פ’ מקץ- חנוכה – תשע”ה
Volume 6, Issue 10
INSIGHTS from the SEDRA
Insights from the Sedra is a project of the Scholar’s Kollel of Great Neck. It aims to provide several questions and answers about the Sedra, culled from various commentaries, including the following: Baal Haturim, Darash Moshe, Vedebarta Bam by Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky, Torah Treasures by Dov Furer, Wellsprings of Torah by Alexander Friedman, and Kol Dodi by Rabbi Dovid Feinstein, Great Torah Lights by Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Goodman, Something To Say by Dov Wasserman, The Vilna Gaon, and Growth Through Torah by Zelig Pliskin.
ויקרא יוסף את שם הבכור מנשה כי נשני אלקים את כל עמלי ואת כל בית אבי
“And Yosef called the name of the first-born Menashe, ‘for G-d has made me forget all my toil, and all my father’s house.’” (45:51)
QUESTION: Why was Yosef grateful for forgetting his father’s house?
ANSWER: A visitor once entered a presumably kosher restaurant. Unimpressed with the religiosity of the personnel, he began to inquire about the kashrut standards. The proprietor confidently pointed to a picture on the wall, of a Jew with a long beard and peiyot. He said to the visitor: “You see that man up there? He was my father!” The visitor replied: “If you were hanging on the wall, and your father was behind the counter, I would not ask any questions. But since your father is hanging on the wall, and you are behind the counter, I have good reason to question the kashrut.”
There are many whose only attachment to Yiddishkeit is through nostalgia. They remember their mother’s candle lighting, they recall their father’s long beard and peiyot, and they reminisce about their parents’ Shabbat table. They proudly tell their children about it, but unfortunately, they do not emulate or practice this way of life.
Living among the Egyptians, Yosef was in danger of becoming totally assimilated and adapting to the social life of the upper class. Fortunately, he remained tenacious in his Torah observance. Thus, it was unnecessary for him to nostalgically tell his children about his parents’ observance. He conducted his home life in exactly the same way as his father had done and was able to “forget” his father’s house and show his family his own home as a living example. (Rav Tzvi Kaplan)
ותכלינה שבע שני השבע…ותחלינה שבע שני הרעב לבוא כאשר אמר יוסף
“The seven years of abundance ended…and the seven years of famine began to come as Yosef had said.” (41:53-54)
QUESTION: Why does it state “as Yosef said” regarding the seven years of famine, but not in relation to the seven years of abundance?
ANSWER: The non-Jewish world hates the Jew and envies his success. Thanks to Yosef, the people in Egypt experienced great affluence, but they did not want to give credit to a Jew. When the troubles started, suddenly everyone began accusing the Jews of causing the Egyptians’ suffering. Alas, this is a recurrent pattern in Jewish history. (Vedebarta Bam)
ויצעק העם אל פרעה ללחם ויאמר פרעה לכל מצרים לכו אל יוסף אשר יאמר לכם תעשו
“The people cried to Pharaoh for bread, and Pharaoh said, ‘Go to Yosef; do as he says.’” (41:55)
QUESTION: Rashi explains that the people were upset because Yosef was demanding that they circumcise themselves. Why would Yosef want the Egyptians to be circumcised?
ANSWER: When Hashem originally gave the mitzvah of circumcision to Avraham, He told him that it includes “a person born in your household or purchased with money” (17:13). When Pharaoh appointed Yosef as the viceroy, he declared that he was in control of the entire country and that all the needs of the people would be provided through him (see Rashi 41:40). Pharaoh put everyone under his rulership, to the extent that, לא ירים איש את ידו ואת רגלו בכל ארץ מצרים – Without you no one shall lift his hand or his foot in the land of Egypt (41:44). Thus, they became a “kinyan kaspo” – “his acquisitions” – and therefore he was obligated to see to it that they be circumcised. (Likutei Sichot)
וירא יעקב כי יש שבר במצרים
“And Yaakov saw that there was food in Egypt.” (42:1)
QUESTION: The Sages interpret the word shever as if it was spelled with a “ש” – sever – which means hope (Rashi). What special hope did Yaakov see in Egypt?
ANSWER: In accordance with Yosef’s interpretation of Pharaoh’s dreams, Egypt stored away food for the years of famine, and from many lands people were coming to Egypt to purchase food. This amazed Yaakov, and he thought to himself, “It is very strange that non-Jews should be so kind and share their food with others in a time of famine. On the other hand, Jews are known to be a merciful and generous people. Perhaps there is in Egypt some spark of holiness – a Jew. Perhaps my lost son Yosef is in Egypt and is involved with the entire operation.” (Iturei Torah)
ויכר יוסף את אחיו והם לא הכרהו
“And Yosef recognized his brothers, but they did not recognize him.” (42:8)
Rabbi Yonasan Eibschutz wonders why they didn’t recognize Yosef by his voice. After all, according to the Talmud, Gittin 23a, voice recognition is a most reliable means of identification. Apparently, he concludes, voice recognition is only effective when the speaker is using the language that the identifying party is accustomed to hearing him speak; otherwise, the timber of his voice may be affected and positive identification is no longer assured. Yosef’s brothers spoke Hebrew, the language he was accustomed to hearing them speak among themselves, and so he recognized them. But they did not recognize him, for he was speaking Egyptian, a language they had never heard him speak.
With this in mind, we can better understand what Yosef was driving at when later (45:12), in revealing his identity to the brothers, he said, “For it is my mouth that speaks to you.” Rashi explains that this means he was speaking Hebrew. In other words, he was telling them; if you have any doubts about who I am, listen to my mouth speaking to you. I am speaking Hebrew, and you should be able to recognize my voice. (Torah Anthology)
וישא משאת מאת פניו אלהם ותרב משאת בנימין ממשאת כלם חמש ידות וישתו וישכרו עמו
“And Yosef took and sent portions to them from before him; and Binyamin’s portion was five times as much as any of theirs, and they drank, and became inebriated with him.” (43:34)
Rashi comments that from the day that Yosef’s brothers sold him they didn’t drink wine, but on this day they drank. They didn’t recognize Yosef and were unaware that the Egyptian administrator whom they were dealing with was Yosef, so why did they drink?
One answer is that the brothers saw that although Binyamin received five times as much as they did, they did not feel envious of him. From this they understood that they had corrected the main fault that had led to their selling their brother Yosef. They were previously envious of Yosef and this led to their hating him. Because they had overcome the trait of envy they were able to drink wine again.
Whenever you see improvement in your character traits, feel great joy. This joy will motivate you to continue improving. Be aware of what harm your negative traits caused you in the past and feel grateful for overcoming them. Knowing that you have already been successful will give you the encouragement to work on correcting other faults. (Growth Through Torah)
מאי חנוכה? בכ”ה כסלו
“What is Chanukah? On the 25th day of Kislev…” (Shabbos 21b)
QUESTION: Why did the miracle of Chanukah take place on the 25th of Kislev?
ANSWER: In the wilderness, the construction of the Mishkan was completed on the 25th of Kislev (Yalkut Shimoni, I Kings, 184). Hashem told Moshe to wait with the dedication till the auspicious day of Rosh Chodesh Nissan. The 25th of Kislev was somewhat offended, and to appease her, the rededication of the second Beit HaMikdash, in the days of the Hasmoneans, took place on the 25th of Kislev.
It is interesting to note that the words “ואת חנוכת המזבח” (Bamidbar 7:84) – “this is the dedication of the altar” – which refer to the Mishkan (and are part of the Torah reading for Chanukah), have the numerical value of 954, which is the exact numerical value of “זאת יהיה בימי חשמונים” – “this (dedication) will be in the days of the Hasmoneans.” (Rokeach)
Wishing Everyone a Chanukah Sameach!
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