Drash Cards for Channukah/Miketz (5775)
By Marc Mangel
- What we heard in Bethann’s 5th grade class in 1987 on sabbatical in Jerusalem: Hebrew, then English. Why do we say Hallel on Channukah but not Purim? Answer: first is in the land, second is not
- Talmud (Shabbat 21b) asks “What is Chanuka?” .The Isbizter (R. Mordechai Yosef of Isbitza) notes that the “The Chanuka candle represents the person”
- To understand what this means, let’s think about we do with the Chanuka lights. We put them so that they can illuminate the outside — the Menorah shines outward.
- The Rebbe writes that the public domain – outward – has a lack of unity, division and alienation from God. The Channukah lights illuminate and purify the outside world, where God is hidden.
- The Sefat Emet (R. Yehudah Leib Alter of Ger) notes that Channukah and Purim are special times that Israel merited by our own deeds and says “Because these holidays were brought about by Israel’s own deed, every Jewish soul can be restored through them”
- That is, every Jewish soul is kosher enough to be a candle in God’s menorah and illuminate the world. Art Green notes that this is our holiday, one that became sanctified because of our actions not by divine intent. For this holiday nobody should feel inadequate or insufficiently holy to participate.
- R. Y. Haber, Modern orthodox, says “Holiness is found in the most unexpected places…one reason for turning off the lights when lighting the Menorah is to see the light coming forth from darkness, holiness appearing where it is least expected.
- So, we all can be candles. And the Chanukah flame exhorts us to illuminate the world and to live up to our potential. To follow our dreams.
- And that brings us back to the Torah portion (Miketz) where Joseph names his first son Menassah “because God has made me forget all my troubles” (v 41: 51-52) but ultimately recalls his dream when he recognizes his brothers (42:8-9). As Pinchas Peli notes, the interpreter of dreams remembered that he was a dreamer himself – and on this turns the rest of the story.
- The Macabbees dreamt about reconsecrating the Temple to pray in it and to turn back the tide of assimilation.
- Joseph had a dream, the Macabbees had a dream – and they were candles, like we all should be.
- So find your dream, become a candle, and illuminate the world