Vayeishev-Jewish Self Esteem
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VAYEISHEV: JEWISH SELF ESTEEM
Shalom and Bracha!
In this week’s portion, Vayeishev,
the Torah begins describing the prelude to the Egyptian exile.
Yaakov’s favorite son Yosef was sold by his brothers into
slavery and was brought to Egypt. He quickly rose to the highest
possible position in his master’s house. Thereafter, because of
a false libel, he was imprisoned. Even in prison, the head of
the prison entrusted him with running the prison and he had
great success. The portion concludes with two prisoners having
dreams that they understood had a prophetic meaning. Yosef
interpreted the meaning of the dreams and his words bore to be
Egypt was the first exile of the
Jewish people. The experiences of Yosef in Egypt are lessons to
each of us as to how to act and to succeed while we are in
exile. Hashem had told Avraham, who is buried in Chevron, that
his offspring would be enslaved in a strange land before
inheriting the land of Israel. Rashi explains that Yosef’s
enslavement and imprisonment were from the depths of this
covenant. Often, we seek to understand the tribulations that we
undergo. Just as the exile in Egypt was a necessary step to
receive the Torah and receive the land of Israel, this exile is
a necessary preparation for the coming of Moshiach and the great
revelation we will have at that time. Just as Yosef’s troubles
were a necessary step to survive and complete the first exile,
our individual pains are necessary to complete this exile and
prepare for a perfect world when Moshiach comes.
In explaining Yosef’s promotion in
his master’s household, and his master’s relying upon him fully,
the Torah says that his master Potiphar saw that “Hashem was
with him.” Rashi explains that this means he constantly
accredited Hashem (Thank G-d, with the help of G-d, G-d willing
etc.). Similarly, the head of the prison saw “that Hashem was
with him” and fully entrusted him. The Egyptians were idolaters.
Nevertheless, when they saw that Yosef was imbued with his faith
in Hashem, they trusted him. Often in Galut (exile) we feel that
by compromising our religious practice and toning down our
religious fervor we gain respect of our gentile neighbors. The
narrative of Yosef shows that the opposite is true; gentiles
respect us when we are what we are without shame or pretense.
When they see that we are sincere in our Judaism, they trust and
respect us more.
Before the libel that landed Yosef in
jail, the Torah says that Yosef was beautiful in form and
appearance. Rashi explains that the libel was a punishment for
Yosef’s expressing vanity when his father was suffering not
knowing Yosef’s whereabouts. This is also a lesson; however
successful we may be, we must never be complacent about the
Galut- our Father awaits every day that we should finalize the
preparations for Moshiach’s coming and return to our home!
May Hashem finally answer our
beseeching and may we celebrate this Chanukah with the Menorah
of the Third Temple!
Shabbat Shalom and happy Chanukah!
Dedicated in merit of Rivkah Bas Itl Laya
for a full and speedy recovery.
Chanukah-Appreciation and Growth
This year the first night of Chanukah
is Tuesday December 16th and the last night is Tuesady December
Every day candles should be lit after
sunset (4:30 In NY City) except for Friday when they must be lit
before sunset and before Shabbat candles and on Saturday when
they must be lit after nightfall (5:15 in NY City) and after
On the first night of Chanukah we
light the Shamash and use the Shamash to light the far right
candle. After lighting the Shamash, before lighting the candle
we make three blessings:
1) Baruch Atah Adonai Elohainu Melech
Ha’olam Asher Kid’shanu B’mitzvotav V’tzivanu L’hadlik Ner
2) Baruch Atah Adonai Elohainu Melech Ha’olam
She’asah Nissim La’avotainu Bayamim Hahaim Bizman Hazeh.
Baruch Atah Adonai Elohainu Melech Ha’olam Shehechiyanu
Vekiy’manu Vehig’yanu Lizman Hazeh.
The third blessing is only recited the
first night or the first time one lights candles this year.
On the second night the Shamash is
lit, the first two blessings are said, and then the Shamash is
used to light the second from the right and then the far right
candles. Each night a new candle is added to the left of the
previous candles the new candle is lit first.
On Friday the
Menorah is lit before Shabbat candles. Under no circumstances
should the Menorah be lit after sunset.
On Saturday the Menorah is lit after
Havdalah after nightfall.
Shalom and Bracha!
Chanukah is a celebration of a twofold miracle; the Maccabees
overcame their oppressors against overwhelming odds, and the oil
that was sufficient for one day lasted for seven. In
appreciation of the miracle of the victory, we say the Hallel
each day in the morning prayers and the Al Hanissim in the
prayers and in the grace after meals. In recognition of the
miracle of the Menorah, we light the Menorah each night of
The victory of the Maccabees teaches
us that even when we see no chance to overcome, we must stand up
for that which is right and remember that victory is in the
hands of Hashem who is completely above nature.
The Hallel and Al Hanissim remind us
to constantly express our appreciation for all of our blessings.
This is also a very important lesson in dealing with each other.
The Maggid of Mezritch once asked his
students: If two people are on ladders, one on the fiftieth rung
and one on the second, which is higher? The students understood
that there must be hidden depth in the question, and asked the
Maggid to tell them. He answered that it depends if and in which
way they are going. Each night of Chanukah, we add an additional
candle. Chanukah symbolizes our internal battle between light
and darkness. We begin with one candle and slowly increase. This
teaches us that we should illuminate our lives on step at a
time, at first with one Mitzvah, and then another. Our constant
increasing teaches us that we must never stagnate- what was
ideal for yesterday is insufficient for today.
King Solomon taught that there is a
unique quality of light from darkness. The depths of his
statement include that the accomplishments we reach by
overcoming adversity are so great that the darkness of adversity
becomes a luminary.
As we collectively light up our portions
of the world, may we speedily see the ultimate illumination of
the world through the coming of Moshiach.
Dedicated in merit of Levi Yitzchak Ben
Raizel for a full and speedy recovery.
There is a great
Chanukah website at
A project of
Chabad of Great Neck
400 East Shore Rd.
Great Neck NY
516 4874554 fax 516 4874807
The Chanukah lights
increase from day to day. Wouldn’t it be great to convince one
more Jew each day to light a Menorah?