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RABBI YONASSAN BIGGS B"H
Vayeishev-Chanukah-Hakhel
We Really Need the Light! 
By Rabbi Yonassan Biggs

NY City Candle lighting 4:11 Shabbat ends 5:13
Mevarchim Tevet-Rosh Chodesh is Shabbat and Sunday, December 12 and 13
The Molad is Friday morning, December 11 at 7:19 and 12 Chalakim
Saturday night, December 5th, we begin to pray for rain (V’tein Tal Umatar)

Shalom and Bracha!

May Hashem bless and protect the Jewish people and all peoples in the land of Israel and throughout the world

   In this week’s portion, Vayeishev, the Torah begins describing the beginning of the Jewish people’s exile in Egypt. Yosef, the favorite of Yaakov’s children, was sold by his brothers into slavery and was brought to Egypt. He quickly rose to the highest possible position in his master’s house. Thereafter, because of a false libel, he was imprisoned. Even in prison, the head of the prison entrusted him with running the prison and he had great success. The portion concludes with two prisoners having dreams that they understood had a prophetic meaning. Yosef interpreted the meaning of the dreams and his words bore to be true.

   Egypt was the first exile of the Jewish people. The experiences of Yosef in Egypt are lessons to each of us as to how to act and to succeed while we are in exile. Before Yosef went to his brothers, the Torah relates that he was sent “from the Emek (valley) of Chevron.” Based on a topographical conflict, Rashi explains that this Emek in this verse is translated not as the valley but rather the depths, and that the verse is not telling us the location from whence he was sent, but rather the underlying cause of his mission. Hashem had told Avraham, who is buried in Chevron, that his offspring would be enslaved in a strange land before inheriting the land of Israel. The Torah teaches us that Yosef was sent from the depths of this covenant with Avraham. Often, we seek to understand the tribulations that we undergo. Just as the exile in Egypt was a necessary step to receive the Torah and receive the land of Israel, this exile is a necessary preparation for the coming of Moshiach and the great revelation we will have at that time.

   In explaining Yosef’s promotion in his master’s household, and his master’s relying upon him fully, the Torah says that Potiphar (his master) saw that “Hashem was with him.” Rashi explains that this means he constantly accredited Hashem (Thank G-d, G-d willing etc.). Similarly, the head of the prison saw “that Hashem was with him” and fully entrusted him. The Egyptians were idolaters. Nevertheless, when they saw that Yosef was imbued with his faith in Hashem, they trusted him. Often in Galut (exile) we feel that by compromising our religious practice and toning down our religious fervor we gain respect of our gentile neighbors. The narrative of Yosef shows that the opposite is true; gentiles respect us when we are what we are without shame or pretense. When they see that we are sincere in our Judaism, they trust and respect us more.

   Before the libel that landed Yosef in jail, the Torah says that Yosef was beautiful in form and appearance. Rashi explains that the libel was a punishment for Yosef’s expressing vanity when his father was suffering not knowing Yosef’s whereabouts. This is also a lesson; however successful we may be, we must never be complacent about the Galut- our Father awaits every day that we should finalize the preparations for Moshiach’s coming and return to our home!

  May Hashem finally answer our beseeching and may we celebrate this Chanukah with the Menorah of the Third Temple!

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Biggs

Dedicated to Avraham Ben Noghreh for a full and speedy recovery and blessings in every manner for him and his entire family.
----------

B”H

Chanukah-Hakhel-We Really Need the Light!!

This year the first night of Chanukah is Sunday December 6th and the last night is Sunday December 13th.

Candles should be lit after sunset (4:30 In NY City) except for Friday when they must be lit before sunset and Saturday when they must be lit after nightfall (5:15in NY City)

On the first night of Chanukah we light the Shamash and use the Shamash to light the far right candle. After lighting the Shamash, before lighting the candle we make three blessings:

1)   Baruch Atah Adonai Elohainu Melech Ha’olam Asher Kid’shanu B’mitzvotav V’tzivanu L’hadlik Ner Chanukah.

2)   Baruch Atah Adonai Elohainu Melech Ha’olam She’asah Nissim La’avotainu Bayamim Hahaim Bizman Hazeh.

3)   Baruch Atah Adonai Elohainu Melech Ha’olam Shehechiyanu Vekiy’manu Vehig’yanu Lizman Hazeh.

The third blessing is only recited the first night or the first time one lights candles this year.

On the second night the Shamash is lit, the first two blessings are said, and then the Shamash is used to light the second from the right and then the far right candles.  Each night the new candle is lit first.

On Friday the Menorah is lit before Shabbat candles. Under no circumstances should the Menorah be lit after sunset.

On Saturday the Menorah is lit after Havdalah after nightfall.
----------

  Shalom and Bracha!

  Chanukah is a celebration of a twofold miracle; the Maccabees overcame their oppressors against overwhelming odds, and the oil that was sufficient for one day lasted for seven. In appreciation of the miracle of the victory, we say the Hallel each day in the morning prayers and the Al Hanissim in the prayers and in the grace after meals. In recognition of the miracle of the Menorah, we light the Menorah each night of Chanukah.

  The victory of the Maccabees teaches us that even when we see no chance to overcome, we must stand up for that which is right and remember that victory is in the hands of Hashem who is totally beyond nature.

   This is very pertinent to our time, when the nations of the world are debasing themselves to denigrate and attack Israel and the Jewish people. Just as we had the Hellenist Jews in the times of the Maccabees, there are even wealthy and influential Jews working against Israel, defending and supporting the enemies of Israel and the murderers of Israelis and other innocents. This year we need the light of Chanukah more than ever to dispel the darkness within us, among our own people and throughout the world. Please encourage as many people as possible to light the Chanukah Menorah and as this is a Hakhel year, have as many and as large Chanukah celebrations as possible and attend Chanukah gatherings and as we light the Menorah pray to Hashem that the light of the Menorah will dispel the darkness of the end of the exile!

  The Hallel and Al Hanissim remind us to constantly express our appreciation for all of our blessings. This is also a very important lesson in dealing with each other.

  The Maggid of Mezritch once asked his students: If two people are on ladders, one on the fiftieth rung and one on the second, which is higher? The students understood that there must be hidden depth in the question, and asked the Maggid to tell them. He answered that it depends if and in which way they are going. Each night of Chanukah, we add an additional candle. Chanukah symbolizes the battle between light and darkness within ourselves. We begin with one candle and slowly increase. This teaches us that we should illuminate our lives on step at a time, at first with one Mitzvah, and then another. Our constant increasing teaches us that we must never stagnate- what was ideal for yesterday is insufficient for today.

 The number eight has a special connection with Moshiach.  As we collectively light up our portions of the world, may we speedily see the ultimate illumination of the world through the coming of Moshiach.

  Chag Sameach,

 Rabbi Biggs

Dedicated in honor of Moshe Chaim Ben Yehudis for blessings and protection

Chabad of Great Neck will be distributing toys to and making celebrations for hospitalized and special needs children this Chanukah season. If anyone would like to donate, please send a check to Chabad Chanukah fund at the address below or go to our website chabadgn.com

A project of Chabad of Great Neck
400 East Shore Rd.
Great Neck NY 11024
516 654 6000
----------

A Story for Chanukah

Late one night, two hours into an audience with the Rebbe, the Israeli diplomat Yehuda Avner asked, “Rebbe, what is it that you seek to accomplish?”

“Yehuda,” said the Rebbe to Avner, “look there, on the shelf. What is that you see?”
“A candle,” he replied.

“No, it’s not a candle; it’s just a lump of wax with a string down the middle. When does this lump of wax become a candle? When you bring a flame to the wick.”

The Rebbe continued in a Talmudic sing-song: “The wax is the body of the human being, and the wick is the soul. the flame is the fire of torah. When the soul is ignited by the flame of torah, that’s when the person becomes a candle, achieving the purpose for which he was created.

“This is what I try to do—to help every man and woman achieve the purpose for which they were created.”

An hour later, with the sun about to rise and the meeting drawing to a close, Avner asked, “So has the Rebbe lit my candle?”
“No,” answered the Rebbe quietly. “I have given you the match. Only you can light your own candle.”


 
   
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