"And it came to pass at the end of two full years." (41:1)
QUESTION: Parshat Mikeitz is always read during Chanukah. What connection does the parshah have to Chanukah?
The following are some of the hints to Chanukah
in this parshah
- According to halachah, the Menorah is placed on the left side of the doorpost, opposite the mezuzah, which is on the right. In the pasuk vayehi mikeitz shenatayim, the word shenatyim is an acronym for s'mol neirot tadlik, y'min mezuzah (on the left kindle the candles, on the right place the mezuzah).
- According to some opinions (Orach Chaim 670:2), it is proper to have a festive meal on Chanukah. A hint for this may be found in Yosef's telling the overseer of his household v'tavach tavach t'hachein — "Slay an animal and prepare it, for these men shall dine with me at noon" (43:16). The words v'tavach tavach have the numerical value of 44. During the eight days of Chanukah we kindle a total of 44 candles, including the shamashim.
- Another hint to forty-four [candles] is in Yaakov's command to his sons, "Shuvu shibru lanu me'at ochel" — "Go back, buy us some food" (43:2).
The word "lanu" has the numerical value of eighty-six. The word "shibru" also means to break. Thus Yaakov was telling them "shibru lanu" — "break the word 'lanu' [in half], and add to the half (forty-three) 'me'at ochel' — the numerical value of the letter 'alef' which is 'me'at' — least in numerical value among the letters of the word 'ochel'" — the total is forty-four.
- In the Al Hanissim prayer, the word "yad" — "hand" — is mentioned five times: "You delivered the mighty into the hand of the weak, the many into the hand of the few, the impure into the hand of the pure, the wicked into the hand of the righteous, and wanton sinners into the hand of those who occupy themselves with Your Torah." A hint for this may be found in the pasuk, "Binyamin's portion was five hands (times) as much as theirs" (43:34).
It is possible that the festive meal to which Yosef invited his brothers was also in honor of Chanukah. At the meal, when Yosef alluded to the five hands, he intended a message for his brothers.
There is a difficulty in the wording of this prayer. Grammatically it should be plural and read "bidei" — "in the hands" — and not the singular "beyad" — "in the hand."
Indeed, more than one hand fought in defense of the Jewish people. However, the secret of their success was the unity of the tzaddikim and the students of Torah. When members of a minority are united, they can easily conquer any power that wants to destroy them.
Yosef was suggesting to his brothers that disaster occurs when unity is lacking. However, when we are united, we are the most powerful force in the world.
- Throughout the Torah, the number of pesukim in the parshah is written at the end of every parshah.
At the end of Parshat Mikeitz, besides the number of pesukim, we are also told that the parshah contains 2,025 words.
Why is it necessary to know the amount of words?
Parshat Mikeitz is usually read during the week of Chanukah. The 2,025 words in the parshah can serve as a hint for the Yom Tov of Chanukah. During Chanukah we light candles for eight nights. The mitzvah can be fulfilled with only one candle each night for the entire household.
In Hebrew a word for candle is "neir" which has the numerical value of 250. Eight times 250 equals 2,000. The event of lighting candles starts on the 25th day in the month of Kislev. Thus, 2,025 alludes to the 25th of Kislev and eight candles.
- The eight day festival of Chanukah often takes place between the weeks in which we read the parshiot Vayeishev and Mikeitz.
A connection between these two parshiot and Chanukah may be as follows:
The Al Hanissim prayer states that the miracle of Chanukah was that the many were delivered into the hand of few and the strong into the hand of the weak. This thought is emphasized in the parshiot of Vayeishev and Mikeitz. In Parshat Vayeishev we read about Yosef's dreams, and in the Parshat Mikeitz we read about Pharaoh's dreams. In Pharaoh's dreams the weak conquered the strong. Yosef dreamt that the majority can be subordinate to the minority. Thus, the common denominator of both dreams is that quantity or strength is not necessarily the decisive factor.
- The eight days of Chanukah usually extend into the week of Vayigash, and we learn about the brothers confronting Yosef, "My lord asked his servants, saying: Have you a father, or a brother? And we said to my lord: We have an old father" (44:19-20).
This dialogue gives a hint about Chanukah:
In the Gemara (Shabbat 21b), Beit Hillel is of the opinion that on the first night of Chanukah one candle is lit, and each following night an additional candle. Beit Shammai is of the opinion that on the first night eight candles are lit, decreasing by one each succeeding night.
The brothers told Yosef, "You asked us, hayesh lachem — 'are you of the opinion that' — av — 'we go from one (alef) to two (beit) and so on, or' — ach — 'on the first night (alef) we light eight (chet) candles.' We replied yeish lanu — 'our custom is' — av — 'to increase from one to two because' — zakein — 'this is the opinion of the father of the school who was known as' — Hillel HaZakein — 'Hillel the elder.' "
- The brothers expressed the fear that their being brought to Yosef's home was "lehitgoleil aleinu" — "so that a charge can be fabricated against us" (43:18). The word "lehitgoleil" literally means to roll [upon us an accusation]. They used this expression to indicate that there would come a time when it would be customary to roll the dreidel during the week of Parshat Mikeitz.