Category Archives: Parshas Mikeitz

Parshas Mikeitz: Smile When You Do That!

Parshas Mikeitz

Smile When You Do That!

“And the leaders [of the tribes] brought onyx stones, and stones for setting into the ephod and breastplate”. (Shmos 35:7)

Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzatto zt”l (Derech Hashem 4:8:5-6) writes that the spiritual level attained by the Jewish People on a particular holiday is rekindled each year on that holiday. Reading the Torah portion each Shabbos and each holiday, serves as a conduit to strengthen the illumination of holiness of that day. For example, reading the Torah portion on Purim, about the war against Amalek, grants us the power to battle the modern-day manifestation of Amalek.

On Chanukah, the Kohanim prevailed over the Hellenists who tried to dissuade us from serving Hashem. The Kohanim overcame them and brought the Jewish People back to Torah and devotion to Hashem.

The Torah portion that is read on Chanukah refers to back when the Jews were in the desert, after leaving Egypt. It gives the account of the first sacrifices which were offered by the Nesi’im, princes of each of the Tribes, in the newly inaugurated Mishkan (Tabernacle).

What is the correlation of this Torah reading to the holiday of Chanukah? What spiritual influence do we tap into by reading this portion on Chanukah?

Rav Mattisyahu Solomon provides us with an answer. During the time of Purim, our enemies wanted to annihilate us. However, during the time of Chanukah, they wanted us to remove Hashem and the Torah from our lives. They wanted us to replace that with Greek “culture”. They wanted us to focus on the body and not the soul. Unfortunately, many Jews were influenced. The Heavenly decree against that generation was a punishment for becoming lax in the service of Hashem. They had become unenthusiastic about their service in the Beis HaMikdash, doing it by rote. Hashem felt that if they were not interested in doing the service in the Beis HaMikdash, then it should be taken away from them. The daily Tamid sacrifice was nullified, and they were unable to light the Menorah. The Greeks entered and desecrated the Beis HaMikdash, bringing idols inside and by sacrificing pigs on the mizbayach.

The Maccabees atoned for the laxity of service by risking their lives to reinstate the service. Hashem gave them Divine assistance enabling the few and the weak to defeat the many and mighty. Then, they were able to do the service of lighting the Menorah with pure oil that was miraculously found and which lasted for 8 days.

How does this connect to the Torah reading about the Nesi’im? When Moshe had asked for donations to build the Mishkan, the Nesi’im did not donate immediately. Rashi (Shmos 35:27) says that the Nesi’im said that the rest of the nation should donate first. Then, the Nesi’im would donate whatever was lacking. However, the rest of the Jewish people donated everything that was needed for the Mishkan. The Nesi’im felt bad that there was nothing for them to donate. In order that they not feel bad, Hashem sent them precious stones that they could donate to be used for the garments of the Kohain Gadol.  The Da’as Zekanim and Bechor Shor (Shmos 35:27) say that each prince brought the jewel that was used for his tribe on the Kohain Gadol’s breastplate. Together, they also brought the two precious stones that were placed on the Kohain Gadol’s shoulders. They also contributed the oil for anointing the Mishkan. The initial response of the Nesi’im showed a slight degree of laziness. They should have given a donation immediately and then said that they would donate more at the end. The Nesi’im learned their lesson. After the Mishkan was completed, they were the first to dedicate offerings to be brought on the Mizbayach.

This, says Rav Mattisyahu Solomon, is how the Torah reading on Chanukah correlates to the miracles that we commemorate. The people of that generation had to learn the same lesson as the Nesi’im, not to approach the service of Hashem with laziness, rather with joy and love for Hashem.

(based on Rabbi Frand on the Parashah 3)

Boruch Hashem, we have many opportunities to achieve holiness and closeness to Hashem. Throughout the day we have mitzvos that we can do. At designated times, we can daven. These are all opportunities to cherish. However, human nature is such that when we do something many times, it loses its excitement. A person is apt to act by rote. He may go through the motions while his mind is “thousands of miles away”, thinking about things that are totally unrelated to the mitzvah.

We should stop to think about what we are doing and to Whom we are speaking. Many great people used to spend time thinking about Hashem’s glory, greatness, and kindness before they davened. Every single day, Aharon HaKohain would light the Menorah in the Beis HaMikdash. He was praised for lighting it each day with the same excitement and fervor as he had the first time. We, too, should aspire to always serve Hashem with great excitement and fervor.

Parshas Mikeitz: It’s NOT the Way it Seems!

Parshas Mikeitz

It’s NOT the Way it Seems!


“It was at the end of two years, and Pharaoh had a dream…” (Bereishis 41:1)

The following is a true story. Rachel regularly used an excellent babysitter for her youngest son while she was at work. The babysitter said that she would not be available to work for a few weeks. Luckily, Rachel found another drop-off babysitter, Nechama, who agreed to babysit in the interim. Every day, either Rachel or her oldest daughter, Sara, would drop- off the baby and then pick him up from Nechama’s house. Nechama got to know both Sara and her mother. She felt that Sara would be a perfect match for her cousin, Daniel. Nechama mentioned the idea to both families. Sara and Daniel went on a date and enjoyed each other’s company. After a few months, they became engaged.

Interesting how life works. Had Rachel’s babysitter not needed time off, then Sara and Nechama would not have met. Sara would not have been introduced to Daniel. Or…???

Yosef HaTzadik was imprisoned in Egypt for 12 years. After the last two years of Yosef’s imprisonment had ended, Pharoah had a troublesome dream. All of Pharoah’s wise men and stargazers were unable to explain the dream to his satisfaction. Then, he heard from his wine steward that Yosef could interpret dreams. So, he called for Yosef to be taken out of prison and brought before him. Luckily for Yosef, Pharoah had that dream. That allowed Yosef to be freed from prison. Or…??

A story is told about a man who was very dedicated to giving tzedakah (charity). One time, his wife gave him a few coins and told him to go to the marketplace to buy something for their children. On the way, the man met someone collecting money for an orphan. He readily gave away all the money that his wife had given him. Ashamed to return empty-handed, he collected and brought home a sack full of abandoned esrogim. The man had to go overseas. Accidentally, he packed the sack of esrogim. When he arrived at his destination, he heard that the king in that country was suffering from a severe stomach ailment. The king’s physicians had determined that only the fruit of the citron, esrog, could provide relief.  However, no one could secure such a fruit on short notice since they did not grow locally. It was then that the man discovered the esrogim in his bag. He brought them to the palace, and upon the king’s recovery, was rewarded handsomely. The man became very rich because he had something that was greatly needed. Or…??

The Chofetz Chaim zt”l has a beautiful parable (quoted in Yalkut Lekach Tov by Yaakov Yisroel Beifus).

A villager visited the big city for the first time in his life. He was amazed by what he saw. When he arrived at the train station, for the first time in his life, he had an interesting observation. He noticed a man standing on the platform. When the man blew a shrill sound of the whistle, people began walking towards the waiting train. When he blew the whistle a second time, more people came running to the train. When he blew it a third time, the train left, without waiting for anyone else. This scene repeated itself a few times. The villager was amazed at what this man was able to do. He felt that this man must be very important since he had the power to decide when the train left. The villager approached the train man, giving him a lot of respect. The train man laughingly told him that he was not in charge. He was only a lowly worker who followed the instructions of the trainmaster who was sitting in his office, above the platform. The trainmaster signaled to the man below when to blow the whistle for the train to depart. The Chofetz Chaim zt”l says that many people err in thinking that they know why certain things happen. It seems clear to them what the cause is and what the result, the effect, of that cause is. It is a big mistake! The cause for everything that occurs is as a result of a decree from Hashem!

The Midrash Rabbah (Bereishis 89:1) says that there was a set time for Yosef to be imprisoned. The Torah says (Bereishis 41:14) that as soon as that time was up, Yosef was quickly taken out of jail. The Chofetz Chaim zt”l  (in Chofetz Chaim on the Torah) says that every Heavenly decree has a fixed time. As soon as that time arrives, Hashem does not allow the decree to continue for a single extra minute. Thus, Yosef was immediately taken from the jail.

Since the time for Yosef’s freedom had arrived, therefore, Pharoah had a dream.  The reason for Pharoah’s dream was to be a conduit to Yosef’s freedom. The dream was not happenstance. Rather, Hashem decreed that Pharoah dream as a means to free Yosef.

Rav Yosef Soloveitchik, zt”l (in his sefer Bais Halevi) says that this understanding is the basis for the explanation of our pasuk. The end of Yosef’s prison time and Pharoah’s dream are written in the same pasuk because they are connected. The time for Yosef’s freedom had come. Therefore, Hashem facilitated that freedom. The way that Hashem did it, was by causing Pharoah to have a dream.

Look back at our previous stories. Since Hashem determined that it was time for Sara to meet Daniel, therefore, Hashem orchestrated events to ensure that they would meet. Hashem caused the regular babysitter to become unavailable for Nechama to meet Sara.

In the next story, Hashem wanted the man to become rich. Therefore, Hashem arranged for him to acquire esrogim to make him wealthy.

What appears to us to be a simple cause and effect is often not accurate.

When Hashem wants something to occur, Hashem orchestrates

and causes a chain of events to bring His plans to fruition.