Torah thought forFriday 29 Kislev 5783 December 23 2022

Parashat Miketz - Shabbat Rosh Chodesh Chanukah

*** A important reminder for Birkat HaMazon over Shabbat, please add Al HaNissin, Retzeh and Ya’aleh Veyavo ***

From the teachings of Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef ztvk”l/ written by his grandson HaRav Yaakov Sasson Shlit”a. translated by our dear friend Rav Daniel Levy Shlit”a, Leeds UK

Taking an Appropriate Stand When Things Are Wrong in Our Families and Ensuring Our Children Attend Schools that Educate Torah Values

It the Haphtarah of Shabbat Chanukah we will read, “Then He showed me Yehoshua, the Cohen Gadol, standing before the angel of Hashem, and the Satan was standing on his right to accuse him. [The angel of] Hashem said to the Satan, ‘May Hashem denounce you, O Satan!…this [man] is like a fire-brand saved from a fire!’ But Yehoshua was dressed in filthy garments…The angel of Hashem then warned Yehoshua saying, ‘So said Hashem Master of Legions, If you go in My ways, and if you will safeguard My watch, and you will also administer My Bet HaMikdash, and you will also guard My Courtyards, then I will grant you strides amongst these [angels] who stand here’” (Zechariyah 3:1-7).

What do these pessukim mean? Who is Yehoshua? Why will the Satan stand to his right? What happened?

Our chachamim explained (Sanhedrin 93a), that prior to the destruction of the Bet HaMikdash there were two wicked false prophets, one called Tzidkiyah and one Achav. These wicked people would incite and instigate Am Yisrael (with words, like Christian beliefs). They would prophesy as if it was in Hashem’s Name and tell Am Yisrael, know that we have a Bet HaMikdash and our chachamim say that the sacrifices atone for sins to the extent that no one ever stayed the night in Jerusalem whilst still having sinned because the Daily Morning Tamid Sacrifice atoned for the night’s sins, and the Daily Evening Tamid Sacrifice atones for the day’s sins! If so, they told Am Yisrael, you may commit sins! So, everything is forgiven! On the contrary, it is appropriate that we sin, because if not, why is there a requirement to bring sacrifices?

Since these two were well respected men and were held as prophets, many of Am Yisrael listened to them. In the end, the Bet HaMikdash was destroyed and all of Am Yisrael were exiled to Babylon together with these two wicked ones. Hashem wished to denigrate them therefore he put in their minds a ridiculous idea.

The two went close to King Nevuchadnetzar’s palace and saw his beautiful daughter. Since they were very respected, they approached her, and she responded to them. The first one, turned to her and said to her, “So said Hashem, go and marry Achav!” She turned to the second and he too said to her, “So said Hashem, go and marry Tzidkiyah and after a year he will divorce you and you will be my wife!” She heard the words and replied to them that she will go and ask her father the king.

She came before the king and told him what happened. Nevuchadnetzar thought to himself. The G-d of the Jews doesn’t allow to marry Gentile women, if so, how can it be that he commanded them to marry my daughter? He said to her, “Go and reply to them that you asked me what to do and that I said that the two of them should come before me, because I wish to speak with them.” She went to them and said to them that they should come to her father.

To what may these wicked people be compared? Sometimes we see that at night a fly enters the home. The light is on and the fly flies around the light because it loves light, until eventually it enters the flame and is burnt. So with these two, due to their great desire, they went to the king and said to him, “So said Hashem. ‘Tzidkiyah shall marry your daughter and afterwards Achav will marry your daughter.’” The king said to them, “But I asked Hananiyah, Mishael and Azariyah - the three tzaddikim who I threw into the fiery furnace, and they weren’t burnt - and they said that it is inconceivable that Hashem would command to do such a thing!” The two retorted, “Hashem didn’t tell them, but He did command us!”

He replied to them, “If so, I will test both of you! I already tested Hananiyah, Mishael and Azariyah with the fiery furnace and I saw that they were tzaddikim. But they were three, if so, choose for yourselves a tzaddik who together with you will enter the fiery furnace. You will be three, if you leave alive, I will know that you are true prophets, and I will give you my daughter!”

The two of them were shocked until they came up with a plan. They said to one another, there is a tzaddik called Yehoshua ben Yehotzadok, and he was the Cohen Gadol. We know that every year he enters the Holy of Holies and leaves alive. Isn’t the Holy of Holies a place of fiery flames, if so, Hashem will certainly make a miracle in the fiery furnace, and we will also be saved in his merit! They asked the king to throw in with them Yehoshua. The king summoned Yehoshua and ordered that he be thrown together with the other two into the fiery furnace. Yehoshua began to cry out, “What have I done?” The king replied, “If you are a tzaddik, then nothing shall happen to you!” And they threw the three of them into the fiery furnace.

Immediately the two wicked ones were burnt and only Yehoshua was saved from the furnace. After a while the king’s servants took him out and brought him before him. The king saw that his garments were charred and burnt. He asked Yehoshua, “Tell me, why did Hananiyah, Mishael and Azariyah exit without a mark, with no damage and not even the smell of burning clung to their clothes, yet with you, your garments were burned?” Yehoshua replied, “They were three tzaddikim therefore a miracle occurred for them, but I was with two wicked people, and it was therefore a great miracle that I even left alive, and why are you shouting at me about the burnt garments?!” The king sent him on his way.

Despite this our chachamim asked why indeed were Yehoshua’s clothes charred and burnt? They responded that because his children married women who were forbidden to Cohanim, Gentile women. Although Yehoshua certainly raised this with them, nevertheless, he didn’t object appropriately and therefore he was punished that his clothes were charred!

This is what the passuk means, “Then He showed me Yehoshua, the Cohen Gadol,” that Zechariyah the prophet saw how he was standing in the fiery furnace, “and the Satan was standing on his right to accuse him”, because the Satan accuses at a time of danger, therefore he began to accuse Yehoshua the prophet that his children weren’t educated appropriately, “[The angel of] Hashem said to the Satan, ‘May Hashem denounce you, O Satan!’” Hashem denounced the Satan that he not incite because Yehoshua was a tzaddik, “’…this [man] is like a fire-brand saved from a fire!’ he is worthy to be saved from the fire, but nevertheless, “But Yehoshua was dressed in filthy garments”, his garments were burnt, “…The angel of Hashem then warned Yehoshua saying, ‘So said Hashem Master of Legions, If you go in My ways, and if you will safeguard My watch’”, that he should be vigilant to continue in the Torah’s path and then his reward will be immense, “’then I will grant you strides amongst these [angels] who stand here’”, amongst the ministering angels!

Let us think! Yehoshua was a tzaddik, entirely holy of holies. He entered the Kodesh in peace and left in peace, and despite this when he entered the fire, he was harmed. And all of this was despite the fact that he rebuked his children, however, he hadn’t rebuked them sufficiently!

What a great sin it is for someone to place his children in a secular school! He causes his child to leave as a denier of the Torah and its mitzvot, just like its teachers! A person must be cautious not to be harmed! What a great pity it is for a person not to educate his children correctly! This is a severe and harsh matter! How is it possible to be indifferent in the face of this?!

In truth, our education according to the Torah, according to our chachamim, is the central theme of the miracle of Chanukah. We are accustomed to always remember that the miracle of Chanukah was because of the oil that didn’t suffice for 8 days, but in truth, this wasn’t the main miracle. Rather, it was simply indicative of the great miracle that occurred for Am Yisrael in those days!

Let us consider, Am Yisrael without Torah, are worthless, they are like all the other nations! The Torah is our life! “For they are our lives and the length of our days!” Without Torah we are worthless!

Indeed, if we reflect, we will see that the whole Oral Torah is in our hands. Beginning with the Mishnayot, since before the Mishnayot we had nothing. All of the Tanaim - the chachamim of the Mishnah who are mentioned in the Mishnah - all lived in the last one hundred years prior to the destruction of the Bet HaMikdash. Hillel and Shamai and their colleagues all held their princely positions for 100 years during the Bet HaMikdash period, 100 years prior to the destruction.

The Chanukah miracle happened 206 years prior to the destruction. If so, if G-d-for-bid the Greeks had prevailed over the Hasmoneans, which were just tens of men against a huge empire, then G-d-for-bid the Torah would have been forgotten from Am Yisrael! If everything would have been functioning in a natural way, there is no doubt that the Greeks would have succeeded and would have subdued Am Yisrael then together with the Hellenists they would have brought destruction and ensured that the Torah was forgotten. As we say in our prayers that the Greeks sought, “…to make them forget Your Torah and compel them to stray from the statutes of Your Will”.

But Hashem made a great miracle that he left us the Oral Torah. As our chachamim said (Gittin 60a), “Hashem only made a covenant with Am Yisrael because of the Oral Torah!” These Tananim, Hillel and Shamai were 40 generations after Moshe Rabbeinu received the Torah from Hashem Yitbarach. After them the Amoraim arose, followed by the Rabbanan Savoraim, the Geonim and all the Halachists! We are fortunate - how good is our portion! This is the great Chanukah miracle! That we remained an “Am Segulah” - “a unique treasured People” [see Devraim 7:6] to Hashem our G-d, in the merit of the Holy Torah!

It is appropriate during these days to impart our refined belief into the hearts of the tender, to the children, and the youth, to influence them that they be educated in the Torah way. That they merit to toil in Torah and then the passuk will be fulfilled with us, “He said to me, ‘You are my servant, Yisrael, in whom I take glory’” (Yeshayah 49:3).

Shabbat Shalom!