Points to Ponder
And it was at the of 2 years (41:1) – The Midrash Rabba comments that that Mekeitz is a reference to the fact that Hashem puts an end to the darkness for once the time was complete, Pharaoh dreamed a dream. Rav Elyashiv ztl. explained that Yosef thought that the time had passed. After all, Pharaoh underwent 2 birthdays and nothing. He thought that the butler would have saved him and for naught. Still, at the time that a person least expects it, the result can be fast – Vayirutzuhu min Habor for when the time comes, Hashem does not delay even a moment.
And Pharaoh dreamed (41:1) – Rav Shlomo Heiman ztl. noted that there are many in the Torah who dream. However, while the others dream dreams of destiny, Pharaoh dreams of cows. This is a fulfillment of the Chazal that dreams come from Hirhurei HaLev. Yosef’s lev was built on the notion that he must be the master over creation.
Why should you appear satiated (42:1) – The Yalkut Shimoni notes that Yaakov told his children that they should not be ostentatious or stand out especially in moments of national famine as it brings on Ayin Hara. Rav Altusky ztl. asked what the power of the Ayin Hara was? After all, it does not come from a Talmid Chacham so it is not Tzaddik Gozer? He answers that through Ayin HaRa there is a Kitrug that is unleashed on a person. Left alone, it does not mean much but in context to other occasional failings, it has the power to wreak havoc on a life as the final straw. That is, when a person raises an Ayin Hara, the person is acting in a way that is counter the way that Hashem acts. That’s why it creates the Kitrug despite the source of the Kitrug. Rav Schachter Shlita would often mention to us that the demonstrative style is the opposite of Hashem. He is a Keil Mistater and we should be as well. Rav Pam ztl. added that this is especially true when we deal with Chanukah – while we light the candles openly, we need not also leave the windows open to the living or dining room long after the candles go out. The opposite message of Chanukah comes through if we do.
Yosef commanded to return the money of each man to his sack (42:25) – Why did Yosef return the money? The Gerrer Rebbe Shlita explained that the brothers knew that a little bribe went a long way in the corrupt world around them. Unfortunately, that bribe was received and returned suggesting to the brothers that Tzafnas Paneiach was not a regular world leader at that time. Thus, in his returning the money he was giving them a message that their general plan of engaging corruption was not going to work this time. That is why he returned the money – to tell them he wasn’t for sale. That’s why when the brothers find the money in their sacks that is precisely when they get scared.
And prepare the meat (43:16) – The Talmud (chullin 91) notes that Yosef commanded them to take the Gid HaNasheh out in front of the brothers. Why is the first time that the mitzvah of Gid Hanasheh is mentioned, is it in context of Yosef’s observance? Rav Shmuel Brazil Shlita suggests that in the same way that there are 365 Lavin there are 365 solar days and the Zohar notes that the Lav of Tisha B’av is Gid HaNasheh. It follows that Yosef, who is always prepared to handle trouble, no matter what comes his way, is the ideal one to face the Gid HaNashe and to utilize its challenge for his betterment and that of the Jewish people.
For the Egyptians would not break bread with him as it was an abomination to the Egyptians (43:32) – The amazing concept that an Egyptian citizen found it abominable to eat with the viceroy with whom they could get ahead. Why did this not bother Yosef? Rabbi Lamm Shlita once explained that as opposed to the American Jew who would have been miserable about the situation, Yosef did not feel that he was alone when he was not connected to the Egyptian culture or people. Instead, he felt ever more connected to Hashem and it helped him in the trying moments.
Shir Shel Yom of Chanukah – The late, great Mr. Sam Halpern z”l and his brother Arie z”l escaped from the lager in World War II, they ran into a field, and with the gunfire of the SS guards ringing in their ears, took refuge in haystacks, each to their own hiding place to enhance the possibility of at least one of the family surviving. These stacks of hay were not the safe haven that we might assume. The Nazis either seized or murdered quite a number of escapees by ramming their bayonets into the loosely piled hay. Both Arie and Sam independently related that throughout the time that they remained in that dark place, and long after the gunfire subsided, they recited Mizmor Shir Chanukat haBayit l’David. Over and over. Again and again.
My friend, Dr. Harris Saltzburg who reminded me of Sam’s story, also added that one cannot help but think of Arie and Sam in those haystacks in a field in Poland. Homeless, running for their lives. Cold, shivering with fright, in their lager stripes, endlessly pleading with HaShem, “...What gain would there be if I died and went down to the grave? Can dust thank you? Can it declare your truth? Hear Lord, and be gracious to me; Lord, be my help. You have turned my sorrow into dancing. You have removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, so that my soul may sing to You and not be silent. Lord my God, forever will I thank You. The Chanukah message so strong – never give in and remember to be thankful each and every day.
Haftorah: In the infamous Haftorah of Shabbos Chanukah, we find Yehoshua Kohein Gadol in unfitting clothes which prevent the image of the Menorah from being experienced until they are removed. Why? Rav Dr. Benny Lau Shlita explained that Yehoshua’s children were maligned because they had intermarried. He quotes Rav Uziel ztl. who noted that while the clothes are changed in the Nevuah, the person is not removed. He interprets that one needs to work hard to keep the kesher with the families. Although not agreed to by all, Rav Uziel encourages the conversion of the non-Jewish spouse so as not to write off lines of the Jewish people.