Chanukah/Rosh Chodesh/Parshat Mikeitz 5782: The Significance of the Placement of Parshat Mikeitz, Chanukah and Rosh Chodesh on Our Annual Calendar?

Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parsha Mikeitz is being sponsored anonymously in honor of the teachers of Beit Shemesh and Ramat Beit Shemesh, who give selflessly to our families every day. To our anonymous sponsor and family, blessings and many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate a Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring a Parshat HaShevua.

Please forward to your relatives and friends and encourage them to sponsor a Parshat HaShevua. And please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
skype: mark.burt3

Chanukah/Rosh Chodesh/Parshat Mikeitz 5782: The Significance of the Placement of Parshat Mikeitz, Chanukah and Rosh Chodesh on Our Annual Calendar?

by Moshe Burt

This year, Shabbos Parshat Mikeitz falls out, and coincides with day one of a two-day Rosh Chodesh Tevet. And last year, 5781, was one of the ten years between 5700 and 5800 where Shabbos Parshat Mikeitz follows immediately after Chanukah and Rosh Chodesh Tevet.

In previous vorts on this trio, this author has related Parshat Mikeitz to Chanukah by virtue of having counted eight neisim (miracles) which occurred to Yosef and drawing a connection to 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.

In this vort, this author endeavors to propose a possible significance in the Divine placement on our annual calendar (luach) of Chanukah, Rosh Chodesh and Parshat Mikeitz. For perspective, we understand that the Chasmonei’im liberated the Beit HaMikdash from the Greeks on 25 Kislev, although the battle lasted some 25 years, ergo 25 Kislev is designated as the first day of Chanukah.

As further perspective, here are pertinent excerpts from an piece written several years ago by Rabbi Ken Spiro regarding the Revolt of the Maccabees:

The year is 167 BCE and the horrible persecution of Judaism by the Greeks is in full swing. The Greek troops show up in the town of Modi’in (a site west of Jerusalem which you can visit today off the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway) and demand that the Jews there sacrifice a pig to the Greek gods. The elder of the town, Mattisyahu (Mattathias), who is a Kohen, that is of the priestly class, refuses.

Rabbi Spiro writes, near the top of his piece and then continues:

…It is not just a war against the Greeks, it is also a civil war – Jews, who were loyal to Judaism, fighting other Jews, who had become Hellenized and who were siding with the Greeks.

Most of the battles take place in the foothills leading from the coastal plain area (Tel Aviv) to Jerusalem. The Greeks are trying to march their armies up the natural canyons that lead into the mountain areas, the stronghold of the Jewish army. There’s only a few places where the Greeks can ascend and this is where the Maccabees choose to take them on.

…When we read the story of the Maccabees it seems like it’s something that takes place over a few weeks – the battles take place, the Jews win, and the Greeks go home. But, in fact, it takes 25 years of fighting and a great many casualties on both sides until the Selucid Greeks finally reach a peace agreement with the Jews.

After the first three years, the Jews are able to re-conquer Jerusalem. They find the Temple defiled and turned into a pagan sanctuary, where pigs are sacrificed on the altar. When they re-enter the Temple, the first thing they do is try to light a make-shift menorah (as the real gold one had been melted down by the Greeks) but only one vial of pure lamp oil with the special seal is discovered. They use this vial to light the menorah and miraculously it stays lit for eight days, by which time fresh pure oil has been pressed and delivered to the Temple.

The Maccabees then purify the Temple and rededicate it on the 25th of Kislev, which is the date on the Hebrew calendar when we begin to celebrate the eight days of Chanukah. (The Hebrew word Chanukah means “dedication” or “inauguration.”)

Early in the morning of the 25th day of the ninth month which is the month of Kislev…they [the Kohanim] rose and offered sacrifices [korbonot], as the law directs, on the new altar [Mizbeiyach] of burnt offerings which they had built…it was dedicated with songs and harps and lutes [flutes?] and cymbals…So they celebrated the dedication of the altar for eight days…(I Maccabees 4:52-56)

Shem Mishmuel (Sefer Shem Mishmuel, Rabbi Shmuel Bornstein, translated to English by Rabbi Zvi Belovski, pages 85 and 87) writes, including a citing from Chazal::

Before the Chanukah revolt, the Greeks instituted harsh measures against Torah practices. In their efforts to stamp out Judaism, the banned the observance of Shabbos, bris milah and, curiously, the celebration of Rosh Chodesh. My holy father [Rabbi Shmuel Bornstein’s father] asked a pertinent question. It is easy to understand why the Greeks tried to eradicate the practice of Shabbos and milah from the Jews. They are exclusive signs between Yisrael and Hashem which openly display the special and super-natural intimacy they share. These were opposed by the Greeks, who perceived themselves as superior to Yisrael and rejected their claim to a particular relationship with the Divine. It is, however, much harder to comprehend the Greek opposition to the Mitzvah of Rosh Chodesh. After all, the moon follows its natural cycle every month… with no interference from man. There seems to be nothing in celebrating the renewal of the moon that could incur the wrath of the Greeks.

He [apparently meaning Rabbi Shmuel Bornstein’s father] suggests the following answer: Chazal claim the ability to alter physical reality by controlling the system of intercalation. For example,…. if… the Beit Din decides to lengthen the year by a month to ensure that Pesach falls in the correct season. The Rabbis, therefore, asserted power even over physical reality through the power that the Torah invested in them as guardians of the lunar calendar. This was most unpalatable to the Greeks, who objected to human claims to control nature.

…The Chodesh itself is closely linked to the nature and needs of Yisrael — continual and complex renewal.

Yisrael is likened to the moon. We use the lunar rather than the solar calendar. And just as the moon draws new life from Hashem each month, so does Yisrael. Just as the cycle of the moon continues indefinitely, so will Yisrael outlast all other nations. We say, in the monthly Kiddush Levanah tefillah:

To the moon He said that it should rejuvenate as a crown of distinction for those born from the womb [Yisrael], those who in the future will renew themselves like it. (Kiddush Levanah Tefillah from the siddur rendered to English in Sefer Shem Mishmuel, page 87)

The moon is the most potent symbol of Yisrael. It reflects our very essence, our future, and most of all, our special relationship with Hashem. It was this that the Greeks found intolerable. They seethed with jealousy at our claims to be Hashem’s chosen people, the nation of the moon. It is no wonder that they battled to eradicate Rosh Chodesh from the calendar of Yisrael.

This author understands from the vort of Shem Mishmuel that Hashem seems to foretell us of the revolution of the Chasmonei’im through the placement in the annual calendar of Chanukah, Shabbos Mikeitz and Rosh Chodesh Tevet in such close proximity and during the winter, or as we refer to it; the rainy season.

By the miracles which were done to Yosef which we learn of in Parshiyot Vayeishev and Mikeitz, we seem foretold of the neis of Chanukah which was, as Rabbi Spiro wrote, the one vial of pure lamp oil with the special seal which lasted eight days and, as was written by this author in previous vorts.

By the placement of Chanukah on the 25th of Kislev, knowing that the vial of pure oil would last eight days, that Chanukah would thus last for eight days, which would include a Shabbos. we seem foretold of both the negation of the Greek edict against Shabbos as well as the edict against Rosh Chodesh.

May we, the B’nei 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 and that the thrice expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes, at government expense; both due to alt-leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized Yassamnik gunpoint. Baruch Hashem that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard is now free of his parole and restrictions and that he and his ill wife Esther Yocheved bat Rayzl Bracha are finally home in Eretz Yisrael. May the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem — as with the return in April, 2019, via Russia, of the remains of Zachariah Baumel, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of seven years ago. 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 prevent Chas V’Challila the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. And may we soon and finally see the total end to the Communist Chinese corona virus pandemic and all like viruses. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nei 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 Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Chanukah Same’ach, Good Shabbos and Chodesh Tov!
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.