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Parashat Miketz and Shabbat Hanukkah - 5778

Dear friends,

This Shabbat we read the portion of Miketz. It describes Joseph's rise in Egypt from a slave in prison to becoming the second to Pharaoh.

Pharaoh has dreams that his advisors are not able to interpret to his satisfaction. His chief butler tells him about this young Hebrew slave who is serving time in the chief steward's prison. Joseph is brought before Pharaoh and interprets the dreams to Pharaoh. He emphasizes to Pharaoh that, through his dreams, G-d is sending him a message not about his personal fortune, but about what is going to happen in Egypt and the future of his country.

You are familiar with the story. First there are seven years of plenty and, at Joseph's advice, grain is saved for the famine years that would follow. The drought is so severe that, even in the Land of Canaan, there is no food during the years of famine.

This Parasha includes the first encounter between Joseph and his brothers after Joseph was sold into slavery. It is always read either before or during the week of Hanukkah, as it is this year.

Is there a connection between the story of Joseph in Egypt and the story of Hanukkah?

Hanukkah symbolizes the strength of the spirit as demonstrated by the Maccabees who were outnumbered in their struggle against the invading Greek/Syrian army who wanted to Hellenize the Jewish State. Joseph came to Egypt as a 17 year-old young man. He could have easily been influenced by the Egyptian culture of idolatry. Yet when he appears before Pharaoh he credits G-d with his knowledge. He also shows great compassion to the population and to his brothers. There is never talk of seeking revenge for the way they had treated him.

Also, Joseph is a dreamer because, even in the pit where his brothers threw him and in the many years he spent in an Egyptian prison, he never gave up the hope that things would get better. The miracle of the light lasting eight days instead of just one day symbolizes the same idea - that there is hope even in the darkest of times. The Maccabees persevered, Joseph kept his faith and the Jewish people continue to live as Jews even after all the challenges encountered in the 2300 years since the story of Hanukkah.

I wish you and your dear ones Shabbat Shalom and a Happy Hanukah. Hag Hanukah Sameah!

Avram