A Hint to Chanukah in Parshas Mikeitz – Parshas Mikeitz 5778

“והנה מן היאור עולות שבע פרות יפות מראה ובריאות בשר” (בראשית מא:ב)

“And behold from the Nile rise up seven cows, all with a healthy appearance and stocky in size” (Bereishis 41:2)

The word “היאור” hints to the light אור of Chanukah. “עולות שבע פרות” / “seven cows rise up” hints to the seven candles of the Menorah by which is stated a similar wording “לעלות נר תמיד” / “to raise up a continual light” (Shemos 27:20). In addition, it hints to the seven days in which the Menorah lit miraculously in the days of the Macabees. “פרות” hint to the פרי or product of the miracle of Chanukah. “יפות המראה” / “with a healthy appearance” hints to that which one should light the Menorah with pure oil which will give the flame a healthy look. In addition, it hints to that which is stated regarding all mitzvos (Chareidim) “זה אלי ואנוהו” / “this is my G-d and I will glorify Him” (ibid. 15:2) (See Shabbos 133b). And this wording as well hints to the mitzvah to light מהדרין מן המהדרין / in the best manner possible. “בריאות בשר” hints to the fact that the oil should be of the highest quality. And so it is a mitzvah to light with olive oil as it is the best of oils. (The combined numerical value of the first letters of each word of the above posuk reads ופ”ה ח’ מעשי”ם / Here are 8 actions.)

The second day of Rosh Chodesh Teves, the seventh candle of Chanukah 5776

The Redemption of the Jewish People from Egypt Resounded in an Unsettling Manner in the Head of Pharaoh

“ויהי בבקר ותפעם רוחו” (בראשית מא:ח)

“And it was in the morning and the spirit (of Pharaoh) was unsettled” (Bereishis 41:8)

Why did the Torah choose to use the wording of “ותפעם רוחו” / “and his spirit was unsettled” regarding Pharaoh?

We can suggest that it means to remind us that which Adam responded when Hashem brought his wife to him “זאת הפעם עצם מעצמי ובשר מבשרי” / “This time it is a bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” (Bereishis 2:23). In this, it was revealed to man that his salvation was within his grasp. With this we can explain that the expression “ויהי בבקר ותפעם רוחו” / “And it was in the morning and his spirit was unsettled” is coming to teach us that Pharaoh felt the upcoming redemption of the Jewish people from his land and this was a very uncomfortable feeling for him!

In addition, our posuk hints to the birth of Levi in which Leah said“הפעם ילוה אישי אלי” / “this time my husband will accompany me” (ibid. 29:34). Regarding the birth of Yehuda as well Leah said “הפעם אודה את ה‘” / “thus time I will thank Hashem” (ibid 29:35) for both of these births led to the redemption of the Jewish people. The tribe of Levi was to conduct the holy service in the Beis Hamikdash which when it stood was a sign of the redemption of the Jewish people from the nations, and from Yehuda will sprout forth the kingship of Dovid Hamelech from whom the Moshiach/Savior will come and bring the final and complete redemption to the Jewish people. Afterwards, I saw that the commentator Tzror Mor explained that the wording הפעם ילוה אישי אלי” is hinting to the future redemption.

Also, we can learn from that which Yaakov said to Yosef when he saw him for the first time in Egypt“ויאמר ישראל אל יוסף אמותה הפעם אחרי ראותי את פניך כי עודך חי” / “And Yisroel said to Yosef I will die ” הפעם” after I have seen your face that you are still alive” (ibid. 46:30) that Yaakov was using the wording of redemption. And so explains Rashi “אמותה הפעם” / “I will die at this time” quoting a Medrash that Yaakov meant to say that he thought that he would die a double death; in this world and in the next for the Holy Presence left him and he thought that he would be held responsible for Yosef’s death. Now that he saw that Yosef was still alive, Yaakov realized that he will only die once! That is, he will merit to be included in the future redemption of Klall Yisrael.

In addition, the Pharaoh’s dreams led to the appointment of Yosef as vice-roy of Egypt and through this he was instrumental in bringing about the redemption of the Jewish people as Yosef supported his father and brothers during the two years of famine and in addition the sages have taught us that the sea split because of Yosef’s great merit and through this the Jewish people were spared the wrath of the Egyptians. In addition, Yehoshua, who was the descendant of Yosef, would bring the people into Eretz Yisrael.

On this issue Rebbeinu Bechayei writes (Shemos 1:5) in explanation of the posuk “ויוסף היה במצרים” / “and Yosef was in Egypt” that Yosef is mentioned after his brothers to hint to Moshiach from the tribe of Yosef who is designed to redeem the Jewish people in the end of days.

In conclusion, we see that the wording “פעימה” is found regarding each and every tribe who is directly connected to the redemption of the Jewish people: Levi, Yehuda and Yosef!

In addition to the above, the wording of “ויהי בקר” / “And it was in the morning” also hints to redemption as Rashi comments on the posuk “להגיד בבקר חסדך” / “To tell in the morning Your loving-kindness” (Tehillim 92:3), that Dovid Hamelech is referring to the time of the final redemption. Similarly, explains the Yosef Tehillos in his commentary on the posuk “נפשי לה’ משומרים לבקר שומרים לבקר” / “My soul (yearns) to Hashem more than the guards yearn for the morning, as they yearn for the morning” (Tehillim 130:6). He explains that one should always think about the future redemption for it is an essential concept and for this reason the posuk repeats the wording “שומרים לבקר

From the above it is well understood why Pharaoh’s advisors could not interpret his dreams for they hinted to the future redemption of the Jewish people and to this his advisors had no connection!

Iyar 5777

Awakening the Neshama through Seeing the Chanukah Light

הנרות הללו קודש הם ואין לנו רשות להשתמש בהם אלא לראותם בלבד

These candles are holy and we do not have permission to use them (for our needs) only to see them

Now, if we are prohibited from using the candles for our personal needs, it is understood that we are left only with the right to see the candles. If so, why is it necessary to state this?

We can suggest that by stressing this point the sages are hinting to us that it is of great benefit to observe the burning of the candles. What benefit are they referring to? Through observing the burning candles the person absorbs a taste of holiness which emanates from the holy candles which were lit in the Beis Hamikdash. This is the very reason that it is prohibited to benefit from the candles, for their light emanates from the light of the menorah which was lit miraculously at the time of the Macabees. This follows the explanation of the Ramban on the posuk “בהעלותך את הנרות אל מול פני המנורה יאירו שבעת הנרות” / “as you raise the candles toward the face of the menorah, light shall come forth from the seven candles” (Bamidbar 8:2). The Ramban says as follows: Rashi brings a Medrash which asks why the mitzvah of lighting the menorah is mentioned in the Torah adjacent to the section which mentions the sacrifices the princes of all the tribes brought at the time of the inauguration of the Mishkan? The Medrash answers that when Aharon saw that the princes of all the tribes brought offerings except his tribe, his spirit fell. Hakadosh Baruch then told him, don’t worry, your portion is greater than theirs, for you light and prepare the candles morning and afternoon. The Ramban tells us that he found in a Megila called the Megila of hidden points written by Rabeinu Nissim that mentions regarding the above Medrash that there will be a different lighting of candles in the future in which Hakadosh Baruch Hu will bring about a miraculous lighting and the redemption of the Jewish people and this will be carried out by Aharon’s descendants. This is the Chanukah of the Chashmonoim. In order to hint to this, the parshios of the lighting of the Menorah and the offering of sacrifices by the princes of the tribes are written adjacent to each other in the Torah. The Ramban writes that he saw additional sources for the above explanation in Tanchuma Parshas Baalosecha and in the Medrash Rabbah.

Additionally we can learn from that which Chazal only permitted us to observe the candles for at the time the candles are light (for one-half hour) a person should not do anything but observe the candles. We can suggest that the reason for this is that the very act of lighting the candles in fulfillment of the mitzvah reawakens the holy light which emanated from the candles when they were lit miraculously at the time of the Macabees. Therefore, at this time one should give all his attention to the candles in order to catch the sparks of holiness which emanate from them and not waste his facilities on unimportant activities (although this is not required). This is similar to the mitzvah to go up to the Beis Hamikdash three times a year which endowed each individual with a special spiritual awakening which stayed with him throughout the year. For this reason the Torah commands to bring young children as well to the Mikdash even though they are not able to grasp what was going on around them, for their very presence at the Mikdash filled them with a strong dose of spirituality which remained with them during the year. This is as the Gemora (Yerushalmi Yevamos at the end of the first perek) relates that the mother of Rebbi Yehoshua the son of Chananya would take him to the Shul when he was very young in order to absorb the spiritual vibes which emanated from there. For this reason his Rebbi, Raban Yochanan the son of Zakai, said about Yehoshua “אַשְׁרֵי יוֹלַדְתּוֹ” / “Happy is the one who gave birth to him” (Avos 2:8).

In support of the above, we can explain that the light of Chanukah awakens the light of Torah as the sages teach us that the light of Chanukah represents the light of the Oral Law. And so says the Gemora in Shabbos (23b) Rav Huna said, one who is consistent in his fulfillment of the mitzvah to light candles will merit that his children will become Torah scholars. Rashi explains that the Gemora is referring to the posuk “כי נר מצוה ותורה אור” / “for a candle is a mitzvah and Torah is light” (Mishlei 6:23) and that through fulfilling the mitzvos to light the candles on Shabbos and on Chanukah, the light of Torah comes to that person.

That which we stated above that at the time the candles are burning (the first half hour) one should give them his full concentration is similar to that which we find regarding Torah learning (which the candles represent as stated above) as the sages explain the posuk “ושננתם לבניך ודברת בם” / “And you shall teach (Torah to) your children/students and speak in them” (Devorim 6:7). Why does the Torah add “ודברת בם” / “and you shall speak in them”? They explain that the Torah is teaching us that because of the ultimate importance of Torah learning, one is only given permission to speak in Torah learning and not in other matters (Yoma 19b), unless necessary for his livelihood. So too regarding the lighting of the Chanukah candles, the sages have taught to us that we are only permitted to observe the candles and not engage in other activities.

Third candle of Chanukah 5778

Fundamental Concepts Regarding Torah Learning Learned from the Lighting of the Chanukah Candles

Now, it appears that observance of the lit Chanukah candles can alert a person to some of the fundamental principles in avodas Hashem in general and in Torah learning in particular. Chazal tell us that the light of the Menorah represents the light of The Oral Law. If we glance at the candles we notice that the light rises up from the wick which is immersed in a container of oil. We can suggest that the oil represents the Written Torah which is the source of the Oral Law, while the wick represents the actual learning to draw the Oral Law from within the Written Law.

Through observing the lit candle we see as well that although the person lighting the candle does not stand nearby to assure that it shoots upward, that the nature of the light is to shoot upward.

What does the above observation teach us? We can explain as follows: the light is reminiscent of the person’s soul as it states “כי נר ה’ נשמת אדם” / “For the light of Hashem is the soul of man” (Mishlei 20:27). This teaches us that the nature of the light to shoot upward is hinting to the desire of the soul to shoot upward and reconnect with its Source in the Heavens.

According to this, we can explain that the light represents the soul and the wick represents the body. Now, the body on its own cannot inspire the soul just like a wick cannot cause the lighting of the candle. Only through dipping the wick inside a canister of oil is the light ignited. The oil represents Torah as we mentioned above. That is, when a person uses his body to learn Torah he awakens his holy soul and urges it to reach up to its Father in Shamayim. When the needs of the soul are fulfilled, its nature causes it to rise toward Hashem through its own efforts.

Third candle of Chanukah 5778

Wishing you a nice Shabbos and Freilichin Chanukah!

Yona Vogel

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