A man’s time in this world is like a candle !
Wisdom from the regarding Chanukah..
The Talmud tells us (Shabbat 23b): ‘One who does Mitzvot that are with candles will merit having children that are Talmidei Chachomim (truth seekers that learn Torah – wisdom).
The Maharal asks 2 questions on this –
1. What is the connection between doing a Mitzva that is with candles (Lighting Shabbat Candles and Chanukah Lights) and having children that are Talmidei Chachomim(Torah Scholars)?
2. Why is it that his children should be Talmidei Chachomim and not that he himself should be a Talmid Chachom?
In Kabbala, a candle and its flame are compared to the body and soul. The flame of a candle draws the wax upwards and allows the flame to burn. So, too, through the Mitzvot, the soul is able to elevate our bodies to great spiritual heights.
Many people at around the age of 40 go through a mid-life crisis. They may have a great marriage, a good job with a good income, but they realize that one day they are going to die – and so what!
So what if I am successful, so what if I have a beautiful wife, so what if… – one day I will die and everything that happened during the 80-odd years that I was alive will be meaningless. His friends might tell him that he is taking things far too seriously and he just needs to get a life and enjoy himself, but deep down something is niggling away at him and telling him there is more to life.
The Maharal explains –
A man’s time in this world is like a candle – it burns for a certain amount of time and then it goes out. Also, this world is physical and has definition (represented also by the candle – as opposed to the flame.)
There are 2 assets that a person takes with him into the next world:
1. The Mitzvot and good deeds that he did in this world, and
2. His Wisdom – Torah wisdom. Seeing as his time in this world is finite, once he has taken his own wisdom with him into the next world, it is lost from this world. If, however, he can teach his children to also strive for Torah wisdom, and they to their children, then his wisdom will continue in this world forever and ever. [Much like continually passing a flame from candle to candle.]
So – one who does a Mitzva with a candle (which represents this world,) he will merit to have the ultimate in this world, which is children that are Talmidei Chachomim.
And I would like to add – when our kids see us preparing for a Chag, getting excited that the Chag is coming and taking pleasure in doing the Mitzvot, it is the greatest Jewish education you can be giving your kids.
By Rabbi Yaakov Sandler
facts of life: take this serious
Opportunities to express self-control
Joseph has the gift of dream interpretation. This is an usual talent, especially given that Jews are not into the occult, witchcraft, superstition, etc. So what allowed Joseph to tap into future events based on the disturbing dreams that others had?
But first a more basic question: What is sleep? Why do we sleep? The Almighty, in His infinite wisdom made some very strange things in this world. Why is it that human beings are designed to need to be unconscious for a good portion of the day?
We need to recharge our batteries. We need to forget about our worries, problems and challenges, so we can attack them the next day with a new attitude.
When we are asleep, what happens to our soul? Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, a 16th century kabbalist, says that our soul partially leaves the body and has contact with the spiritual realm. This leaves our subconscious in a strange state. Images in our imagination combine with thoughts, concerns and desires. The most strange and wonderful fantasies can be concocted from this mishmash.
While we are dreaming, the soul comes back from its jaunt in the coffee house in heaven, with tidbits of information. This info may contain insights into life, contact with those who have passed away, or prophetic news of the future.
In short, a dream is a mixture of images in your subconscious that includes symbolism, desires, fears, imagination, and sometimes some deep spiritual content.
* * *
A sieve or a colander will separate one thing from another. It can separate the pasta from the water, or debris from flour. In order to work properly, the object that sifts needs to be designed in a precise way. It has to have the exact size holes to keep one substance from the other. The holes have to be large enough to allow the flour, water, etc. to fall through, but small enough to keep the pasta, debris, etc. from falling through.
With a dream interpretation, it takes a special type of person to be able to sift out the information emanating from the spiritual realm, from the jumble of psychological imagery. That person has to have some type of mastery over his physical nature. He/she needs inner strength.
* * *
BOND WITH THE INFINITE
Although there are many aspects of inner strength, Joseph’s inner strength was best exemplified with the temptation of Potiphar’s wife. Joseph was off in a foreign country where he alone had a philosophy of ethical monotheism. Potiphar’s wife offered him wealth to sleep with her, and the threat of jail (possibly death) if he wouldn’t. Joseph had every possible reason to do the transgression. No one from his home town would have known. Yet he didn’t give in.
When faced with a very difficult moral challenge, Joseph was able to control himself. It’s not only a personal accomplishment, but as an emissary of the Almighty, it reflects on God as well. Maimonides refers to this specifically as the greatest mitzvah possible – sanctification of the name of God, in Hebrew, “Kiddush Hashem.”
It’s easy for me not to eat at McDonalds. Although I might enjoy a meal there, I can certainly put something together from my own kitchen that would taste better, be even less expensive, and definitely be healthier. There is no serious temptation for me to eat non-kosher food when kosher is also a pleasure for the palate, and I get what I need from it. It’s a mitzvah to eat kosher, but not necessarily a sanctification of God’s name. It doesn’t take a whole lot of inner strength.
For someone else, not eating at McDonald’s might be that very point of challenge that produces a Kiddush Hashem. Any mitzvah that includes a strong temptation on a variety of levels, when you pass the challenge, includes another mitzvah of greater proportion – Kiddush Hashem. In other words, inner strength is associated with a stronger bonding with the Infinite.
That bond with the Infinite allows you to be a holy sieve, someone who can interpret dreams.
* * *
People are often excited by the word “inheritance.” But an inheritance usually includes the loss of a loved one, and unfortunately it seems more often than not to include arguments and hard feelings, sometimes even lawsuits over who gets what. Our Jewish spiritual inheritance, however, has none of the bad stuff, and can be even more beneficial than a monetary windfall.
Joseph conquered a desire that we all have, and that has ramifications throughout the ages. The Kabbalah says he bequeathed to us the ability to conquer it ourselves. Because he was able to control himself, we know that we can do it, too
This week, look for opportunities to express self-control. Find one test that you have and savor one small victory. Look inside yourself for that inheritance of inner strength.
By Rabbi Max Weinman
1st Aliya: The year is 2229 and Yosef has been in prison for 12 years. Pharaoh has two similar dreams and demands their interpretation. The wine steward remembers Yosef and his gift for dream interpretation, and Yosef is rushed into Pharaoh’s presence.
2nd Aliya: Yosef interprets Pharaoh’ dream and suggests to him how to best administrate the seven years of plenty and the seven years of famine. (The extent of Yosef’s brilliance will first be revealed in next week’s Parsha.)
3rd Aliya: Yosef is appointed viceroy over Egypt, and puts into effect the plan that he had outlined to Pharaoh. He marries the daughter of Potiphar (the daughter of Dina) and has two sons, Menashe and Ephrayim.
4th Aliya: The seven years of famine begin, and the only food available is in Mitzrayim. Yosef, unrecognized by his brothers, recognizes them when they come to buy food. He accuses them of treachery and imprisons them for three days.
5th Aliya: Yosef demands that Binyamin be brought to Egypt and keeps Shimon as a hostage. The brothers relate their adventure to Yaakov who refuses to send Binyamin. The increasing famine forces Yaakov to concede to Yehuda’s guarantee that Binyamin will be safe, and the brothers return to Egypt.
6th Aliya: The brothers are reunited with Shimon and invited to eat at the table of Yosef. All appears to be forgiven and Yosef sees Binyamin for the first time in 22 years.
7th Aliya: Yosef hatches his final plot against his brothers. His famed chalice is planted in the Binyamin’s saddlebag forcing the brothers to return to Mitzrayim and a confrontation with Yosef. The year is 2238.
Old Syd Finkel was very particular about air travel. He specifically asked the airline for a window seat. When the time came to check in, however, he was given an aisle seat. All his complaints met with, “Sorry sir, there’s nothing we can do.”
During the entire trip, he fidgeted, squirmed and kvetched. When the plane landed Syd went straight to customer service.
“I specifically asked for a window seat! I got hit by the drink cart. There was a man snoring across the aisle. A child spilled juice on me. It was miserable! Now I specifically asked for a window seat when I purchased the ticket and your airline told me I would get one. But see! Look at my boarding pass. Aisle seat.”
“I’m very sorry, sir. Did you by any chance try to trade seats with the person in the seat next to you?”
“That was impossible!”
“Because there was no one in the seat next to me!”
something to think about
One of the reasons the Greeks targeted the Mikdash to defile was because the Mikdash ran contrary to their philosophy and outlook on life. The Greeks believed in aesthetics and beauty, which meant that only that which is appealing to the eye is beautiful and praiseworthy.
Thus, the Mikdash, with all its accompanying laws of tumah (impurity) which the eye cannot see, was a threat to their very beliefs – hence their need to divide, conquer, and defile it. Us Jews know that beauty does not begin or end with the eye.
The greatest beauty is the beauty of soul; a spiritual beauty that is covered up and hidden, yet it is beautiful nonetheless. Real beauty is spiritual beauty.