Miketz 5773 – Gilayon #778

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Parshat Miketz – Chanuka

Our Rabbis taught:

The precept of Hanukkah [demands] one light for a man

and his household;

the zealous [kindle] a light for each member [of the household]; and the

extremely zealous, –

Beth Shammai maintain: On

the first day eight lights are lit and thereafter they are gradually reduced;

but Beth Hillel say: On the first day one is lit and thereafter they are

progressively increased

(Bavli, Shabbat 21b)


Bet Shammai

takes the stringent view, and requires total elimination of evil, even "the

fine traces of evil", even when the evil is barely discernable. This is

also the key to their controversy on the question of whether "Heaven was

created first" as maintained by Bet Shammai, or "Earth was created first" as maintained by

Bet Hillel (Yerushalmi, Hagiga 10a), Heaven

and earth represent thought and action. For Bet Shammai, it is not sufficient that man's actions be

proper, his thoughts must also be stainless. Bet Hillel can be content

with man's actions, if they are pure and honest.

(From "L'Ohr Hahalacha"

by R' Shumuel Yosef Zevin z"l)


An ancient alternate tradition,

attributed to the stubborn and uncompromising Shammai,

is the hassidic tradition of those who witnessed the

victory that was followed by the light which progressively dimmed. After

achieving political sovereignty, the Sages saw the idolization of the rulers,

the increasing assimilation, the wasting of the sacrifices of the early Hashmoneans. This is the reason why in my kibbutz, in the

majority of kibbutzim, in most state schools and in public Hanukkah

celebrations, on the first day of Hanukkah we light the complete Hanukkah

menorah, eight candles and the shamash,

as per the custom of Bet Shammai; with each day I

remove a candle, in order to caution myself and to recall what happened then

and is liable to happen again. The great victory of political Zionism was

supposed to bring on the next stage of uplift, renewal and uniqueness, the

creation of an original Jewish civilization. Today we have reached a dead end. Nationalistic zealotry or assimilation on the one hand,

ultra-Orthodox extremism on the other. It seems to me that the light in

our lives is growing dimmer. According to Zionist doctrine, Judaism cannot

continue to exist under the conditions of the 21st century without a

state; I share this view, but I also believe that the existence of a Jewish

state without Jewish content is superfluous and hopeless.

As long as Jews light candles in

memory of the revolt and take heed that the light is not to be taken for

granted, that it is flickering and may be extinguished, they will continue to

spread light. This is the power of freedom.

(Eli Ben Gal: "When Dining with the Devil", Am Oved, Ofakim 1989)




the 19th anniversary of her passing, this issue is dedicated to the dear memory

of Marcia Kretzmer. Torah study was her source of

inspiration for "the Torah of loving-kindness which was upon her tongue",

finding expression in her actions and in her creations.


Mishkan and Shekhina in

The Hanukkah Sermon in Rav Kahanah's Pesikta



The Hanukkah

Festival receives minimal and random attention in Tannaic

sources, but Amoraic sources give it a place of

honor. The Babylonian Talmud devotes an extensive discussion to the laws of the

festival in Tractate Shabbat, focusing primarily upon the lighting of the lamp

and historical aspects (or perhaps we should say pseudo-historical) of the

festival. The intensive structure of the discussion earned it the title "Tractate

Hanukkah". P'sikta D'Rav

Kahanah, a text of midrashic

aggada, contains an entire section expounding the

Torah reading for Hanukkah, (Bemidbar

7) "And it happened on the day Moshe finished setting up the


P'sikta D'Rav Kahanah,

a midrash composed by Amoraim of Eretz Yisrael, is composed of homiletical

units (piskaot') arranged according to the

yearly holiday cycle. A derasha is

devoted to each holiday Torah or Haphtarah reading, to the fasts, to the four

special parshiyot preceding Pesach, and

to the Sabbaths of calamity and consolation [preceding and following Tisha B'Av]. In some of the

manuscripts, as well as in the printed edition1, the Chanukah derasha opens the compilation, thus indicating the

importance of the Hanukkah festival in the holiday cycle in Eretz

Yisrael during the Byzantine period.

The derasha on "And it happened on the day

Moshe finished", which deals with the inauguration of the Tabernacle in

the desert, delves into the spiritual significance of building a dwelling place

for the Divinity, and also copes with the theological difficulties involved.

The designation of a specific place for the Divinity naturally raises questions

regarding God's place in the world, such as whether the restriction of Divine

revelation to a single place implies its absence from everywhere else.

The P'sikta's homilies present various models for coping with

the confining of the Shekhina to the Tabernacle.

These models reflect different positions regarding the question of the place of


Shekhina – as representative

of the God's presence in the world. The first model is found in the

first p'tichta [beginning] of the derasha:

The essence of

Shekhina began in the lowest sphere, and when the

first human sinned, it left for the first firmament. The generation of Enosh sinned, and it departed from the first to the second.

The Generation of the Flood sinned, it left the second

for the third. The Generation of the Scattering sinned and it moved from the

third to the fourth… in Egypt

in Moshe's day, [it moved] from the sixth to the seventh. Against this, arose

seven righteous men and brought it back to earth. Our father Avraham rose and merited to lower it from the seventh to

the sixth; Yitzchak rose and merited to lower it from the sixth to the fifth; Yaakov

rose and merited to lower it from the fifth to the fourth… Moshe rose and

merited to lower it to the earth, and therefore is it written "And it

happened on the day Moshe finished".

According to

this derasha, the Shekhina

is not confined to a single location, in heaven or on earth, but it is never

everywhere at the same time; the immediate presence of the Shekhina

is conditional upon Man's actions which draw it close or distance it. According

to Prof. Urbach2, this was the prevailing view in Talmudic thought.

It appears in different contexts, including in the question of the disappearance

of the Shekhina following the destruction of the Temple.

It is

important distinguish between this approach and the transcendental view which

positions the Divinity outside the real world. The quintessential proponent of

this approach was R' Yossi who claimed ‘The Shekhina never descended to earth, and Moshe and Eliyahu never ascended to heaven, as is written ‘The

heavens are the heavens of God, but the earth hath He given to the sons of men'

(Bavli, Sukkah 5a). This position, which negates any

possibility of the Shekhina exiting in the physical

world, is not to be found in the derashot

appearing in the P'sikta. The derasha

about the Shekhina ascending and descending presents

a very complex position based upon the daring idea that Man determines the

place of God in the world.

The second p'tichta' of the derasha offers a

different model of coping with Tabernacle-Shekhina-world


R' Yehudah bar Elaey taught: [This

is comparable] to a king who had a young daughter. As long as she was small and

had not developed signs [of adolescence], when he met her in the marketplace,

he would speak with her, in the alleyways he would speak with her, but when she

had matured and shown signs, he said: It is not honorable for my daughter that

I speak with her in public, but let a pavilion be made and I will speak to her

inside the pavilion.

The parable of

the king and his daughter suggests that we see the Tabernacle as a development

on a time scale: the stage of the nation's growing up, i.e., the

institutionalizing of relations between God and Israel. Before receiving the Torah,

the nation was in a state of infancy and childhood in which – as in the case of

a father and his young daughter – deviation from the rules were possible, such

as, conversation between God and man everywhere. After the giving of the Torah,

the people passed to the stage of adulthood which demands conformance to

acceptable norms and institutionalization of the dialogue between God and Man. According to this

approach, the erection of the Tabernacle does not preclude the presence of the Shekhina in the rest of the world; it limits communication with

Him to a single place. There are advantages to the institutionalization which

comes with maturity, but it also brings a feeling of missed opportunity over

the loss of intimacy and freedom which were possible in earlier stages. Interestingly,

according to the parable, it is honor of the daughter that is preserved

by erection of the pavilion, and not, as we might have expected, the honor of

the father-God.

The third

model deals with the problem in the most direct fashion and is expressed in

another parable found in the continuation of the p'tichta:

R' Yehoshua of Sahnin said in the

name of R' Levi: To what may the Tent of Assembly be compared? To a cave

located on the seashore, and the tide rises and floods. The cave is inundated by

the sea, but the sea is not diminished. Thus the Tent of Assembly is filled

with the light of the Shekhina, therefore it says "And

it happened on the day Moshe finished".

R' Levi finds

it important to emphasize that the erection of the Tabernacle does not limit

God's presence in the world in any way. The Shekhina

is found everywhere, and the building of the Tabernacle cannot limit it, just

as the sea is not diminished by the tide flooding the cave at high tide. This

is a perfect expression oft the immanent view that sees the presence of God everywhere,

in the sense of "There is no place where He is not".

In contrast to the parable of the father/king and his maturing daughter, which

also conforms to the immanent view but restricts the meeting between the Shekhina and Man to the Tabernacle alone, the sea-cave

allegory maintains that in the building of the Tabernacle there is no aspect of

limitation on the Shekhina. One is tempted to ask: If

there is no essential difference between the Tabernacle and any other place – what

was the purpose of building the Tabernacle?

Despite the

dissimilarities between the various approaches presented in the P'sikta, they share a broad foundation: none of them

assumes that after the erection of the Tabernacle the Divinity dwells only

there – an assumption other sources seem to make. This derasha

presents an immanent approach regarding the place of the Shekhina

in the world, howbeit with certain limitations as per some of the above approaches.

In the context of the Hanukkah festival, this view offers an optimistic outlook

about the ability to return the Shekhina to the Temple which was profaned

and rededicated, and perhaps, in line with the third approach, one may argue

that the Shekhina had never departed.


Mandlebaum edition 5747. All excepts

below are from this edition. For an extensive study, see Razel,

Mavoh L'midrashim, pps. 223-233)

2.  E.E. Urbach,

ChazalEmunot V'Deot, pp. 29-52)

Vered Raziel-Kretzmer is a doctoral candidate in the Department

of Jewish Thought and is a moderator in the "Daroma"

Bet Midrash in Ben-Gurion University.



Yosef's Attitude Towards His



so do I say that all this happened to Yosef as a

result of his wisdom in interpreting dreams. One must wonder, then, how is it

that after Yosef lived for years in Egypt, and was an

official and supervisor in the house of a high Egyptian minister, why did he

not write a single letter to his father to tell him and console him, for Egypt

is only six days distant from Hebron, and even if it were a year away it would

have been proper to inform his respected father… but he understood that that

the bowing of his brothers and his father and all his seed could not be

realized in their land. He hoped that it would happen in Egypt when he saw his great success

there, and certainly after he heard Pharaoh's dream and it became clear that

all would come there, and that all his dreams would be realized.


Bereishit 42:9)



am astounded at what the Ramban wrote, that Yosef acted in order to realize his dreams, for what

benefit would their realization bring? And even were there some advantage to be

gained, he should not have sinned against his father. And the dreams – he who

sends the dreams, provides their interpretation. There seems to be great folly

in attempting to realize one's dreams, for these are things which are accomplished without

the dreamer's knowledge! 


Yitzhak, quoted by Prof. Nehama Leibowitz,

in "Studies of the Weekly Parasha")



a different approach seems preferable. This one, too, is offered by Ramban himself and by other commentators: A great guilt lay on the House of Yaakov, on his ten sons, a great sin

which had to be atoned for. How can they atone for this sin, for all the sorrow

they caused their brother, and how can they again, brothers united, become the

House of Yaakov, the chosen seed? And if you say: "The gates of repentance

are never closed", let them repent and their sin will be washed away. To

this we say: A person must undergo the very same test which he failed before –

in identical circumstances – to determine whether or not this time he will


(Prof. N. Leibowitz:Studies in Sefer Bereishit, p. 327-328)



question remains – do we have here an explanation of the "historic

justice" of Divine providence, or are these words offered in justification

of Yosef's behavior towards his brothers (including

Binyamin) and his father.         

(The Editor)


Libel, Test,

and Repentance

Then Yosef commanded that they fill their vessels with grain and

return their silver-pieces into each man's sack, and give them victuals for the

journey. They did so for them. Then they loaded their rations onto their

donkeys and went from there. But as one opened his sack to give his donkey

fodder at the night camp, he saw his silver – there it was in the mouth of his

pack! He said to his brothers: My silver has been returned – yes, here in my

pack! Their hearts gave way, and the trembled to one another, saying: "What

is this that God has done to us?"

(Bereishit 42:25-28)


Despite his

testing of his brothers with the "You are spies!" libel, Yosef still had doubts as to whether they love Benyamin, or

if they still scorn the sons of his mother, Rachel. Therefore, he wanted to

involve Benyamin in the test of the goblet, to see whether they would make efforts

to save him. At the same time, however, he feared that the brothers might think

that he really did steal the goblet – just as Rachel had stolen her father's

gods. Because of this they may say "The one who stole shall die," and

not plead for him with all their strength – not because of hatred for him, but

because of their shame at the act. Because of this, Yosef

commanded to place, along with the silver goblet, Binyamin's payment and all

their payments, so that they realize that all this was not the fault of

Binyamin and his wickedness, but rather the scheme of the master. If, knowing

this, they have compassion upon him and essay to save him from servitude, he

would then know that they love him; he will consider them to be fully

repentant, and will reveal himself to them and do good for them – as, in fact,

he did.

(Abarbanel on Bereishit 44:1,2)


Man: "Gradually Reduced" or "Progressively


Had the tablets not been broken, man would

have been completely prepared for it [the Torah] and there would never have

been any change. But now that they were broken, and man is not completely

prepared for the Torah, he ‘is gradually reduced' as every thing which

is imperfect is in constant reduction.


of Prague, Drushim al Hatorah,



But according to Bet Hillel, whose

ruling is accepted law, the main intention is to further the wisdom of the

truth of the Oral Law in our hearts, and through the light of truth the darkness

and dishonesty inevitably, on their own, must dissipate. Therefore [the

progression of candles] according to the passing days is essential, for every

wisdom already achieved must be solidified and rooted in the heart, and we

‘promote in [matters of] holiness since it alludes to the wisdom of the holy.

(Resisey Leila, R' Zadok HaCohen of Lublin,

Note 56)


And he answered and spoke

to me, saying, "This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel,

saying: 'Not by military force and not by physical strength, but by My spirit,' says the Lord of Hosts.

(Zechariah 4:6, from the haftarah for the

first Shabbat of Hannukah)


Just as you saw –

This means: that the stone was hewn from the mountain on its own and not by

human hands, and the iron was broken up, etc.; so too will be the

kingdom of the Messiah; it will not come by military force and not by physical

strength, but of its own self when the time comes.

(Metzudat David Daniel



And he answered…'Not by

might and not by force…' – Just as you saw the Menorah stand

before you by its own accord, without any person setting up the lamps or

pouring oil into them, so too the Temple shall be built without human effort

but rather by God's spirit and will, and the vision will be further explained

to you in detail.

(ReDaK ad loc)


Peace is not just a matter of an ethical tendency.

Working for peace is a constant cultural effort, sublime and

powerful, work towards which all the most productive forces of the nation

should be directed.

(Iggrot HaRAYaH of Rav Kook, zt"l, letter 671)


Therefore the pure and righteous do not complain about wickedness but

rather increase justice; they do not complain about heresy, but rather increase

faith; they do not complain about ignorance, but rather increase wisdom.


Kook Ztz"lArpeelei

Tohar 27-28)



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