how Yosef is made the viceroy over Egypt because he told Pharaoh the meaning of his dream.  From this episode, we can see how each word in the Torah has its own special significance. 

Consider the following: In Perek 41, Pasuk 15 it says reads, “…and I heard about you, saying, (leimor) you can hear a dream and interpret it.”  The very next Pasuk, Pasuk 16, it says, “Yosef answered Pharaoh, saying, (leimor) That is beyond me; God will respond to Pharaoh's welfare.”  It would appear that the Torah adds an extra or unnecessary word to this Pasuk.  Why couldn’t the Pasuk have said, “Yosef answered Pharaoh…”?  Why does the Torah add the word “Leimor”(saying) here?

Rabbi Pinchas Winston offers an answer.  He says that the word “Leimor” is added here ao that we can see, and understand, the dialogue between Pharaoh and Yosef better.  There is a Gemara in Sanhedrin (56b) that says certain words allude to certain mitzvot, and “Leimor” alludes to not being involved in illicit relationships.  So when Pharaoh is talking to Yosef, he uses the word “Leimor” as if to say, “You can’t be an interpreter of dreams!  You are an adulterer!  Your God hates such illicit behavior, why would He choose you as His means of explaining my dream?”  Then, when Yosef replies, he uses the word “Leimor” in order to show Pharaoh, “The fact that God has allowed me to interpret dreams correctly proves I am innocent of adultery.”  We see the significance of one word, “Leimor”, is crucial to our fully understanding the story.

Halacha of the Week
The Biur Halacha (670:2 s.v. V’nohagim) frowns upon the practice of some people to play cards on Chanukah.

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