Blog Miketz  Kislev 30th 5779 בלוג מִקֵּץ, ל’ כסלו תשע”ט חנוכה שבת

Hanukkah is a festival of lights and represents Israel’s calling of being a light to all the nations. We were never called to convert the world but to enlighten it with our Torah, the basic Ten Commandments. The root of the problem at that time stemmed from the Jews who had assimilated to the pagan religion of the day. They were the greatest enemy of the people of Israel who can never be destroyed from the outside, only from within. They went as far as doing reverse circumcision out of shame of being Jews. This is as true today as it was then.

In this parashah, Miketz (At the end) we see Joseph coming from his dark times of being in the pit to being raised up to the light as Viceroy of Egypt. He went through a long, difficult and humbling process from where he had taken the credit for interpreting his earlier dreams to giving credit to the Almighty for interpreting the dreams of the cupbearer and baker while he was in prison and in the court to the Pharaoh.

Even when Joseph held the second to highest position in Egypt, he never forgot who he was. He had gone through a great transformation and like him, if we are true seekers, we will experience many highs and lows in our lives. The most important part of our process of growing to maturity involves having our pride broken. Pride eats away at us and keeps us from humbling ourselves before the Creator. We Jews are called stiff-necked people and we can only get close to the Creator when we can bow our heads in humility before Him. How can we do that? The beauty of the Torah is that the heroes in it are not white-washed. Joseph grew from being a spoiled brat to a humble man who always remembered his God in spite of the environment in which he was living. The people of Egypt regarded him as god. Many years later another Jewish man, Yeshua would also be regarded as god. In the same way that Joseph’s brothers never worshipped him as god, Yeshua too can never been accepted as god to our people. We have only one God…Shema Israel Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai Echad. This in no way lessens his value to those of us who wish to follow the simple truths of Torah as he did.

Hanukkah is crying out to us not to assimilate; to keep the values of the Torah, not to adhere to the values of this world. Rather many have thrown out the Torah and have accepted the morality of this world. This is what I call “spiritual assimilation”. Right now, the majority of our people accept as proper behavior, the aberrated values which go directly against the Torah. Those of us who believe in the Torah are being told to shut our mouths.

Joseph dressed, spoke and acted like an Egyptian but he was a Hebrew of Hebrews. It is not about the outer garb. The robe doesn’t make the monk. Joseph went from the top to the pit and back again to the top. During this process he realized that his Creator had never forgotten him. To whom do we need to be faithful? If we cannot put our faith and trust in the Creator, we can’t be faithful to anyone. People jump from religion to religion and never find truth; Truth lies with the Creator. For the sake of our children, let us not be sold out to the values of the world which only lead to destruction. Our children today are being bombarded by the school system, by the internet and they are being labeled “weirdos” if they speak out against the status quo. They need our help and support.

Hanukkah, a festival of lights is teaching us to be light in times of darkness. It is a time to shine and speak out for what is right even if we are not theologically, socially or politically correct. Say it as it is; if you are challenged, speak out. I don’t believe in conversion; I believe in transformation and the only one who can change our hearts is the Creator. Our DNA, our chromosomes are forever and cannot be changed by what we say or think. We were made in a marvelous way by the Creator and all we can do is improve.

Are you genuine or are you a genuine imitation? Joseph saw his brothers and needed to deal with his own feelings, his past. He was 39 years old when he finally saw his father. He must have wondered why his father never searched for him and what his brothers had told him. He must have felt totally abandoned. Have you ever had those feelings? We may feel alone in this world, but we are never alone. The Creator always blessed Joseph even in his worst circumstances.

Many of us are going through a very difficult time and may be wondering what we did wrong that God is punishing us. If you think you did something wrong, then you need to make it right. Joseph’s brothers admitted to each other that they were paying for what they had done to him. They hadn’t dealt with it until that moment. When Joseph saw that they were truly repentant, he quickly left the room and wept out loud. He saw that they too had suffered. We have all done things that we don’t want to remember, that we are not proud of. Don’t forget about them and sweep them under the carpet but deal with them. How do we do that? We use a “spiritual” vacuum cleaner – teshuva – acknowledge, recognize and make restitution. We go directly to Him. Are we assimilated or are we free?

When Joseph was close to death, he asked his brothers to bring his bones back to the Promised Land. Joseph had been a savior of the soul of Israel. In Canaan they were rapidly assimilating. The Creator provided a place in Egypt where they could be isolated and grow without contamination. This changed in the last 80 years before they left with Moses.

Everything that happens to those who love God is for good. When we go through difficult times, let us ask God to reveal what he is showing us. He is making us stronger through it all and then suddenly we see a light at the end of the tunnel. We need to be light in darkness as Joseph was. As we lit the last candle of Hanukkah, we rejoiced together knowing that we are bringing light to the world. Let us be like the “Shamash”, the servant candle which lights all the remaining candles.