(Haftara: Kings I 3:15-4:1)
1. [40:23] Yosef asked Pharoah’s minister to remember him and mention him to Pharoah in order to get him out of prison. Rashi quotes a midrash that says that Yosef was punished with 2 extra years in prison because he asked the minister to intervene and didn’t trust God. We are, however, taught elsewhere that one should not rely on miracles, but rather put effort into getting out of difficult situations. Is Rashi’s explanation incompatible with the fact that one should not rely on miracles, or can Rashi be explained in a different way?
2. [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.)
3. [Chanukah] We have a rule that if all the people are impure, then pure oil is not needed for the menorah in the Temple. Therefore, the search for pure oil was unnecessary. In addition to this, even though 1 candle per household is enough, the Jews light an extra candle every night. What is so special about Chanukah (which is a rabbinic mitvah) that would prompt us to go so far beyond the minimum requirements for the commandment?
4. [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?
5. The Rambam (Maimonides, (1135-1204, Spain and Egypt) says that the lighting of the Chanukah candles is a very precious commandment. He says this only about Chanukah and not about the other festivals. What makes Chanukah more special than other festivals.
In the Talmud, we are told that Hillel says that on the first night of Chanukah, we light 1 candle and we add a candle each night, so that we light 8 candles on the last night. Shammai says that we start with 8 candles on the first night and take a candle away each successive night. Hillel’s reason is that we always try to go higher in holiness and not lower. This rule is applied to all possible situations—especially to social and spiritual issues. We always try to go higher in holiness.
This study page is dedicated to the memory of Rivkah Rochel bat Ya’akov haLevi and Chaya Kornberg, and Yechiel Eliezer ben Yitzchok Meir and Rochel Laya Kornberg
And this study page is also dedicated to the memory of Gad Eliahu ben David and Kochava–Eli Zucker