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Vayeshev(Genesis 37-40)

Vayeshev 5771

GOOD MORNING! Hanukah is - the first night is Wednesday, December 1st. It's a wonderful family holiday. After we light the candles, we sing Maoz Tzur, eat jelly donuts, tell stories, have quizzes about Hanukah - all in the light of the Hanukah candles. Memories are made up of a collection of precious moments. Hanukah can provide you with many wonderful memories!

Q & A: WHAT IS HANUKAH AND
HOW DO WE CELEBRATE IT?

There are two ways which our enemies have historically sought to destroy us. The first is by physical annihilation; the most recent attempt being the Holocaust. The second is through cultural assimilation. Purim is the annual celebration of our physical survival. Hanukah is the annual celebration of our spiritual survival over the many who would have liked to destroy us through cultural assimilation.

In 167 BCE the Syrian-Greek emperor, Antiochus, set out to destroy Judaism by imposing a ban on three mitzvot: the Shabbat, the Sanctifying of the New Month (establishing the first day of the month by testimony of witnesses who saw the new moon) and Brit MilaBrit Mila is a sign of our special covenant with the Almighty. All three maintain our cultural integrity and were thus threats to the Greek culture.

Matityahu and his 5 sons, known as the Maccabees, started a revolt and three years later succeeded in evicting the oppressors. The victory was a miracle - on the scale of Israel defeating the combined super-powers of today. Having regained control of the Temple in Jerusalem, they wanted to immediately rededicate it. They needed ritually pure olive oil to re-light the Menorah in the Temple. Only a single cruse of oil was found; enough to burn for just one day. However, they needed oil for eight days until new ritually pure olive oil could be produced. A miracle occurred and the oil burned for eight days.

Therefore, we light Hanukah candles (or better yet, lamps with olive oil) for eight days. One the first day, two the second and so forth. The first candle is placed to the far right of the menorah with each additional night's candle being placed to the immediate left. One says three blessings the first night (two blessings each subsequent night) and then lights the candles, starting with the furthermost candle to the left. The menorah should have all candles in a straight line and at the same height. Ashkenazi tradition has each person of the household lighting his own menorah. Sefardi tradition has just one menorah lit per family. The blessings can be found on the back of the Hanukah candle box or in a Siddur, prayer book. The candles may be lit inside the home. It is preferable to light where passersby in the street can see them - to publicize the miracle of Hanukah. In Israel, people light outside in special glass boxes built for a menorah or little glasses with olive oil and wicks.

The tradition to eat latkes, potato pancakes, is in memory of the miracle of the oil (latkes are fried in oil). In Israel, the tradition is to eat sufganiot, deep-fried jelly donuts. The traditional game of Hanukah uses a dreidel, a four-sided top with the Hebrew letters Nun, Gimmel, Hey, Shin (the first letters of "Nes Gadol Haya Sham - A Great Miracle Happened There." In Israel, the last letter is a Pay - for "here.") In times of persecution when learning Torah was forbidden, Jews would learn anyway. When the soldiers would investigate, they would pull out the dreidel and pretend that they were gambling. The rules for playing dreidel: Nun - no one wins; Gimmel - spinner takes the pot; Hey - spinner get half the pot; Shin/Pay - spinner matches the pot!

Here's a question to think about: If enough oil was found to burn in the Temple menorah for one day and the oil lasted for eight days, then the miracle was really only for the seven additional days of lighting. Why then do we celebrate Hanukah for eight days and not seven?

For more on Hanukah, including animated instructions on how to light the candles, go to: aish.com/holidays .

For more on "Hanukah" go to ShabbatShalomAudio.com!

 

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Torah Portion of the Week
Vayeshev

This week's portion includes four stories: (1) The selling of Yosef (Joseph) as a slave by his brothers - which eventually positioned Yosef to be second in command in Egypt and enabled him to save the known world from famine. (2) The indiscretion of Yehuda (Judah) with Tamar (Tamar) ... (3) The attempted seduction of Yosef by Potifar's wife, which ends with her framing Yosef and having him imprisoned. (4) Yosef interprets the dreams of his fellow prisoners, the wine steward (who was reinstated and forgot to put in a good word for Yosef) and the baker (who was hanged).

* * *

Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah states:

"And Jacob sat..." (Genesis 37:1).

Rashi, the great commentator, cites the Sages who say that Jacob wanted to live in peace and serenity. However, this was not to be. The troubles of his son Joseph began. The Almighty said, "Is it not sufficient for the righteous that they receive their reward in the world to come? Why do they need to live in serenity in this world?"

What is wrong with wanting to live in serenity? Jacob desired serenity not so that he could devote his time to personal pleasures, but rather to be able to engage in spiritual pursuits.

Rabbi Yeruchem Levovitz explains that the purpose of this world is for a person to elevate himself by passing the numerous tests that come to him. The goal is spiritual growth from every life situation. Therefore, it was considered improper for Jacob to place his focus on serenity.

This, says Rav Yeruchem, is an attitude we should all internalize. Every occurrence in this world can make you a better person. When you have this awareness your attitude toward everything that happens to you in life will be very positive. Before, during, and after every incident that occurs reflect on your behavior and reactions. Ask yourself, "What type of person am I after this happened? How did I do on this test? Did I pass it in an elevated manner?

 

CANDLE LIGHTING - November 26
(or go to http://www.aish.com/sh/c/)

Jerusalem 4:01
Guatemala 5:12 - Hong Kong 5:20 - Honolulu 5:30
J'Burg 6:24 - London 3:41 - Los Angeles 4:27
Melbourne 8:03 - Mexico City 5:38 - Miami 5:10
New York 4:13- Singapore 6:36 - Toronto 4:27


QUOTE OF THE WEEK:

Success is the ability to go
from failure to failure
without losing your enthusiasm.
--  Winston Churchill

 

 
With Gratitude for

My Son and Family

Susan Hendricks

 

 

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Kalman Packouz

Click here for Rabbi Packouz's bio
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Copyright © 2014 Rabbi Kalman Packouz

Published: November 14, 2010

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