The Weekly Share – 30 Kislev

The Weekly Share – 30 Kislev

Food For the Soul

Famine in the land

We read in the Parsha Miketz of the dreams of Pharaoh, king of Egypt. Joseph interprets the dreams to Pharaoh’s satisfaction. Seven years of plenty will be followed by seven years of famine. His explanation rings true for the king. But Joseph doesn’t stop at the interpretation. He goes on to offer some seemingly unsolicited advice to the mighty ruler of the mightiest superpower of the time. “And now Pharaoh should select a person who is understanding and wise, and appoint him over Egypt,” continues young Joseph. This man oversees the economic plan for the country — to store grain during the seven good years of plenty that are coming in order to sustain the people during the next seven lean years. Pharaoh is so impressed with this explanation that he immediately appoints Joseph as viceroy of Egypt, and the rest, of course, is history.

Long ago the Prophet Amos said, Behold, days are coming, says the L-rd, when I will send a famine in the land; not a famine for bread, nor a thirst for water, but for hearing the words of the L-rd. And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of G-d and they shall not find it. In that day shall the fair virgins and the young men faint from thirst.

Is this not a prophecy of our own day and age? Are we not witnessing a hunger for truth and authenticity in a corrupt and plastic world? Do our own young people not go wandering across the far corners of the earth desperately seeking spirituality and some deeper meaning to their lives? And what is our response when many of our youngest and brightest get lost? Do we appreciate the tragedy when they despair of finding fulfillment in the faith of their fathers? Do we mimic the Pharaoh and turn over on the other side and go back to sleep even when we seem to be getting heavenly signals and messages that something momentous is about? Or do we seek out the guidance of a “wise and understanding man” who can guide our young people towards the path of what, for them, must be the only truth, the Torah?

In the end, Pharaoh took Joseph’s advice, acted responsibly, and spared his nation the famine that engulfed the world. Will we, today, feed our spiritually starved souls and give them the nourishment they crave? Many among us are trying to do just that. I pray we will all join in.

From an article by Rabbi Yossy Goldman


Shabbat Shalom

Kindle 6 Lights before sunset

In commemoration of the miracle of Chanukah we kindle the Chanukah lights—oil lamps or candles—each evening of the eight-day festival, increasing the number of lights each evening. For tonight (Friday, December 3) we kindle six lights. IMPORTANT: Because of the prohibition to kindle fire on Shabbat, the Chanukah lights must be lit before lighting the Shabbat candles, and should contain enough oil (or the candle be big enough) to burn until 30 minutes after nightfall.

Chabad.org


Mind Over Matter

Help yourself and pray

Believers are often accused of forsaking all personal initiative in their passive acceptance of fate. Nothing could be further from the truth. Prayer, as a weapon, is available only to those who simultaneously engage themselves in overcoming all natural impediments. Only a fool sits back with folded hands while all hell breaks loose around him. A man of faith might rely on G-d, but he also believes that G-d helps those who help themselves. 

The Maccabees, at the time of the Chanukah campaign, were convinced of the capacity of G-d to save, and entrusted their fate into His hands. Simultaneously, however, they armed themselves for conflict, initiated guerilla tactics and created a military channel for G-d’s miraculous deliverance. Jacob too trusted in G-d. He was prepared to pray to G-d to ensure his sons’ safe homecoming but knew that his initial responsibility was to do all within his power to arrange the circumstances of G-d’s deliverance. To sit and wait for the wheels of inertia to grind one down is laziness, not loyalty to G-d. Conversely, only a believer can truly dedicate himself to the task at hand, convinced of the inevitability of his efforts; as part of the Divine plan. 

From an article by Rabbi Elisha Greenbaum


Moshiach Thoughts

Confinement

“It came to pass at the ketz (end) of two full years. . .” (Mikeitz 41.1). This verse introduces the story of how Joseph was freed from prison, the end to his confinement. Joseph’s confinement was only physical, not spiritual. Even in jail, he retained, and was mindful of, his spiritual heritage-the teachings of his father. This heritage was his light with which he overcame the darkness of prison…Thus, we must remember Joseph and the events of his life. We must realize that the very idea of confinement is alien to us, because Jewish life is essentially unrestricted. The present era of constraints is undoubtedly only temporary. It is merely a step toward the ultimate goal of illuminating the world, even in its present state of lowliness and galut (exile), with the light of Torah and mitzvot. The fulfillment of this mission will be followed immediately by the final redemption of Moshiach.

From an article by Rabbi J. Immanuel Schochet


Have I Got A Story

Missed opportunities

Sitting on the steps of the Montgomery County courthouse appeared to be a homeless man. My husband is a lawyer, and as he passed by this man on his way into the building, the man called out, “Hey, rabbi! Give me a blessing.” How did he know my husband is Jewish? A hat covered his yarmulke. Besides sporting a neatly trimmed beard, what were the markers?  You can bet that people who wear suits, carry briefcases and move through courthouses with confidence and determination are attorneys. So what was with the rabbi thing? And while it’s true that my husband just so happens to teach Torah, how did this stranger discern that? Was this a smart entrepreneurial strategy on the part of the homeless man? On the other hand, could this man have been a messenger from G-d?

After my husband related this incident to me, he seemed to have second thoughts about the encounter—or at least it was still nagging at the corners of his mind. After all, my husband has traversed those courthouse steps thousands of times. Why was that man there that day, saying those words?

My husband is pulled between how he makes a living and how he makes life meaningful. Was he supposed to have engaged that man in conversation? Or do something in particular? Did he miss an opportunity? Or was the window still open? “Don’t worry!” I reassured him. “If this were an opportunity you missed but are meant to have, it will come around again.” It may not be that homeless guy or even any homeless guy. Lessons come in all shapes and sizes. Just be on the lookout to encounter the Divine when you least expect it.

You have probably heard some version of this story: A guy was rushing for his meeting with a tzaddik. On the way, someone calls out to him to help make a minyan, and the man says sorry, he’s in a hurry. But when he finally gets to the tzaddik, the tzaddik informs him that the whole purpose of his life was to have been in that very minyan he passed by.  I dread those stories … when someone doesn’t realize the import of a particular situation, makes a mistake, and is told that his or her mission or purpose for said incarnation was to do that one thing. I hope life is more complicated than that, and that we can always learn from mistakes and failures, fix what we can and choose to grow. Isn’t that what G-d wants? While we may fail any given test, surely, the Teacher doesn’t give up on educating the student and will continue to throw make-up quizzes our way.

In Mikeitz, the epic blockbuster narratives center on Joseph’s dreams, his becoming the Viceroy of Egypt, and the famous encounter between Joseph and his brothers. The less obvious storyline is what happens when the brothers return from Egypt without their brother, Shimon, who was held captive by Joseph (who had not yet revealed his identity) as collateral for the brothers to return to Egypt with their youngest brother, Benjamin.

Upon hearing that the Viceroy of Egypt was demanding Benjamin’s appearance, it seems as if Jacob might refuse, even if that meant Shimon would remain a captive in Egypt. Here we go with the same family dynamic all over again. Once again, Jacob was making it very clear who was the favored son. Benjamin was his youngest, the brother of Joseph, and the only remaining son of his beloved wife, Rachel.

Years ago, this family drama resulted in the brothers selling Joseph. This time around, with similar emotions in play, Yehuda did not allow jealousy and sibling rivalry to drive a poor choice. Instead, Yehuda took the opportunity to create a new dynamic by stepping up to take sole and personal responsibility to ensure Benjamin’s safe return, even if he had to stand against the very might of Egypt itself.

We all make mistakes, but the point is not to keep making the same ones. If you believe, as I do, that the failure to do a specific act does not negate the entire purpose of your existence, then you should also realize that when you do step up to the plate and hit that cosmic homerun, you are not home free either.

What do you get when you pass a test? If you are expecting a parade in your honor or balloons falling from the sky, you will be sorely disappointed. So what do you get when you pass a test? The ability, the potential, and a higher capacity to pass another one. And then another one. And that is, I would argue, the reason why you are here. When we seize the opportunity to turn our axis in a different direction, we move along a new trajectory. When we respond to the same triggers with a new response, we can transform the past, and write a positive ending to a tired old story.

From an article by Hanna Perlberger

Share it on
Become a Volunteer ouDonate