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It’s All About G‑d

It’s All About G‑d

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The way the Torah readings are set up, we always read about Joseph on Chanukah. Since everything in Torah is exact, we must ask: What does Joseph have to do with Chanukah? What lesson can we take from Joseph and Chanukah to help us deal with difficult times?

In the story of Chanukah, there were miraculous military victories. Strong armies were given into the hands of the week, many into the hands of few, etc. But when the Talmud tells us what Chanukah is all about, it tells us only about the miracle of finding the pure oil in the Temple and that it burned for eight days. When Chanukah was established as a holiday, only one mitzvah was ordained: to light the lamps of the menorah.

Why is there no mention of the great victories? And why isn’t there a mitzvah to have a meal, like on Purim?

It is a matter of focus. In the story of Chanukah, the Greeks did not want to hurt us; they didn’t want to fight with us. What they wanted is to put ourselves before G‑d. The only mitzvahs they took issue with were the ones that have no reason, other than G‑d’s command. In other words, be Jewish because you enjoy it, not because G‑d wants you to.

We went to war to put G‑d first, which in essence, is what being Jewish is all about. To focus on the war or on a meal would take away from the essential message of Chanukah. The most spiritual thing we have in this physical world is light, and lighting the menorah sets our focus on the spiritual and G‑d. It is all about G‑d.

This now brings us to Joseph, who was despised by his brothers, sold into slavery and thrown into jail on false charges. He was an orphan, alone, in a foreign land. Yet you don’t get the feeling that Joseph was depressed or down at all. He seems positive, able to rise above and succeed in every situation.

How was he able to do that?

Joseph’s paradigm was the key to his positive outlook. Joseph saw himself as part of G‑d’s plan; he saw every situation as part of the plan. When you perceive the world from this perspective, every difficulty, hardship and challenge is positive. To Joseph, it was all about G‑d.

Our perspective is the key to our happiness. When we only see ourselves, we are stuck with the difficulties the pain, the hurt, the anguish, the suffering, etc. However, when it is about G‑d, every situation is seen as an opportunity. The crazier and stranger the situation, the more meaning can be found in it. Instead of being knocked down by the difficulty, you are uplifted.

We are happiest and strongest when we are the way Jews are meant to be—focused on G‑d.

This idea has kept me positive. Ever since I was diagnosed with ALS, I felt that I was chosen by G‑d for a special mission—to strengthen and lift the spirits of others. Though I pray every day to be healed, as long as I am in this predicament, I will use it to do what G‑d wants.

Through making our lives about G‑d, we will merit the end to all difficulties and darkness. Like Joseph who became the viceroy of Egypt, we, too, will be on the top. Like the miracles of Chanukah, we will have the ultimate miracle, the coming of Moshiach. May he come soon!

Rabbi Yitzi Hurwitz—father of seven, husband of Dina, and spiritual leader at Chabad Jewish Center in Temecula, Calif.—has been rendered immobile by ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). Unable to speak or type, he uses his eyes to write heartfelt thoughts on the weekly Torah portion.

Please support the Hurwitz Family Fund.
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