"אלה תולדות יעקב, יוסף"
“These are the offspring of Yaakov: Joseph.” (37:2)

QUESTION: What is the solution to the following riddle? Take what Yosef found, add to it his garments, then add to it his sale and add to this what was added to him, and you have Chanukah.

ANSWER: The Torah (Bereishit 39:4) says of Yosef that “vayimtza Yosef chein” — “Yosef found favor [in his — Potiphar’s — eyes].”

When Paroah appointed Yosef as viceroy, it says “veyalbeish oto bigdei sheish” — “he dressed him in garments of fine linen” (41:42).

Yosef was sold to the Ishmaelites “b’esrim Kesef” — “for twenty pieces of silver” (37:28).

The Gemara (Sotah 10a) says that because Yosef sanctified the Name of Heaven in seclusion (he succeeded in withstanding Potiphar’s wife’s attempt to seduce him in the privacy of her home — ibid., 39:11,12), he merited that the letter hei from Hashem’s Name be added to his name, as it is written (Psalms 81:6), “eidut beyhosef samo” (עדות ביהוסף שמו) — “He made a testimony for Yosef” [when he went out over the land of Egypt — his name is spelled with an extra hei].

If you take the chein — favor — that Yosef found חן add to it his garments — sheish — (שש), which in Hebrew also means six and the Hebrew numeral for six is vav — ו Add to this his sale, esrim — twenty — כ Finally add what was added to his name — ה = חנוכה. You have the word Chanukah in the name of Yosef, and it is all in the Torah portions of Vayeishev and Mikeitz the weeks when Chanukah occurs.

(ר' אברהם שמחה זצ"ל מבאראנוב)

"ויחלם יוסף חלום" – "ויהי מקץ שנתים ימים ופרעה חלם"
“Yosef dreamt a dream” — “At the end of two years Paroah was dreaming.” (37:5, 41:1)

The Al Hanissim prayer states that the miracle of Chanukah was that “the many were delivered into the hand of few” and “the strong into the hand of the weak.” This thought is emphasized in the parshiot of Vayeishev and Mikeitz. In Parshat Vayeishev we read about Yosef’s dreams, and in the Parshat Mikeitz we read about Paroah’s dreams. In Paroah’s dreams the weak conquer the strong. Yosef dreamt that the majority can be subordinate to the minority. Thus, the common denominator of both dreams is that quantity or strength is not necessarily the decisive factor.

(ברכת חיים)

* * *

Alternatively, in Parshat Vayeishev we read about Yosef’s coming to visit his brothers when they are pasturing the sheep. The Torah relates that “They saw him from afar... they conspired toward him to kill him... Reuvein said to them ‘Do not shed blood! Throw him into the pit in the wilderness, but lay no hand upon him!’” (37:18, 22). Here is an example of the few prevailing over the many. Reuvein, the minority opinion, stood up against his brothers the majority, and they acquiesced.

In Parshat Mikeitz after all the wise men were unable to interpret Paroah’s dream, he called on the poor slave Yosef. Regardless of the fact that Paroah declared himself a god and the people accepted him as such (See Shemot 7:15, Rashi), four times, Yosef fearlessly declared in their presence the omnipotence of Hashem: 1) “That is beyond me, Hashem will respond to Paroah’s welfare” (41:16). 2) “What Hashem is doing He told to Paroah” (41:26). 3) “What Hashem is doing He has shown to Paroah” (41:28). 4) “It is because the matter stands ready before Hashem and Hashem is hastening to do it” (41:32).

Yosef, the minority, stood valiantly in front of Paroah and his people and prevailed. Paroah was so impressed by the faith and conviction of this individual Jew that he himself was forced to recognize Hashem as the one and only G‑d, as the Torah relates, “He said to his servants, ‘can we find one such as this — a man in whom is the spirit of Hashem?’ Then he said to Yosef, ‘Since Hashem had informed you all of this, there is no one so discerning and wise as you’ ” (41:38, 39). Paroah proceeded to appoint Yosef as viceroy, and all yielded to the single Yosef.

(הגיוני הלכה - הרב יצחק מירסקי)

* * *

In the olden days debates would take place between priests and Rabbis. The priests would attempt to prove the correctness of their faith and force the Jews to convert. Once, a priest asked a rabbi, “Since we are the majority and you are the minority, why don’t you obey what it says in your Torah ‘follow the majority’ (Shemot 23:2) and join our religion?”

The rabbi wisely responded, “The law of following the majority applies only when there is doubt. However, though we are a minority, we Jews have no doubts about our faith and are convinced that our G‑d is the one and only G‑d and Master of the entire world.”

(אוצר חיים)

"ויהי מקץ שנתים ימים"
“And it came to pass at the end of two full years.” (41:1)

According to halachah, the Menorah is placed on the left side of the doorpost, opposite the mezuzah, which is on the right. In the pasuk ויהי מקץ שנתים"," the word "שנתים" is an acronym for שמאל נרות תדליק, ימין מזוזה (On the left kindle the candles, on the right place the mezuzah).

(שלטי הגבורים)

"וחמש את ארץ מצרים"
“And he shall prepare the land of Egypt.” (41:34)

During Yaakov’s confrontation with the angel, it says that the angel struck kaf yereicho” — “the socket of his hip” (Bereishit 32:26). The Midrash explains that this is a reference to his children (the children of Yaakov are referred to as “yotzei yereicho” — “those that came out of his thigh” (ibid. 46:26). The angels’ complaint was that Yaakov vowed “All that You will give me, I shall repeatedly tithe to You” (ibid. 28:22), and he never tithed his children. In response, Yaakov immediately designated Levi as a tithe of his children to be dedicated to the service of Hashem. Since he said “aseir a’asrenu” — which means two times ma’aseir — i.e. one fifth — he then also tithed his son Yissachar to Hashem as one to be dedicated entirely to Torah study.

The vile desires of the Syrian-Greeks to defile the Beit Hamikdash and to cause the forgetting of Torah mostly affected the tribe of Levi, the Kohanim and Levites who did the service in the Beit Hamikdash, and the tribe of Yissachar, who were totally immersed in Torah study. Thus, the victory was mostly felt by those who represented the one fifth (20%) which Yaakov tithed to Hashem. The Levites now returned to their service in the Beit Hamikdash and the tribe of Yissachar freely immersed themselves in Torah study without any interference.

The connection of Chanukah and Parshat Mikeitz is that the importance of double tithing — giving one fifth — was popularized by Yosef in this Parshah. When he came before Paroah, he told him that a famine was coming and advised that “vechimeish et Eretz Mitzraim” — “he shall prepare the land of Egypt” (41:34). According to Targum Yonatan ben Uziel, the word “vechimeish” means that 1/5 of the produce was to be taken from the people for the king’s coffers during the seven years of abundance

(בני יששכר – בענין מעשר הבנים עי' תרגום יונתן בן עוזיאל בראשית ל"ב:כ"ה ובענין החומש עי' פני דוד להחיד"א פ' בהעלותך)

"וחמש את ארץ מצרים"
“And he shall prepare the land of Egypt.” (41:34)

According to the Midrash, the Syrians-Greeks forbade the Jews to have a calendar based on the lunar system so that they would be unable to observe Rosh Chodesh. They also wanted the Jews to cease observing milah — circumcision — and Shabbat. The word “chimeish” (חמש) — “prepare” — is an acronym for these three edicts. The chet is for “Chodesh” (חודש) — month — the mem is for “milah” (מילה) — circumcision — and the shin is for Shabbat (שבת).

These three mitzvot are conduits for Hashem’s presence to be among the Jewish people. Circumcision makes the Jews a receptacle to attain G‑dliness, as is seen from Avraham, the first Jew to be circumcised. After Avraham circumcised himself, Hashem appeared to him with the angels of His chariot.

Of Shabbat the Torah (Shemot 31:16) says, “To make the Shabbat ledorotam” (לדרתם) — “for the generations.” The Zohar says that since the word is written without a ו' it can thus be read as “lediratam” — “for their dwelling” — an indication that Hashem establishes a dwelling among the Jews on Shabbat.

The Jewish calendar is based on the moon. Each month when we bless the new moon, it is tantamount to greeting the Divine presence. As stated in the prayer recited during the sanctifying of the moon, “Had Israel been privileged only to greet the countenance of their Father in Heaven once each and every month, it would have sufficed them” (Sanhedrin 42a).

Cognizant of what these mitzvot accomplish, Yosef wanted to make sure that even when the Jews would be in exile, Hashem’s presence should be in their midst. Therefore, as the first Jew to go into exile, he paved the way for them by putting a special emphasis on observing the three mitzvot hinted in the word “chimeish” (חמש).

(ראש דוד להחיד"א ועי' בני יששכר חדש כסלו מאמר י"ג)

It is interesting to note that from Yosef’s descent to Egypt until the Jews left Egypt there was a total of 232 years. (The interval from Yaakov’s coming to Egypt until the redemption was 210 years, and Yosef was separated from Yaakov for 22 years.)

The numerical value of the words “Yehi ohr (יהי אור) — “Let there be light” (Bereishit 1:3) — is 232. Thanks to Yosef’s efforts for 232 years in behalf of these three mitzvot to assure that the Divine presence was with the Jewish people while they are in exile, they merited years later that “Yehi ohr — “Let there be light” — the light of Chanukah. (See p. 158 for a connection between Yehi ohr and Chanukah.)

(בני יששכר)

"שבו שברו לנו מעט אכל"
“Go back buy us some food.” (43:2)

A hint to forty-four [candles] is in Yaakov’s command to his sons, “Shuvu shivru lanu me’at ochel” — “Go back, buy us some food” (43:2).

The word “lanu” (לנו) has the numerical value of eighty-six. The word “shivru” (שברו) also means to break. Thus, Yaakov was telling them “shivru lanu” — “break the word ‘lanu’ [in half], and add to the half (forty-three) ‘me’at ochel’ — the numerical value of the letter alef (א) which is ‘me’at’ — least in numerical value among the letters of the word ‘ochel’ (אכל)” — the total is forty-four.

(פרדס יוסף בשם אוהל מועד ח”א)

"וטבח טבח והכן"
“Slay an animal and prepare it.” (43:16)

According to some opinions (Orach Chaim 670:2), it is proper to have a festive meal on Chanukah. A hint for this may be found in Yosef’s telling the overseer of his household “Utevo’ach tevach vehachein” (וטבח טבח והכן) — “Slay an animal and prepare it, for these men shall dine with me at noon” (Bereishit 43:16). The words "וטבח טבח" have the numerical value of 44. During the eight days of Chanukah we kindle a total of 44 candles, including the shamashim.

(בשמים ראש)

Moreover in the expression of tevach vehachein (טבח והכן) — a slaying and prepare — the letter ח' of the word tevach (טבח) together with the letters of the word vehachein (והכן), spell the word Chanukah.

(תנא דבי אליהו)

"להתגלל עלינו"
“To bring a charge against us” (43:18)

The brothers expressed the fear that their being brought to Yosef’s home was “lehitgoleil aleinu — “so that a charge can be fabricated against us” (43:18). According to Rashi, the word “lehitgoleil” (להתגולל) literally means to roll [upon us an accusation]. They used this expression to indicate that there would come a time when it would be customary to roll the dreidel during the week of Parshat Mikeitz.

(ברכת חיים)

"ותרב משאת בנימן ממשאת כלם חמש ידות"
“And Binyamin’s portion was greater than the portions of all of them fivefold.” (43:34)

In the Al Hanissim prayer, the word “yad” — “hand” — is mentioned five times: “Masarta giborim beyad chalashim, verabim beyad me’atim, utemei’im beyad tehorim, ureshaim beyad tzaddikim, vezeidim beyad oskei Toratecha” — “You delivered the mighty into the hand of the weak, the many into the hand of the few, the impure into the hand of the pure, the wicked into the hand of the righteous, and wanton sinners into the hand of those who occupy themselves with Your Torah.” A hint for this may be found in the pasuk “Binyamin’s portion was chameish yadotfive hands (times) — as much as theirs” (43:34).

(ר' נפתלי מראפשיץ זצ"ל)

* * *

It is possible that the festive meal to which Yosef invited his brothers was also in honor of Chanukah. At the meal, when Yosef alluded to the five hands, he intended a message for his brothers.

There is a difficulty in the wording of this prayer. Grammatically it should be plural and read “bidei” — “in the hands” — and not the singular “beyad” — “in the hand.”

Indeed, more than one hand fought in defense of the Jewish people. However, the secret of their success was the unity of the Hasmoneans. When members of a minority are united, they can easily conquer any power that seeks to destroy them.

Yosef was suggesting to his brothers that disaster occurs when unity is lacking. However, when we are united, we are the most powerful force in the world.

"קמ"ו פסוקים"
“There are 146 pesukim in Parshat Mikeitz.”

QUESTION: Why necessarily 146?

ANSWER: The names of Hashem are an expression of His attributes. The holy four letter Name the Tetragramaton (י-ה-ו-ה) connotes Rachamim — Mercy. The Name E-l (א-ל) connotes Chesed — kindness, as King David says (Psalms 52:3) Chesed E-l kol hayom” — “The kindness of Hashem is all day long.”

According to Kabbalists, the miracles of Chanukah were a result of the manifestation of the two holy Names, the Tetragramaton and E-l (representing His infinite Mercy and Kindness). The miracle expressed itself in the eight-day kindling of the seven candles of the Menorah — a total of 56 candles. This is alluded to in the verse “E-l Y-H-V-H, vaya’er lanu” — “G‑d A-donai, He illuminated for us” (Psalms 118:27). The word “lanu” (לנו) contains a nun-vav, which numerically adds up to 56. Thus, the verse is saying that thanks to His attributes of Mercy and Kindness, as expressed in the Names E-l and Havaye, He miraculously illuminated Lanu — the נ"ו — 56 lights. (“Lanu” can be read as “L’nun-vav,” to the 56).

The word “Chanukah” (חנוכה) together with the two Holy Names (א-ל, י-ה-ו-ה) add up to 146. As a hint that the miracles of Chanukah were effectuated by His Holy Names, the Parshah in which Chanukah always occurs contains a total of 146 pesukim.

(בני יששכר)

"ותיבות אלפים כ"ה"
“There are 2025 words in Parshat Mikeitz.”

Throughout the Torah, the number of pesukim in the parshah is written at the end of every parshah.

At the end of Parshat Mikeitz, besides the number of pesukim, we are also told that the parshah contains 2,025 words.

Why is it necessary to know the amount of words?

Parshat Mikeitz is usually read during the week of Chanukah. The 2,025 words in the parshah can serve as a hint for the Yom Tov of Chanukah. During Chanukah we light candles for eight nights. The mitzvah can be fulfilled with only one candle each night for the entire household.

In Hebrew the word for candle is neir (נר) which has the numerical value of 250. Eight times 250 equals 2,000. The event of lighting candles starts on the 25th day in the month of Kislev. Thus, 2,025 alludes to the 25th of Kislev and eight candles.

(תורה תמימה)

"אדני שאל את עבדיו לאמר היש לכם אב או אח: ונאמר אל אדני יש לנו אב זקן"
“My lord asked his servants, saying: Have you a father, or a brother? And we said to my lord: We have an old father.” (44:19-20)

The eight days of Chanukah usually extend into the week of Vayigash, and we learn about the brothers confronting Yosef, “Adoni sha’al et avadav leimor hayeish lachem av o ach? Venomar el adoni: yeish lanu av zakein.” “My lord asked his servants, saying: Have you a father, or a brother? And we said to my lord: We have an old father.”

This dialogue gives a hint about Chanukah:

In the Gemara (Shabbat 21b), Beit Hillel is of the opinion that on the first night of Chanukah one candle is lit, and each following night an additional candle. Beit Shammai is of the opinion that on the first night eight candles are lit, decreasing by one each succeeding night.

The brothers told Yosef, “You asked us, 'היש לכם' — ‘are you of the opinion that’ — 'אב' — ‘we go from one (א) to two (ב) and so on, or’ — 'אח' — ‘on the (א) first night we light eight (ח) candles.’ We replied 'יש לנו' — ‘our custom is’ — 'אב' — ‘to increase from one to two because’ — 'זקן' — ‘this is the opinion of the father of the school who was known as’ — 'הלל הזקן' — ‘Hillel the elder.’ ”

(נרות שמונה)