Saturday, December 24, 2011

Meikaitz - Chanuka - Haftorah

Parshas Meikaitz always falls out as Shabbos Chanuka. So I was trying to find a connection and not only did I find one to the Parsha, I found a connection with the Haftorah as well.
In keeping with the theme of my last post, I see the same thread appearing. I believe this message is one especially for us as we maybe start our own (Chanuka) re-dedication.
In the Parsha we read of the success of Yosef. But we must remember what he went through to get there.
He was a very talented and brilliant leader but had a hard time finding his calling. A lesser person may have given up long before. As a young man of 17 he meant well with his brothers but they took it wrong and betrayed him horribly. He was given up for dead. He gets a job and is successful but again is betrayed and sent to jail. In all he meant well and never wanted to do wrong. And the same in jail, although he is respected and good, when he tries to rely on the butler after he is kind to him, he is again forgotten. All of this through no fault of his own. He even says this to the butler, “I was kidnapped from the land of the Ivrim and also here I didn’t do anything wrong for them to put me in this jail.” But after 13 years, at age 30, he persevered and eventually saw great honor, success and accomplishment. This is the same message of Chanuka, of not giving up even though it seems hopeless.
Similarly, in the Haftorah, Yehoshua The Kohen Gadol (High Priest) and Zerubavel return to Israel to rebuild it and the Temple. Only it doesn’t go as planned and they are ready to give up. Yehoshua feels unworthy and “stands still” doesn’t move forward with the seemingly impossible project. Hashem tells him “to take off those unclean garments” forget those feelings of unworthiness. Repent and look to the future. Make for yourself a future of “pure garments” of good deeds, free from sin, and move ahead and you will be successful. Zerubavel thinks the task is a mountain in his path and Hashem tells him that what you think is a mountain is really a plain. And he tells him the famous words, “Lo b’chail v’lo b’koach ki im b’ruchie amar hasem tzvaos”, success is not from the might of weapons or physical strength but from my spirit says G-d, who commands the forces of creation.
And that must be how Yehuda Macabbi felt and nonetheless continued on to demolish the huge forces against him. And that is how we may feel in our mission in life.
Fittingly, Rabbi Hirsch in his commentary on the Haftorah ends with these words, on the above verse:
“Therefore, as it is not material but rather spiritual and moral forces which are called upon to be used for the completion of this building, no material or physical obstacle can hinder that completion.
Even the most powerful enemy forces, as well as the “mountain high” difficulties which may seem to tower before it, will dwindle to nothing against the spiritual-moral, the Divine power.”
May it be His will.

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