1. Authorities may differ on whether Chanukah in general is a time of joy as well as light, but on one point there is unanimity: Shabbos Chanukah is a day of joy. This joy is demonstrated in the Haftorah of that Shabbos, its opening words being “Sing and rejoice.” Although these few words could have been deleted, and the Haftorah begun with later verses dealing with the Menorah, they were left in, asserting their intrinsic association with Chanukah.

Although these words are in future tense they still have meaning in the present, for if they are read now, they must apply now. In fact, it is our present joy which brings that promise to fulfillment and therefore, as in all causal relationships, the cause must contain within itself, (albeit in a concealed inner fashion) the effect. Even more so: The Mishnah teaches that “one hour of repentance and good deeds in this world (the cause), is better than all the life of the World to Come (the effect); precisely because the effect is impossible without the cause.

The blessings made before and after reading the Haftorah, while adding emphasis to the joy therein, simultaneously serve as the conduit through which the concept of joy is drawn down from the loftiest levels. And since the other days of the week draw their blessings from Shabbos, this joy extends to them as well.1 The Haftorah, beginning as it does, lends weight to the opinion that the days of Chanukah are indeed days of joy. For this is the only reason for the inclusion of the opening words “Sing and rejoice,” which indicate a link between Chanukah and joy.

But even those who dispute this viewpoint agree that there must be, at least, the same joy on Chanukah as when performing any Mitzvah, especially since special emphasis is laid on performing the Mitzvah of Chanukah in as choice a manner as possible2 — which expresses the idea of joy.

In the era of the Bais Hamikdosh, Jews are referred to as “Zion;” in exile they are called the “daughter of Zion.” Thus in the Haftorah read on Chanukah, which refers to a time of Greek rule over Eretz Yisroel, the opening words are “Sing and rejoice O’ daughter of Zion.” And just as that very exile produced the miracle of Chanukah, with an abundance of light emerging from the prior darkness, so too the festival of Chanukah must be celebrated with abundant joy.

The test of satisfactory study is the ensuing result; the understanding of the above must result in actual joy. Not only personal joy, but bringing this to others, to the outside — paralleling the light shed by the Chanukah lights which are kindled “by the doorway of the house on the outside.”3 In concrete terms: every person must fulfill Torah and Mitzvos and spread Judaism and Chassidus — with joy. Our joy in Chanukah shall then lead us to “Sing and rejoice” in the future eternal Bais Hamikdosh, with the coming of our righteous Moshiach.


2. An additional lesson can be derived from today — the fourth day of Chanukah; a lesson applicable not only to this day, but for all time. On Chanukah we read the passages in the Torah concerning the offerings brought by the prince of each tribe at the dedication of the Mishkon. Each day we read about a different prince associated with a different mode of service; and hence each day a different lesson is derived.

The prince who sacrificed on the fourth day was “the prince of the children of Reuven, Elitzur ben Shedeur.” The mode of service of the tribe of Reuven can be ascertained from that written about Reuven in Parshas Vayeishev and Parshas Mekeitz (which are read around this time).

When the brothers wished to kill Yosef, it was Reuven who saved him, saying: “let us not kill him... shed no blood... and lay no hand on him;” whereupon Yosef was sold into slavery instead.4 Later on, after Yosef had risen to power in Egypt, his brothers unknowingly approached him in his capacity of viceroy of Egypt. When they asked him to sell them grain, he treated them harshly. The brothers then said to each other: “Truly, we are guilty concerning our brother (Yosef), in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he beseeched us, and we would not hear; therefore this trouble has come upon us.” Reuven, upon hearing this, said: “Did I not speak to you, saying, do not sin against the child, and you did not listen?” Such conduct on Reuven’s part is really rather amazing. Why, when the brothers are reproaching themselves for their treatment of Yosef, does Reuven rub salt into the wound, admonishing them “Aha! Didn’t I tell you so?”

Reuven’s words are not a reply to his brothers however, but a continuation of their words. Their admission “Truly, we are guilty” was repentance for their wrongdoing; for as the Rambam writes, when trouble befalls a person , it is no mere mishap, but comes because of wrongdoings; and a person must repent of them. There are however different levels of repentance. For instance, there is the level of “repentance from fear,” when “one’s premeditated sins are accounted as errors.” Another, deeper level of repentance is “repentance from love,” when premeditated sins are accounted as merits,” (or even higher still, become actual merits) — the sin is completely erased. So too with the brothers. Although they had indeed repented of their wrongdoing, Reuven, by saying “Did I not speak to you... do not sin against the child,” wished to arouse in them a yet more profound level of repentance. Their prior repentance was not enough, but should continue to the point where their sin was erased completely, as if it never existed.5

The concept of repentance is stressed in the verse (Mishlei 6:23): “The Mitzvah is a candle, and Torah is light; and reproofs of ethical instruction are the way of life.” Puzzlingly, the verse seems to imply that “the way of life” is additional to Mitzvos and Torah. Is not the true ‘way of life’ synonymous with Torah and Mitzvos? The explanation is, Torah and Mitzvos are things which are within limits, while “reproofs of ethical instruction which are the way of life” refers to repentance, which is beyond all limits. It is repentance which then causes “the Mitzvah which is a candle, and Torah which is light” to be of a higher calibre.


3. Chapter 42, verse 1, of Parshas Mikeitz states: “And Ya’akov saw that there was corn in Egypt, and Ya’akov said to his sons: Why do you show yourselves?” Rashi elaborates on the words “Why do you show yourselves?” explaining that this means: “Why do you show yourselves in the presence of the sons of Yishmael and the sons of Esav as though you were sated? For at that time they still had grain.” In other words, Rashi explains that even though there was famine in the rest of the land at that time, Ya’akov and his sons still had grain. It was only the fact that they should not show themselves as being sated, that prompted Ya’akov to send his sons to Egypt and buy grain as all the other peoples were doing.

There are a few points which need clarification in this Rashi.

1) Why does Rashi specify before whom Ya’akov did not wish to appear sated (i.e. the sons of Yishmael and the sons of Esav)?

2) Why does he specify before “the sons of Yishmael and the sons of Esav?” These peoples did not live in Eretz Yisroel, but in other lands. If Ya’akov did not wish to appear sated before any people, it should have been before his neighbors, those living in the same land — rather than those living in far-off countries.6

3) The Talmud (Ta’anis 10b), which is the source for this particular interpretation of Rashi, adds that the reason they should not appear sated is “so that they should not be envious of you.” Why does Rashi omit this?

This Rashi can be understood by first answering another question.7 Why did Ya’akov and his sons still have grain at a time when everyone else had exhausted their supplies? The fact that Rashi himself makes no mention of the reason, indicates that the five year old child to whom Rashi directs his commentary must (be able to) know it himself from his previous studies of the Chumash. As is indeed the case here. In a previous Parshah (Toldos — 26:12-13) it states: “And Yitzchok sowed in that land... and the L‑rd blessed him. And the man waxed great, and grew more and more until he became very great.” Similarly, in the case of Avraham, the verse (Lech Lecha13:2) states: “And Avraham was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold.” Similarly, Ya’akov was blessed with riches far exceeding those of the surrounding peoples, and hence still had grain when the others were being affected by the famine.

The reason for Ya’akov’s exceptionally great riches was no secret to the surrounding peoples, for Ya’akov had already told Lavan [and from him word spread to others] that “the G‑d of my father, the G‑d of Avraham and the Fear of Yitzchok had been with me,” causing his success.

Now we understand why Rashi says that Ya’akov did not wish to show himself sated specifically before the sons of Yishmael and the sons of Esav; and was not concerned before the inhabitants of the land itself. For the people of the land of Canaan would not be jealous, since they already knew and accepted that Ya’akov was exceptionally blessed due to the merit of Avraham and Yitzchok. The same cannot be said of the sons of Yishmael and Esav. For since Yishmael was the son of Avraham, and Esav the son of Yitzchok, they could also claim, exactly as Ya’akov, to have the merit of “the G‑d of my father, the G‑d of Avraham, and the Fear of Yitzchok.” Hence they could well ask the question “why does Ya’akov still have grain and not us?” And therefore it was specifically they before whom Ya’akov did not wish to appear sated.

This is also the reason why Rashi omits the reason “so they should not be envious of you” in his commentary. Ya’akov was not worried about his riches exciting the envy of the sons of Yishmael and Esav, for they had always been envious of his, Yitzchok’s, and Avraham’s wealth. What bothered Ya’akov was that his sufficiency in grain would now cause them to question the difference between him and them, when seemingly they both had the same merit.8

4. Unlike the above Rashi which needed clarification, there is a matter in Parshas Mikeitz which appears to need interpretation, but on which Rashi makes no comment. When Yosef interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams for him, he told him (41:32): “And concerning the dream being repeated unto Pharaoh twice, it is because the thing is established by G‑d, and G‑d is hastening to do it.” An immediate and obvious question arises: Previously, in Parshas Vayeishev, Yosef’s dream was also repeated twice. Once (37:7) when Yosef dreamed that when he and his brothers were binding sheaves in a field, his brothers’ sheaves bowed down to his sheaf. And another time (37:9), he dreamed that the sun, moon, and eleven stars bowed down to him. Why does Rashi make no comment there concerning the significance of the repetition of the dream?

We cannot say that Rashi assumes that when a student reaches Parshas Mikeitz, and learns that the repetition of Pharaoh’s dream meant that “G‑d is hastening to do it,” the student will realize that the same thing applies to Yosef’s dream. For in fact, the question will only become greater. Concerning Pharaoh’s dreams, we see that indeed “G‑d is hastening to do it” — for immediately after his dreams, Pharaoh appointed Yosef the viceroy of Egypt, and the seven years of plenty began. But when Yosef dreamed, the Torah tells us that he was seventeen years old; and until the fulfillment of the dream (his brothers and father bowing down to him), twenty-two years were to pass. A time span of twenty-two years is hardly “G‑d hastening” to fulfill the dreams!9

The answer lies in the fact that Yosef’s dreams were not exactly identical. They both involved parties bowing down to Yosef, but in the first case it was the brothers’ sheaves alone, whereas the second case involved the eleven stars plus the sun and moon. Hence there were two different dreams, with two different interpretations — and therefore no problem of the significance of the repetition of the same dream. The two different dreams represented two different instances — once, when just the brothers would bow down to Yosef in Egypt, before their father came there; and a second time when the brothers, together with Ya’akov and Ya’akov’s wife,10 would bow down to him in Egypt.

There is a further difficulty. We find a third time when Yosef was bowed down to, when the brothers first came to Egypt to buy food, as stated (Mikeitz 42:6): “And they bowed down to him with their faces to the earth.” But that time there were only ten brothers, for (as yet), Ya’akov had not allowed Binyamin to go with them to Egypt. Therefore this could not have been the bowing down seen in the first dream of Yosef, for in that dream all the brothers (sheaves) bowed down to him. As indeed we find that later (43:26) all the brothers, including Binyamin, bowed down to Yosef. The question then, which Rashi should have commented on (but does not), is why did not Yosef dream a third dream, corresponding to the first time when only ten of the brothers (and not Binyamin) bowed down to him?

The answer lies in the nature of the first bowing down to the ten brothers, when they came to Egypt simply to buy food, as free people. It was not a bowing down (as was the second time when Binyamin was also there) in the manner of a servant to a king, but a simple gesture of respect and honor to the viceroy (who, unbeknownst to them, was Yosef). In other words, it was not in the manner of the first dream when their sheaves bowed down to Yosef’s sheaf; there was only themselves bowing down as a gesture of respect (and not to any other person (sheaf)). And therefore, Yosef did not have a third dream to symbolize bowing down in the manner of a servant to a king (since it never happened).