Illuminations #56, Tevet 5776, Parshat Vayigash

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Illuminations #56, Tevet 5776, Parshat Vayigash

Torah Gems

Our sages of blessed memory tell us that the oppression in Egypt did not begin until the passing of everyone who came down to Egypt with יעקב אבינו. As it states in the Torah, “Joseph and all his brothers and that generation died.” The obvious question is, why did the oppression only begin after the passing of all those who came down to Egypt in that generation? The answer is that Jacob and his generation knew that God told Abraham that his offspring will be foreigners in the land which does not belong to them, and they will be oppressed and enslaved. Nevertheless, that generation accepted the decree with love. They went down to Egypt without complaining even though they knew this was the beginning of the promise that God made to Abraham. Our sages tell us that the remedy to affliction is accepting it and understanding that all which God puts upon us is just. Therefore, since that generation accepted the decree, the affliction did not start until they all passed away.

Parsha Pearls

Once Hanukkah is over, we effectively start the countdown to Pesah (Passover). Both holidays had miracles that are apparent to us, but there were many more than the eye could see. As a matter of fact, whatever we see with our eyes is but a fraction of the miracles that are taking place and are hidden from our sight, to be used in the future, as and when we need them.

In the case of Hanukkah, we are well aware of the fact that a mere handful of Maccabees overcame the mighty Greek army. We are also aware of the miracle of the cruse of oil. However, when we look at the ‘Al Hannissim that we recite, we find that we are thanking G-d for much more than just two miracles. The reason is because our eyes were only able to absorb these two miracles. However, G-d made and set aside many more miracles at that time that are still coming down to us today, and that is why we thank G-d for so many things in ‘Al Hannissim.

The Zohar tells us that when Haqadosh Barukh Hu (the Holy One blessed be He) redeemed the Children of Israel from under the hand of the Egyptians, He also created many miracles that we couldn’t see which continue to be used till today. Not only that, but He also began the preparation for the final redemption that we are so eagerly awaiting, may it come speedily in our days, Amen.

Glimpses of Greatness

When  Rav Raphael Barukh Toledano was 10 years old, he became very ill. The name Rafael was added to his name. His parents hoped that the new name would be a good omen for his recovery. Rav Raphael’s childhood friend, Rav Yosef Mashash, came to visit him. Rafael was moaning in pain. Without warning, his father entered the room. Rafael immediately stopped groaning, tightly pursing his lips. When his father left, Rav Yosef asked Rav Rephael why he had stopped crying, and he answered, “I did not want to upset my father.” He did not want to distress his father by allowing him to to see his intense pain and discomfort.

Halacha Weekly

Is it proper for Jews to celebrate birthdays?

There are different opinions regarding this  question. Some say it is not a good custom since it started as a custom of the goyim, others are of the opinion that it is a good custom. HaRav Ben Ish Hai writes in his book that it is a good custom to celebrate a birthday and that it is good sign to do so. He writes that his household held the custom of celebrating birthdays.

There are certain years in a person’s life that one should especially give thanks to Hashem. HaRav K’tav Sofer says that on one’s 50th birthday, one should celebrate with a siyum and say Shehechiyanu.  Some say that on one’s 60th birthday one should make a festive meal (termed a Seudat Mitzvah since it is a mitzvah to give thanks to Hashem). The reason is because once a person reaches the age of 60, he/she is considered to be saved from the punishment of Karet (death at a young age). Since that is a special milestone, one should make a special meal. On one’s 80th birthday, one is required to make that day like a Yom Tov and give thanks to Hashem.


This week’s Illuminations is sponsored
In honor of the 39th wedding anniversary of
Jacques and Amy Elfersy
Mazal Tov!     מזל טוב