GOOD MORNING! The story is told of a man approached on the street by a fellow and asked for the time. After informing the fellow of the time, the man asked, "Why don't you have a watch?" The fellow replied, "I don't need a watch. I can always ask someone for the time." "What do you do late at night?" asked the man. "Simple," says the fellow, "I use the Shofar method. I blow a blast on my Shofar and invariably someone rolls down their window and yells out, "You idiot! Don't you realize that it's 3 am!"
This past week I offered someone Chanukah candles. "No thanks," said the man, "I don't want to be a hypocrite." Now, while it is true that virtually every Jew thinks he is the perfect Jew -- every Jew more religious than him is a fanatic and every Jew less religious than him is a disbeliever -- it is important to understand that undertaking to do a Mitzvah does not mean that one is a hypocrite just because he is not committed to fulfilling all of the Mitzvot.
It is impossible to fulfill all of the commandments by oneself -- some are specifically for Cohanim, some for Leviim, some for married people, some for farmers ... as a people we fulfill the Torah. As an individual the essential question is: Am I facing towards the Torah or away from the Torah? Is my goal to fulfill the commandments of the Torah to the best of my ability or is my goal to either ignore the Torah, relegate it to insignificance or run as far and as fast as possible away from the Torah?
To light a Chanukah candle because one is a Jew and identifies as a Jew is noble. To light a Chanukah candle because the Almighty performed miracles for the Jewish people and we defeated the Super Power of the day (perhaps the historical equivalent of the US, Russia and China) is inspiring. To light a candle because the Almighty performed a miracle in having the oil burn for eight days is reaffirming our trust in God. And to light a candle because our Sages commanded us to light to remember this victory of Torah over assimilation into the dominant culture is unifying!
I thought that you might enjoy the following "refrigerator piece" (i.e., something worthwhile that you cut out and put up on the refrigerator with magnets) by Nancy J. Carmody:
I AM THANKFUL FOR...
... the mess to clean after a party because it means I have been surrounded by friends.
... the taxes I pay because it means that I'm employed.
... the clothes that fit a little too snug because it means that I have enough to eat.
... a lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning and gutters that need fixing because it means I have a home.
... my shadow who watches me work because it means I am out in the sunshine.
... all the complaining I hear about our government because it means we have freedom of speech.
... my huge heating bill because it means that I am warm.
... the lady who sings off key because it means that I can hear.
... the piles of laundry and ironing because it means my loved ones are nearby.
... weariness and aching muscles at the end of the day because it means I have been productive.
... the alarm that goes off in the early morning hours because it means that I am alive.
The message? Do what you can do ... in life and in Mitzvot. Appreciate what you have, your effort and your accomplishments!
Portion of the Week
Pharaoh dreams of cows and sheaves and demands for someone to interpret his dreams. The wine butler remembers Joseph's ability to interpret dreams. They bring Joseph from the jail. Pharaoh acknowledges the truth of Joseph's interpretation (that there would be seven good years followed by seven years of famine) and raises Joseph to second-in-command of the whole country with the mandate to prepare for the famine.
Ten of Joseph's brothers come to Egypt to buy food, Joseph recognizes them, but they don't recognize him. Joseph accuses them of being spies and puts them through a series of machinations in order to get them to bring his brother Benjamin to Egypt. Then Joseph frames Benjamin for stealing his special wine goblet. Next week ... the denouement!
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah records Joseph's advice to Pharaoh regarding the impending famine facing Egypt, "Now let Pharaoh look for a man who has understanding and is wise, and set him over the land of Egypt. Let Pharaoh do this, and let him appoint officers over the land, and take up the fifth part of the land of Egypt in the seven years of plenty" (Genesis 41:33,34). Why did Joseph give Pharaoh advice on the solution to the problem? All he was asked to do was to explain Pharaoh's dream.
The Dubiner Maggid explains that Joseph was afraid that if he would just give an interpretation of the dream, the regular advisers of Pharaoh would belittle his interpretation. They might feel envious of this young prisoner and ridicule what he had to say. Therefore, Joseph added to his interpretation the suggestion that Pharaoh appoint an adviser to be in charge of the entire operation of gathering food.
The Maggid continues: Many officers would be needed to implement the plans. Upon hearing the need for new important positions, the advisors to Pharaoh would each think that he would be chosen. They would, therefore, encourage Pharaoh to accept Joseph's interpretation as being accurate. This is what we see in verse 37, that all of the servants of Pharaoh actually agreed with Joseph's interpretation and it became accepted as truth.
What is our lesson? When you want other people to accept an idea of yours for a project, include ways for them to gain from your plans. Not only will this remove potential opposition, but they will become advocates for your proposal!
CANDLE LIGHTING - December 29:
Guatemala 5:25 Hong Kong 5:33 Honolulu 5:36
J'Burg 6:44 London 3:40 Los Angeles 4:35
Melbourne 8:26 Miami 5:22 Moscow 3:45
New York 4:19 Singapore 6:50
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
Failure follows the path
of least persistence.
Dedicated by...In Loving Memory of