1. This farbrengen is connected with many different aspects: 1) it is being held on Motzaei Shabbos. 2) The blessing of the coming month took place this Shabbos. 3) Shabbos was Shabbos Chanukah, and also 4) the first day of Chanukah (which includes within itself all the coming days; as evident from the Chanukah miracle itself — on the first day of Chanukah the flask of oil, which burnt for eight days was found. 5) In the Mincha prayers we began reading the Parshah Mikeitz “Vayihe Mikeitz Shenosayim Yomim” — ”and it was at the end of two years” — which is connected to the future redemption, at which time there will be the end of exile, and the “End of the Days” (Daniel 12:13) will come about. 6) It is the Shabbos that follows Yud-Tes Kislev.

Rather, than focus on any of these particular topics, we will focus on a subject that rises above all these specific characteristics and is unlimited in nature, the topic of happiness. This topic is connected with the Haftorah we read this Shabbos which begins, “Rejoice and be happy, daughters of Zion.”1 The words “rejoice” and “happy” share a common meaning. The concept is repeated for a more articulate style or to add more emphasis.

In Torah Or2 the Alter Rebbe explains the connection between this verse and Chanukah. He comments that the Haftorah contains verses that mention the Menorah explicitly, and it would seem more appropriate for the Haftorah to begin with them.3 However the term “daughter of Zion” which refers to the Jewish people teaches a fundamental lesson that relates Chanukah to joy.

The Hebrew word “Zion” means symbol. It is used as a reference to the Jewish people in the verse “I have put My words in your mouth and I have covered you in the shadow of My hand, that I may plant the heavens and lay the foundations for the earth and say to Zion, you are My people.”4 Though Zion is not a usual name for the Jewish people it is used here to imply that they are a symbol of G‑d. In the person the ultimate example of this concept can be seen in regards to R. Shimon Bar Yochai. He declared: “I am the symbol (for G‑d) in this world.” Likewise, the Zohar proclaims that the phrase “Who is the face of the L‑rd?” refers to R. Shimon Bar Yochai. There are many lower levels on which the same concept applies. However, the phrase “daughter of Zion” alludes to a different state; a level where the term Zion cannot be used. The name daughter of Zion can be interpreted as a reference to a state where the Jewish people merely “receive from the level of Zion.” Also, the term daughter refers to a weak level of service, a level lacking in power, strength and courage.

The Haftorah explains that even when the Jewish people are at the level of daughter of Zion, when they cannot be considered (in an openly revealed sense) as a symbol for G‑d, they can still reach the highest level of service. The Haftorah teaches that the fulfillment of Torah is “very near to you — in your mouth, and in your heart — that you may do it,” and also that our service can be filled with joy. We can “rejoice and be happy.” This happiness will in turn raise us above all limitations for “Joy breaks through all boundaries.”

This concept is related to Chanukah. The Chanukah miracle took place during a time of darkness, a time when “all the oils in the sanctuary” were made impure. It was impossible to generate the light necessary for us to see how we are a symbol of G‑dliness. Nevertheless we witnessed a great miracle — the one cruse of oil was able to burn for eight days.

This concept is further explained by the Zohar’s commentary on the verse, “Serve G‑d with happiness, come before Him with joy.” The Zohar explains that happiness is appropriate in the morning, and joy, is appropriate for night (Zohar Part I, 229b). Morning refers to a time of light, a situation where a person can easily see a clear path in the world at large, and also, in reference to his own behavior and actions. Evening is the time of darkness, when a person can stumble and get lost. Even though the setting of the sun does not change the place or position of the world (or metaphorically it does not change the state of holiness of a place), nevertheless, it does affect a change in man’s perceptive abilities.

However, even when we are in a time of darkness, we have the potential to “come before Him with joy.” We can take something that is hidden by the mask and veil of darkness and bring it “before Him,” that is, close to G‑d.

This service is described as an elevation from below to above. However, even while we stand below, we must realize that we have descended from a “high cliff.” That descent came together with a purpose — it is our mission to bring about an elevation of the lower world. Therefore, even if we momentarily forget the purpose of our descent and we find ourselves in a state of evening, we still have the potential to “come before G‑d with joy.” Likewise, even if we are only on the level of a “daughter of Zion” our service should be accompanied by joy.

The Rambam writes that serving G‑d with happiness is a “great service.” As an example he recalls the service of King David who “danced and leaped before G‑d” while bringing the Holy Ark to Yerushalayim. All Mitzvos should be fulfilled with joy. However, in particular, there are two types of joy. The joy that accompanies those Mitzvos that deal with G‑d’s revelation from above, and the greater joy, that is connected with the elevation from below.

Similarly, there is a lesson that can be learned from the principle of “happiness in the morning.” Even when we find ourselves in a time of light — morning — we still have a mission. We must “proceed higher in holy matters.” No matter how much light or holiness already exists, we can make a further contribution and bring more light and holiness into the world.

This principle is expressed in the lighting of the Chanukah candles. On Motzaei Shabbos we lit two candles, thus fulfilling the Mitzvah of the Chanukah candles on a level of Mehadrin Min HaMehadrin. However, to maintain this level of service on the following night we must add another candle. This emphasizes that even when we find ourselves in a time of light, true light — light that comes from “the — candle of Mitzvah and the light of Torah” — we must still work to add more light.

Furthermore, the addition of light must be made in an unlimited manner. The Talmud (Sotah 22b) explains that the attitude “What is my duty and I will fulfill it?” reflects a lack and a deficiency in one’s service to G‑d. Rather, our service must transcend all limitations, stepping beyond all boundaries, even boundaries in holiness.

Now we can see the connection the Haftorah has to Chanukah. At the time of the Chanukah miracle the Jews stood at the level of “daughters of Zion.” Despite the darkness, they served G‑d with joy and elevated the aspects of the world that were enclothed in darkness, to G‑d. Also the service of happiness is connected with Chanukah as explained above.5

The above must be brought down into actual deed. When we read the Haftorah, “Rejoice and be happy, daughter of Zion,” and we make the firm decision to do so, connecting our happiness with “the happiness of Mitzvos.” Then we will break through all boundaries6 and proceed to greet Moshiach, with eternal joy, speedily in our days.

* * *

2. The above is related to the public fast held last Thursday. The purpose of that fast was to negate the possibility for certain undesirable matters to come about. The same effects that fasting can bring about can be brought about through happiness and joy. In HaYom Yom (p. 98) it is explained that through the joy and celebration on Shemini Atzeres we can bring about the same blessings that are evoked on Rosh Hashanah through the service of fear of G‑d and Kabbalas 01. Likewise, in the present case, the service of happiness, particularly the happiness that is connected with Teshuva7 will annul the undesirable influences alluded to above.8

This concept is reinforced by the intrinsic connection existing between Chanukah, Sukkos and Simchas Torah. Both Chanukah and Sukkos (before the Rabbinic addition of an additional day) last eight days. They are the only festivals of that length. In fact, Chanukah possesses an advantage over Sukkos. On Sukkos, there are certain aspects that separate the eighth day from the previous seven days. In fact in the Talmud (Sukkah 48a) the eighth day is called “a festival in its own right.” However, during Chanukah, there is no factor of separation, all eight days follow in one sequence.

The unique quality connected with the number eight is explained by the Rashba (note Responsa Part I, Ch. 9), and in the Chassidic discourses that deal with the eight days of the dedication of the sanctuary in the desert. On a simple level we can see the advantage that the number eight possesses. Generally, our lives are structured around the number seven, the number of days in a week. Each week begins a new service. Therefore, before the Psalm of the day on Sunday, we say “today is the first day of the week.” Eight represents a break in that pattern, a step above the limitations of the world.

Although this unlimited level is connected with the eighth day, it also elevates and influences, the seven preceding days. In fact, these days serve as a necessary step in preparation for the eighth day.9 It follows, that Chanukah, which has eight days,10 is a time of unbounded revelation.

The letter Ches (which means eight), also refers to the service of Teshuva and the transformation of sin into merit. The Talmud (Menachos 29b) explains that the shape of the letter Ches alludes to sin. The letter Ches has only one opening, from the bottom. [The verse “sin crouches at the opening,” is appropriate in regards to the letter Ches.] This negative state was also reflected in the service of the Jewish people at the time of the Chanukah miracle. During that period the Greeks had made impure all the oil in the sanctuary. Even after searching with much effort, only one cruse of “pure” oil could be found. This state was a manifestation of the spiritual impurity of the Jewish people. Nevertheless, even in such a situation, the Maccabees were able to be victorious11 and brought about a new holiday for the Jewish people. Thus we see that Chanukah which begins with a Ches is related to the concept of “the night will shine as the day,” — “that one’s sins will be transformed into merits.”

This principle helps explain the question of questions. The Talmud (Sanhedrin 97b) states that “all the appointed times for Moshiach’s coming have passed, and that his coming is dependent on Teshuva alone.” Yet we have done Teshuva. In fact, every day we do Teshuva, for, the Rebbe Maharash declared that sighing over the Golus is a form of Teshuva. Given these facts, how much longer must we wait?

This question is more poignant in view of the Talmud’s (Eruvin 19a) statement that “even the sinners of Israel are filled with Mitzvos like a pomegranate.” The Alter Rebbe’s comment on the verse, “And Moshe was more humble than any man on the face of the earth,” further reinforces the question. G‑d showed Moshe the future history of the Jewish people. When Moshe saw the Immense commitment required of the generations directly preceding Moshiach’s coming, he felt humble. Moshe saw that those generations are faced with the challenge “not to be embarrassed in the face of the scorners.” That challenge is so great it is a wonder that the Jews perform even a few Mitzvos, let alone to be “as full with Mitzvos as a pomegranate.”12 Still, despite this service, Moshiach has not yet come.

The only possible reason for the Golus continuing so long is so “the higher quality of light can be derived from darkness, and the higher quality of wisdom from foolishness.” Then, from the Ches, which alludes to negative qualities as explained above, we will make Chanukah and bring about the dedication of the Bais Hamikdosh. May it be G‑d’s will that we should not have to come unto this comfort; for we will experience eternal joy for “Behold I (G‑d) am coming and will dwell among you,” and then “many nations will join themselves unto G‑d.”13

Furthermore, even now in the last days of Golus this revelation will be reflected. Just as Shulchan Aruch requires us to taste the food prepared for Shabbos before Shabbos, similarly, we must appreciate the revelation of Moshiach even now. And then, an a manner of “Rejoice and be happy daughters of Zion,” we will proceed-to greet Moshiach,

* * *

3. In connection with the above mentioned link between Chanukah and joy, it is proper to stress at this time Mivtza Chanukah and the other Mivtzoim as well. Mivtza Chanukah includes the lighting of the Chanukah candles and the recitation of thanks and praise to ‘,—d.

Furthermore, the Mivtzoyim should be spread with joy. Just as we fulfill the Mitzvos with joy, so too, must we try to share that joy with others.14 It is possible that because of someone’s great desire to spread the Mitzvas of Chanukah, his joy will be diminished when he sees the great task before him. The reason he will go to help another Jew is because he feels that “deed is the most essential.” When he starts to speak with another Jew he might think that the way to bring him to complete fulfillment of the Mitzvos is to show him a sour face, and to let him know that he is unhappy to have to deal with him. We must realize that such actions are contrary to the relations that must exist between one Jew and another. “Love your neighbor as yourself” is a fundamental principle of Torah, as the Talmud (Shabbos 31a) declares: “the fulfillment of this Mitzvah is the entire Torah and the others are merely an explanation.”15

Every one should add in their effort toward Mivtza Chanukah and toward the other Mivtzoyim. However, we realize that “serve G‑d with joy,” is a fundamental Torah principle. All our efforts in the Mivtzoim must be carried out with joy. This joy, in turn will bring greater success to the Mivtzoyim. Our inner joy will light up our faces, and light up our approach toward another Jew. And then, the joy will break down barriers, including the barriers of the person whom we are trying to influence. The happiness will bring us to a complete unity, without any separations.

The union of Jews in the physical world causes great joy in the spiritual spheres. The Previous Rebbe explained this concept (Kovetz Michtovim p. 198) with the parable of a father who derived great joy from watching his children join together in love and unity. This love and closeness causes all undesirable matters to be annulled.

The above applies to all Jews, adults and children. However in a more particular sense, it applies to those Jews who are confined to hospitals and jails. Their particular situation leads them to depression, therefore, special efforts must be made to bring them to an unbounded joy. These efforts arouse an even greater joy in the spiritual spheres.

The situation of such people might lead one to follow an argument similar to the one used by Turnus Rufus, the wicked, who asked (Talmud B. Basra 10a): “If your G‑d loves poor people, why doesn’t he sustain them?” Similarly, one might argue, these people are placed in such a situation because of G‑d’s intention what right do we have to bring them joy? The answer given by Rabbi Akiva applies today as well as when he said it. He replied to Turnus Rufus: “I will answer you with a parable: A king became angry with his son, imprisoned him, and ordered that he be given neither food nor drink. One man gave him food and drink. If the king would hear of his behavior wouldn’t he send this man a present?...And, behold, we are the sons of the King, as the Torah declares: ‘You are children unto G‑d’.” Likewise, in the present case, we learn that by fulfilling the needs of a Jew who is found in such a situation, and bringing him joy, we will surely evoke joy above.

Surely we can find the words to explain to everyone, be they men or women, that regardless, of their situation, they must be happy. A basic reason for happiness is evident from the fact that every morning in ‘Birchas HaShachar’ we make a number of blessings. Blessings are only appropriate when joy is present. Since true blessings contain G‑d’s name, there is no doubt, nor even a shadow of a doubt, that we have been given blessings ample enough to bring joy.

Similarly special efforts must be taken to spread Mivtza Chanukah (and also the joy of Chanukah) to those who serve in the army and to police. They are standing on watch, protecting the land and its inhabitants. Although it may be argued that the soldiers will relax their guard ‘if they feel joy,’ we find that Torah rejects this approach. The soldiers, who are also obligated to perform Mitzvos, must also “serve G‑d with joy.” Furthermore, the lighting of Chanukah candles will add success to their protecting of Israel from its enemies.

Chanukah candles are lit “after sunset,” when the world is dark, and are placed “at the outer door of one’s house.” They light up the darkness of the world. When such a Mitzvah is performed with joy, then “fear and dread shall fall upon them: the greatness of Your arm shall make them still as stone.” In fact, in the past, when the enemies saw the Jews lighting candles on Chanukah, they became frightened by it and sent spies to find out what the Jews were doing and how they might defend themselves from it.16

Then, “many nations will join themselves unto G‑d,” even in these last days of Golus.

* * *

4. On the verse (Bereishis 40:1) “And it came to pass after these things,” Rashi comments: “Since that cursed woman had made the righteous one (Joseph) a subject of popular conversation by speaking about him and degrading him, G‑d brought them (the Egyptians) the offense of these (the butler and the baker) that they should turn their attention to them and not to him.” G‑d wanted the talk about the incident between Joseph and Potiphar’s wife to subside. To accomplish this he caused the butler and the baker to sin. The Egyptians then began talking about them and their attention was diverted from Joseph. Rashi continues: “Also, in order to bring relief (redemption from prison) to the righteous one (Joseph) through them.”

This commentary raises a basic question. As a rule, Rashi does not include in his commentaries anything that is unnecessary. If a beginning student can understand the narrative without Rashi’s interpretation, Rashi does not comment.17 In this case, the narrative itself seems to imply that the reason for the imprisonment of the butler and the baker was for the purpose of bringing relief to Joseph. So why does Rashi feel a need to comment?18 Furthermore, Rashi mentions the point of relief for Joseph only as a secondary explanation. Why is the problem of the Egyptians talking about Joseph considered of greater importance than Joseph’s release? Also, Rashi’s choice of expression, “also, in order...,” is peculiar. Generally, when he feels that two interpretations are necessary he uses phrases such as: ‘Another explanation,’ or ‘Another opinion,’ etc. This expression (‘also in order...’) implies that what follows is not a second opinion, but, rather, a continuation of the first opinion.

The answer to these questions is based on a fundamental question: Why is the phrase “And it came to pass after these things,” necessary. The verse could have read, “And it came to pass, the butler and baker sinned.” From a surface reading of Torah the sequence of time would be understood without adding the expression, “after these things.” Therefore, Rashi feels it necessary that the verse be explained. He has to explain what “things” are referred to. The Hebrew word for “Devorim,” which is translated as ‘things,’ also means ‘words,’ Rashi must now find an instance where “words” (in a plural sense) can tie the surrounding two stages of the Torah’s narrative together. Rashi explains that the wife of Potiphar had slandered Joseph to the point where all of Egypt was talking (plural — her and all of Egypt — ) about him. Therefore, G‑d found it necessary to bring the Egyptians a new topic of discussion (the sin of the butler and the baker). These are ‘these Devorim — these words’19 referred to in the verse.

At this point a student will ask: According to the above it comes out that the whole story of the butler and the baker has no relation to Joseph’s redemption; and it was only that people start talking about their sin and not talk about Joseph. It seems from the story related later on in the Chumash that through the butler relating his dream to Pharoah Joseph was taken out of prison? To answer this question Rashi adds: “Also, so that relief should come to the righteous one (Joseph) through them.” This is not a second explanation, but, rather, a further continuation of the first point. Joseph benefited in two ways from the imprisonment of the butler and baker: His reputation was preserved, and he was redeemed. We see that both benefits were necessary, for, if all that was necessary was for Joseph to be redeemed then it would not have been necessary for the butler and the baker to be imprisoned for an entire year (note Rashi 39:4). Pharoah’s birthday celebration took place 1 year and three days after their imprisonment. The same sequence of events — the two dreams, Joseph’s interpretation of them, the restoration of the butler to his former position — could all have happened one year before hand. Why did G‑d delay? In order to cleanse Joseph’s reputation. Had the butler been released right away, the Egyptians would have stopped talking about their sin and continue talking about Joseph. However, since for an entire year their gossip and been centered around the butler and the baker, and not around Joseph, when he was redeemed, his personal situation had already been forgotten (note Talmud Berachos 58b that a dead person is forgotten from the heart after 12 months, surely in regard to our case that after 12 months they forgot about the episode concerning Joseph).

There is another point is Rashi’s commentary that needs explanation. Rashi uses that expression “that cursed woman” in reference to Potiphar’s wife. Just a few verses before 39:1, Rashi had explained that the story of Yehudah and Tamar was placed close to the story of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife to teach us the following:20 “Just as she (Tamar) acted for the sake of G‑d, so also she.(Potiphar’s wife) acted for the sake of G‑d. For she saw through her astrologers that she was destined to produce children from him (Joseph), but she did not know whether through herself or through her daughter.” If her intention was ‘for the sake of G‑d,’ why does Rashi term her a cursed woman?

[The answer to this question was given by the Rebbe Shlita on the following Shabbos Parshas Mikeitz — Zos Chanukah. We are bringing it down here to make it easier to understand.]

The two points do not necessarily contradict each other. It is possible to be cursed and still have an intention which is ‘for the sake of G‑d.’ Rashi in a previous commentary gives an example of this principle. On the verse “Perhaps the woman will not follow” (24:39) [which Eliezer spoke to Avraham before he left to search for a wife for Yitzchok] Rashi comments: “The Hebrew word for 10o-lie,’ is written without the letter ‘Vov’ allowing it to read as ‘Aylie,’ meaning, to me. Eliezer had a daughter and he went around (searching) to find an excuse so that Avraham would say to him that he would turn to him to give his daughter (to Yitzchok) as a wife. (But) Avraham said to him: ‘My son is blessed and you are cursed (from Canaanite stock) and the cursed are not joined to the blessed’.” Even though Eliezer was on a high spiritual level as Rashi explains (15:2): “Why was he called ‘Eliezer of Damascus’ because he drew and gave to drink of master’s teachings.” Nevertheless, Eliezer was called “cursed” because he was a slave. Similarly, in the case of Potiphar’s wife she is called ‘cursed’ although her intention was for the sake of G‑d. She, too, was a slave, i.e. she had completely lost control of herself. This lack of control is obvious from the fact that even after Joseph refused her, explaining that such an act would be a sin, she persisted in her attempt. Potiphar’s wife was a slave to the opinion of her astrologers.21

This explanation clarifies a second point. The question naturally arises: If her intention was for the sake of G‑d, why did she slander Joseph? The explanation is as follows: She knew that if Joseph was not destined to have children from her, he would have children from her daughter. In order for that union to take place, Joseph would have to remain in Egypt. Since she knew that Joseph “was stolen away from the land of the Hebrews;” she understood that he would use all means to try to leave Egypt and go back to his father Ya’akov. Once Joseph was with his father Ya’akov she knew that there was no chance for her daughter to marry Joseph — Ya’akov would not allow “his son of his old age” marry Asnas the daughter of Potiphar. The only way she could make sure that Joseph would stay in Egypt was to slander him in the whole land of Egypt — to the point where everyone would talk about him — for then there was no chance that they would let him out of prison (even if he would scream a whole day that he “was stolen away from the land of the Hebrews”).

From the story of the wife of Potiphar we see to what a degree there must be Ahavas Yisroel from one Jew to another. When we look what her actions brought about, that through her Joseph was thrown into prison (and from the descriptions how bad Egyptian prisons are today, we can perceive how bad they were then). Then, after he was already in prison, she slandered him in the whole land of Egypt to the degree that “he was a subject of popular conversation.” Nevertheless, Rashi tells us “also she acted for the sake of G‑d.” From this we can learn that we must approach every Jew, even someone whom the Torah calls “wicked,” with love. The Previous Rebbe declared that we must love every Jew, even someone at the other end of the world, a person from whom we shall derive neither material nor spiritual help. Even if, on the surface, a Jew seems to be far from Judaism we are told “don’t look at his appearance.” For even Potiphar’s wife who received her education in Mitzrayim — we can imagine what kind of education she received — and although she acted with Joseph in the above-mentioned manner, we say that her intention was for the sake of heaven, comparable to Tamar from who “mighty offspring such as he, and righteous offspring such as he” came out. So too, every Jew has an inner G‑dly nature [that effects his behavior even when it is not openly revealed].

* * *

5. Trans. note: The Rebbe Shlita mentioned that a newspaper article appeared which criticized the call for a public fast. The Rebbe declared that the main reason motivating the criticism was that the author cannot conceive of the fact that a Jew can influence the behavior of the nations of the world by speaking Torah. The critic is an observant Jew and a believer. However, he doesn’t understand how Torah can affect the world in a direct manner. He maintains that in Washington, when speaking with politicians, it is necessary for a Jew to follow the rules of diplomacy, to impress them with political techniques. In truth, what is necessary is to spread Torah. Torah changes the nature of the world. Our sages explain that every aspect of the world is dependent on Torah and that it is through Torah that the world can be influenced and changed in a positive direction.

Also, the critic mentioned that, if the present situation in the world is so serious, it would have been necessary to declare a fast months ago. The Rebbe explained that months ago the situation was also serious, but not as serious as in the present. Among the factors that he cited that show how the situation has recently become worse are the following:

1) The attack on the American embassy in Iran weakened the stature of the U.S. in the Mid-East and in the entire world. Since Israel’s position is in a large way dependent on that of the U.S. this situation has hurt Israel as well.

2) With the recent return of the Sinai oil fields to Egypt, Israel has to spend money (money which was collected from the donations of generous people to Tzedakah) to obtain a large percent of her oil needs that the wells once supplied. Furthermore, the present situation shows very clearly that Israel cannot depend on the U.S. to meet her oil needs. The U.S. doesn’t have enough oil for her, let alone for Israel.

3) The fact that Israel now has to buy oil intensifies the critical economic situation there. In the last few months Israel’s economy has undergone a very severe challenge.

4) Now the reform and conservative Jews are seeking full recognition. Because of the difficult political situation, the Israeli government is asking them to use their influence in support of their diplomatic maneuvers. The reform and conservative leaders are pressuring the government for recognition in return for their support.

5) The Israeli government is considering reorganizing the army to make it more responsive to the present political positions of the government.

6) Now Israel should be observing Shivius (the laws of the Sabbatical year). If one compares the amount of people who observe Shivius to the general populace, one sees that the observers are in a small minority. Furthermore, there has not been a great Increase in the amount of people who observe Shivius over the amount that observed the last Shivius, seven years ago.

For all these (and other) reasons, it is more appropriate at this time to declare a public fast than it was in the previous months.