1. This farbrengen is associated with Shabbos Mevorchim, consonant to the previous Rebbe’s instruction to farbreng every Shabbos Mevorchim. Shabbos Mevorchim Teves has a special distinction, for Rosh Chodesh Teves is always in the days of Chanukah. Since Chanukah possesses the element of eternality — “they will never be abolished,” Rosh Chodesh Teves also possesses this distinction. Rosh Chodesh itself indicates change, for “Chodesh” means “new,” the opposite of eternality; and yet Chanukah infuses in Rosh Chodesh Teves the element of eternality. Since Shabbos Mevorchim provides blessings for Rosh Chodesh (in addition to the distinction of Rosh Chodesh of itself), it follows that it must be very lofty to be able to bless Rosh Chodesh Teves (which contains the eternality of Chanukah).

The Chanukah lights are eternal for on Chanukah the darkness of the Greeks was converted into light. Light ceases when darkness obscures it. But when darkness is itself converted into light, there is nothing to stop the light from illuminating forever. This is why the Chanukah lights are eternal.

The element of eternality in the Chanukah lights is associated with the conclusion of the Talmud. It states (Niddah 73a): “Whoever studies Torah laws every day is assured of life in the World to Come, for it is said ‘Halichos (the ways of) the world are his:’ Do not read halichos but halachos (Torah laws).”

Tosfos notes that “some editions do not have the above conclusion; Rashi however includes it in his commentary. Rabbeinu Tam includes it in his edition. It seems to belong, for since [the Gemorah] was dealing with halachos, it brings it to conclude with a good thing. So it is also in the tractate Megillah ... For so we find in the early prophets that they concluded their words with words of praise and comfort.”

In other words, Tosfos says that Rashi’s edition is correct that the entire Talmud finishes with the section “Whoever studies Torah laws ...” The reason this is its conclusion is “to conclude with a good thing ... with words of praise and comfort.”

There is a difference between “a good thing” and “praise and comfort.” “Praise” is a higher level than just “good;” and “comfort” is higher still. “Praise” and “good” means that it is good in the first place; “comfort” means that at first it was bad and then it changed to good.

This is the connection between “praise and comfort” and the Chanukah lights which will never be abolished. The eternality of the Chanukah lights is because the darkness was converted into light — which is the idea of “comfort.”

This also sheds light on why Tosfos mentions that “So it is also in the tractate Megillah.” Megillah is the idea of Purim, and Purim also possesses the element of eternality — “These days of Purim shall never pass from the Jews and their remembrance shall never cease from their seed.” Indeed, Purim is even more eternal than Chanukah. There are differences of opinion if Chanukah will exist in the Messianic era; but everyone agrees Purim will exist then.

The element of eternality in Chanukah came after the Greeks had defiled the Bais Hamikdosh and the altar — the superiority of light which follows darkness. Thus the dedication of the Bais Hamikdosh on Chanukah was a renewal, not a completely new thing. This is expressed in the Chanukah lights themselves: eight, instead of seven which were lit in the Bais Hamikdosh; and that they are eternal, unlike the light of the Bais Hamikdosh which ceased when the Bais Hamikdosh was destroyed.

There are thus two aspects in Chanukah: 1) it is not a completely new thing, but a renewal after a temporary cessation. 2) Because there was a cessation (i.e. descent), the following renewal was loftier than that which was originally.

2. These two aspects are found in the concept of education, “Chanukah” deriving from the word “chinuch” meaning education. When a Jewish child starts to learn Torah, it is not a completely new thing, but rather a renewal after a temporary cessation. Our Sages say that while an embryo is in its mother’s womb “a lit candle is on his head ... and he is taught the entire Torah.” When the child is born, there is a cessation in his Torah study — “An angel comes and strikes him on the mouth and causes him to forget the entire Torah” — and therefore he must begin learning anew.

When, therefore, a child begins his Torah education, it must be explained to him that it is not a new thing for him, for he has already learned the entire Torah (while in his mother’s womb). What he is now beginning to learn is thus a repetition of that learned before. Moreover, besides having learned the Torah before, the entire Torah belongs to him since he is Jewish — “The Torah which Moshe commanded us is a heritage of the congregation of Ya’akov.” It is G‑d’s Torah, given to us through Moshe, and he, the child, is now learning it!

A child readily understands and accepts this. As we see in another case: It is a custom that when a three year old child is taken to “school” for the first time, we throw candy on him and tell him that the angel Michoel threw the candy. And the child accepts this wholeheartedly, and does not wonder why the angel Michoel himself should do so, for, reasons the child, of course it is a “merit” for the angel Michoel to throw candies to a child who learns G‑d’s Torah! So too does a child readily accept the notion that he has already learned the entire Torah, and now he need but repeat what he learned in his mother’s womb.

Learning that is a renewal after a cessation is loftier than the original time it was learned (similar to the loftiness of Chanukah, when the dedication was a renewal). There are, in general, two methods of Torah study: 1) repeating that learned before 2) constantly seeking to find new insights in one’s studies. The latter corresponds to the learning in the mother’s womb, when the Torah is being learned anew, for the first time. The former corresponds to the learning after birth.

Although it is only repetition, the former has an advantage over the latter, for then the study is through one’s own efforts; whereas in the mother’s womb, the Torah is received from Above, without any effort or work. Moreover, the Torah learned below (after birth, cessation), effects an elevation in the Torah itself.

This then is the connection to Chanukah. Just as Chanukah, when the dedication came after a cessation, is loftier than the original (for the Chanukah lights are eternal), so too education in this fashion is loftier after a cessation (after birth).

3. There is an additional lesson to be learned from Chanukah this year, when the first and last days are Shabbos. That Chanukah opens and closes with Shabbos is similar to the idea of opening with peace (“Sholom Aleichem” — “Peace upon you”) and closing with peace (“Aleichem Shalom” — “Upon you, peace”) — for Shabbos is associated with peace — “Shabbos Sholom.”

This is also connected with the conclusion of the Talmud (mentioned previously): Both the opening and conclusion of the Talmud is associated with peace. The beginning of the Talmud is “Me’eimosai (From when) do we read the Shema at night,” and “Me’eimosai” is derived from the word “eimoh,” which means awe. Awe is the idea of the ‘acceptance of the yoke of heaven, through which peace is effected. The conclusion of the Talmud is, as noted earlier, “with a good thing, words of praise and comfort” — the idea of peace. Likewise, the conclusion of the Talmud in Mishnah (tractate Uktzin) is also associated with peace — ”The Holy One blessed be He did not find a vessel to contain blessings for Israel except peace, as it states: ‘The L‑rd will give strength to His people; the L‑rd will bless His people with peace.’”

The above is emphasized in the parshah read on this Shabbos — parshas “Vayeishev.” “Vayeishev” means “He dwelled,” which connotes the idea of dwelling in peace.

The lesson from all the above: In addition to those things associated with Shabbos Mevorchim Teves and Chanukah every year, this year, when Chanukah opens and concludes with Shabbos, and the first day of Chanukah is parshas Vayeishev, gives special strength for the idea of peace. Every Jew’s service can, and should be, performed with peace and serenity.

4. In parshas Vayeishev we learn of Yosef and his brothers, and their hatred and envy of him. Nevertheless, when Ya’akov sent Yosef to his brothers who were pasturing their flocks in Shechem, to check on their welfare, Yosef did not hesitate although he knew they hated him. When Yosef came to Shechem, he could not find his brothers. Ch. 37, verse 15 states: “A man found him wandering in the field; and the man asked him, ‘what are you looking for?’“ Rashi, quoting the words “A man found him,” comments: “This is Gabriel, as it is stated ‘And the man Gabriel.’”

Rashi never comments unless the verse is not understood in its plain sense. On the other hand, if something is hard to understand, Rashi will always explain it, or else say that he doesn’t know the answer. According to this, there are several perplexing points in this Rashi.

1) Why does Rashi think it necessary to explain that the “man” mentioned in this verse is the angel Gabriel. The verse seems to be perfectly satisfactory in its plain sense without resorting to this explanation: Yosef was wandering in the field until a man (a local resident, etc.) helped him with directions to his brothers. Why then does Rashi explain that it was not an ordinary man, but the angel Gabriel?

2) Rashi explains that the “man” was Gabriel. Why then, when quoting from the verse on which he makes his comment, does he quote “A man found him,” when his comment explains only the words “a man” and not “found him?”

3) The word “man” occurs three times in this section. “A man found him ... and the man asked him ... And the man said, they have departed from here ...” Why does Scripture say the word “man” three times? It could just as easily said: “A man found him ... and asked him ... and said, they have departed.”

The Explanation

The expression “A man found him” indicates that the man was looking for Yosef until he found him. But usually the reverse is true: When someone is lost, he usually looks for someone to help him. Yosef should have looked for someone to tell him where his brothers were — and thus the verse should state “Yosef found a man,” or at least “A man met him.” “A man found him” indicates the man was actively searching for him until he found him.

Rashi therefore explains that the man who found him was Gabriel. Since it was G‑d’s angel, we can now understand why it states “The man found him” — for Gabriel was sent by G‑d for the express purpose of looking for Yosef until he found him (as will be explained shortly).

Now we understand why Rashi quotes also the words “A man found him” on which to base his comment. The question which forces Rashi to conclude that it was an angel and not an ordinary man is the words “found” — which indicates active searching. And only an angel’ of G‑d would be looking for Yosef (as above).

But we must still understand why G‑d sent Gabriel to tell Yosef where his brothers were. Even without Gabriel’s help, Yosef could have found that out from one of the local residents.

The answer comes from Rashi’s words on the next verse, which states: “And the man said: They are departed from here, for I heard them say ‘Let us go to Doson.’“ Rashi explains that “They are departed from here” means “They removed themselves from brotherhood” — the brothers intended to kill Yosef, disregarding the fact they were his brothers. And the words “Let us go to Doson,” says Rashi, means “To seek legal craftiness (“dosos”) regarding you by which they might kill you.” Since the brothers had removed themselves from brotherhood and were planning to kill Yosef, G‑d sent Gabriel to warn Yosef about it — for a local resident would not know about it.

There are some commentators who say that it does not mean Gabriel told this to Yosef, “for if so, he (Yosef) would not have gone (on further to his brothers), and would not have endangered himself (going to people he knew were planning to kill him).” However, as we explained above, we must say Gabriel said these words (regarding the intention of the brothers to kill Yosef) to Yosef — for if not, the question remains: Why did G‑d need to send Gabriel to Yosef?

Indeed, this shows Yosef’s greatness. When his father first sent him to seek his brothers’ welfare in Shechem, he went although already then he knew that his brothers hated him — as Rashi explains (37:13). Yet now, even when the angel told him that “they had removed themselves from the brotherhood” and were seeking means by which to kill him — he still continued to go to them in order to carry out his father’s mission!

Yosef did not have to do this. Ya’akov had told him to go to Shechem to seek his brothers’ welfare. Once he had reached Shechem and found that his brothers were not there — and now knowing they were planning to kill him — he could have legitimately returned to his father with the mission of going to Shechem fulfilled. Nevertheless, knowing that his father would continue to worry about his brothers, and wanting to fulfill his father’s desire, he continued to search for them and to find them (despite the evident danger) — just to fulfill his father’s intention in the mission — which was to know about his sons.

Moreover, Yosef did not know that the “man” telling him all this was an angel. For we see that Yosef acted perfectly normally and naturally — and had the “man” revealed himself as an angel of G‑d, Yosef would surely have acted excitedly. This is why Rashi says only “This is Gabriel” and not “This is the angel Gabriel,” to teach that Gabriel appeared to Yosef as a human (“man”) and not as an angel.

Yet, this “man” was able to tell Yosef what were his brothers’ intentions to him. This must have told Yosef just how pronounced their hatred to him was if even a casual bystander (as Gabriel appeared to Yosef) could discern it from the brothers’ talk. This was to the extent that the man said “I heard them say ‘Let us go to Doson” — the brothers were not ashamed to openly state their intentions about their brother. Yosef thus understood there was no longer any doubt about the danger in which he stood. And nevertheless, Yosef disregarded the certain danger to fulfill his father’s mission!

This is why the Torah relates this episode at such length, when it could simply have stated that Yosef asked someone where his brothers are and was told they are in Doson. But the Torah wants to emphasize Yosef’s greatness: Although his mission had really ended in Shechem (to where his father sent him), and although the “man” revealed his brothers’ intentions to him, Yosef still went to his brothers just to fulfill his father’s inner intention — and not just his open mission.

Gabriel’s purpose in telling him of his danger was thus to test Yosef as to the lengths he was prepared to go to fulfill Ya’akov’s inner wishes. And that is why it was specifically Gabriel and not some other angel, for the name “Gabriel” indicates severity. The mission was to put difficulties in Yosef’s fulfillment of Ya’akov’s mission (by informing him of the danger he faced), and therefore it was Ariel who was chosen.

Now we can understand why the word “man” is mentioned three times. Each time it is mentioned — “A man found him,” “The man asked him what are you looking for,” and “the man said they have departed from here” — it refers to an extra detail in Gabriel’s mission. That is, the word “man” each time indicates a new mission, as if it were another man each time.

The first time — “A man found him” — refers to Gabriel’s mission to find Yosef when he was wandering in the field. This itself told Yosef something was unusual. That is, the very fact he was wandering in the field (to the extent he had to be found) was unusual, for seemingly he had already fulfilled his mission of going to Shechem.

Then “the man asked him ‘What are you looking for.’“ In addition to his mission of finding Yosef (which, as above, stresses that Yosef had no reason to be there wandering in the field), Gabriel had the extra mission of asking “What are you doing here (looking for)?” In other words, Gabriel was telling him that he had already fulfilled Ya’akov’s directive to go to Shechem, and now he should return home.

Then “The man said: They are departed from here for I heard them say ‘let us go to Doson.’“ Gabriel told Yosef: Not only do you have nothing to do here since you’ve fulfilled your father’s mission (as above), but if you go to search for your brothers you are placing yourself in certain danger — for “they have removed themselves from brotherhood” and “seek legal craftiness ... by which they might kill you.”

Since each of these placed extra difficulties in Yosef’s path to continue on his journey, the word “man” is repeated each time, representing another mission of Gabriel.

However, all is not clear. In parshas Vayeira (18:2) we learn that three angels came to Avraham: “one to inform Sarah (that she would have a son), one to destroy Sedom, and one to heal Avraham (after his circumcision).” Rashi explains three separate angels were needed “for one angel does not perform two missions.” If so, how could Gabriel perform three missions?

The answer is found in Rashi’s words in parshas Vayeira. He states: “(The angel) Refoel who healed Avraham went from there to save Lot (when Sedom was destroyed).” This seems to contradict Rashi’s own words that “one angel does not perform two missions.” However, one angel cannot perform two missions only when the missions are completely different. E.g. to inform Sarah and to destroy Sedom. When, however, they are the same type of thing, the same angel can do both. Healing Avraham and saving Lot from destruction are both salvation: The difference is that Lot’s entire life was saved, whereas in Avraham’s case, it was the salvation (healing) of one limb.

So too in our case: The three parts of Gabriel’s mission were one concept — to test Yosef by putting difficulties in his fulfillment of Ya’akov’s mission. Thus after performing one part, Gabriel could then perform the second, and then the third.