Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Mikeitz & Chanukah 5777

The Torah Portion of Mikeitz 

Excerpted and Translated from the the Teachings of Rabbi Gershon Steinberg ztz"l
L'ilui Neshamat HaGaon HaTzaddik R' Gershon Avigdor Ben Chaim ztz"l
L'ilui Neshamat R' Yochanan Yitzchak Ben Nachum z"l 
L'ilui Neshamat R' Yaakov Ben Matisyahu HaLevi z"l
L'ilui Neshamat Esther Mushka Bat Yaakov HaLevi z"l
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Chaya Basha Bat Esther
L'refuat Hanefesh V'lrefuat Haguf L'Etan Naphtali Ben Zehava
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Rivkah Goldah Bat Chaya Basha 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Shimon Ben Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Simcha Pearl Bat Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Moshe Shlomo Ben Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Chaim Sh'muel Ben Rivkah Goldah 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Avital Bat Rut
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Eliezer Yitzchak Ben Bracha Devorah 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Michael Itzhak Nesshael Ben Avital 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Naomi Chana Bat Chaya Basha and
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'kol Am Yisrael V'l'geulah Hashleima Bekarov.

"And it happened at the end of two years of days..." (Bereisheet 41:1)

The Sages say that in every place where it says "Vayehi" (in English: "And it happened")  it is a language of suffering, with only a few exceptions.  The reason it uses this language of suffering here is to tell us that if G-d forbid we find ourselves in a time of suffering, then we are advised to fulfill Tz'om (fasting), K'ol (voice), and M'amon (money), since these three words have the Roshei Teivot (initial letters) of Tzadi, Kuf, and Mem, which spell the word "Mikeitz" (the name of this week's Torah Portion, which in English means "at the end of").  Tzom (fasting) refers to Teshuvah (repentance); Kol (voice) refers to Tefillah (prayer); Mamon (money) refers to Tzedakah (charity).  And (as it says in the prayers of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur) by means Repentance, Prayer, and Charity, the evil decree is removed.  And in will be that "at the end of two years of days", in the end, the days will be changed for the good.  Mikeitz ("At the end") is a language referring to the endpoint, and "two years" is a language which refers to changing (since the word for two years in Hebrew is similar to the Hebrew word for changing).

"And the thin ears of corn swallowed up...."  (Bereisheet 41:7)

The Da'at Zekeinim asks, behold, the Sages say that we aren't shown in a dream something that can't possibly occur.  For example, we aren't shown in a dream that an elephant will enter into the hole of a needle.  So how is it possible that Pharoah saw in his dream something so weird, that the thin ears of corn swallowed up the healthy ears of corn?  But the explanation is that the meaning of the word "swallowed" is that the thin ears of corn covered the healthy ears of corn, such as was written in the Torah Portion of Bamidbar (Chapter 4, verse 20) "and they shall not go in to see the holy things as they are being swallowed", where the word "swallowed" clearly means "covered".  And the Da'at Zekeinim adds, that this explanation is a Midrashic type of interpretation, but on the level of P'shat, the simple level, this is actually a language of swallowing.  And that is what it means when it says in the end that "Pharoah woke up and behold it was a dream (Bereisheet 41:7).  For Pharoah said, that cows are eating each other is possible to be, but that ears of corn are swallowing each other, that certainly must be a dream.

"And they rushed him from the pit..." (Bereisheet 41:14)

Why is it written that "they rushed him from the pit" and not written that they raised him from the pit?  The reason is that when the time arrives for a man to be saved, they rush him quickly without any time delays, for Hashem doesn't give unnecessary suffering.  And so it was also in the redemption from Mitzrayim (Egypt), about which it is written  "and Mitzrayim (Egypt) urged the people to hurry to send them out..." (Shemot 12:33), since the time for the redemption had already arrived. 

"...there shall be 7 years of famine."  (Bereisheet 41:27)

The Daat Zekainim explains on the words "there shall be 7 years of famine", that this is a language expressing a prayer -- that Yosef prayed that there would be only 7 years.  For in truth there needed to be 42 years of famine: 7 years for the ears of corn, 7 years for the cows, and the fact that Pharoah told about it added another 14 years, and the fact that Yosef interpreted it to Pharoah added another 14, and the sum of all that is 42.  Yosef prayed that there would be only 7 years, and Yaakov prayed that there would be only 2 years, therefore we find that there were 40 years of famine that were removed.  And in truth these 40 years of famine returned afterwards upon Mitzrayim (Egypt) as is written in Yechezkel Chapter 25 verse 12: "And I will make the Land of Mitzrayim (Egypt) ... desolate 40 years..."  

"And now let Pharoah seek out a discerning and wise man..."  (Bereisheet 41:33)

The Meforshim ask, why did Yosef give advice to Pharoah?  Didn't Pharoah just ask for an interpretation and not for advice on the matter?  The explanation is that, behold, on Passover the world is judged about crops and it seems inappropriate that there would be a dream about crops on Rosh Hashanah.  And therefore Yosef said to him, since you dreamed on Rosh Hashanah about crops, apparently some person needs to rise up to a high position because of this, since on Rosh Hashanah men are judged as to who will be lowered and who will be elevated.  And that is why Yosef said "and now" -- why did you dream now precisely on Rosh Hashanah, to show that it is necessary to appoint a qualified man for this.  And this is what is also hinted at by the words "...and Pharoah woke up" (Bereisheet 41:4), that Pharoah saw in his dream that he himself woke up.  And this is what Yosef told him, the fact that you dreamt that you woke up in your dream, that is a sign that you need to be concerned and be alert to appoint some man upon Mitzrayim (Egypt), and therefore the advice was relevant to the dream.

"And now let Pharoah seek out a discerning and wise man..." (Bereisheet 41:33)

It is written in the Holy Books that this is not just an instruction to Pharoah on how to prepare himself before the coming of the famine in Mitzrayim (Egypt), but it is a teaching for every man when he is still healthy, Baruch Hashem, and able to open a Gemara and learn and pray, that he needs to be wise and discerning, and to know that today he is in the years of plenty.  But also there will arrive for him G-d forbid the years of famine, which are the days of old age.  Therefore, he needs to fill for himself treasurehouses by struggling to learn the Torah and doing good deeds now.  For the wise man has his eyes in his head to fix this matter at the very beginning.  Who is wise?  The one who sees the outcome.

The greatness of Yosef 

It is written in the Midrash that every day, Yosef didn't eat until after he finished selling to all the Egyptians the produce for that day.  From this we see the greatness of Yosef, that he didn't think about himself at all and only worried about others.

"...has given you a hidden treasure...And he brought Shimon out to them."  (Bereisheet 43:23)

There is a hint in this verse that Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai will reveal a hidden treasure, and this is the Holy Zohar which are the secrets of the Torah.  

"And Reuven said to his father , 'You may slay my two sons...' "  (Bereisheet 42:37)

The Midrash says that because of these words, Datan and Aviram, who were the descendents of Reuven, died. And from this we see how much we need to be careful about every word that comes out of our mouths.

"And they tore their garments..."  (Bereisheet 44:13)

It is written in the Midrash that because of this, the portion of Menashe in Eretz Yisrael was torn up and divided, so that one part of it was on the eastern side of the Jordan River and the oher part was on the western side of the Jordan River.  This was because Menashe was the officer of Yosef, and he caused the brothers of Yosef to tear their clothing; therefore his portion was divided.


At the end of every Torah Portion, we record the sum of the number of verses that are present in the Torah Portion.  But for the Torah Portion of Mikeitz, we also record the sum of the number of words, which are two thousand and twenty-five (2025). The Gr"a explains that this is because the Torah Portion of Mikeitz usually falls during Chanukah, and during Chanukah we light candles for 8 days.  The Gematria (numerical value) of the word for candle in Hebrew (Nair) is 250.  8 multiplied by 250 comes out 2000.  And the explanation for "25" is that we begin on the 25th of Kislev.  So that is why we record the count of the 2025 words (in the Torah Portion of Mikeitz).

On Friday, one should pray Minchah before lighting the Chanukah Candles

It is written in Shaarei Teshuvah that on Friday, one needs to pray the Minchah prayer before lighting the Chanukah candles, because the Minchah prayer corresponds to the Tamid offering in the afternoon, and after the sacrifice of the Tamid offering was the lighting of the Menorah, and the the lighting of the Chanukah candles commemorates the lighting of the Menorah.  And this is hinted at by means "Roshei Teivot" based on the letters of the Hebrew word "Minchah", which are "Mem", "Nun", "Chet", and "Hey". "Mem" stands for "Minchah", followed by "Nun" and Chet", which stands for "Neir Chanukah" (in English: "Chanukah Candle"), and finally , "Hey" which stands for "Hadlakat Neir Shabbat" (in English: "Lighting the Shabbat Candle").  And the Pri Megadim (Eshel Avraham Section 671 Paragraph 10) wrote that if one prayers Minchah after lighting the Chanukah Candles, that would be two-faced (i.e., contradictory), since after he acts as if it is already night-time by lighting the Chanukah Candles, he acts as if it is still day-time by praying Minchah. 

"Zot Chanukat HaMizbeiyach"  (in English:  "This is the dedication of the Altar") (Bamidbar 7:84)

The eighth day of Chanukah is called "Zot Chanukah" (in English: "this is Chanukah").  And even though this is not mentioned by the Rishonim (early Torah scholars), in any event, since it is called that by the majority of Israel, there is certainly a source for that in the words of the Torah.  And even moreso, we find that it is mentioned in the Gemora, that is to say, that men spoke about it and there are words of Torah about it in the Shas.  And the source of the name is because we read on it the section of Torah which contains the words "Zot Chanukat HaMizbeiyach" (In English: "This is the dedication of the Altar").  And most likely this has a connection to the Holiness of the day.  (from R' Tzadok HaCohen of Lublin)

"You push man down until the crushing point..." (Tehillim 90:3)

It is written in Holy Books that Chanukah is the conclusion of Elul and the Days of Awe.  And that is hinted at in the verse: "You push man down until the crushing point..." (Tehillim 90:3).  The word "Daka" (in English: "the crushing point") has the Gematria (numerical value) of 25.  This is a hint to the 25th of Kislev, and the real end is on  "Zot Chanukah" which is the conclusion of Chanukah.  [Translator's note: "Zot Chanukah" literally means "This is Chanukah".  This refers to the last day of Chanukah, on which the Torah Portion containing the phrase "Zot Chanukat Hamizbeiyach" is read.] And a hint to this is the verse  "With this Aharon will enter into the Holy Place" (Vayikra 16:3) [Translator's note: that particular verse is a reference to the Kohen Gadol coming into the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur, and it also contains the Hebrew word "Bazot" which is grammatically related to the Hebrew word "Zot".]

It was often said by our early Rabbis that on Chanukah there is an opportunity to awaken mercy on those who are childless (i.e., to have them blessed with children), similar to Rosh Hashanah. The main matter, the main Segulah (propitious opportunity) is on the last day which is called "Zot Chanukah".  (from B'nei Yissachar) 

The happiness of Zot Chanukah (the last day of Chanukah) is like that of a Siyum (party made on the completion of a body of learning), the happiness of completing a Mitzvah.


The Torah Portion of Mikeitz has 146 verses, and it has 2025 words.

This is Shabbat Chanukah.

In Tefillah and in Birkat HaMazon we mention "Al HaNissim"

Two Torah Scrolls are taken out.  For the first Torah Scroll seven men are called up for the reading the Torah Portion of the week.  For the second Torah Scroll the Maftir is read in the Torah Portion of Naso, "Bayom Hash'vi'i". Haftora: "Rani V'Simchi" (Zecharia 2).

We say Borchi Nafshi.  

May you all have a  light-filled and Happy Shabbat and Chanuka.  
Shabbat Shalom and Happy Chanukah.

"B'nei Vina Y'mei Sh'monah Kavu Shir Ur'nananim"

"Men of Understanding Established Eight Days for Song and Rejoicing"

L'ilui Neshamat HaGaon HaTzaddik R' Gershon Avigdor Ben R' Chaim ztz"l, Nilkach L'Bait Olamo Yud Gimmel Tishrei 5772

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