(Haftara: Zechariah 2:14-4:7)
1. [41:39] “…since God has informed you of all of this…” Pharoah believed that Yosef’s interpretations of the his dreams and his servant’s dreams were true interpretations and come from God. On the basis of this, he even raised Yosef from being a prisoner to being Pharoah’s main officer. Nonetheless he remained an idol-worshipper. How could Pharoah justify to himself the fact that the God of Yosef is so all-knowing and powerful, and yet still not devote himself to Yosef’s God?
2. [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?
3. [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?
4. [Chanukah] There is a difference of opinion whether after Shabbat, one should first light the havdalah candle which signifies the end of Shabbat or whether one should first light the Chanukah candles. What might be the reasons that underlie this difference of opinion?
5. [Chanukah] On Chanukah, we were victorious over the Greeks, and we rejected Greek culture totally. Later, however, many of our rabbis had great respect for Greek philosophy and other aspects of Greek culture. At the time of the Maccabees, why couldn’t we accept some aspects of Greek culture and reject their paganism?
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 Gad Eliahu ben David and Kochava–Eli Zucker
And to the memory of Sarah Beila Kummer bat Yitzchak and Chana, Chaim Yosef Yechiel ben Eliyahu Kummer and Eliyahu and Margaret Kummer