פ’ מקץ – חנוכה תשע”ח
Volume 21, 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.
והנה מקץ שנתים ימים ופרעה חלם
“And it happened at the end of two years that Pharaoh dreamt…” (41:1)
Breishit Rabbah (89:1) likens this verse to another… “‘He made an end to darkness…’ (Iyov 28:3) – G-d made an end to Yosef’s imprisonment. When that end came, ‘Pharaoh dreamt.’” What is this comparison meant to teach us?
The world operates on cause and effect. However, we often do not know which is which. For example, if a businessman buys a great bargain and sells out at a huge profit, he presumes that his purchase caused his profit. Actually, however, it is the other way around. In Heaven, he was deemed worthy of great success. His profit thus “caused” his purchase. This is how the man of faith must think. Here too, Pharaoh’s dream didn’t prompt Yosef’s release. Rather, Yosef’s time for freedom had arrived and therefore Pharaoh dreamt! (Beis HaLevi)
ויקרא פרעה שם יוסף צפנת פענח ויתן לו את אסנת בת פוטי פרע כהן אן לאשה ויצא יוסף על ארץ מצרים
“And Pharaoh called Yosef’s name Tzafnat Pa’aneach and he gave him as a wife, Asnat, the daughter of Potiphera, priest of On. And Yosef went out over the land of Egypt.” (41:45)
Pharaoh changed Yosef’s name because it had too much of a Hebrew sound to it. But Yosef did not abide by this new name as it says: And Yosef went out over the land of Egypt, he continued to be called by his Hebrew name and the name Tzafnat Pa’aneach is never mentioned again. (Yalkut Dovid)
The gematria for “Es Aasnat” is equivalent to the words “And she was Dena’s daughter.” When Yaakov took Asnat from the house, he made an amulet for her and she hid among the thorn bushes. Her name Asnat derives from the Hebrew word “sneh” – meaning bush. The angel Gavriel brought her to Egypt and she was raised by Potiphar. When Yosef went out over Egypt, all the women came to see his beauty and they threw him a piece of jewelry to attract his attention. Asnat threw her necklace to him and when he saw the Hebrew writing “whoever marries this girl should know that his children will be descendants of Yaakov”, he asked for her hand in marriage. (Yefeh Toar)
ויקרא יוסף את שם הבכור מנשה…ואת שם השני קרא אפרים
“Yosef named his firstborn Menashe…he named his second son Ephraim.” (41:51-52)
Living in exile requires us to use two apparently contradictory approaches toward the world at large. On the one hand, we must be constantly on guard against harmful influences; on the other hand, we must engage the outside world in order to influence it positively. Clearly, influencing our environment is a greater accomplishment than merely maintaining our values. Nonetheless, maintaining our values must be taken care of first, for if we forget our roots we will no longer have anything to contribute to the world.
The two sons of Yosef, born and raised in Egypt, personified these two aspects of life in exile. Yosef named his firstborn Menashe, meaning “exile causes one to forget” in order not to forget his family and heritage. Yosef named his second son Ephraim, meaning “he will be fruitful” in order to emphasize that our purpose in the world is to influence it positively. (Likutei Sichot)
Chanukah Divrei Torah
The Midrash (Bereshit Rabbah 2:4) says that the phrase “And darkness [on the face of the abyss (Bereshit 1:2)]” symbolizes Greece, which darkened the eyes of the Jewish people with its decrees, ordering Israel “write on the horn of an ox that you have no portion in the G-d of Israel,” i.e. Antiochus requested from the Jews a public disclaimer of Hashem and Torah.
Immediately following this the Torah says, “And G-d said יהי אור – “Let there be light” (1:3). The word “ohr” – light – is the twenty fifth word of the Torah. Moreover, the word יהי – “let there be” – numerically adds up to twenty five. All this alludes that the darkness caused by the Greeks will be illuminated with the light (of the Menorah), which will be kindled by the Jews on the 25th of Kislev. (Maharal)
והדליקו נרות בחצרות קדשך
“And they kindled lights in Your holy courtyards…” (Al HaNissim)
QUESTION: The kindling of the Menorah took place in the Beit HaMikdash itself. Why did the Hasmoneans kindle it in the courtyard?
ANSWER: When the Hasmoneans entered the Beit HaMikdash, they found it defiled and in ruins. Thus, they were unable to kindle the Menorah while it stood in its regular place. In the interim, while they were cleaning the mess and renovating, the Menorah was kindled in the courtyard. This is permissible according to halacha (see Rambam, Hilchot Biat HaMikdash 9:7).
Through kindling the Menorah in the courtyard, everyone was able to witness the eight-day miracle, which would not have been possible had it been lit inside. Then, only the Kohanim would have seen it. With this explanation, we can answer the popular question: Why Chanukah is celebrated for eight-days rather than seven, though sufficient oil was found for the first night. The oil found would have lasted through the night only if the Menorah would have been kindled inside. However, Chanukah takes place during the winter, and due to weather conditions, the oil would normally not have been sufficient to last through the night, thus when the Menorah was kindled outside in the courtyard there was a miracle as well on the first night. (Chasam Sofer) HAPPY CHANUKAH TO ALL