Gates Parshas Mikeitz/Chanukah December 18,
Welcome to Beyond Twelve
Gates. One of the Chassidic masters used to say that one can learn something
from anyone or anything. On Chanukah, when it was customary in some
places to play checkers as well as dreidel, the Rabbi remarked to some
checker players, "What have you learned from this game?"
When they shrugged their
shoulders, the Rabbi said, "This game can teach you some rules of living:
1) You may only move forward, never backward; 2) you can only move forward one
step at a time, and you may not outdistance
yourself; and 3) sometimes it is expedient to give up something in order to
gain more (i.e. surrender one checker to set up a double
jump)." The rules of checkers can also be guidelines for
spiritual growth. (Rabbi Dr.
A Twerski, 'Living Each Day')
Mikeitz Genesis 41:1 -- 44:17
Pharaoh has a two-part dream
about seven scrawny cows devouring seven robust cows, followed by seven
thin stalks of grain swallowing seven healthy, good ones. When his
advisers are unable to adequately interpret the dream, Pharaoh summons
Joseph, who had been in prison for a total of twelve years.
Ascribing his power of interpretation solely to G-d, Joseph tells Pharaoh that Egypt
will first experience seven years of abundant crops, and then will be ravaged
by a devastating famine. Pharaoh appoints Joseph to be the viceroy of Egypt, making
him the second most powerful man in the land. Joseph's wife Asnat gives
birth to two sons, Menashe and Efraim, and the years of plenty and famine unfold just as Joseph had predicted.
With the famine also
devastating the land of Canaan (Israel), Joseph's brothers
descend to Egypt
to purchase food. When they don't recognize their royal brother, Joseph
sets in motion a plan to determine if the brothers have fully repented for
their sin of selling him almost twenty-two years before. Joseph
acts detached, accusing them of being spies, and holds Simeon
as hostage. Joseph then allows the rest of the brothers to go with food to
their father on the condition that they return with their youngest brother
Benjamin. With great reluctance, Jacob agrees to this
condition. Mikeitz concludes with the looming threat that Benjamin
will be made a slave to the Egyptian ruler.
It's not coincidental that Chanukah occurs during these days with the fewest hours
of sunlight. What lesson can be learned from this?
The 5th night of
Chanukah is unique, being the only day of the holiday that can't
fall on Shabbos. For that reason that there's a custom to give
Chanukah gelt (money) on that night to the children, since
handling money on Shabbos is prohibited (my children argue that it's a custom
to give gelt on ALL 8 nights. Go figure). It is also said that the
5th night of Chanukah has a special opportunity attached to it; the light of
the Chanukah candles burn more brightly in a spiritual sense, since the 5th
night is the 'darkest' (since it can't ever fall on Shabbos). Thus, there
exists on the 5th night of Chanukah a particular opportunity to dispel the
darkness, filling the world with light.
So too, throughout the entirety of Chanukah. The absence of light during these December days represents
an absence of spirituality. A small amount of
light can dispel a vast amount of darkness; our Chanukah lights and the
true meaning of this wonderful holiday can infuse our lives with richness,
meaning and spirituality. Happy Chanukah!
Quote of the Week
The easiest kind of
relationship for me is with ten thousand people. The hardest is with one -- Joan Baez
Joke of the Week
While on vacation in Rome,
Joe noticed a marble column outside St. Peter's with a golden telephone on
it. As a young priest passed by, Joe asked who the telephone was
for. The priest said, " it's a
direct line to heaven, and if you'd like to call, the cost will be
Joe continued his tour and arrived in Israel. He
decided to attend services at a local synagogue. When he walked in
the door he noticed a blue and white telephone. Underneath it there was a
sign stating: "DIRECT LINE TO HEAVEN: 25 cents."
"Rabbi," Joe said, "In Italy
near a cathedral I visited, I saw a telephone that was also a direct line to
heaven. But there, the price was a thousand dollars. Why is it that
this one is only 25 cents?"
The rabbi smiled and said,"You're in Israel now. It's a local call." (thanks to
Dr. Susan Feigenbaum for the joke)
Thanks for reading 'Beyond Twelve
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