It is interesting that both last week's Torah portion, Vayeshev, and this week's portion, Miketz, both speak at length about Joseph and his amazing spiritual adventure. In Vayeshev, Joseph begins as a favorite son and ends up as a slave, while this week he begins as a slave and ends up as the viceroy to Pharaoh. How can this extreme dichotomy be explained? Rabbi Issac Bernstein, of blessed memory, the former rabbi of Kinloss Synagogue in London, suggested that in Vayeshev Joseph was occupied with interpreting his own dreams, while in Miketz he was occupied with interpreting the dreams of others; this is to teach us that when all of our energy is directed at ourselves, we tend to go down, while when all of our strength is used to help others we have a special ability to go up, to ascend both physically and spiritually.

The Greeks…did not object to the Torah as philosophy….

The Lubavitcher Rebbe points out another avenue to success. Joseph faced many hardships prior to his success. He was hated by his brothers, kidnapped and exiled, falsely accused and imprisoned by his master, and punished again by G‑d for trusting a human rather than in the Divine. Despite all this, Joseph was never discouraged. He consistently proceeded with all of his strength, doing his best and gaining favor by all those around him. We see this in the first words of this week's Torah portion. Why does the portion say, "At the end of two years of days"? Wouldn't it have sufficed to say, "at the end of two years"? Why do we need the word "days"? Rabbeinu Bachya explains that the expression "two years of days" is a reference to how Joseph spent his time. He treated each day of the two years specially, not wanting to loose even one minute from working towards his goal. His success came from mastering himself, by controlling his environment rather than letting his environment control him.

We see a similar message in Chanukah. In addition to the blessing that we make on the lighting ("...and commanded us to light the Chanukah candle"), Chanukah has a unique 2nd blessing. Since the focus of Chanukah is its miracles, the Rabbis established a separate blessing: "…Who has made miracles for our forefathers in those days, in these times". This blessing is telling us that through fulfilling the commandments of each holiday, we are able to recreate the same spiritual environment that existed during the original event - NOW.

What happened then? The Greeks and the Jews that were influenced by them wanted to drive the Jewish people away from the Torah and their special connection to G‑d. They did not object to the Torah as philosophy. They were incensed that we were in touch with its divine element.

We will not allow the world to close down the Holy Temple that exists within each of us….

This same struggle is happening today. Society is relentlessly trying to impose itself on our lives with its base values of attaining physical pleasures, secularizing us, and replacing our Jewish focus that G‑d runs the world and that our lives and actions must reflect this through learning Torah and doing its commandments. Technically, it would be enough to light one candle each night to fulfill the commandment of the Chanukah Lights. Yet, each year, the Jewish People fulfills the commandments of Chanukah and does so in the most enhanced way, by each night adding a new candle, thus proclaiming that we recognize G‑d as "the Boss" and that we cherish His commandments. We will not allow the world to close down the Holy Temple that exists within each of us, and we pray fervently that He will soon allow us to do our part in building the physical Third Temple.

Shabbat Shalom and Happy Chanukah, , Shaul

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