Parshat Parshat Miketz & Chanukah Vol.11 No.13

Date of issue: 30 Kislev 5762 -- December 15, 2001

This week's issue has been sponsored by Eliezer and Sonia,
Yehuda, Cindy and Gershon Kravetz
in honor of the Yahrtzeit of
Gershon Ben Harav Yizchak.

How to sponsor
This week's featured writers:

Dr. Joel Berman
Jonathan Weinstein
Oren Levy
Willie Roth
Halacha of the Week
Rabbi Howard Jachter
-Havdalah or Chanukah Lights - Which Comes First?


Life is but a Dream
by Dr. Joel Berman

"Vayihi Baboker Vatipaem Rucho"

"And it was in the morning; his spirit was agitated..."(41:8).

How was it that a seemingly absurd dream upset Paroh to such an extent that he assembled all of
his ministers and wise men for its interpretation?

Rav Shimon Schwab says that Paroh perceived an interpretation that caused him great worry. It
was Paroh's experience that in every two-sided conflict the many overcome the few and the mighty
overcome the weak. He therefore was able to sit confidently on his throne, his hold on his
empire secure, knowing that he represented the mighty and numerous. In his dream, however, the
weak ate the mighty. Rav Schwab explains that Paroh saw this as a sign of impending revolt in
his empire, a unique revolt in which the few and the weak would overcome the many and the
mighty. It turns out that Paroh would have to wait a long time to see this interpretation

Perhaps Paroh's interpretation was fulfilled during the time of Chanukah, when Matityahu ben
Yochanan and his five sons began a rebellion in Modiin, first against their Hellenist
co-religionists and afterwards against the Seleucid empire itself. Perhaps Paroh's
interpretation was fulfilled again this time of year, fifty-four years ago, when Chaim Herzog
reported that the total armament at the Hagana's disposal consisted of 10,500 rifles, 4300
machine-guns, 200 3-inch mortars, and a few sightless artillery pieces from the turn of the
century that belonged in museums. At that time, the Jews possessed enough ammunition for only
three days fighting. Facing them were five organized, well-equipped, modern armies, possessing
modern artillery, tanks, planes, and an abundance of ammunition.

We see that it is no coincidence that we read Parshat Miketz during Chanukah. After all, this
really is the time of delivery of the mighty and the many into the hands of the weak and the
few, as we say in Al Hanisim, "Maseret Givurim Biyad Chalashim Virabim Biyad Miatim", "You
[Hashem] delivered the strong into the hands of the weak and the many into the hands of the

Yosef's Motives
by Jonathan Weinstein

We know that Yosef was a Tzaddik. Why then did he deceive his brothers into believing that he
was a stranger? Also, why did Yosef accuse his brothers of being spies, which is an offense
punishable by death? Yosef sent his brothers to jail for three days. When he sent them back
home he kept Shimon in jail until they returned with Binyamin. Yosef knew that it would worry
Yaakov when he sees his son Shimon missing. Why did Yosef do all these bad things to his

Yosef's motive was not revenge, even though he had a good reason to hate his brothers. The
Torah says (Vayikra 19:18) that you should not bear a grudge or take revenge. Yosef had good
intentions: helping his brothers. Yosef wanted his brothers to suffer for their sins against
Yosef in this in world rather in the World to Come. It's much better to be punished in this
world and not in the World to Come.

The brothers committed five sins: (1) they hated him and spoke harshly to him (2) when Yaakov
sent Yosef to check on his brothers, they attacked him (3) they threw him in a pit (4)
they sold him into slavery, and (5) they caused Yaakov a lot of worries when they brought Yosef
's coat to him. One approach is that Yosef decided to make his brothers suffer five times for
their five sins. The suffering towards the brothers were part of Hashem's will.

Yosef wanted to show his brothers that Hashem is in control. When the brothers first arrived
they bowed down to him (like they did in Yosef's dream). Yosef acted like a stranger to his
brothers and he spoke harshly to them. Also, Yosef accused them of being spies, which is
punishable by death because, one of their sins was that they wanted to kill him. Another thing
Yosef did to his brothers was put them into prison like they put him into a pit. Shimon was the
one who threw him into the pit so Yosef made Shimon suffer more than the other brothers by
keeping him in prison longer. For their sin of selling him into slavery, he put money into
their bags so they would be accused of stealing and they would be sold into slavery.

Yosef realized that Yaakov was very worried about him and he knew that Hashem would not want
Yaakov to be grieved all his life. Yosef did not identify himself to his brothers at first
because he wanted to see if they changed their attitudes towards him and if they regretted
selling him. Then he would identify himself to his brothers in order to comfort his father.
Yosef wanted to see his father so much that he planted the goblet in Binyamin's bag. If
Binyamin was arrested, Yaakov would want to rescue him, and therefore Yaakov would come down to
Egypt where Yosef could meet him. All Yosef wanted was to help his brothers and see his father

by Oren Levy

The chain of events leading to the exile from Egypt finds its expression, both at the end of
the previous Parsha and the beginning of this week's Parsha, in a series of incidents that
appear to be coincidental.

First, Yosef interprets the dream of the royal cupbearer, and asks that when Pharaoh returns
the cupbearer to his post, as Yosef had predicted, he should ask the king to free Yosef. The
cup- bearer promises, but promptly forgets his promise. Only two years later, when Pharaoh
dreams and no one can interpret the his dream, does the cup-bearer remember the young Hebrew who had interpreted his dream for him in prison. Why was there a gap of two years? And why does
the Torah tell us that the cupbearer forgot his promise?

The Torah does not give us any answer about this. We are told, however, in Bereishit Rabbah
(89), that Yosef had been given a specific time to spend in the darkness of the prison. But
then the question arises as to why two years? Apparently, this period of time fits into the
unfolding of the events in a way that is known only to Hashem who planned them. But the Midrash
does add another detail: As Yosef said (two words) to the cup-bearer, Zechartani, Remember me,
and Vehizkartani, mention me, two years were added to his incarceration. In other words, each
extra word on the part of Yosef cost him a year of his freedom.

Tosefet Beracha explains how the figure was calculated. We know that the span of one's memory
is for one year, as the Gemara (Berachot 58) tells us: The dead one is forgotten from the heart
only after twelve months. Yosef mentioned the idea of remembering twice, and since the span of
every memory is a year, he was sentenced to be forgotten for two years.

The Midrash adds one other element, the meaning of which is discussed by the commentators. 
"Happy is the man that has made Hashem his trust" (Tehillim 40:5), that refers to Yosef. "And
did not turn to the arrogant,"(ibid) because he said to the cupbearer, remember me and mention
me he was given two more years of suffering.


Miracles and Unity
by Willie Roth

According to the Kedushat Levi there are two kinds of miracles: seemingly natural ones and
miraculous ones. "Natural" miracles are miracles that take place based on something that we
did. "Miraculous" miracles are miracles that Hashem's complete involvement can be clearly seen. 
The two miracles of Chanukah are "natural" miracles. In other words, they took place because of
something people did. The most famous miracle, involving the oil, was "natural" because there
was the oil that existed that made the miracle take place. The oil was supposed to last for one
day naturally, the miracle was that it lasted for eight days.

The second miracle of Chanukah was that we defeated the Greeks when they had more soldiers than
us, "Rabim Beyad Meatim." The Chashmonaim gave the effort to actually try and fight against
the Greeks, which was natural, and Hashem performed the miracle of us winning the war that was
miraculous. We can see that because of the effort of the Chashmonaim, they were saved. So too
we should do something so that Hashem can save us because of our actions. We should try to
learn more Torah, do more Mitzvot with proper concentration, and pray to Hashem with more
concentration. Then, Hashem will have something to save us for. He will save us because of our
actions just like with the Chashmonaim. However, if we do not do these things then there will
be nothing to base the salvation upon. As we are in this terrible crisis with Eretz Yisrael in
addition to giving contributions to Eretz Yisrael, we can also do things that have no cost. 
There is no charge to sit and learn for at least a couple of minutes a day. There is no charge
to Daven with more Kavana and not be interrupted. However, not only should we learn and Daven,
it is equally important to be nice to our fellow Jew. The second Bait Hamikdash was destroyed
because of our bad behavior between one another. In order to stop the terrible times in Eretz
Yisrael we must be together. Not only should we, American Jews, be united, which is extremely
important, but also Jewish people as a whole must be united in our Torah and actions. Then,
Hashem will have some thing to base the miracle upon just like in the times of the Bait
(Ideas concerning Chanukah taken from Studies in the weekly Parsha-Y. Nachshoni)

Halacha of the Week

One lights Chanukah lights before lighting Shabbat candles on Erev Shabbat (Shulchan Aruch O.C.
679). The Mishna Berura (679:2) records with approval the view of many Acharonim who encourage
one to recite Mincha before kindling Chanukah lights on Erev Shabbat.


Staff at time of publication:
Editors-in-Chief: Josh Dubin, David Gertler
Managing Editors: Yair Manas, Uriel Schechter
Publishing Manager: Zev Feigenbaum
Publication Editor: Ilan Tokayer
Business Manager: Yehuda Goldin
Staff: Noam Block, Ami Friedman, Shuky Gross, Simcha Haber, Oren Levy, Ari Michael, Effie
Richmond, Dani Shaffren, Sam Wiseman
Webmaster: Yisroel Ellman
Faculty Advisor: Rabbi Howard Jachter

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