Torah Fax    

Friday - Shabbat Dec. 18 - 19 

Torah Reading: Mikeitz  (Genesis 41:1 - 44:17)  

Light Chanukah candles on Friday, 12/18 after 3:33 PM and before 4:12 PM. Do not light Chanukah candles after 4:30 PM
Candle Lighting Time 4:12 PM
Shabbat ends 5:17 PM

(More Laws for Chanukah below)


Dream or Reality?


This week’s parsha picks up where last week’s ends. Joseph has been wrongly accused of trying to attack the wife of his master, Potiphar, who had him incarcerated. In prison he successfully interprets the dreams of Pharaoh’s butler and baker. Joseph implores the butler—whose dream he interpreted favorably that he would be freed —to repay his kindness with kindness and mention him to Pharaoh that he too should be released. The Torah portion concludes with the words: “But, the butler did not remember Joseph. And he forgot him.” As a result Joseph languished in prison for another two years.
At this point this week’s parsha, Miketz, begins:
“At the end of two years, it happened that Pharaoh was dreaming…” The Torah then proceeds to recount how Pharaoh could not find anyone who could interpret his dreams and, it was only then that, the Butler mentioned Jospeh’s name and talent of dream interpretation to Pharaoh.
All this led to Joseph’s liberation, and ultimately his rise to the office of viceroy of Egypt.
Every story in the Torah has multiple layers of meaning.
On the simplest level, Joseph’s two years of additional incarceration was a result of an ungrateful butler. Joseph had shown so much kindness and sensitivity to a depressed fellow inmate. Yet he did not reciprocate this kindness.
On a deeper level, we are told by the famous Medieval Jewish philosopher and moralist, Rabeinu Bachay ibn Pakuda that Joseph was “punished” for putting his trust in the butler and not in G‑d.
On can offer another interpretation, that can also shed light on the first two, based on the Chassidic work Bat Ayin who retranslates one of the key words in the opening of this week’s parsha.
The Hebrew word for “two years” is Shnatayim, the root of which is related to the word, Sheinah, “sleep” in Hebrew.
Joseph’s extra two years in prison was a consequence of sleep in the figurative sense of the word. When a person is asleep they are not aware of the reality of the world. In addition to the distortion of reality that occurs during sleep, a person who sleeps is less sensitive to the things that occur around them. They don’t see, hear, taste, smell or feel as they would when they are awake. Sleep, by altering our sense of reality, desensitizes us to everything.

Our soul, when it is awake, functions the way it should. It sees G‑dliness in everything. It hears the echo of Sinai. It smells the fragrance of paradise. It enjoys the taste of Torah, and is in touch and in harmony with other people.
When, however, the soul is in a state of sleep and cannot express itself, it can be said that it is in a virtual prison. It is held captive by the physical body and the animal soul that does not permit it to shine brightly. The soul loses its sense of reality and sensitivity.
When Joseph “loses” his sense of who is the source of his salvation and he relies on the butler to mention him to Pharaoh as his source of salvation, Joseph has essentially sentenced himself to an additional two years of prison. Relative to the sublime level of Joseph’s soul, his reliance on the butler put him in a state of sleep, which is synonymous with prison. Thus, the word for “two years” in Hebrew is related to the word sleep.
And when Joseph, the most righteous and spiritually potent individual is in the sleep mode, albeit in a very subtle fashion, it causes others to be less sensitive than they would have been otherwise. The butler, thus, totally forgets Joseph. It was not, as it would seem, a punishment for Joseph having relied on him instead of G‑d, but rather a consequence and a ripple effect of the tzadik “falling asleep.” All souls are connected. And when a “head” soul is asleep, so are the lower souls. When Joseph sleeps, the butler also forgets who helped him.
But these two years finally came to an end. Joseph was now spiritually free from the metaphoric prison in which his soul was temporarily held hostage, and now the butler finally wakes up from his state of lethargy and insensitivity and remembers Joseph as well. This awakening had far reaching consequences. Initially it led to Joseph’s liberation from physical prison; his precise interpretation of Pharaoh’s dream that saved Egypt and the rest of the world from a devastating famine; his promotion to the office of viceroy of Egypt and ultimately to the rapprochement of Joseph with his brothers and the reunion with his father Jacob.
 The Chassidic work, Bat Ayin cited above connects the theme of sleep hinted in the word “shnatayim” in the beginning of the parsha with the festival of Chanukah that always coincides with this parsha.
The Talmud requires that the lit Chanukah menorah last until the “legs of the Tarmudites cease.” The simple meaning of this is that the Tarmudites, who were an ethnic group that would stay late outside in the marketplace, were the last people to be present in the street. That represents the deadline for the lighting of the Chanukah menorah since its objective is to publicize the miracle to those who might be passing by in the street.
Bat Ayin, however, renders this requirement (“legs of the Tarmudites cease”) in a rather novel and spiritual way. The word Tarmud, can also be rearranged slightly to read Tardaema, which means slumber. The word for feet in Hebrew is regel, which can also be translated as that which is regular, habitual, perfunctory, performed by rote. The goal of Chanukah lights is to so inundate the “outside” with G‑dly light that the perfunctory nature of our spiritual lives ceases to be so and we begin to thrive and savor every bit of our Mitzvot. We take nothing for granted and we do not get bored with the repetition of our Mitzvah activities. Every Mitzvah is fresh and exciting.
One of the casualties of being in exile is that we lose the sense of excitement in the good that we do. Even if we persist in doing Mitzvot, they become mechanical, performed by rote. All this is attributed to the fact that in exile we lose the sensitivity of our soul, because our souls are in prison. Our soul is asleep (Tarmud-tardema) and we are therefore in a dream state where reality of the soul is distant. To paraphrase the psalmist, “we have eyes but don’t see, we have ears but don’t hear etc.”
The objective of the Chanukah lights then is to get rid of the habitual and perfunctory nature of our Mitzvot by awakening our soul through the powerful light of Chanukah. In spiritual terms this means that Chanukah provides us with the ability to awaken our souls and sharpen our sensitivity, because the Chanukah lights represent the light of Moshiach and Redemption that takes us out of exile in the physical as well as spiritual sense.
Returning to the parsha.
The parsha opens with “At the end of two years, it happened that Pharaoh was dreaming…” This can now be reinterpreted to read:
When it comes to the end of exile, which is defined as a state of sleep and slumber, Pharaoh—who symbolizes the force of exile—was dreaming. Instead of Joseph (and the Joseph in us) thinking that exile is the natural state of affairs and Redemption is but a fantasy or dream, it is now Pharaoh/exile that becomes the dreamer and the dream. It is exile that is not reality. Reality is the light of Chanukah and Moshiach. Reality is all that is good and G‑dly. Reality is the light of Torah and Mitzvot. Reality is universal peace and harmony. Reality is the rebuilt Holy Temple in Jerusalem and the return of all Jews from geographic and spiritual alienation. Exile, with all of its suffering, darkness, famine, strife and war will soon be no more than a fading dream because the light of Moshiach and Redemption will prevail, and the light of our souls will no longer be held hostage by any external or internal force. 


Moshiach Matters  


The Talmud tells us that Choni HaMeagel slept for 70 years, which is also the length of the Babylonian exile. The message for us is: we must feel as if the entire span of our exile is but a fleeting dream. We can end that dream by being obstinate like Choni was. He drew a circle during a drought and said he would not leave it until G‑d caused it to rain. We must say to G‑d, "we will not move from here until you bring the redemption!" (The Rebbe, Shabbos Chanukah, 1990)

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Some Laws & Customs for the end of Chanukah

*On Friday afternoon (12/18), Chanukah candles should be lit before we light the Shabbat candles. Ideally we should daven Minchah beforehand. Under no circumstances can the Menorah be lit after sundown, 4:30 PM on 12/18. Candles may be lit as early as 3:33 PM. Regular Chanukah candles cannot be used for Friday night, since they must last until 5:45 PM. Shabbat candles may be used instead.

*V’Al HaNissim is added to all davenings of Chanukah, as well as Birkat Hamazon after meals.

*Full Hallel is said every day of Chanukah. In Israel, 8 of the 18 days during the year when Full Hallel is said, are Chanukah.


*Chanukah is connected with the term Chinuch, education. It is a time that we traditionally tip our children’s teachers for doing a great job educating our children and teaching them Torah.


*Chanukah is a time for family. At least on a few of the nights of Chanukah, the family should spend time together, sharing the miracles and stories of Chanukah.

*To educate the children about the importance of Tzedakah (and to give them some spending money), Chanukah gelt should be given. The Rebbe discussed the importance of giving Chanukah gelt every night of Chanukah and he mentioned that husbands should give their wives Chanukah gelt as well.

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