Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Mikeitz + Chanukah

The following is a brief summary of thoughts said over by R' Frand on the parsha + Chanukah this evening. I have attempted to reproduce these vorts to the best of my ability. Any perceived inconsistency is the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to R' Frand.

In Bereishis 41:51 it says that Yosef called his eldest son Menashe because Hashem helped him forget his father's house. Thereafter it says in Bereishis 41:52 that Yosef called his son Ephraim, because Hashem gave him children in the land of his affliction.

R' Frand asked two questions - why is it good that Yosef forgot his father's house? Also, isn't the blessing of having children a greater kindness, so why does Yosef use this as the name for his second child?

R' Frand quoted the Sefer Beis Pinchas who says that when a person is harmed by another person, it does not only have a momentary impact. When someone says something not nice to another person, it stays with the person for a while and causes pain for days, weeks or years. When the person who injured the other goes up to Shamayim at the end of his time, he will have to pay for both the initial statement and the pain that stayed with the man. It is for this reason that the Beis Pinchas says that if someone says something that hurts another, he should be proactive in seeking him out to apologize.

Yosef knew that his brothers had inflicted great pain on him and that the longer he was in pain, the greater the price his brothers would have to pay. R' Frand quoted the Meshech Chachmah who says that this was the ultimate sin of ben adam l'chavero and that every year when a person does teshuva, there is an element of teshuva for this sin.

Yosef wanted this punishment of the brothers to end, and he recognized that Hashem helped him forget the pain of being away from his father. He is not saying that he forgot his father and the Torah of Yaakov. Rather, it was the pain that left him and this was so important that it was the name of his first child.

R' Frand next spoke to the name Ephraim, which the Ba'alei Tosfos says is the combination of two ashes - the ashes of Avraham who said that he was afar v'efer as well as the ashes of Yitzchak who was willing to become on the altar at the akeidah.

We see that the Jews pick up this name Ephraim as the pasuk states "Haben Yakir Li Ephraim Im Yeled Sha'ashuim." We get the name Ephraim because it is related to the ashes that Avraham and Yitzchak compared themselves to.

R' Frand also quoted R' Leib Shtaiman who gives another reason for the name Ephraim. He notes that Yosef rose from the dungeon of Egypt to be the second in command in the country, if not in the world. When a person rises that quickly, it often goes to his head. Yosef built in a defense mechanism so that this would not happen, by remembering the ashes.

R' Frand closed his shiur by quoting a Rambam in Hilchos Chanukah 4:12 which states that the mitzva of lighting candles is important in order to publicize the miracle. Later in the same halacha he talks about how it is important to add to the praise to Hashem for the miracles that he performed. Why is it that the Rambam uses both the singular and plural form of miracle?

R' Frand next quoted R' Daniel Lander of Monsey who noted that in the Maoz Tzur we mention four oppressions from which we were saved - Egypt, Bavel, Purim and Chanukah. But when we sing the Shoshanas Yaakov we only mention Purim. Why is it that on Chanukah we mention other times that Hashem saved us?

R' Frand answered by quoting the gemara in Megillah which observes that there is a fundamental difference between the holidays, since we say Hallel on Chanukah and not on Purim. The gemara offers many different reasons why this is so, but one which R' Frand seized on was that on Chanukah the Jews were free and were not enslaved to anyone. However, on Purim the Jews (although saved from Ahasverus) were still under the rule of another. Because the Jews in Chanukah were free they were able to say shirah and we say Hallel. The Jews of the Purim story continued to be under the control of another nation, so there was an obligation to publicize the miracle, but not to say shirah.

This is the meaning of Chanukah and the mixed use of singular and plural. Because we were free in Chanukah, the Jews were obligated to sing and give praise. Once this obligation kicked in, there was an opportunity to thank Hashem for all that he did and all the times that we were saved. 

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