1. There is, at every gathering of Tzivos Hashem, the “order of the day,” commensurate to when the gathering takes place. This “order of the day” must be well studied, and the lessons learned from this day carried out — throughout the year.

Today’s gathering is on Chanukah, and therefore the “order of the day” is associated with the meaning of Chanukah. The theme of Chanukah is the annulment of the Greeks’ decrees, who wished “to make them (Jews) forget Your Torah and violate the decrees of Your will.” Since the Greek decrees were against Torah study and fulfillment of mitzvos, it follows that when these decrees were annulled through G‑d’s miracles, new dimensions are added to Torah study and performance of mitzvos.

While there are many lessons to be derived from Chanukah, the first and foremost comes from the name “Chanukah” itself. “Chanukah” means dedication, for the Chasmoneans rededicated the Bais Hamikdosh and the altar — “Your children entered the shrine of Your House, cleansed Your Temple, and purified Your Sanctuary.” Since Chanukah marks the dedication anew of the Temple, its accompanying joy is very great, as befits anything which starts anew. Moreover, the dedication followed a period when the Temple had been defiled — the sanctity of the Temple had been temporarily in abeyance. And a renewal after a cessation — especially when associated with the annulment of the Greek decrees — is a very joyous occasion.

The lesson from this to all Jews, beginning with Jewish children: When a Jew unites with G‑d through fulfilling Torah and mitzvos in thought, speech and deed, his whole existence is permeated with sanctity, similar to the Bais Hamikdosh. Chanukah (the rededication of the Bais Hamikdosh) teaches that every Jew must rededicate his personal “Bais Hamikdosh” — to add more joy and enthusiasm in his Torah study and performance of mitzvos.

Chanukah also derives from the word “Chinuch,” meaning education. Even a child of pre Bar/Bas Mitzvah age engages in Torah and mitzvos with joy, and, in the spirit of Chanukah, with extra joy. When a child’s education is in this fashion, it is the proper preparation for his Bar-Mitzvah when he becomes obligated in Torah and mitzvos.

There is an additional lesson from the kindling of the Chanukah lights. The Chanukah lights are “lights to illuminate.” It does not suffice that a Jew personally studies Torah and performs mitzvos, but he must also illuminate his surroundings with the light of Judaism — with the “mitzvah which is a lamp and Torah which is light.” One must influence Jews who are ignorant of their heritage to kindle their soul — “the lamp of the L‑rd is the soul of man” — with the “mitzvah which is a lamp and Torah which is light.”

Moreover, every night we add an extra Chanukah light, teaching that no matter how good previous conduct was, one must daily increase in all matters of holiness.

Since “You shall love your fellow as yourself ... is a great principle in the Torah,” every one of you must influence his/her friends in all of the above. Through such conduct, we merit to bring the greatest light of all, the light of the redemption, when all of us, together with our righteous Moshiach, will go to our Holy Land.


2. The task of Tzivos Hashem is to be completely victorious in the war against the Yetzer (Evil Inclination). But because the Yetzer is very wily, he endeavors to trick Jewish children. Thus Jewish children need special directives and advice how not to be misled by the Yetzer. This is the function of the “order of the day” which is derived from the weekly parshah in general, and from the daily portion in particular — the third portion of parshas Mikeitz.

The Yetzer tries to trick Jewish children by telling them: True, you are members of Tzivos Hashem, and therefore must obey the orders of the Commander-In-Chief ( G‑d) — to learn Torah and fulfill mitzvos. However, continues the Yetzer, it is not yet the proper time to do so. You and all Jews are still in exile, and therefore must wait until Moshiach comes to take you out of exile. Only then will it be the appropriate time to begin studying Torah and performing mitzvos, without any of the obstructions posed by the exile. This will be when the Bais Hamikdosh will be built, for we see there is a difference between the times when the Bais Hamikdosh existed and after the destruction. When it existed, and everything was pure and holy, one was obligated in the service of the Bais Hamikdosh. Not so after the destruction, in exile. Likewise, claims the Yetzer, the very fact Jews are in exile shows it is not the proper time to observe Torah and mitzvos. Wait until Moshiach comes and builds the Bais Hamikdosh.

There is a general answer to this: Since G‑d created the world and keeps it in existence — both in the times of the Bais Hamikdosh and in exile — it is obvious that we must follow G‑d’s directives at all times — to learn Torah and observe mitzvos.

In addition, the weekly parshah provides a specific counter to the Yetzer’s argument. The word “Mikeitz” means “end,” referring to the end of the period of time Yosef was in prison. This teaches that even when we are in the situation of Yosef — in exile of Egypt, and in prison — the end of such a situation will come and Yosef goes out from prison. And through learning Torah and fulfilling mitzvos we hasten the end of the exile. Moreover, not only does Yosef leave prison, but, as the daily portion relates, even while in the exile of Egypt he was appointed the viceroy of all Egypt — “according to your word shall all my people be ruled” and “without you no man shall lift his hand or foot.” This teaches that when a Jew conducts himself properly, he has nothing to fear from non-Jews’; indeed, the non-Jew will learn from him — “without you no man shall lift his hand or foot.” Simply put, when Jewish children meet non-Jewish children, the Jewish children must be firm and proud in their Judaism.

3. The conclusion of the daily portion is that Yosef named his son Ephraim “ G‑d has made me fruitful (“hiphrani”) in the land of my affliction.” In spiritual terms, it means that in exile (“in the land of my affliction”), a Jew must constantly be producing more and more “fruit” (“hiphrani”) in the area of Torah and mitzvos.

This is also the idea of Chanukah — to increase in the Chanukah lights each day. And just as “ G‑d has made me more fruitful in the land of my affliction” — in exile — so too the Chanukah lights are increased even in the time of exile.

There is a special distinction in the lighting of the fifth Chanukah light. Although previously every night saw an increase in the Chanukah lights, the fifth night is the first time when the majority of the Chanukah lights are kindled (5 out of 8). A Jew thereby shows that he has already lit most of the Chanukah lights and is prepared to rise higher until he lights them all. In spiritual terms this means a Jew has already performed the majority of his work — influenced his friends to learn Torah and fulfill mitzvos — and is preparing to increase in this work to its ultimate degree. However, whereas he must wait another 3 nights to kindle all 8 Chanukah lights, he can influence other Jewish children to engage in all aspects of Torah and mitzvos immediately.

When G‑d sees that a Jew conducts himself in exile in the manner of “ G‑d has made me fruitful” — increasing in Judaism and giving light to his surroundings — G‑d decides that the time has come that there should be light in the entire world. He thus puts an immediate end to the darkness of exile, and the redemption will have come.