Wednesday, December 05, 2018

ki nashani Elokim... es beis avi

1. When the Chashmonaim came into the Mikdash, they did not have the gold menorah that the Torah describes.  The Tanaim (Avodah Zarah 43) discuss what the menorah they lit was made of, but whatever the answer, the original was lost.

If Hashem made a miracle to allow them to lite with pure undefiled olive oil (despite the fact that tumah hutra b'tzibur and they could have probably used tamei oil), why did Hashem not make a miracle to allow them to light with the real deal gold menorah?

This is the lesson of Chanukah, explains Rav Nevenzahl.  Who would not be impressed with the beauty of a solid gold menorah?  But that's not what we care about.  External beauty is what the Greeks were all about.  It's the oil that's hidden in the olive and has to be pressed out, that not's visible on the surface, that has no external beauty and doesn't catch your attention -- that's our focus.   

2. An amazing statistic: "While three out of every four Israelis light Hanukkah candles "every evening," less than two of every three Jews (60%) in the States do so." 

Quite honestly, I'm actually surprised that anywhere near 40% of American Jews light a menorah.  My wife was just looking at Target yesterday and there was a little menorah decoration that was meant for hanging on your holiday tree.  Does anything say America more than that? 

3. The Midrash opens our parsha with a derasha on the pasuk "keitz sam la'choshech..." (Iyov 28:3)  The pshat in the pasuk according to Rashi is that G-d decreed that in the future, when the end comes, all will ultimately come to darkness, as heaven and earth as they are now will cease to be.  The derash is exactly the opposite, i.e. G-d will ultimately bring an end to the darkness of evil in the world.  So too, says the Midrash, G-d decreed an end to the darkness of Yosef's captivity, and so Pharoah had his dream.

In other words, as R' Moshe Avigdor Amiel (in Hegyonos El Ami) points out, it was not Yosef's ability to interpret Pharoah's dream which was the cause of the termination of his prison sentence.  Rather, it was G-d's decree that the time of Yosef's prison sentence was up which caused Pharoah to have that specific dream which only Yosef could interpret correctly. 

4. Let me share with you another beautiful interpretation of R' Amiel's:

The Torah tells us that Yosef named his bechor Menashe because "nashani Elokim es kol amali v'es kol beis avi," (41:51) G-d helped Yosef forget all the toil he suffered through and forget his father's house.

Forget his father's house?  Why would Yosef want to do that, or be proud of such callous behavior?  Furthermore, in parshas VaYechi we learn that Yosef sent wagons, agalos, to bring Ya'akov to Mitzrayim.  Chazal see this as a hint by Yosef that he still remembered the sugya of eglah arufah that he was learning with his father when he was sold.  That doesn't sound like someone who forgot his father's house!

You could answer simply that "beis avi" does not mean Ya'akov; it means the brothers.  Yosef meant that he forgot what had been done to him by the rest of the family and did not hold it against them.

Netziv (b'kitzur) and HaKsav v'HaKabbalah (b'arichus) both explain that Yosef understood his dreams to be a prophecy.  Yosef of course wanted very much to communicate with his father, but had he done so he would have forfeited any chance of drawing his brothers and father down to Egypt and seeing those dreams / prophecy fulfilled.  Therefore, "nashani **Elokim**" -- against his will, against what his emotions cried out for, the burden of nevuah placed upon him by Hashem caused Yosef to put aside the memory of his father's house for the sake of bringing that prophecy to fruition.

Rav Amiel (see Hirsch as well) offers a different interpretation.  When you lend money to a poor person "lo ti'hiye lo k'nosheh," the Torah tells us in parshas Mishpatim. -- don't bug him and keep reminding him that he is obligated to you.  "Ki nashani Elokim..." -- G-d obligated me.  G-d saved you from prison, G-d gave you the benefit of growing up in the home of a Ya'akov Avinu -- go do something with that.  The tremendous tovos that Hashem does for us obligate us to use those gifts to better ourselves and better the world around us.


  1. 1. it would have been miraculous THAT the golden menorah was RECOVERED, regardless of its external beauty

    moreover gold must be with difficulty mined [as the olives must be pressed], an operation "not on the surface", and then shaped into a flaming candelabra; meanwhile the oil is only as good as the visibly beautiful flame that burns once we "lite" it (to become part of an 8-day miracle)

    and isn't perception of external beauty a spiritual pleasure?

    the difference is this: light illumines whats around it*, while golden beauty easily fastens attention to itself-- regarding light, we take spiritual pleasure it its service; regarding beauty, we simply take spiritual pleasure**

    *though in the case at hand we cannot practically benefit from its luminosity (enter the shamash)

    **unless of course one relates externals back to Hashem's blessing, as with the beauty!!! of Iyov's three daughters, 42:15...

    3. we learn in 41:1 that Pharoah had been dreaming nightly of shape-shifting cows for two full years(!!)*, ever failing to awaken and so remember his dream in the morning. Finally, va'ye'hee mikeitz sh'nasayim yamim, the king of Egypt awoke in the darkness, awoke and later dreamt of stalks of grain... va'ye'hee boker...

    *given that Hashem had originally decreed that Yosef's release would be two years earlier than it was (Rashi on 40:23)

  2. 'one relates externals back to Hashem's blessing'

    baruch Atah Hashem...she'ka'cha lo ba'olamo!, to make it Official

  3. 4. "G-d obligated me"

    do the names Yosef gives his sons influence his father Ya'akov via upper worlds (and/or via the subconscious, l'mala l'mata)? Yisrael >obligates< Yosef by an oath at 47:31, and having thus obliquely referenced Menashe first, could speak of Ephraim next, at 48:5. and if pru goes on a first child and urvu on the second, and Yosef applied peh-reish at 41:52 to Ephraim, then Israel could/would place his hands accordingly at 48:14...