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
(Bavli, Shabbat 21b)
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)
Mishkan and Shekhina in
The Hanukkah Sermon in Rav Kahanah's Pesikta
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
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".
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
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
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
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
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?
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
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,
Chazal – Emunot 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
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
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.
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.
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?"
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,
(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
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.
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"l, Arpeelei
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