Home Seniors Programs Special Needs Mommy and Me Join a Study Group Bat Mitzvah Program for Women of All Ages One on One Learning Giving
Parsha Points About Us Contact Us

The best products come from Israel Print E-mail
Tuesday, 12 December 2023

In Parsha Vayeshev )Breisheet 37:25) after Yosef’s brothers threw him in the pit we read:

They sat down to eat bread. They raised their eyes and saw, behold a Yishmaelite caravan was coming from Gilad. Their camels were carrying spices, balsam and lotus, bringing them down to Egypt.

Ibn Ezra points out that according to Rav Moshe HaKohen the spices (nekhot) referred to here are precious.

In Parshat Miketz, right before Yaakov sends Binyamin down to Egypt (Breisheet 43:11), he sends gifts:

Their father, Yisrael said to them, If so, this is what you must do: Take of the best fruits of the land  (Zimrat Ha’Aretz) in your vessels, and take an offering to the man, a little balsam, a little honey, gum labdanum, pistachios and almonds.”

Sforno explains why it says “a little balsam” as opposed to a lot:

Although when one presents a gift to an ordinary person it is important to impress him with the quantity of the gift so that he can feast his eyes on it, this man who has everything will only be impressed with the quality of the gift instead of the quantity; therefore take rare items but only in appropriately small quantities to emphasize their rareness. All the items sent to Yosef were of this nature, as opposed to the gift Yaakov had sent to his brother Esau on a previous occasion.

These were good quality items that a king would appreciate.

Chizkuni points out that these items were not available in Egypt as we saw above in Parshat Vayeshev that the Yishmaelim imported them down to Egypt.

 Rashi comments that they were the best fruits of the land, Zimrat HaAretz.

 Onkelos explains Zimrat HaAretz as “of that which is praised in the land”. Everyone sings the praises of these products.

 Today as well, Israel exports products that are sought after all over the world. Often they are more expensive, but they are of higher quality.

 May we continue to support Israel’s economy, especially during these difficult times.


Sometimes it is necessary to leave Israel Print E-mail
Tuesday, 20 December 2022

In Parshat Miketz (Breisheet 42:5-9) we read:

B’nai Yisrael came to buy among the others who came, for there was famine in the Land of C’naan. Yosef was the ruler over the land; he was the one who sold to all the people of the land. Yosef’s brothers came and prostrated themselves to him with their faces to the ground. Yosef saw his brothers and he recognized them, but he acted like a stranger to them. He spoke harshly to them and said to them, “Where did you come from?” They said, “From the land of C’naan to buy food.” Yosef recognized his brothers, but they did not recognize him. And Yosef remembered the dreams which he had dreamed about them, and he said to them, “You are spies.”  “You have come to see where the land is exposed.”

Why did the brothers add that they were there to buy food? The ruler didn’t ask why they came, only where they came from. It was pretty obvious why they were there as everyone who came to Egypt at that time was looking for food.

One reason could be that the brothers felt guilty for leaving home, even for a short period of time since leaving the Land of C’naan was a big deal in those days especially since the forefathers only left when it was absolutely necessary.

Why did Yosef accuse them of being spies?

The fact that they gave more of an explanation than necessary could lead one to believe that they were making up a story. Yosef used this to his advantage as Kli Yakar points out: Yosef was worried that now that the brothers were in Egypt, they would start looking for him as they knew that he was sold to Egypt. Yosef didn’t want to take a chance where they would start asking around and end up finding out who he really was, therefore he accused them of being spies to make sure that they wouldn’t talk to anyone.

Did the brothers really want to find Yosef? We will never know for sure. They were embarrassed about what happened and would probably have preferred to stay in C’naan rather than having to face him again. However, in the end it worked out for the best because the brothers had an opportunity to do Tshuva (repent), Yosef was able to accept their apology and explain that it was all part of God’s plan and Yaakov was able to be reunited with his long lost son.

Even though it is best to stay in the Land of Israel, sometimes it is necessary to leave such as in the case of a famine where there is really nothing to eat.

May we be blessed with prosperity in the Land of Israel so that nobody will have to be forced to leave because they don’t have enough food.

Yosef’s Hints Print E-mail
Monday, 29 November 2021

In Parshat Miketz, Yosef’s brothers still do not know that Pharaoh’s second in command is in fact their brother, who seats them in age order (Breisheet 43:33):

They were seated before him, the firstborn according to his seniority and the youngest according to his youth. The men looked at one another in astonishment.

The Midrash, Breisheet Rabba 92:5 states that Yosef assigned their seats by tapping his goblet and calling out, “Yehuda is the king (and leader of his brothers) and is the most important so he will sit at the head. Reuven, who was born first will sit next to him etc.” When he got to Binyamin, he said, “He has no mother and I have no mother- let him sit nearest to me.”Therefore the brothers were surprised.

Rashi brings a variant of the Midrash quoted above: Yosef assigned their seats by tapping his goblet and calling out, “Reuven, Shimon, Levi, Yehuda, Yisachar, Zevulun sons of one mother, sit in that order, which is the order in which you were born.”  He did the same with the others (the sons of Bilha and the sons of Zilpa). When he got to Binyamin, he said, “He has no mother and I have no mother- let him sit nearest to me.”

Either way, the brothers found it amazing that Pharaoh’s second in command was able to know who was more important, who was older and who was younger.

When Yosef gave out their portions of food, he did something that seemed strange (43:34):

He had portions carried from before him to them. Binyamin’s portion was greater than all of theirs- five times as much. They drank with him and became intoxicated.

Was Yosef trying to get the brothers to realize that it was him? Didn’t he think that being overly nice to Binyamin would be suspicious?

According to Radak, the brothers assumed that Yosef was being nice to Binyamin to make it up to him since he caused Binyamin to leave his father despite the fact that he did not want to send him.

It was not on the brothers’ radar screens that this man could possibly be Yosef.

Why does the verse conclude with the brothers getting drunk?

Sforno teaches that they weren’t used to drinking the royal wine and therefore they got drunk.

I wonder if the brothers noticed some of the strange things that Pharaoh’s second in command was doing, causing them to drink more than they normally would have.

Even though Yosef dropped some hints, the brothers still had no idea that this man was in fact their brother, Yosef, as the thought never would have occurred to them.

Dress for Success Print E-mail
Thursday, 17 December 2020

Parshat Miketz begins with Pharoah waking up agitated after having two dreams which he doesn’t understand and which his necromancers are also unable to interpret. Pharaoh’s chief butler recommends Yosef to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams as Yosef had correctly interpreted his own dream as well as the bakers dream two years before, when they were in prison.

In Breisheet 41:14 we see that Pharaoh takes the chief butler’s advice:

Pharaoh sent and summoned Yosef, and they rushed him from the dungeon but (Yosef first) shaved and changed his clothing and then he came to Pharaoh.

Rashi points out that Yosef shaved out of respect for royalty.

Sforno explains that Yosef changed his clothing as it is forbidden to appear in the King’s gate clad in sackcloth, prisoner’s garb.

This reminds us of Megillat Ester 4:1-4:

After Mordechai learned that Haman made a deal with Achashverosh that all of the Jews should be destroyed, Mordechai tore his clothing and put on sackcloth with ashes. He went out into the midst of the city and cried loudly and bitterly. He went only as far as the front of the King’s gate for it was forbidden to enter the King’s gate clothed with sackcloth...And Ester’s maids and chamberlains told her about it, and the Queen was greatly distressed; she sent garments to clothe Mordechai so that he might take off his sackcloth, but he would not accept them.

In the Midrash, Ester Rabba 7:7, Rabbi Yochanan taught in the name of Rabbi Binyamin the son of Rabbi Levi: The children/descendants of Rachel (Yosef and Mordechai) were both tested equally (by Potiphar’s wife and by Haman) and they were both equally great when they rose to power as it says with regard to Yosef (Breisheet 41:42) “Pharaoh then took off his ring from his hand and he placed it on Yosef’s hand. He dressed him in linen garments and put a gold chain around his neck” while with Mordechai it says (Ester 8:2) “The King slipped off his signet ring, which he had removed from Haman and gave it to Mordechai.” They were then escorted around on a horse.

Mordechai was appointed as the viceroy to King Achashverosh, just as Yosef was the viceroy to Pharaoh. Mordechai was dressed in royal clothing and fine linen, just like Yosef (Ester 8:15) “Mordechai left the King’s presence clad in royal apparel of turquoise and white with a large gold crown and a robe of fine linen and purple; then the city of Shushan was cheerful and glad.”        

Just as Yosef, Rachel’s son was second to the King in the Egyptian exile, so too was Mordechai, Rachel’s descendant, second to the King during the Persian exile.           

We can follow Yosef’s and Mordechai’s paths to secular power by seeing the change in the clothing that they wore.

In Judaism as well we see that the clothing of the Kohanim has a special significance:

Make sacral vestments for your brother Aharon, for honor and splendor (Shmot 28:2).

Ramban explains that he (the Kohen) should be honoured and glorious with honourable and glorious clothing. As the verse states in Yishayahu 61:10 “as a bridegroom who exalts himself in splendour...” as these clothes (the clothing of the Kohanim) were the clothes of royalty. Their likeness was worn by kings during the time of the Torah.

Even now with Corona, when large weddings are forbidden, when brides and grooms continue to get married in Jerusalem, even if the wedding is in their backyard with only 20 people in attendance as per the rules in Israel right now, the bride and groom look regal dressed in their finest clothing. They personify what is described by Yishayahu 61:10:

I (Zion) will rejoice intensely with God, my soul will exult with my God, for He has dressed me in the raiment of salvation, in a robe of righteousness He has cloaked me, like a bridegroom who exalts himself with splendour, like a bride who bedecks herself with jewelry.

May we speedily see the days when we can once again dress in our finest clothing and celebrate with the regal brides and grooms of Jerusalem.

The Third Day Print E-mail
Monday, 23 December 2019

In Parshat Miketz, Breisheet 42, Yosef’s brothers (aside from Binyamin) are sent down by their father, Yaakov, to Egypt to bring back food as there is a famine in the Land of C’naan. When they arrive in Egypt, Yosef recognizes them right away, but they don’t recognize him. He accuses them of being spies and locks them in prison for three days before releasing them.

 Why three days?

 In the midrash, Breisheet Rabba 56:1, we see that the concept of three days is used many times in the Tanach:

In Breisheet 22:4 we read: “On the third day, Avraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar.” After two days of searching for the place where he would bring up Yitzchak as a sacrifice, God relieved Avraham from being tormented and showed him the place. It is written in Hoshea 6:2 (in reference to the resurrection of the dead), “He will revive us from the two days, on the third day He will set us up, and we will live before Him.” We learn from here that God will not make a tzadik (righteous person) suffer for more than two days.

The midrash then brings our case:

On the third day of the tribes: It is written in Breisheet 42:18 “Yosef said to them on the third day, ‘Do this and live; I fear God.” On the third day Yosef let them out of jail so that they could bring food back to their families.

The midrash continues:

On the third day of the danger of the spies that Yehoshua sent to check out the land: As it says in Yehoshua 2:16 “And she (Rachav) said to them, Go to the mountain, lest the pursuers meet you, and hide yourselves there three days, until the pursuers have returned: and afterwards you may go your way.” On the third day, the pursuers would give up and the spies would be saved from danger.

On the third day of preparation and expectation as in the giving of the Torah: As it says in Shmot 19:16 “It came to pass on the third day when it was morning, there was thunder and lightning and a heavy cloud on the mountain, and the sound of the shofar was very powerful, and the entire people in the camp shuddered.” After which, they received the Torah.

 On the third day of Yonah’s anguish (Yonah 2:1) “Now God had appointed a great fish to swallow up Yonah. And Yonah was in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights.” After that, the fish spit him out onto dry land.

On the third day of the distress of those who came up from the Babylonian exile to build the Second Temple: As it is written in Ezra 8:32 “And we came to Yerushalayim and stayed there three days.”

On Esther’s third day of fasting, the salvation began to come through: As it says in Esther 5:1 “Now it came to pass on the third day, Esther clothed herself regally…” This refers to the royalty of her father’s house who were descendants of King Saul.

In what merit does God always save the righteous on the third day? This is an argument of the Rabbis and Rabbi Levi. The Rabbis say: in the merit of the third day of the giving of the Torah, as it says “It came to pass on the third day when it was morning…” (Shmot 19:16) Rabbi Levi said: in the merit of the third day of our father Avraham, the first one in the Torah who saw salvation on the third day as it says "On the third day, Avraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar.” (Breisheet 22:4) What did he see? He saw a cloud attached to the mountain. He said: it appears that this is the place where the Holy One told me to offer up my son.

In last week’s Parsha, Vayeshev, we also read about three days: Yosef interpreted the dreams of the chief butler and chief baker and explained that in three days the butler would be restored to his position, but the baker would be executed.

How does this fit in with all of the other “three days” that had happy endings?

The midrash, Breisheet Rabba 56:1 was only referring to righteous people being saved on the third day. Breisheet Rabba 88:1, explains that the third day, was in fact supposed to be a happy day as it was Pharaoh’s birthday and he was inviting all of his workers to the party. It should have been a day for pardoning, as he did for the butler, not a day for execution and Pharaoh was originally planning to pardon both of them. However, once the dream was interpreted, Pharaoh had to follow through with what was already declared and execute the baker.

We see from here that the three day rule only works for the righteous. Was the butler an exception? Even if he was not righteous up until that point and even if he forgot about Yosef for two years when he went back to work, the fact that he eventually did recommend Yosef to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams which ultimately did get Yosef out of jail and on the road to kingship is not something to sneeze at. Also, the fact that he said in Breishhet 41:9 “I recall my sins today” can also be looked at as a form of repentance.

May we be counted with the righteous and hear good news by the third day.

Why did it take the chief butler two years to mention Yosef? Print E-mail
Sunday, 09 December 2018

In Honor of Marigold Warmund’s Bat Mitzvah

At the end of Parshat Vayeshev, after Yosef interpreted the chief butler’s dream, he made a request (Breisheet 40:14-15) “Remember me when things go well with you. Please deal kindly with me and mention me to Pharaoh and take me out of this house (jail). I was kidnapped from the land of the Hebrews, and here I have also done nothing that they should have put me in this dungeon.”

In the last verse of Parshat Vayeshev (Breisheet 40:23) we read: “However, the chief butler did not remember Yosef, but forgot him.”

Parshat Miketz begins two years later with Pharaoh’s dreams which nobody is able to interpret. The chief butler finally speaks up (Breisheet 41:9-14):

“I recall my sins today: Pharaoh was enraged at his servants, and he placed me under guard in the house of the chief executioner; me and the chief baker. We had a dream on the same night, I and he, each according to the interpretation of his dream, did we dream. With us there was a young man, a Hebrew, a slave of the chief executioner. We told him about our dreams, and he interpreted our dreams, he interpreted each man’s dreams accordingly.  It came to pass, that as he interpreted for us, so did it occur; he restored me to my position, and him he hanged.” Pharaoh sent and summoned Yosef. They hurried him out of the dungeon, but Yosef first shaved and changed clothes and then came to Pharaoh.

Why did it take the chief butler two years to mention Yosef? Why did it say both that he did not remember Yosef and that he forgot him?

From the plain reading of the text, the chief butler listened to Yosef’s request to remember him and mention him, but never committed himself to mention him to Pharaoh. From a logical point of view, it makes sense that once he was released from prison he wanted to move on with his life and not think about his experiences there. In addition, it would have been awkward to approach Pharaoh and rehash the incident of why he was thrown in jail and the fact that he was looking to help the other inmates.

According to Rashbam, God specifically wanted the chief butler to forget Yosef until the time that God was ready to perform miracles for Yosef.

Breisheet Raba 89:3 explains that it was necessary for the chief butler to forget Yosef for two years so that Yosef would rise to power due to Pharaoh’s dreams which Yosef interpreted to mean that there will be seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine. In this way Yosef was immediately chosen by Pharaoh as the best candidate to be second in command.

It is impossible for us to fully understand God’s plans as to why certain things take place at designated times. Once Yosef was released from prison, he understood that God was orchestrating everything that was happening to him and he did not hold any grudges. Even when Yosef reveals his true identity to his brothers, he doesn’t blame them for selling him. Rather, he explains that it was all part of God’s greater plan to save lives during the famine.

Clothes make the person Print E-mail
Monday, 26 December 2016

After Pharaoh chose Yosef to be second in command we read (Breisheet 41:42) “Pharaoh then took off his ring from his hand and he placed it on Yosef’s hand. He dressed him in linen (shesh) garments and put a gold chain (revid) around his neck.”

Rashi comments that the giving of the king’s ring is a sign for the one to whom it is given that he is to be second in command to him.

Ramban adds that the king’s ring contains his seal (as we see as well in Megillat Ester 8:8). The king gave Yosef his seal so that he should be a leader and a commander of the entire government and seal with the king’s ring whatever he desires.

Rashi also points out that linen garments are considered very valuable in Egypt.

Chizkuni adds that only kings and important people wore this type of linen in Egypt.

Rashbam mentions that Yechezkel 27:7 states in reference to Tyre’s beauty: “Of embroidered Egyptian linen was your sail”.

In Eshet Chayil, Woman of Valor (Mishlei 31:22), which is recited each Friday night we read “Marvadim astah lah, shesh v’argaman levusha”, “She makes herself coverlets, her clothing is fine linen and purple”.

The same terminology that describes what Yosef wore when he became second in command to Pharaoh is used by King Solomon to describe the way that the accomplished woman dressed.

We learn from here the level of respect that the woman was given at the time of the First Beit HaMikdash (Temple). She had a spouse, children, a household to run and a few careers yet she was dressed in beautiful garments. This can be compared to Yosef who commanded a presence wearing royal garments while taking care of Egypt and beyond, making sure that everyone was provided for.

Be Proud of Your Heritage Print E-mail
Thursday, 22 December 2011

In Parshat Miketz, when nobody else is able to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams,

 the chief butler, who has already been out of jail for two years, finally remembers to mention Yoseph to Pharaoh.


In Breisheet 41:12 the chief butler tells Pharaoh: “With us (in jail) there was a lad, a Hebrew (Ivri), a slave of the chief executioner. We told him about our dreams and he interpreted our dreams, he interpreted each man’s dreams accordingly.”


The butler knew that Yoseph was an Ivri since after Yoseph interpreted his dream and told him that he would return to work for Pharaoh Yoseph made one request (Breisheet 40:14-15) “But remember me when things go well with you. Please deal kindly with me, and mention me to Pharaoh, and take me out of this house. I was kidnapped from the land of the Hebrews, and here I have also done nothing that they should put me in this dungeon.”


Yoseph made it very clear that he was an “Ivri”.


Even before this, when Potiphar’s wife accused Yoseph of attacking her she said (Breisheet 39:14) “…See, he brought us a Hebrew man to mock us…”


The Midrash in Devarim Raba states:


Rabbi Levi said:


Moshe said before God: “Master of the Universe, the bones of Yoseph are entering the Land and am I not to enter the Land?”


The Holy One Blessed Be He said to him: “He who acknowledged his land- is to be buried in his land, and he who did not acknowledge his land- is not to be buried in his land. Joseph acknowledged his land- he is to be buried in his land. But you who did not acknowledge your land, you will not be buried in your land.”


When did Moshe not acknowledge his land?


When the daughters of Yitro said: (Shmot 2:19) “An Egyptian man saved us from the hand of the shepherds.”


 Moshe heard them yet remained silent; therefore Moshe is not buried in the land while Yoseph’s bones were buried in Shechem.


What we learn from here is the importance of being proud of our heritage which is not easy especially when Jews are living outside of the Land of Israel.


A few weeks ago there was a campaign in the United States to try to get Israelis to return to the Land of Israel by telling them that if they stay out of Israel they may forget their heritage and that their spouses and their children won’t understand them.


Unfortunately, it is not enough just to have been brought up with Israeli culture, one must be brought up in the Jewish religion, understand what Judaism is about and be a proud Jew.


One of the billboards in the campaign said that if you are away from Israel for too long, then your children will not call you “Abba”, they will start to call you “Daddy”. Is that what the media campaign is concerned about? We have been living in Israel for 7 and a 1/2 years and our three young children who speak Hebrew and English fluently and are fully observant, proud Jews and Israelis call us Mommy and Daddy.


Another ad showed a child in the US skyping her grandparents in Israel. When the grandparents asked what holiday it was, the grandchild said Christmas instead of Chanuka and the grandparents were extremely sad and disappointed. Sure, when you are in Israel, you barely know about Christmas unless you live near Beit Lechem or the Old City of Jerusalem and only Chanuka is celebrated in the schools so there is no December dilemma but there are plenty of Israelis who live abroad and are proud of their heritage and continue to celebrate the Jewish holidays.


It may be easier to be a proud Jew in Israel, but you can certainly be a proud religious Jew in Chutz l’aretz (outside of the Land of Israel).  Each of us has to make the conscious decision if we want to make Aliya and move to Israel, stay in Israel or leave Israel. This important decision should not be made based on a billboard.


What Goes Around Comes Around Print E-mail
Friday, 03 December 2010
Yoseph’s brothers did not take the goblet, yet when Binyamin was accused by Yoseph (before they knew who he really was), Yehuda said (Breisheet 44:16): “What shall we say to my master? What can we speak? How can we justify ourselves? God has found the iniquity of your servants”. 


According to Rashi, Yehuda was saying that: “We know that we have done no wrong, but it has come from God to bring this upon us. The Creditor has found an opportunity to collect his debt”.


Yehuda does not admit to any guilt concerning the goblet, only that God has found a way of punishing them for an old sin.


Even before the brothers knew who Yoseph was, the guilt for having sold Yoseph was still on their minds.


Yoseph’s actions- not revealing who he was right away, calling his brothers spies, putting their money back in their bags, putting the goblet in Binyamin’s bag etc which may seem strange- were all done in order to help the brothers do Teshuva and to receive full atonement. Only after a person has done full Teshuva and committed to not making the same mistake in the future can a person be fully forgiven. The fact that this time the brothers were not willing to endanger Binyamin the way that they had endangered him showed Yoseph that they had really regretted what they had done and that they really went through a complete Teshuva process.

Watch What You Say! Print E-mail
Friday, 25 December 2009
Parsha Points- Miketz 5770
Watch What You Say!
In Parshat Miketz 42:21-22 when Yosef was still concealing his identity and accusing his brothers of being spies we read: “Then they (Yosef’s brothers) said to one another, “Indeed we are guilty concerning our brother inasmuch as we saw his  heartfelt anguish when he pleaded with us and we paid no heed; that is why this anguish has come upon us.” Reuven spoke up to them saying, “Did I not speak to you saying, ‘Do not sin against the boy,’ but you would not listen! And his blood as well-behold!-is being avenged!”
The brothers were now feeling guilty for having sold Yosef and they felt that they were now finally being punished for their crime. Reuven especially felt responsible especially since he assumed that Yosef did not survive the ordeal of being sold as a slave.
Breisheet 42:23-24 continues “Now they did not know that Yosef understood, for an interpreter was between them. He turned away from them and wept…”
Yosef understood everything that his brothers said but he had the interpreter there to make it seem that he did not know Hebrew.
The brothers didn’t realize that Yosef understood and they let down their guard.
According to Rashi, Yosef turned away and cried because he didn’t want his brothers to know that he understood and also because he saw that they finally did Tshuva for having sold him.
We see from here that we should be very careful with what they say (even if it is in another language) because you never know who may be listening and who may understand what you are saying.
Everything is in the Hands of God Print E-mail
Friday, 26 December 2008

In the beginning of Parshat Miketz (Breisheet 41:1-7), Pharaoh had two dreams that the necromancers and wise men of Egypt could not interpret:


Pharaoh was dreaming that behold he was standing over the river, when behold out of the river there emerged seven cows, of beautiful appearance and robust flesh, and they were grazing in the marshland. Then behold seven other cows emerged after them out of the river of ugly appearance and gaunt flesh; and they stood next to the cows on the bank of the river. The cows of ugly appearance and gaunt flesh ate the seven cows of beautiful appearance and robust.


Behold seven ears of grain were sprouting on a single stalk, healthy and good. And behold, seven ears, thin and scorched by the east wind were growing after them. Then the seven thin ears swallowed the up the seven healthy and full ears.


According to Chochma im Nachala, the necromancers and wise men of Egypt could not interpret the dreams since they were taught that the world runs strictly by the laws of nature. Pharaoh’s dreams however went against the laws of nature. According to nature the stronger ones would win a war against the weaker ones and the healthier one would be victorious over the thin ones. In Pharaoh’s dreams the weak ate the strong and the necromancers couldn’t deal with the fact that this was the opposite of nature. Yosef, who grew up in the house of Yaakov was taught that everything is done by the hand of God, even if it seems contrary to the natural order of the world. Since God created the world, God can change nature as God sees fit.


Therefore, after Yosef heard the dream, before he interpreted it he said “What God is about to do He told to Pharaoh” (41:25) even though he had already told Pharaoh before hearing the dream “This is beyond me; it is God Who will respond with Paraoh’s welfare” (41:16).


God created the world and He can lower us down and raise us up, have the weak become victorious over the strong and have few win over many (as we say in the ‘al hanisim’ for Chanukah: You delivered the strong into the hands of the weak, the many into the hands of the few, the impure into the hands of the pure, the wicked into the hands of the righteous and the wanton into the hands of the diligent students of Your Torah). Everything is done according to God’s will. We saw this in the days of the Maccabbee’s and we saw this during Israel’s wars. If we continue to do our part and trust in God, then we hope and pray that God will help us to become victorious over our enemies.

The True Significance of Ma'oz Tzur Print E-mail
Thursday, 06 December 2007

In Parshat Miketz, the chain of events which would eventually bring Yaakov and his family down to Egypt begins to unfold. Yosef becomes viceroy and saves Egypt and the surrounding countries from famine.

The end of the prophecy that God gave Avraham in Parshat Lech-Lecha, Breisheet 15:12-14 is about to be fulfilled: “As the sun was setting, a deep sleep fell upon Avram; and behold, a dread of deep darkness fell upon him (eima chashecha gedola nofelet alav). And God said to Avram: ‘Know for sure that your descendents will be foreigners in a land that is not theirs. They will enslave them and oppress them for four hundred years. Also, that nation that they will serve I will judge; afterwards they will leave with great wealth’.”

Ramban explains that the words “eima chashecha nofelet alav” allude to the servitude of the four exiles. Eima, a dread refers to Babylon, Chashecha, darkness refers to Media (Persia), Gedola, Great refers to the Kingdom of Antiochus (Greeks) and Nofelet Alav, Fell upon him refers to Edom (Rome). This experience came to Avraham because when God made a covenant with him to give the Land to his children as an everlasting possession, He said to him, by way of a residuary of His gift, that during the four exiles the nations will subjugate his children and rule their land, subject to the condition that they sin before Him. God then specifically informed him of the first exile, the Egyptian exile.

Ma’oz Tzur, which we sing after lighting the Chanukah candles was written by a liturgical poet named Mordechai during the mid 13th century. In the different stanzas of the song, Mordechai recalls the various exiles that the Jewish people endured, praises God for redeeming us and prays for the restoration of the Beit HaMikdash.

As we sing Ma’oz Tzur, Let’s hope and pray that the current exile, the exile of Edom (Rome) will swiftly come to an end.

Happy Chanukah and Shabbat Shalom from Yerushalayim!



Unique Gifts from Israel Print E-mail
Thursday, 21 December 2006

In Parshat Miketz, Yaakov is upset when his sons tell him that they must send Binyamin down to Egypt as well. In Breisheet 43:11, Yaakov tells his sons "If so (if you must return to Egypt with Binyamin), this is what you must do: Take .mezimrat haaaretz. of the best of the land in your vessels and take a mincha, an offering to the man. A little tzori, balsam, a little devash, honey, necho.ot, spices or gum, valot, labdanum (a plant resin used in flavorings or perfumes), botnim, nuts and shkedim, almonds."

Yaakov wanted to send unique gifts from the land of Israel to the leader of Egypt (not knowing that he was actually his son Yoseph) in order to please him.

How do we know that many of these gifts were unique to the land of Israel and not available in other countries including Egypt?

Last week.s Parsha, Parshat Vayeshev, described the sale of Yoseph. In Breisheet 37:25-26 we read: "They took him (Yoseph) and threw him into the pit. The pit was empty, there was no water in it. They sat down to eat bread. They raised their eyes and saw, behold a Yishmaelite caravan was coming from Gilad, their camels were carrying necho.ot, u.tzori valot, bringing them down to Egypt." Many of the same products of Israel that Yaakov later sent were imported into Egypt by Yishmaelite merchants.

In Breisheet Raba 91:11, Rabbi Yehoshua of Sachnin said in the name of Rabbi Levy: The things that Yaakov sent "mezimrat haaretz" were some of the best things in the world. Rabbi Yehudah Bar Rebi.s point of view is that the honey was not regular honey, but rather special expensive honey. Yaakov would not have sent plain nuts. Rather, he probably sent expensive nut oils or almond milk which were much more expensive than the nuts themselves.

Today, many of these products are exported from Israel to other countries (especially the US). On Israeliproducts.com, you can find gum, many varieties of hard to find honey, spices, almond-milk body wash, balsam conditioner, perfume candles etc. and literally have the best in the land delivered right to your doorstep.