Thursday, January 8, 2009

156 - Mikeitz

Rav Wolbe related that at one point his Yeshiva was going through a very difficult time and he went to the Chazon Ish for some sagacious advice. The Chazon Ish told him that one has to jump into the sea and walk until the water is up to his neck and then the sea will split. In other words, man must do all in his capacity if he wishes to merit siyata dishmaya - Heavenly help. Rav Wolbe (Daas Shlomo) explains that this is so because if one doesn't use the full extent of his ability, how can he expect to receive Heavenly help which is beyond his ability? This concept is manifested in a number of places in the Torah.

In this past week's parsha, Potiphar's wife unrelentingly tries to seduce Yosef. On one fateful day when no one was home besides Yosef, Potiphar's wife makes another attempt. According to one opinion in Chazal, Yosef was ready to capitulate, and just at that moment his father's image appeared to him and warned of the dire consequences should he sin. If at that moment Yosef had not been on the spiritual level to merit such a revelation, he wouldn't have merited it. It was only because up until this time he had done everything within his ability to prevent himself from sinning that he merited Heavenly help in the form of his father's image. (For this reason, one cannot say, "Had my father appeared to me before I sinned, I also would have refrained." Had he resisted temptation as Yosef did, he too, would have merited that his father's image appear before him!)

Another such example (as alluded to by the Chazon Ish) is the splitting of the sea when the Jews were pursued by the Egyptians. Chazal tell us that Nachshon jumped into the sea and walked until the water reached his nostrils, and only then did the water split. He walked until he could walk no more and thus merited the siyata dishmaya needed to split the sea.

This concept is in essence the message of Chanukka. The Ba"ch writes that the kohanim were lax in their performance of the avodah in the Beis Hamikdosh and measure for measure the Greeks issued an edict that forbade the avodah - offering sacrifices and lighting the menorah. Moreover, they defiled all the oil that was to be used for the menorah. Only after the Chashmonaim showed that they were willing to sacrifice their lives for the sake of reclaiming the avodah in the Beis Hamikdosh, did they merit Heavenly help in this area - a handful of kohanim defeated a mighty army, they were able to reenter the Beis Hamikdosh where they found a single flask of oil intact, and a day's worth of oil miraculously burned for eight days. Therefore, Chazal established these days of Chanukka as days of "praise and thanks to Hashem" i.e. strengthening our avodah.

Pesach revolves around yetzias Mitzrayim, Shavuos around Matan Torah, Rosh Hashana around yir'ah, Yom Kippur aroundpurity, Succos around simchah, and Chanukka revolves around chizuk - strengthening our avodah. Hence, it is he, who in honor of Chanukka, learns with vigor during the time he has set aside for Torah, or davens a tefillah with an added emphasis on concentration, who has lit the true flame of Chanukka. 

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