Photo of Rabbi Ettedgui

Parashat Miketz - 5776

My friends,

Last week we read how Joseph's dreams of ruling over his brothers got him into trouble, causing jealousy and anger by his brothers. This led to his banishment from their midst and his ending up as a slave in Egypt.

This week, we read how dreams rescue him from jail and help him ascend from the pit of despair and darkness to the position of power, becoming the viceroy to Pharaoh.

You know the story - Pharaoh has dreams that none of his wise men, magicians and advisors are able to interpret to his satisfaction. Joseph gains Pharaoh's respect by explaining that Pharaoh's dreams of the seven cows and of the seven stalks of corn are really one dream. And that the purpose of the two dreams is that G-d wants to alert Pharaoh to what the future holds. There will be seven years of plenty followed by seven years of extreme famine. Pharaoh must find ways to save during the years of plenty for the famine that will follow and affect the entire area.

There is a message of hope in this Parasha. Joseph, after 13 years of slavery, is not only liberated but, with G-d's help, is elevated to a high position of power and influence.

We are in the midst of the festival of Hanukkah. The message of the Torah, and of the Haftarah is to have hope and do something about it. On Shabbat Hanukkah, the Haftarah is taken from the Book of Zachariah, chapters 3-4. His message is very appropriate for this festival which commemorates the victory of the Hasmoneans, who had a small army and were very weak compared to the Greek armies of Antiouchus. His message is that famous verse. G-d says, "not by power nor by might, but by my spirit said the L-rd."

The Hasmoneans - the Maccabees - prevailed because of the spirit of G-d that was within them. They had the courage and determination to fight even against great odds, and they won, and because of that we light the Hanukkiah - a symbol of the power of light over darkness. They did not give up, just like Joseph never gave up.

Hanukkah celebrates the power of the spirit that the Jewish people have had throughout the centuries, even under the darkest of times. That spirit prevailed and helped our people remain loyal and committed to our traditions.

Light the Menorah and be happy and proud that you can connect yourself to our heroes from many generations who showed spiritual strength and continued to be Jews.

Hag Urim Sameah - Happy Festival of Lights.