Prologue:        Yosef needed to break them up.


Recognizing his need to get the brothers to bring Binyamin down to Mitzrayim, Yosef needed a rouse in order to get them to go up to Canaan and then return with him. He suggested taking a hostage and immediately selected Shimon. Rashi notes that he knew he needed to break up Shimon and Levi.


The Midrash adds the rest of the story. According to the Midrash, Yosef sent for guards from Pharaoh’s palace and 70 guards attempted to tie Shimon up. Shimon let out a scream and all 70 fell. At that time, Menashe, Yosef’s son, walked over and hit Shimon on the shoulder and  knocked him into incarceration. Shimon immediately recognized that such a hit had to come from a Yisroel. How?


The author of the Pardes Yosef explains that this is no ordinary Midrash. Normally, we are surrounded by 70 nations of the world who want to tie us up in all sorts of ways in order to limit our growth in the world. Our strength (like Shimon’s in the Midrash) is in our ability to cry out to Hashem – hence Shimon’s cry. In those cases, the only hits that can successfully land upon us, are hits that come from within. When we are B’Shalom b’Cheileinu we can have Shalom in our castles.


Today, we need to recall the cry of Shimon as a call to unity. We need not attack one another – with rocks, newspapers or garbage --  over politics, in public and in the press. We need to unite under the banner of Toras Hashem and with the spirit of Hashem guiding us. When we will do so, we can be the most unstoppable force in the world.


Chag Urim Sameach.




Women & Hallel on Chanukah



The Talmud (Shabbos23b) clearly obligates women in the lighting of the Menorah. Even though they are usually exempt from active mitzvos that are time-determined (Mitzvos Aseh She’Hazman Grama), when it comes to Chanukah, they are obligated because, as Rabbi Yehoshua Ben levi notes “Af Hein Hayu B”Oso HaNes” – they were included in the miracle.


It should follow, given that we note the purpose of lighting the candles is “Kdai L’Hodos U’L’Hallel” as a means to offer Hallel, that women should be obligated to recite Hallel on Chanukah.  After all, despite the fact that we exempt women from the obligation to recite Hallel on Sukkos as a result of its Mitzvos Aseh She’Hazman Grama status, in regard to Seder night we obligate even the women to say Hallel because, as Tosafos (Sukkh 38a) notes they were included in the miracle (Af Hein Hayu).  The same should apply to Chanukah. Are women obligated to say Hallel on Chanukah?


Based on the above argument, Shut Hisorerus Teshuva (I:51) says “yes” and obligates women to recite the entire Hallel on each day of Chanukah. Is his opinion universally accepted?


The Rambam (Hil. Chanukah 3:14) does not sound as if the Rabbis required women to recite the hallel on Chanukah. Why?


Rav Chaim Medini (Sdei Chemed IX:Asufas Dinim, Chanukah, 9:2) quotes Rav Shlomo of Vilna who notes that although women are obligated to recite Hallel on Chanukah, they are not obligated to recite the same Hallel that the Rabbis instituted we recite when miracles occur (See Pesachim 117a).  Rather, says Rav Shlomo of Vilna, they must offer some degree of praise for the miracles that occurred. This is similar to woman’s obligation in prayer where, according to Mogen Avraham (O.C. 106) women tend to exempt their obligations with a form of recited short prayer (whatever she chooses) offered upon rising in the morning.


HaGaon Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach ztl. (Mizmor  L’Sodah p. 183) notes that this position is a strange one. After all, we never find reference in the Rishonim to an obligation for women to recite ANY form of Hallel on Chanukah. Moreover, the Beis Yosef maintains that women SHOULD NOT recite a beracha on the Hallel. Now, if the women were obligated to recite some form of Hallel why should they NOT recite a Beracha on it? Finally, this new idea of a self-composed Hallel is one we do not find anywhere in Rabbinic writing.


So how does one explain the practice of women and Hallel recitation on Chanukah?


Rav Shlomo Zalman ztl explains that it is similar to the situation recorded in Erachin (10b) where we are told that we do not say Hallel on Shabbos because it is not called a Moed. According to Rav Shlomo Zalman, usually when we recite Hallel, it is not the miracle that makes us obligated to recite the Hallel. Rather it is the DAY that the miracles occurred that were established as days worthy of Hallel. Ergo, on Chanukah (consistent with these rules) we recite Hallel not because of the miracles that occurred but rather because the days were established as days of Hallel. Accordingly, Hallel on Chanukah is a Mitzvos Aseh She’Hazman Grama and women are exempt from reciting it.


(Seder night’s Hallel is entirely different. Then, we all sit as if we were in Mitzrayim and B’Tzeis Yisroel MeMitzrayim a special Hallel is recited to which even women are obligated Af Hein Hayu B’Oso HaNes)

<For further discussion, see Turei Even, Megillah 14a and HaPardes 61:6>.