With Chanukah 5773 coming in literally on the heels of Shabbos Vayeishev, we recall again a short article which appeared on the INN website entitled;”Mortar Shells Filled With Chanukah Light” (url for article no longer accessable) which told about the Menorah which Neve Dekalim residents made from some of the spent Islamic mortal shells which were launched on their Gush Katif town over the years.
Reading about this special Menorah which was lit at one of the Jerusalem hotels which temporarily housed many evicted Neve Dekalim residents, took this author back in time to Philadelphia, in “the “old country” and to a point made by Rav Yehoshua Kaganoff about the pit in which Yosef was thrown. The point bears repeating.
As we learned about the Neisim (miracles) of Chanukah, i.e., the one flask of oil found in the Beit HaMikdash which seemingly had enough oil to burn for one day, yet burned continuously for 8 days, Rav Kaganoff spoke about a nace which happened when the brothers cast Yosef into the pit which contained snakes and scorpions. Although this pit was habitat to snakes and scorpions, Hashem held them back, restrained them within the pit. Therefore, when the brothers removed Yosef and sold him into bondage, he emerged unscathed from the danger within the pit.
But it seems to this author that Yosef’s emergence from the pit unharmed was one of several miracles which Yosef experienced from the moment the other 10 brothers acted against him. For one thing, our Parsha tells:
“…And behold, a company of Yishmaelim came from Gilad with their camels carrying aromatic gum (for censing), balm and landanum, …to carry it down to Egypt.” (Breish’t Perek 37, posuk 25 as rendered in Growth Through Torah, by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin).
Rav Pliskin (Growth Through Torah, Parsha Vayeishev page 109), then cites Rashi;
Why did the Torah mention what the camels were carrying? To tell us the reward of the righteous. Those caravans usually carried kerosene and resin (used for fuel) which had an unpleasant odor. But the caravan that carried Yosef to Egyot had pleasant spices.
Pliskin then cites Rabbi Mordechai Pragamantsky of Telz, who heard from Rabbi Chayim Stein:
…It was a message to Yosef that all was not lost. Appreciate the Hand of the Almighty that is guiding your life and supplies you with minor pleasures to enhance your life. This is a sign that all the Almighty does is to enhance your life. This is a sign that all the Almighty Does is for your ultimate benefit.
It occurs to this author that other such miracles occured to Yosef which would seem to include; (3) his enslavement brought about his landing in the House of Pontiphar as his head servant and caretaker of all that was his (Pontiphar’s), (4) escaping a judgement of death regarding Pontiphar’s wife’s false accusations, Yosef’s sojourn in the dungeon where he emerged as assistant to the warden, (5) his being remembered, albeit after 2 years, by the wine steward for his translation of dreams resulting in his interpreting Pharoah’s dreams and being appointed Viceroy, 2nd only in power to Pharoah, (6) Asnat bat Dina, born out of wedlock (Dina andShechem) and later banished from Yaakov’s house under death-threat from the brothers, and who landed in the House of Pontiphar and who was said to have witnessed Yosef’s actions on the day of Pontiphar’s wife’s false accusations, and (7) that when the women all threw down their jewelry to entice Yosef, he was won over by Asnat, with her metal foil engraved by Yaakov testifying to her holiness. And finally, like the flask of oil found by the Macabees in the Beit HaMikdash which by natural means would maybe burn one day, but burned 8 days; the final miracle would seem to be the fortune amassed by Yosef as Viceroy which would later be found by the Jews during the plague (mako) of darkness and which would be carted out of Mitzrayim upon the Yetziyat Mitzrayim.
So too, despite all of the hundreds or thousands of mortar shells and Kassams which fell on Neve Dekalim and throughout Gush Katif over many years, thankfully there were but a mere handful of casualties among the 8,000 Jews then living in Gush Katif. Despite the agony and trauma of the post-expulsion’s worriesome weekly threats of evictions made by the hotels and encampments where the refugees were placed pending completion of temporary residences, each threat passed uneventfully due to the steadfastness of Gush Katif’s leaders and due to the help of many caring Jews. And despite the reign of Kassams which have fallen in Sderot, Ashkelon and other venues in the Negev throuh the intervening years since the expulsion, again a mere handful of casualties — the Yad Hashem in all cases, as with Yosef’s pit.
This author recalls once hearing a vort, but cannot attribute it’s source other than that the commentators explain the basis for the brothers’ hatred for Yosef as having been guided by their perception of his being another Eisev, or Yishmael in their midst. With this perception and mindset, the brothers felt that they were acting L’Shem Shemayim against Yosef .
They saw Yosef’s pronouncement of his dreams, his tale-telling — often without knowing all of the facts, as fostering their perception that he sought to rule over them. His brothers also envied their Father’s preference for him. They viewed Yosef in the light of the family history — their great grandfather’s Avraham’s reluctance to separate from his other son Yishmael and their grandfather Yitzchak’s apparent favoritism for his son Eisev, that “master of kibud Av,” who nonetheless was wicked and not connected with Shemayim.
The other brothers, while acting inappropriately out of jealousy, perceived Yosef as a threat to the future nation that was to grow from them as the offspring of Yaakov.
Therefore we can now perhaps view the brothers’ actions regarding Yosef as L’Shem Shemayim, according to their perceptions and understandings, and yet contrast their actions versus modern-day Israel where governing regimes and major party political leaders feed on the disunity and divisiveness within the religious sectors in acting to further divide, conquer and polarize the religious world who divisively stabeach other in the back. The politicians are totally clueless, and diabolically opposed, to L’Shem Shemayim — toward those who cleave to Torah and Eretz Yisrael viewing them as dire threats to themselves [their regimes and governance] in their defeatism and self-hatred of who and what they are and in their war against Torah and Yiddishkiet.
In retrospect, if only successive evil regimes who have been hard at work; first in forestalling pre-statehood Jewish immigration to the Land and then trying to give away the store by way of hijacking, subverting Jewish hearts, minds and neshamot away from Derech Hashem (just as the Greeks tried in that era of Jewish history) — if only they realized what they have repeatedly abandoned and abrogated! If only they; Bibi, Barak and a host of others, as well as Olmert, Livni, Ramon before them, were spiritually equipped to recognize the extent of the miraculousness of day-to-day life in what was the Jewish Yishuv of Gush Katif., as well as in Yehuda and Shomron. If only they realized the monumental extent of the physical, economic and spiritual assets which they (the regime) frittered away, while hiding behind the bogus cloaks of “security,” “demographics,” “American pressure,” “blackmail for graft and corruption crimes”, etc., but in retrospect, out of the folly of mindless, blind, sinat chinom (causeless hatred) of Torah and derech Hashem.
But alas, successive elitist, protexia-class, hate-blinded hellinistic evil regimes, including the so-called “religious”parties will never own up and admit to the perilous danger which they have caused to the nation that they have solemnly sworn to defend and govern. One can only hope that the victories in last week’s Likud primaries of Nationalists, who connect and solidify the Jewish people’s connection with Eretz Yisrael represents a beginning of reversing previous dangerous evolutions.
May we, the B’nai Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them at leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized gunpoint, that our dear brethren Jonathan Pollard and Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the other MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem V’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bim hay v’yameinu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!
Good Shabbos, Chanukah Same’akh!
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.