The people are thirsty for unity now

Rabbi Eliezer Shenvald

The Parasha in our everyday life- Vayeshev - Chanukah - 5781

In our Parasha we read about one of the greatest tragedies in the history of the Jewish people that occurred during the process of its formation.

During four Psukim, the Torah describes the hatred between the brothers as a process that intensified:

וַיִּרְא֣וּ אֶחָ֗יו כִּֽי־אֹת֞וֹ אָהַ֤ב אֲבִיהֶם֙ מִכָּל־אֶחָ֔יו וַֽיִּשְׂנְא֖וּ אֹת֑וֹ וְלֹ֥א יָכְל֖וּ דַּבְּר֥וֹ לְשָׁלֹֽם׃ וַיַּחֲלֹ֤ם יוֹסֵף֙ חֲל֔וֹם וַיַּגֵּ֖ד לְאֶחָ֑יו וַיּוֹסִ֥פוּ ע֖וֹד שְׂנֹ֥א אֹתֽוֹ...

וַיֹּ֤אמְרוּ לוֹ֙ אֶחָ֔יו הֲמָלֹ֤ךְ תִּמְלֹךְ֙ עָלֵ֔ינוּ אִם־מָשׁ֥וֹל תִּמְשֹׁ֖ל בָּ֑נוּ וַיּוֹסִ֤פוּ עוֹד֙ שְׂנֹ֣א אֹת֔וֹ עַל־חֲלֹמֹתָ֖יו וְעַל־דְּבָרָֽיו. וַיַּחֲלֹ֥ם עוֹד֙ חֲל֣וֹם אַחֵ֔ר וַיְסַפֵּ֥ר אֹת֖וֹ לְאֶחָ֑יו ... וַיְקַנְאוּ־ב֖וֹ אֶחָ֑יו ...

"And when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of his brothers, they hated him so that they could not speak a friendly word to him. Once Yosef had a dream which he told to his brothers; and they hated him even more

His brothers answered, “Do you mean to reign over us? Do you mean to rule over us?” And they hated him even more for his talk about his dreams.

He dreamed another dream and told it to his brothers…  So, his brothers were wrought up at him…" (Bereshit 37: 4-11).

The hatred intensified and reached a willingness to kill their brother, beloved of their father:

וַיִּרְא֥וּ אֹת֖וֹ מֵרָחֹ֑ק וּבְטֶ֙רֶם֙ יִקְרַ֣ב אֲלֵיהֶ֔ם וַיִּֽתְנַכְּל֥וּ אֹת֖וֹ לַהֲמִיתֽוֹ׃

"They saw him from afar, and before he came close to them, they conspired to kill him". (ibid. 18). At the end, they settled on his sale. This is how, Yosef ended up in Egypt, and began the move which finally brought the whole family and the people of Israel into exile in Egypt.

 

The stories of the Patriarchs are meant to teach us about the essential elements in them, which is an omen for the children, and affect future generations:

אומר לך כלל תבין אותו בכל הפרשיות הבאות בענין אברהם יצחק ויעקב, והוא ענין גדול , הזכירוהו רבותינו בדרך קצרה, ואמרו [תנחומא לך לך ט] כל מה שאירע לאבות סימן לבנים. ולכן יאריכו הכתובים בספור המסעות וחפירת הבארות ושאר המקרים, ויחשוב החושב בהם כאילו הם דברים מיותרים אין בהם תועלת. וכולם באים ללמד על העתיד, כי כאשר יבוא המקרה לנביא משלשת האבות, יתבונן ממנו הדבר הנגזר לבא לזרעו".

"I will tell you a general principle - understand it in all of the coming sections about Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaacov, and it is a great matter. Our Rabbis mentioned it in a brief way, and said (Midrash Tanchuma 9), "Everything that occurred to our forefathers is a sign for the children." And therefore, the verses will write at length in recounting the journeys and the digging of the wells and the other events. And one who thinks about them can think as if they were superfluous things with no purpose. But all of the events come to teach about the future, for when an event occurs to a prophet, [meaning] of the three forefathers, he will contemplate from it the matter that is decreed to come to his seed". (Ramban Bereshit 12:6)

The story about Yosef's sale taught us about the great danger inherent in the tendency to divide. It can degenerate into free hatred and even civil war. It weakens the people of Israel and exhausts their powers, which are directed to emptiness - to fight inwardly between brothers instead of concentrating all forces against the enemies. The enemies of our people and our haters in all generations knew how to recognize the symptoms and use them, as a weak point. They knew how to get into the seam between the camps with the "Divide and Rule" method. And knew how to stand aside and look with pleasure how the camps exhaust each other and do the work for them.

In the exile of Persia, Haman the Agagite recognized this:

...יֶשְׁנ֣וֹ עַם־אֶחָ֗ד מְפֻזָּ֤ר וּמְפֹרָד֙ בֵּ֣ין הָֽעַמִּ֔ים...

There is a certain people, scattered and dispersed among the other peoples in all the provinces of your realm…" Megilat Esther 3:8) and therefore:

וְלַמֶּ֥לֶךְ אֵין־שֹׁוֶ֖ה לְהַנִּיחָֽם׃

"and it is not in Your Majesty’s interest to tolerate them".

Esther, recognizing the weakening points and being asked to break the decree, called for unity:

לֵךְ֩ כְּנ֨וֹס אֶת־כָּל־הַיְּהוּדִ֜ים...

“Go, assemble all the Jews" (4:16).

On Chanukah we celebrate the great miracle, and the wonder of the victory of the Hasmoneans we merit

וחזרה מלכות לישראל יתר על מאתיים שנה

"the returned Kingdom to Israel over two hundred years" (Rambam Chanukah 3a). But at the same time, we must also remember how the Hasmoneans' achievements dissolved at the end of that period, due to a civil war between the various factions, and the destruction of the Temple because of 'baseless hatred':

מקדש שני שהיו עוסקין בתורה ובמצות וגמילות חסדים מפני מה חרב מפני שהיתה בו שנאת חנם

"However, considering that the people during the Second Temple period were engaged in Torah study, observance of mitzvot, and acts of kindness, and that they did not perform the sinful acts that were performed in the First Temple, why was the Second Temple destroyed? It was destroyed due to the fact that there was wanton hatred during that period." (Yoma 9b:8).

Yosef ben Matityahu described how the Romans watched the Jews from the side: "And all the ministers of the Roman armies rejoiced over the quarrels of the brethren among their haters and wanted to hurry and ascend the city, exhorting Titus Flavius Vespasianus, thinking that he would succeed. "Now G-d is fighting for them, in quarreling with their enemies, each with his brother, etc. And to these things answered Titus Flavius Vespasianus... If you hurry to get on the city immediately, you will establish a peace treaty between our enemies, and with the power on their hands, they will attack us.  And if you give them an extension, then the number of our enemies will diminish, for the fire of quarrel will devour them. For G-d is better at war than me (Titus), and he will give away the Jews into the hands of the Romans graciously and give victory to our armies without toil and danger. And while the enemies go hand in hand with each other, a terrible curse on them, a civil war, it is better for us to look at them from a distance and sit at rest, than to interfere in a quarrel with people who are going to die, fighting among themselves in a spirit of madness" (Flavius Josephus's Books of the History of the Jewish War against the Romans, IV).

We have done it to ourselves, in 'baseless hatred', what no enemy has been able to do to us.

The poem "Eleh Ezkerah" recited on Yom Kippur, about the *Ten Martyrs (עשרת הרוגי מלכות‎)*, seeks to link ideologically and multi-generationally between the destruction of the Second Temple and the failure of the revolt, and the 'baseless hatred' and the 'sale of Yosef'.

The lack of unity does not only harm the social and national framework of the people of Israel, but it also harms its destiny as one who represents Divine unity (S. Haredim 70:7).

Sometimes, in different and painful chapters in our history, our greatest haters reminded us that we are one people, and did not make a distinction between the sectors:

הֲל֨וֹא אָ֤ב אֶחָד֙ לְכֻלָּ֔נוּ הֲל֛וֹא אֵ֥ל אֶֽחָ֖ד בְּרָאָ֑נוּ

"Have we not all one Father? Did not one God create us?" (Malachi 2:10).

We remind ourselves of this in times of emergency. Anyone who looks around, will find that in the Israeli society, despite the diversity, the scope of charities and mutual aid in relation to the size of the population are among the largest in the world, as well as the willingness to donate kidneys from an altruistic motive. Although the media and politics try to paint the gaps and differences as unbridgeable, in our everyday life, in good neighboring, in the workplace and especially in the IDF, the picture is completely the opposite.

In recent generations, too, we have suffered from divisions and hatred that undermine national consensus, weakening the potential power of national security and our deterrent power.

And especially in periods of elections, in recent years, in which parties and individuals have been engaged in differentiation between man and his brother and in hatred. To garner some votes, they are willing to untie the knots and seams between sectors, laboriously sewn over the years.

If we correctly identify the moods of the last period, it seems that the people are tired of it and thirsty for unity! Now! Here in Israel and among all the Jews of the world.

*Ten Rabbis living during the era of the Mishnah who were martyred by the Roman Empire in the period after the destruction of the Second Temple.

The encrypted future code - between Israel and the nations
Rabbi Eliezer Shenvald – Parashat Vayeshev - Chanukah 5780
The opening of our Parasha should be analyzed as a continuation of the end of the previous one. Eisav goes from Yaacov, from Eretz Yisrael to the hill country of Seir in the land of Edom. This concludes the historic meeting between Yaacov and Eisav. Eisav came to confront Yaacov, when his army had a considerable quantitative advantage, and finally he retreated to his house. This meeting is the model for the future, the relationship between the people of Israel and Eisav's descendance. 
וַיֵּ֣שֶׁב יַעֲקֹ֔ב "Now Yaacov was settled" 
"הַפִּשְׁתָּנִי הַזֶּה נִכְנְסוּ גְמַלָּיו טְעוּנִים פִּשְׁתָּן, הַפֶּחָמִי תָמַהּ אָנָה יִכָּנֵס כָּל הַפִּשְׁתָּן הַזֶּה? הָיָה פִּקֵּחַ אֶחָד מֵשִׁיב לוֹ נִצּוֹץ אֶחָד יוֹצֵא מִמַּפּוּחַ שֶׁלְּךָ שֶׁשּׂוֹרֵף אֶת כֻּלּוֹ, כָּךְ יַעֲקֹב רָאָה אֶת כָּל הָאַלּוּפִים הַכְּתוּבִים לְמַעְלָה, תָּמַהּ וְאָמַר מִי יָכוֹל לִכְבֹּשׁ אֶת כֻּלָּן? מַה כְּתִיב לְמַטָּה, אֵלֶּה תּוֹלְדוֹת יַעֲקֹב יוֹסֵף, דִּכְתִיב וְהָיָה בֵית יַעֲקֹב אֵשׁ וּבֵית יוֹסֵף לֶהָבָה וּבֵית עֵשָׂו לְקַשׁ (עובדיה א') – נִצּוֹץ יוֹצֵא מִיּוֹסֵף שֶׁמְּכַלֶּה וְשׂוֹרֵף אֶת כֻּלָּם:
And Yaacov abode: The camels of a flax dealer once came into a city laden with flax. A blacksmith asked in wonder where all that flax could be stored, and a clever fellow answered him, “A single spark caused by your bellows can burn up all of it.” “So, too, when Yaacov saw (heard of) all these chiefs whose names are written above he said wonderingly, “Who can conquer all these?” What is written after the names of these chieftains? — and in this may be found the reply to Yaacov’s question: These are the generations of Yaacov — Joseph. For it is written (Obadiah 1:18) “And the house of Yaacov shall be a fire and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Eisav, for stubble: one spark issuing from Joseph will burn up all of these (descendants of Eisav) (Bereshit Rabbah 84:5). (An old Rashi text on Bereshit 37:1)". 
The quantitative advantage of Eisav is daunting, he might not be able to win and survive against him, but in the course of time it becomes clear that Eisav's quantitative power is like a flax-laden camel, and Yaacov's small descendance, which is a just a small spark, will win and beat him!
This message is encrypted in the Chanukah message. 
גמל שהיה טעון פשתן ועבר ברשות הרבים ונכנס פשתנו לתוך החנות ודלקו בנרו של חנוני והדליק את הבירה בעל גמל חייב הניח חנוני נרו מבחוץ החנוני חייב רבי יהודה אומר בנר חנוכה פטור:
"In the case of a camel that was laden with flax and was passing through the public domain, and its flax extended into a store and the flax caught fire from a lamp in the store belonging to the storekeeper, and as a result of the burning flax the camel set fire to the building together with all its contents, the owner of the camel is liable. But if the storekeeper placed his lamp outside, thereby causing the flax on the camel to catch fire, and consequently the building was set on fire, the storekeeper is liable. Rabbi Yehuda says: In a case where the lamp placed outside was a Chanukah lamp, the storekeeper is exempt, since it is a mitzva for a Chanukah lamp to be placed outside". (Mishna Bava Kamma 62b, Shabbat 21 2:12). 
It is no coincidence that the Mishnah chose to conceptualize the halacha with the Chanukah candle that burns the camel and the flax. The Chanukah candle is intended to announce the wonderful miracle of the triumphant few and weaponless Hasmoneans with very minimal military knowledge over the defeated most powerful army in the world at the time, which had the finest equipment and best military training. 
This victory restored political independence to the people of Israel "over two hundred years until the second destruction of the Temple". (Rambam Chanukah 3:1). The future message of Chanukah is that the small Am Israel who has been exiled into many nations, and has suffered under their rule, will eventually win them and return to be an independent nation.
This principle is also encrypted in the Beit Shamai comparison between the Chanukah candles and the Sukkot sacrificed bulls. 
מן המהדרין בית שמאי אומרים יום ראשון מדליק שמנה מכאן ואילך פוחת והולך
"And the mehadrin, i.e (those who are meticulous in the performance of mitzvot), adjust the number of lights daily. Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel disagree as to the nature of that adjustment. Beit Shammai say: On the first day one kindles eight lights and, from there on, gradually decreases the number of lights". (Shabbat 21b). 
One of the interpretations of this in the Gemara is because the number of lights corresponds to the bulls of the festival of Sukkot: fourteen were sacrificed on the first day and each succeeding day one fewer was sacrificed. The seventy bulls stand for the seventy nations of the world which are supposed to be reduced and whose strength will diminish in the future.
In the book of Hasmoneans, it is described that after the triumph over the Greeks they celebrated the triumph in the Temple, instead of Sukkot of that year that was not possible to celebrate. The Hasmonean priests celebrated it with their Lulavim (the spine of the palm branch) and Etrogim (citron) (Aroch HaShulchan).
Hence the connection between the Chanukah laws and the Sukkot holiday laws. (The height of the candles, A Chanukah lamp that one placed above twenty cubits is invalid, just as a sukka whose roofing is more than twenty cubits high, the eight days of the holiday, the saying of the Complete Hallel as during the Sukkot holiday, and the duty to tell the story full of miracles in Chanukah, similar to the law
לְמַעַן֮ יֵדְע֣וּ דֹרֹֽתֵיכֶם֒ כִּ֣י בַסֻּכּ֗וֹת הוֹשַׁ֙בְתִּי֙ אֶת־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל בְּהוֹצִיאִ֥י אוֹתָ֖ם מֵאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרָ֑יִם אֲנִ֖י ה' אֱלֹקיכֶֽם׃
"in order that future generations may know that I made the Israelite people live in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt, I Hashem your G-d "(Kitzur Shulchan Aruch).
The Lulavim and Etrogim in Sukkot are the people of Israel's signal of victory over the nations, similar to bayonets, swords and war tools. (Midrash Tehillim 17, Tanchuma Emor 27). For the nations hang their confidence and victory on iron weapons only and the people of Israel use iron weapons but put their trust in G-d and the spirit of war.
Throughout the generations, this message had to be encrypted as it was feared that the nations of the world would be harassing the people of Israel, see it as a challenge to their rule, and suspect that the people of Israel were looking forward to the day to be victorious. 
Therefore, a special tractate for Chanukah was never written, and its halachot and messages were concentrated in the Shabbat Tractate and other places in the Gemara. And throughout the exile, Chanukah emphasized the miracle of the oil jug which overshadowed the miracle of war victory. (Or Haganuz Lanazir).
 

The tiny candles and Religion imposing

Parsha and its fulfillment - Parashat Vayeshev - Rabbi Eliezer Shenvald - 5769

Joseph is identified in Egypt by his origins as "a Hebrew person." It is in this name that Potiphar's wife calls him: "Look, he had to bring us a Hebrew to dally with us" (Bereshit 39:14). And so, he asks the butler to remind him to Pharaoh: "For I was stolen from the land of the Hebrews." Slaves tend to seek to blur their previous identity and country of origin and try to be accepted as equals. Joseph is careful to preserve his name, his origin, and his unique identity. Although it could work against him, in this case, he gets credits to him and he is buried in the Eretz Yisrael: "Moshe Rabeinu said before Hashem: Yosef's bones entered the land of Israel and I do not enter the land?! Hashem said to him: Whoever admits his land is buried in his land, and whoever does not admit his own land is not buried in his land, Yosef did, etc. "(Devarim Rabbah 2: 8). This is also the view of the chief cupbearer before Pharaoh: "A Hebrew youth was there with us" (Bereshit 31:12).

Joseph was careful to influence from his Jewishness and belief in Hashem in a pagan reality, in a gentle and solid manner and not in a forceful and coercive way. To solve the dreams of the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, he said: "Surely G’ can interpret! Tell me (your dreams)." (Bereshit 40: 8) He clarified and emphasized his special faith in the Holy One, from which he derives his strength and the secret of his ability to solve dreams. The same applies to Pharaoh's dream: " Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, Not I! G’d will see to Pharaoh’s welfare." (Bereshit 41:16) He does not attribute greatness to himself.

Parashat Vayeshev is read near Chanukah or on Shabbat Chanukah. The essence of the mitzvah of lighting the Chanukah candles is the publication of the miracle. The great victory of the Hasmoneans over the Greeks and the miracle of the oil. The victory over the Greeks was unprecedented in scope. Despite the numerical inferiority of the Hasmoneans and the absolute advantage of the modern Greek army, the best in the world at the time. They won battle after battle and reoccupied Jerusalem and the Beit Hamikdash. And undermined the international status of the Greeks, as a world empire. The commemoration of the victory for generations by lighting the candles comes to publicize and express that the source of their special bravery comes from their faith in G-d, and their success comes to them thanks to Divine assistance.

The publication of the miracle is done by lighting the Hanukkah candles next to the door facing the public domain from the outside, and it is lit from the sunset so all passersby can see it.

Despite the size of the victory, Sages instituted that we should mark it for generations in modesty, by lighting a standard candle. In Shula's kindergarten, we sang about the little candle: "My little candles" "A thin candle for me," "We came to expel darkness ... Each one is a small light and we are all a strong light." In theory if he lit a torch "as a kind of bonfire" we did not keep the mitzvah”! (Shabbat 23b, Rambam Chanukah 4: 4).

What is the message for generations from the lighting of a candle? Was it not fitting, to the extent of the miracle and the salvation, to indicate by means of torches that you see from far away, or beacons that raise their flames in the barks of fire to heaven?

The Hanukkah candle expresses the concept of " Not by might, nor by power, but by My spirit, saith Hashem " (Zechariah 4: 6). Because the source of power depends more on spirit and faith than on physical power. The victory over the Greek materialistic conception is that everything depends on physical force. "Although the great force of life inherent in the humble light of the Chanukah candle, assures us the certainty of the victory of the eternity of Israel." (Rav Kook zt "l): Sometimes the physical smallness expresses more the power and meaning of it.

In the age when the cry of the "religion imposing" arose against the enlightenment of Judaism to the public domain, we must remember and remind us that the methodology of "publishing the miracle" is by spreading the light of the little candle, and with its gentle light it draws closer and invites. While the burning bonfire threatens with its heat and creates distance: You cannot approach the fire as much as you can bring yourself closer to the candle and enjoy it "(Maharal, Ner Mitzvah, page 26).

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