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The Miracle of Yossef and the Miracle of Chanukah Miketz Chanukah 5770

This guest Drash is by Rachamim Bitton of Jerusalem’s Nahar Shalom Yeshiva located in the Nachlaot neighborhood.



rachamim-bittonIn this week’s Parsha we learn about the famine that was in the land and Yakov sending his sons to buy food from Mitzrayim, where Yosef had successfully saved food from the years of abundance.

וְהָרָעָב הָיָה עַל כָּל פְּנֵי הָאָרֶץ וַיִּפְתַּח יוֹסֵף אֶת כָּל אֲשֶׁר בָּהֶם וַיִּשְׁבֹּר לְמִצְרַיִם וַיֶּחֱזַק הָרָעָב בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם:

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Now the famine spread over all the face of the land, and Joseph opened all [the storehouses] in which there was [grain], and he sold [it] to the Egyptians, and the famine intensified in the land of Egypt.


וישבור למצרים: שבר לשון מכר ולשון קנין הוא, כאן משמש לשון מכר, (להלן מג ב) שברו לנו מעט אוכל, לשון קנין. ואל תאמר אינו כי אם בתבואה, שאף ביין וחלב מצינו (ישעיה נה א) ולכו שברו בלא כסף ובלא מחיר יין וחלב:

and he sold [it] to the Egyptians: Heb. וַיִשְׁבֹּר לְמִצְרַיִם. The word שֶׁבֶר is [sometimes] an expression of selling and [sometimes] an expression of buying. Here it is used as an expression of selling. [In the verse]“Return, buy (שִׁבְרוּ) us a little food” (Gen. 43:2), it is an expression of buying. Do not say that it applies only to grain, for also with wine and milk we find:“and go buy (שִׁבְרוּ) without money and without a price, wine and milk” (Isa. 55:1).

When the famine got very difficult in Mitzrayim it says that Yosef was the ruler and the one who sold the saved food to all the land.

וְיוֹסֵף הוּא הַשַּׁלִּיט עַל הָאָרֶץ הוּא הַמַּשְׁבִּיר לְכָל עַם הָאָרֶץ וַיָּבֹאוּ אֲחֵי יוֹסֵף וַיִּשְׁתַּחֲווּ לוֹ אַפַּיִם אָרְצָה:

Now Joseph was the ruler over the land; it was he who sold grain to the entire populace of the land, and Joseph’s brothers came and prostrated themselves to him, with their faces to the ground.

The medrash Tanchuma says on this Pasuk that Yosef merited to be the ruler on the land because he did not listen to Potifar’s wife, because he did not sin, because he strengthened himself and overcame any temptation.

Rabbi Naftali of Ropshitz explains that this is alluded to in the Torah’s choice of wording. The Torah uses the word “המשביר” to describe Yossef’s ruling over Mitzraim and being the one who sells all the food that was saved in the treasury. This word has the same letters as the word “שבר” which literally means to break. It was through Yossef breaking the temptation, the concealment of Hashem’s light, that he merited to be the ruler.

He explains that our temptations to do wrong, our temptations to follow the concealment of Hashem’s light which is the essence of every challenge, is an actual indication of the quantity and quality of judgmental prosecuting angels against us. It is an indication of the amount of walls we have set up between us and and Hashem, and it is an indication of the spiritual resistance there is to our deliverance.

When we overcome temptation and break the evil that hold us back from Hashem, at the same time and in the same way, we merit to have that resistance broken and removed.

We merit deliverance by removing the walls we have set up between us and Hashem, between us and the fulfillment of Hashem’s will, the expression of His Torah and Mitzvot through us.

It is interesting to point out the Rashi we quoted at the beginning which teaches us that the word שבר means to buy and it also means to sell. This beautifully illustrates to us this point that when we break the Yetzer Hara it seems like we are selling, like we are giving away something that we want/need…but in truth we are buying, we are gaining what we truly want and need. The way to receive what we truly want and need is specifically by overcoming our lower urges and those challenges which keep us from directly cleaving to Hashem.

Chanukah is a time when we internalize the importance of thanking Hashem for everything. We do so in a way that strengthens our belief and realization that everything is from Hashem and therefore we strengthen our belief in the power of prayer and our recognition that only through prayer may we truly be successful and be delivered from our troubles.

It is through this belief that Hashem is the source of all pleasure, all pleasantness, all good, all joy, happiness, and success, that we learn to nullify our urges to access joy and happiness in any way which is not going to get us closer to Hashem. It is in this way that we overcome those urges and merit Hashem’s deliverance to be shined upon us.

The final day of Chanukah is a time when these heavenly gates are open. A tremendous light is brought down from a place which above the rules of nature which changes those rules of nature so that we can all merit tremendous miracles even if we are not worthy.

There is a Chasidic explanation that that which the great Tzadikim work so hard to achieve during the days of awe of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, a simple Jew can merit on the final day of Chanukah.

May we merit to internalize these lessons and strengthen our connection to Hashem in the face of any challenges and so we will merit miraculous salvation until the coming of Mashiach and final redemption speedily in our days AMEN!

Shabbat Shalom!
Chanukah Sameach!



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