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Friday, December 27

The Weekly Shtikle - Mikeitz / Chanukah

I have always found the text detailing the birth of Menasheh and Efryaim (41:50-52) rather intriguing. We are told that two sons were born to Yoseif before the onset of the years of famine. Perhaps the second one was just before the years of famine, but the first would have been a considerable number of months before then, at the least. Admittedly, this is not a very strong question for a number of reasons. We are then told the names that Yoseif gave his sons and the reasonings behind each. I cannot recall any other instance where we are informed in detail of the birth of two children simultaneously. The pasuk does not state that a son was born to Yoseif, he named him Menasheh and then he had another whom he named Efrayim. Rather, we are told that two sons were born to him.


This has always led me to believe that Efrayim and Menasheh were actually twins. Sure enough, in the sefer Seder HaDoros, it is indeed stated that this was the case. It would certainly explain how both sons were born just before the years of famine. It would also explain Yaakov's apparent difficulty in discerning between Efrayim and Menasheh. Indeed, it is stated that Yaakov's eyesight had deteriorated. But an older son would tend to have differing features from his younger brother. They were still young enough that one might have expected there to be a height difference and Yaakov shouldn't have needed his sight to determine that. But if they were twins and were approximately the same height (and perhaps similar appearance) that would explain everything.


A number of years ago, I was explaining the various historical episodes referenced in Maoz Tzur when it occurred to me that there is a chronological anomaly in the order of the verses. The third stanza relates the rebuilding of the Beis HaMikdash and the crowning of Zerubavel after 70 years of exile (which is of course also referenced in the haftarah we read on Shabbos.) However, the next stanza summarizes the story of Purim which, of course, predated the rebuilding of the Beis HaMikdash. 


The gemara (Yoma 9b) is comparing the merits of the generations that saw the destruction of each Beis HaMikdash. The consensus seems to be that the fact the Beis HaMikdash has not been rebuilt, in contrast to the relatively short initial exile of 70 years, is proof of the greater merit of the earlier generations.


We are taught (actually Yerushalmi in this same perek): "kol dor she'eino nivneh b'yamav, ma'alin alav k'ilu hecherivo," any generation in which it is not rebuilt, it is considered as if they have destroyed it.


It would seem that the responsibility for bringing the Beis HaMikdash back would lie in the hands of the subsequent generations in exile. Yet, the gemara seems to tie it back to the generation in which it was destroyed. I suppose one support for this could be that the prophecy of the 70-year exile was already given to Yirmiyahu (29:10). The gemara must understand that it was due to the merit of the generation of the destruction that an expiry was put on the ensuing exile from the very beginning, whereas as no such favour was granted the second time.


Since apparently, it was the generation of the churban, on whose merit the Beis HaMikdash was so speedily rebuilt, the verse in Maoz Tzur actually belongs before the story of Purim as it was put in motion well before.

Have a Chanukah samei'ach and good Shabbos.

Eliezer 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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