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Parshat Miketz


In this week’s Torah portion, פרשת מקץ (Parshat Miketz), we are told about the reunion of יוסף (Joseph) and his brothers. Due to a famine in the land, the brothers are instructed by their father יעקב (Jacob) to travel to Egypt and bring back food for the household. Little did they know, their brother יוסף, whom they had previously sold into slavery, was the Egyptian leader who was tasked with distributing the grain to the people. Before revealing his identity to his brothers, Joseph plays tricks on them in order to see whether they truly feel remorse over selling him into slavery all those years ago. Once he sees their guilt, he reveals to his brothers that he is their brother and the entire household of יעקב moves to Egypt to be with יוסף.

Due to the configuration of the Jewish lunar calendar, every year פרשת מקץ falls out on חנוכה (Chanukah). What is the connection between the Torah portion and the story of חנוכה?

Unlike the many other enemies who have tried to destroy the Jewish Nation, the יונים (Seleucid Greeks) did not want the Jews to be killed. Rather, they wanted the Jews to assimilate to their Hellenistic culture and strip them of their Jewish Identities.

By celebrating the Holiday of חנוכה, we are not only celebrating the fact that the few Maccabean warriors defeated the many Seleucid forces or that the small quantity of oil burned on the מנורה (Menorah) for eight days. We are also rejoicing over the fact that we have the freedom to practice Judaism. In fact, one of the laws of חנוכה is to publicize the מצוה (commandment) of lighting the חנוכיה (Chanukiah) by placing it in a location where it is visible to those passing by. This idea of publicizing one’s Jewish identity is mirrored in פרשת מקץ and demonstrated by יוסף. When the cupbearer tells פרעה (Pharaoh) about יוסף’s ability to interpret dreams, he refers to יוסף as an “עברי”, a Hebrew (בראשית 41:11). This shows that even in the Egyptian dungeon, יוסף continued to identify himself as a Jew.

Both פרשת מקץ and the story of חנוכה serve to remind us of two critical moments in history when the Jewish people placed a high priority on maintaining their Jewish identity. We should learn from these heroes to be proud of our Jewish heritage and never lose our Judaism.

Shabbat Shalom!

By: Noah Dobin (10th grade)

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