Miketz

“Parsha and Purpose” – Miketz 5782 
Rabbi Kenneth Brander’s weekly insights into the parsha 

“What Happens When Our Best Efforts Fall Short?”

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Parshat Vayeshev (Genesis 41:1-44:17) 

“What Happens When Our Best Efforts Fall Short?

Shabbat Chanukah. We are in the midst of basking in the beautiful light of Chanukah, of our responsibility to try to dispel the darkness in the public thoroughfare of human society.

There are some important messages that we can learn from how our Rabbis tell us we are to kindle these lights.

As we all know, we are supposed to prepare enough oil, the proper wicks, so that we enjoy the light or we can see the light for half an hour, or have the right size candles to be able to kindle lights for a minimum of a half an hour. (Shulchan Arukh, Orach Chayim 672:2)

But what happens if we’ve done our best, yet the light extinguishes in the middle of the half hour?

The halacha is “כבתה”, you’ve done your best, but they’ve extinguished, “אין זקוק לה”, you don’t have to relight them. (Shulchan Arukh, Orach Chayim 673:2)

Yes, it’s nice if you want to relight them, but you definitely don’t make a second bracha, and it’s not an obligation, because you’ve done your best.

And from this, we can learn so much regarding our own personal spirituality and the way we engage with our family.

You know, sometimes we are involved in activities to enhance our spirituality: we prepare to go to Israel to enjoy some time basking in the light of Jerusalem or in the State of Israel.

And we prepare everything – we buy the ticket, we pack our luggage – we do everything. But then the skies close: “כבתה אין זקוק לה”.

Don’t become depressed; it’s frustrating, but as long as we try to kindle the lights, even if our plans are extinguished, we cannot allow that to defeat us.

And this is so much more true when it comes to our raising of our children and our grandchildren.

You know, we work so hard to fill their hearts with the finest of oils and to prepare the proper wicks so they can create a radiant light in the life they will lead.

But sometimes our children or our grandchildren do not follow in our ways. Sometimes their connection with God and Judaism is slightly different or completely different from our perspective.

The halacha is clear: “כבתה אין זקוק לה”. Even when we’ve done our best, there are no guarantees in life. We just have to recognize that we have to love them and we have to nurture them, and we have to try to rekindle the light, but without any form of coercion and always staying connected.

The Chanukah lights remind us about the lights that we light in our own lives and the lights that we light in the lives of our children and our grandchildren.

We have to do our best, and the rest, we need to leave to God.

Shabbat Shalom and Chanukah Sameach.

Yoav Weinstock

The Two Pits That Transformed Yosef Yoav Weinstock is the pedagogic director of the Neveh Shmuel Yeshiva High School, Named in Memory of Samuel Pinchas Ehrman, where he also teaches History and Jewish Philosophy More than anything else, the biblical figure of Yosef is associated with the pit. There are two pits, two abysses, if …

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Shabbat Shalom: Parshat Miketz-Chanukah (Genesis 41:1-44:17) By Rabbi Shlomo Riskin Efrat, Israel –As children, we learn that Chanukah is about the victory of the Judeans over the Greek-Syrians; Jews over Gentiles. We know from the Books of the Maccabees and the Second Commonwealth historian Josephus, however, that the struggle began as a civil war, a …

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“Parsha and Purpose” – Miketz 5781
Rabbi Kenneth Brander’s weekly insights into the parsha 

“The Power of Words to Build and Destroy”

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The Power of Words to Build and Destroy

On a beautiful January evening in Florida many years ago, we took our visiting “snowbird” guests from New York to a local kosher restaurant. I’ll never forget the excitement at a nearby table, where a group of parents and their children were proudly celebrating their success at getting Disneyworld tickets at a discount. You see, some of the theme parks charge less money for children under 10. And even though some of the kids at the table had already celebrated their Bar Mitzvah, they looked younger than their age. These parents were literally bragging about how they passed their 13-year-olds off as under ten, saving a bundle of money. I remember wondering to myself: day school education at that time was about $15-20,000 a year per child. And in those schools, their kids were learning that our words matter. That we must be truthful. And that lying is wrong. How did they not see that saving a few dollars at the ticket booth risked their $20,000 education investment a year they were giving their children? It seemed to me that those tickets were perhaps the most expensive Disney tickets that anyone had ever purchased. How did their children feel at the ticket booth, seeing their parents – their role models – lying and stealing? Can you put a price on the cost of losing your child’s belief that your word is credible? Jewish tradition places great emphasis on the power of words. In Pirkei Avot, we learn that God used words to create the world: Avot 5:1

בַּעֲשָׂרָה מַאֲמָרוֹת נִבְרָא הָעוֹלָם – With ten utterances was the world created

And the Zohar asserts that words build worlds and can destroy worlds. These are not slogans or cliches. The impact of our words have real consequences. Look no further than our parsha, Parshat Miketz, for a startling example. Yosef subjects his brothers to a harsh test, framing Binyamin by planting his royal goblet in Binyamin’s bag, to see how his other brothers will react when Binyamin is accused of theft. The brothers’ initial response reflects total confidence that none of them had committed the crime: Genesis 44:9

 אֲשֶׁ֨ר יִמָּצֵ֥א אִתּ֛וֹ מֵעֲבָדֶ֖יךָ וָמֵ֑ת – Whichever of your servants the goblet is found with shall die

Wait a minute! Those words sound familiar. It’s because we heard a similar declaration in Parshat Vayishlach, when Yaakov – certain that no one in his caravan had stolen Lavan’s idols – declared:

עִ֠ם אֲשֶׁ֨ר תִּמְצָ֣א אֶת־אֱלֹהֶיךָ֮ לֹ֣א יִֽחְיֶה֒ –

But anyone with whom you find your gods shall not remain alive Genesis 31:32

As we learned then, the results were tragic, ending with Rachel’s death. And yet, Yaakov’s sons now make a strikingly similar declaration! Often children when they are in same circumstance as their parents – repeat the same words – the same actions. Yaakov is confronted – Shall not remain alive, His children are confronted – they use the same language. When the goblet is found in Binyamin’s sack, the brothers are shattered, for they realize that with their own words, they have sentenced their youngest brother to death. To the brother’s credit – and to Yosef’s pleasant surprise, they don’t let words doom Binyamin – and that begins the healing process between Yosef and his brothers. The words we use with anyone, anywhere, have repercussions! Words matter! What we say carries a life longer than we remember. So let us choose our words carefully, and let us use them to build ourselves, our families, our communities and the world at large. Shabbat Shalom.
Rabbi Shlomo Riskin

Shabbat Shalom: Miketz (Genesis 41:1-44:17) By Rabbi Shlomo Riskin Efrat, Israel – “The Lord shall broaden and beautify Japheth, and he [or perhaps He] shall dwell in the tents of Shem” (Genesis 9:27) Why is there no clear religious prohibition against the study of Greek wisdom and intellectual involvement in philosophy, mathematics, the sciences, secular music, art, …

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“Parsha and Purpose” – Insights from Rabbi Kenneth Brander into Torah and Contemporary Life

Parshat Miketz 5780

Sources cited

  • Shabbat 21b
Rabbi Shlomo Wallfish

Parshat Miketz: Lessons on Leadership By Rabbi Shlomo Wallfish, senior faculty at the Robert M. Beren Machanaim Hesder Yeshiva Parashat Miketz begins at the climax of a story in which Joseph is the protagonist. Though he had experienced rises and falls all along his journey, and though even more serious challenges still awaited him, as we’ll read …

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Shabbat Shalom: Parshat Miketz (Genesis 41:1 – 44:17)             By Rabbi Shlomo Riskin Efrat, Israel – “Yosef was served by himself and the brothers by themselves… the brothers were seated before Joseph (with Yehuda at head of table)… they drank with him and became intoxicated.” (Gen 43:32) “And Joseph’s brothers came …

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