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Friday, December 7

The Weekly Shtikle - Mikeitz / Chanukah

After Paroah awakes from his two dreams, he is unable to get a satisfactory interpretation from the chartumim. We are told (41:8) "v'ein poser osam l'Pharoah." Rashi interprets "l'Pharoah" as for Paroah's benefit. The chartumim did offer possible meanings of the dream but they were not to Paroah's liking. They suggested, for example, that he would have seven daughters and then bury those seven doors as they would die in his lifetime. When Paroah tells Yoseif (24) "va'omar el hachartumim, v'ein magid li," it seems he relates these feelings to Yoseif as well. Nevertheless, Yoseif proceeds to interpret the dream in a similar fashion, foreshadowing seven-fold good fortune followed by seven-fold misery which erases that good fortune. Why was Yoseif's interpretation more acceptable to Paroah?

There is some discussion in the commentaries regarding Yoseif's advice to Paroah following his interpretation. Some even suggest that it was improper and out of place for Yoseif to be putting in his two cents. After all, that's not what Paroah asked him for. However, considering the above question, it seems quite clear why Yoseif had to do this. If Paroah has seven daughters and buries them all he is left with nothing. If he has seven years of plenty followed by seven years of unbearable famine he is left with worse than nothing. Had Yoseif simply interpreted the dream, his offering would have been no more acceptable than that of the chartumim. With Yoseif's intelligent solution to the problem, his interpretation became much more favourable. Indeed, Paroah declares (39) "now that God has revealed all of this to you, there is no one as understanding and wise as you." Understanding would seem to refer to his interpretation of the dream. Wisdom refers to his solution.



The gemara (Shabbos 21b) explains the origins of Chanukah. After the great miracle, the rabbis instituted an eight day festival of praise and thanks. Although it would appear that the recitation of Al HaNisim is an integral part of this institution, it is not a requisite part of the Birkas HaMazon or davening as one need not repeat if it is forgotten. Indeed, Rambam does not include the laws pertaining to Al Hanisim in the laws of Chanukah but rather, in the laws of Tefillah. This implies that it is merely a general requirement to mention the day, "mei'ein hameora," in the tefillah but not an integral component of Chanukah itself.

R' Yaakov Moshe Kulefsky, zt"l explains that when the Rambam discusses the halachos of Chanukah (3:3), he makes it clear that the lighting of the candles is mitzvah that was instituted as a manifestation of the praise and thanks. We show our appreciation not merely by thanking HaShem but by publicizing the miracle.

The underlying lesson is that the theme of Chanukah is praise and thanks. I therefore believe that the common reference to Chanukah as the Festival of Light is somewhat misleading. Focusing merely on the lights and not on the message behind them simply misses the point. The name is also likely related to an erroneous assumed connection to the other holiday that often falls around the same time. The Mishnah (Midos 2:3) recounts that the soreg, the wall that marked the point past which gentiles could not pass on the Har HaBayis, was breached in 13 places by the Greeks. The breeches were closed up following the victory over the Greeks. The victory and commemoration of Chanukah are the resealing of those breeches and our affirmation that we are different than all other nations. This is most important when Chanukah coincides with the end of December as it does this year. We must not lose sight of the true meaning of our holiday - the Festival of Praise and Thanks.

Have a Chaunkah Samei'ach and a good Shabbos!

Eiezer Bulka

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
Dikdukian: Clear the Halls (Chanukah)

Dikdukian: Na'asah Nes

Dikdukian: Be Strong

Dikdukian: Just Do It!

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