Get More Enthusiasm for Your Judaism!
שבת טעם החיים וישב תשע"ב
Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Vayeishev 5772
Yehudah and Chanukah, Hidden Messages
וַיֹּ֗אמֶר מָ֣ה הָֽעֵרָבֹון֮ אֲשֶׁ֣ר אֶתֶּן־לָּךְ֒ וַתֹּ֗אמֶר חֹתָֽמְךָ֙ וּפְתִילֶ֔ךָ וּמַטְּךָ֖ אֲשֶׁ֣ר בְּיָדֶ֑ךָ וַיִּתֶּן־לָּ֛הּ וַיָּבֹ֥א אֵלֶ֖יהָ וַתַּ֥הַר לֹֽו, and he said, “What pledge shall I give you?” She replied, “Your signet, your wrap, and your staff that is in your hand.” And he gave them to her, and consorted with her, and she conceived by him. (Bereishis 38:18)
In this week’s parashah the Torah records the incidents related to Yehudah, the son of Yaakov, culminating in the birth of his twin sons, Peretz and Zorach. Utilizing the subtle nuances of Scripture, we will discover amazing insights into Chanukah and the Ultimate Redemption. The Torah states (Bereishis 38:1)וַֽיְהִי֙ בָּעֵ֣ת הַהִ֔וא וַיֵּ֥רֶד יְהוּדָ֖ה מֵאֵ֣ת אֶחָ֑יו וַיֵּ֛ט עַד־אִ֥ישׁ עֲדֻלָּמִ֖י וּשְׁמֹ֥ו חִירָֽה, it was at that time that Yehudah went down from his brothers and turned away towards an Adullamite man whose name was Chirah. The word וַיֵּ֛ט equals 25 in gematria, an allusion to Chanukah, which begins on the 25th day of Kisleiv. Further on it is said (verse 12)וַיִּרְבּוּ֙ הַיָּמִ֔ים וַתָּ֖מָת בַּת־שׁ֣וּעַ אֵֽשֶׁת־יְהוּדָ֑ה וַיִּנָּ֣חֶם יְהוּדָ֗ה וַיַּ֜עַל עַל־גֹּֽזֲזֵ֤י צֹאנֹו֙ ה֗וּא וְחִירָ֛ה רֵעֵ֥הוּ הָעֲדֻלָּמִ֖י תִּמְנָֽתָה, many days passed and Shua’s daughter, the wife of Yehudah, died; when Yehudah was consoled, he went up to oversee his sheepshearers – he and his Adullamite friend, Chirah – to Timnah. The word תִּמְנָֽתָה in Aramaic means eight, an allusion to the eight days of Chanukah. Later on it is said (verse 24)וַיְהִ֣י ׀ כְּמִשְׁלֹ֣שׁ חֳדָשִׁ֗ים וַיֻּגַּ֨ד לִֽיהוּדָ֤ה לֵֽאמֹר֙ זָֽנְתָה֙ תָּמָ֣ר כַּלָּתֶ֔ךָ וְגַ֛ם הִנֵּ֥ה הָרָ֖ה לִזְנוּנִ֑ים וַיֹּ֣אמֶר יְהוּדָ֔ה הֹוצִיא֖וּהָ וְתִשָּׂרֵֽף׃, and it was when about three months had passed, that Yehudah was told, “Your daughter-in-law Tamar has committed harlotry, and moreover, she has conceived by harlotry. The Berditchiver writes that this verse alludes to Chanukah, which is in the third month of the Jewish year, and we light the candles on the doorway of our homes. Why is the miracle of Chanukah hinted to in the incident of Yehudah marrying a woman and being the progenitor of Moshiach?
Eight symbolizes the Messianic Era
The answer to this question is that the Messianic Era is reflected in the number eight, as it is said (Tehillim 12:1) לַמְנַצֵּ֥חַ עַֽל־הַשְּׁמִינִ֗ית מִזְמֹ֥ור לְדָוִֽד, for the conductor, on the sheminis, a psalm by Dovid (see Gemara Arachin 13b). The number eight connotes above the natural order of the world. The beginnings of Moshiach’s lineage were above nature, as the Medrash states that an angel in charge of lust pushed Yehudah towards Tamar so that from their union Moshiach would be born. Similarly, the victory of the Chashmonaim over the Greeks was supernatural, as the Greeks had hundreds of thousands of warriors whereas the Chashmonaim were a small band of warriors. When HaShem wishes for something to occur, he will transform nature into miraculous events so that His will be done.
Gazing upon the Chanukah Flames
An additional aspect of the Chanukah miracle is that we are instructed to gaze at the candles, as contained within the flames are points of holiness. In the episode of Yehudah and his wives, the idea of sight is a consistent theme. It is said (Bereishis 38:2) וַיַּרְא־שָׁ֧ם יְהוּדָ֛ה בַּת־אִ֥ישׁ כְּנַעֲנִ֖י וּשְׁמֹ֣ו שׁ֑וּעַ וַיִּקָּחֶ֖הָ וַיָּבֹ֥א אֵלֶֽיהָ, there Yehudah saw the daughter of a prominent merchant whose name was Shua; he married her and consorted with her. Further on it is said (verse 14)וַתָּסַר֩ בִּגְדֵ֨י אַלְמְנוּתָ֜הּ מֵֽעָלֶ֗יהָ וַתְּכַ֤ס בַּצָּעִיף֙ וַתִּתְעַלָּ֔ף וַתֵּ֙שֶׁב֙ בְּפֶ֣תַח עֵינַ֔יִם אֲשֶׁ֖ר עַל־דֶּ֣רֶךְ תִּמְנָ֑תָה כִּ֤י רָאֲתָה֙ כִּֽי־גָדַ֣ל שֵׁלָ֔ה וְהִ֕וא לֹֽא־נִתְּנָ֥ה לֹ֖ו לְאִשָּֽׁה, so she removed her widow’s garb from upon her, covered herself with a veil, and wrapped herself up; she then sat by the crossroads which is on the road toward Timnah, for she saw that Shelah had grown, and she had not been given to him as a wife. Subsequently it is said (verse 15)וַיִּרְאֶ֣הָ יְהוּדָ֔ה וַֽיַּחְשְׁבֶ֖הָ לְזֹונָ֑ה כִּ֥י כִסְּתָ֖ה פָּנֶֽיהָ, when Yehudah saw her, he thought her to be a harlot since she had covered her face. These mentions of sight allude to the gazing upon the Chanukah lights.
“Your signet, your wrap,” allude to the kingship of the Chashmonaim
What is even more astounding is a direct reference to the miracle of the Chanukah Menorah. The Gemara (Shabbos 21b) states that upon defeating the Greeks, the Chashmonaim entered the Bais HaMikdash and after an exhaustive search, they discovered one flask of oil sealed with the stamp of the Kohen gadol. This incident is alluded to in the verse that states (Bereishis 38:18)וַיֹּ֗אמֶר מָ֣ה הָֽעֵרָבֹון֮ אֲשֶׁ֣ר אֶתֶּן־לָּךְ֒ וַתֹּ֗אמֶר חֹתָֽמְךָ֙ וּפְתִילֶ֔ךָ וּמַטְּךָ֖ אֲשֶׁ֣ר בְּיָדֶ֑ךָ וַיִּתֶּן־לָּ֛הּ וַיָּבֹ֥א אֵלֶ֖יהָ וַתַּ֥הַר לֹֽו, and he said, “What pledge shall I give you?” She replied, “Your signet, your wrap, and your staff that is in your hand.” And he gave them to her, and consorted with her, and she conceived by him. The word חֹתָֽמְךָ֙ alludes to the seal of the Kohen Gadol, and the word וּפְתִילֶ֔ךָ refers to the wicks that were used for lighting the Menorah. Another interesting note is that further on it is said (verse 25)הִ֣וא מוּצֵ֗את וְהִ֨יא שָׁלְחָ֤ה אֶל־חָמִ֙יהָ֙ לֵאמֹ֔ר לְאִישׁ֙ אֲשֶׁר־אֵ֣לֶּה לֹּ֔ו אָנֹכִ֖י הָרָ֑ה וַתֹּ֙אמֶר֙ הַכֶּר־נָ֔א לְמִ֞י הַחֹתֶ֧מֶת וְהַפְּתִילִ֛ים וְהַמַּטֶּ֖ה הָאֵֽלֶּה, as she was taken out, she sent word to her father-in-law, saying, “By the man to whom these belong I am with child.” And she said, “Identify, if you please, whose are this signet, this wrap, and this staff.” The signet, wrap and staff belonged to Yehudah, but Tamar instructed Yehudah to identify the owner of these items. The last letters of the words לְמִ֞י הַחֹתֶ֧מֶת וְהַפְּתִילִ֛ים וְהַמַּטֶּ֖ה, “whose are this signet, this wrap,” equal in gematria the word חשמונאים, hinting to the fact that the Chashmonaim transferred the kingship from the tribe of Yehudah to their tribe of Levi.
The Shabbos Connection
Throughout the week we struggle with the forces of darkness, and it is only with the onset of Shabbos that we see the light that HaShem shines upon His Beloved Nation. We should merit soon the light that HaShem will shine on Tziyon, with the arrival of Moshiach Tzidkeinu, speedily, in our days.
Shabbos Zemiros Elucidated
מַה יְּדִידוּת מְנוּחָתֵךְ authored by Menachem over four hundred years ago
לְבוּשׁ בִּגְדֵי חֲמוּדות, לְהַדְלִיק נֵר בִּבְרָכָה, dressed in beautiful garments to kindle the flame with blessing. What is the connection between wearing beautiful garments and lighting the Shabbos candles? Rav Shimshon Pinkus writes (Shabbos Kodesh) that a woman should not light the Shabbos candles while still wearing her weekday clothing. Rather, she should be dressed appropriately for Shabbos, and in this manner she should welcome the Shabbos Queen. This insight of Rav Pinkus would explain the association between wearing beautiful garments and the lighting of the Shabbos candles.
My Auschwitz Spoon Chanukah
By I.I. Cohen
One of the items I smuggled out of Auschwitz, when the Nazis moved me into "Camp Number Eight" - a quarantine camp, for those suspected of carrying typhus - was my spoon. It wasn't much, but it was mine - and it would come to play an important role in my Jewish life and in those of some of the 500 or so other prisoners there.
There were no labor details in this new camp, but we inmates were ordered to help in its construction, which was still underway. Having had some experience in the Lodz ghetto as a mechanic, I helped the electrical technician install the camp's lighting.
With my new access to tools, I brought my spoon to work and filed down its handle, making it into a sharp knife. Now I could use it both to eat my soup and to cut my bread. This was useful because we would often receive one chunk of bread to divide among two or three people, and without a knife it was difficult to apportion the bread fairly. Now I was regularly called upon to use my spoon-knife to help avoid disputes and maintain relative peace among the prisoners.
When winter came, though, my spoon became involved in an additional mitzvah. By then, we had been transferred to "Camp Number Four" in Kaufering, a camp more similar to Auschwitz in its daily ordeals. Despite the horrendous hardships we suffered daily, however, we tried whenever possible to remember to do a mitzvah and to maintain a self-image as G-d-fearing Jews, despite all the dangers that involved.
Having always kept mental track of the calendar, I knew when Chanukah had arrived. During a few minutes' rest break, a group of inmates and I began to reminisce about how, back home before the war, our fathers would light their menorahs with such fervor and joy. We remembered how we could never seem to get our fill of watching the flames sparkling like stars, how we basked in their warm, special glow, how they seemed to imbue us with a special sanctity.
And then we got to thinking about the origins of Chanukah, about the war of the Hasmoneans against their Seleucid Greek tormentors, who were intent on erasing Judaism from Jewish hearts. We recalled the great heroism of the Jews at the time who risked their lives in order to keep the Sabbath, practice circumcision and study Torah. And we remembered how G-d helped them resist and rout their enemy, enabling Jews to freely observe the Torah and mitzvos once again.
And then we looked around ourselves. Here we were, in a camp where our lives were constantly in danger, where we were considered sub-human and where it was virtually impossible to observe the most basic practices of Judaism. How happy we would be, we mused, if only we could light Chanukah candles.
While we talked and dreamed, we were all suddenly struck, as if at once, by the same resolution: We simply must discover a way of doing the seasonal mitzvah. One fellow offered a small bit of margarine he had saved from his daily ration. That could serve as our oil. And wicks? We began to unravel threads from our uniforms...
What, though, could be our menorah? I took out my spoon, and within moments, we were lighting the Chanukah "candle", reciting the blessings of "Lehadlik ner", She'oso nissim" and "Shehecheyonu". We all stood around entranced, transfixed, each immersed in his own thoughts...of Chanukahs gone by...of latkes, of dreidels, of Chanukah gelt we had received as children.
And our unusual Chanukah menorah kindled in us a glimmer of hope. As we recited the blessing about the miracles G-d had performed for our forefathers "in those days", but also "at this time", we well understood that the only thing that could save us would be a miracle. A "nes gadol" - "great miracle" - like the one hinted at on the dreidle's acrostic.
Even non-religious Jews stood near us watching the flame of the Chanukah candle. I am certain that none of us who survived will ever be able to forget that luminous moment in the darkness of our concentration camp lives.
The celebrated Viennese psychiatrist Dr. Viktor Frankl, who was himself, incidentally, an inmate of Kaufering, asserted in his book "Man's Search for a Meaning" that, to survive the concentration camps, a person had to have something larger to live for. Those with goals had a better chance to remain alive. We religious Jews in the camps were certainly good examples of that phenomenon, living for our Sabbaths, our Jewish holidays and our daily recognition that there is an Almighty, whether or not we could ever fathom His ways. And I often felt that our convictions helped us cling to life when others sank to the depths of despair.
And today, I am overwhelmed at times with gratitude to G-d for my personal miracle, my survival, especially when I am surrounded by the children and grandchildren He has granted me, all of whom are committed to the observance and study of the Torah. And the gratitude comes rushing in as well every winter, when I light my menorah - a real one today - and, as always I do, I remember my Auschwitz spoon Chanukah. (www.Torah.org)
One Chanukah Rav Chaim Ozer Met The Tailor In Cracow...
Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzinsky, z”tl once visited Cracow. When he arrived, Rav Chaim Ozer sought a tailor who could sew his suit which had torn on the way. He eventually found one, and requested that he fix his suit.
The tailor answered, “Forgive me, Kavod HaRav, but I have not yet lit the Chanukah candles. If you wish, you can wait until I light, and after a half an hour, I’ll sew your suit.”
While Rav Chaim Ozer waited, he noticed how this simple tailor prepared himself for the mitzvah. He removed his weekday clothing, and donned Shabbos clothing. He washed his hands and joyously prepared to light the candles.
Rav Chaim Ozer was astounded by the temimus of this man and he said, “Now I understand how the city Cracow produces such Gedolei Torah and giants of spirits, if this is what the simple tailors are like!” (Chaim Sheyash Bahem) (www.Revach.net)
Have a wonderful and delightful Shabbos
Prepared by Rabbi Binyomin Adler
For sponsorships and subscriptions, please email Shabbostaamhachaim@gmail.com or call 248-506-0363