Illuminations #13, Kislev 5775, Parshat Miketz

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Torah Gems

Do not show off to the goyim

ויאמר יעקב לבניו למה תתראו וכו’ ונחיה ולא נמות

Yaakov told his sons why do you make yourselves conspicuous, go to מצרים and bring us food so we shall live and not die. The question is asked “Why does Yaakov tell his sons to not be conspicuous and how can that affect life and death?” The mefarshim explain that Yaakov told his sons the following “Although we do have more food do not make that noticeable to the surrounding nations specifically ישמעאל   and עשו because if they see that you have a lot they will force you to feed them as well and they will begin to fight us out of jealousy.” The message Yaakov was telling his sons was: When the world is going through a tough time make yourselves humble even though you might not be going through the same hardships because that may lead to life and death situations because hatred will arise.

We can learn from this lesson since we are in galut and Baruch Hashem it’s been easier for the Jewish Nation the last 50 or so years financially and among the other nations, it is important we keep a low profile in our prosperity so the goyim should not resent us even more that even in our exile Hashem is helping us.

A similar message can be found in פרשת וישלח when Yaakov sent the presents to עשו he sent cattle and sheep to show עשו that their father יצחק’s blessing has not come true because even though I am wealthy it is not what was promised to me so don’t worry עשו I am not better off than you are. Yaakov here was also trying to diminish his prosperity in the eyes ofעשו to avoid extra hatred and anger.


Parshah Pearls

Dudaim and Chanukah

The last pasuk of the 7th perek of שיר השירים  says הדודאים נתנו רח ועל פתחנו כל מגדים. (The mandrakes gave a smell and all the sweets were at our doorsteps.) The medrash says that the first part of this pasuk is referring toראובן בן יעקב    and the second part of the pasuk refers to נר חנוכה  that we light at our doorsteps. The question is asked: what is the connection between ראובן   and the חנוכה   נר?

The simple answer given is that just like ראובן  found the דודאים , the חשמונאים          found the פח שמן.  But there is a deeper explanation that ties these two halves of the pasuk very nicely. Rabbi Mordechai Schwab in the Ma’ayan Bet Hashoevah says that it is referring to the din that says נאה דורש נאה מקיים  (pleasant is he who speaks and fulfills). When a person gives over musar or chizuk or simply has an idea that he is capable of fulfilling, he is the first person whom we would expect to follow through with it. He should be the first one to immediately try to act on his ideas. When the שבטים were plotting to kill ראובן,יוסף wanted to try to save him. However, instead of taking him back to their father, he suggested to the brothers to throw him in a pit, thinking he would come back to  יוסףlater. He did not act upon his idea immediately and when he did come back, יוסף  had already been sold. Compare that to the חשמונאים who saw what was happening to the Jewish people and they stood up and called out מי לה’ אלי  They didn’t deliberate over how dangerous it could be for them or how small their army was compared to the massive troops of the Greeks. They acted upon their beliefs and we are celebrating their story until today. The flowers gave a smell ראובן just had a thought, an opinion but he didn’t follow through. But the חשמונאים are compared to fruits because they had a thought and they fought for it and they succeeded.


Halachah Weekly

Question:  Is one obligated to sit by the Chanukah candles for 30 minutes after lighting the Menorah?

Answer:  It is a proper practice for one to sit by the candles for 30 minutes to enjoy the light that the candles provide.  It is also meritorious to sing or learn Torah next to the Menorah lights.  If one has to leave one’s home to join another family for dinner, before the 30 minutes will have passed he has three options:

Light at the home of the dinner host

Light at your own home but leave before 30 minutes have passed

Light when you return home, which might mean lighting hours after the ideal time for lighting

Many Poskim are of the opinion that it is preferable to light at the proper time, even if one has to leave right away (without staying 30 minutes to benefit from the light of the Menorah).  Lighting at the proper time has a higher priority than benefiting from the light of the Menorah.  Sitting by the Menorah is certainly ideal, not a mandatory part of the Mitzvah.  On the other hand, lighting at the proper time is intrinsic to the Mitzvah.

Also, one is allowed to leave to pray with a minyan even it it will compromise the 30 minutes of benefiting from the light of the Menorah.


Glimpses of Greatness

Rav Ezrah Attiah’s Concern for Everyone

An elderly couple with an only son emigrated from Iraq to Eretz Yisrael. They pinned all their hopes upon the clever lad, hoping that he would succeed in business and support them in comfort for the rest of their lives. The boy, however, had no interest in business. He wished to devote himself to Torah, but he did not want to displease his parents. He took his dilemma to Rav Ezrah and unburdened himself. Rav Ezrah understood that this precious soul showed great potential in his Torah learning. It would be a tremendous waste for him to stop his learning. He went to the Yeshiva’s administration, requesting that the boy be admitted on a scholarship and that a stipend be given to his elderly parents. Although the trustees respected the chacham’s request, they were unable to grant it, for the Yeshiva was in desperate financial condition at the time. In the face of their refusal, the Rosh Yeshiva proclaimed, “Then deduct the amount from my own salary.” The administrators were embarrassed into action and a meeting was called. They came to a decision: each of them would take a cut in salary so that the promising young boy could have a Torah education and not worry about providing financial security for his elderly parents. Rav Ezrah left, satisfied, and went to tell the boy.


This week’s Illuminations is sponsored in honor of Rebecca (Becky) Azran’s birthday by her loving family.