(Haftara: Zecharia 2:14-4:7)
- [41:33 ] “Now let Pharoah find a man who is discreet and wise and set him over Egypt.” Yosef was an imprisoned slave-boy. Pharaoh brought him from the dungeon to interpret his dreams, not to advise him. Nonetheless, Yosef gives unsolicited advice. What quality of Yosef does this show, and where else in Yosef’s life do we see this quality?
- [41:51] “And to Yosef were born 2 sons…” Yosef named his first son Menashe because “God made me forget…my father’s house”, and he named his second son Ephraim because “God has made me prosper” in Egypt. Some of our commentaries say that Yosef was only masquerading as an Egyptian, but was still a “Hebrew” in his heart. Others disagree and say that Yosef , while believing in God, saw himself as an Egyptian. On the basis of the names that he gave his sons, which of these interpretations seems to be the better one. Could one also justify the other interpretation?
- [42:21] “…we are guilty about our brother…” Yosef hears his brothers say that they did wrong in selling Yosef. Still he causes them a lot of trouble. Why doesn’t Yosef tell them who he is? What more does he expect of them?
- [Chanukah] We are told that the miracle of Chanukah is that there was enough pure oil to last 1 day, and the oil lasted 8 days. But really the first day was not a miracle. There was enough oil for 1 day. So we should celebrate 7 days to mark the miracle rather than 8 days. Why do we celebrate 8 days? (There are many answers to this question. Try to create a scenario for the miracle different from the accepted one.)
- [Chanukah] With the lighting of the Chanukah candles, we celebrate the miracle of the oil. But in the “Al Hanissim”—an addition to the Amidah prayer and the blessings after a meal– we mention only the miracle of the war. Which is the real miracle—the oil or the war?
The existence and survival of the nation are commemorated in the Chanukah candles and the miracle of Chanukah. But a person should not think that the existence of the nation is for everyone’s personal gain. “One is not permitted to count money by the light of the Chanukah candles.” Rather, one must know that the purpose of the nation is a very elevated purpose. The name of God is what defines the nation, and the nation carries the covenant of the Torah in its heart.
–R. Avraham Y. H. Kuk, 1865-1935, Lithuania and Israel.
This study page is dedicated to the memory of Sarah Bella bat Yitzchak Kummer, Chaim Yosef Yechiel ben Eliyahu Kummer and Eliyahu and Margaret Kummer