1. Today is both Shabbos Mevorchim Teves and Shabbos Chanukah. Although on the one hand the Rebbeim did not farbreng on Chanukah, and on the other, a farbrengen on Shabbos Mevorchim is an enactment of the previous Rebbe — and therefore the reason for a farbrengen today would seem to be only because of Shabbos Mevorchim and not Chanukah — nevertheless, the element of Shabbos Chanukah is also present, and contributes to the element of Shabbos Mevorchim in the farbrengen.
We find this phenomenon expressed in the Talmud (Zevachim 91a): “Does then the Shabbos affect the additional offerings (‘mussaf’) and not affect the constant daily offerings (‘temidim’)?” That is, the holiness of Shabbos affects not just the offerings brought specially on Shabbos, but also those offerings brought on Shabbos as part of the offerings brought every day of the year — they too partake of the Shabbos sanctity. Rashi explains the reason as, “since now they are being brought (on Shabbos), the Shabbos name devolves also on them.
So too in our case, the farbrengen of Shabbos Mevorchim which is taking place on Shabbos Chanukah. The distinction of Chanukah affects not just the matters of Chanukah, but also the idea of Shabbos Mevorchim (which is constant every month “temidim”) .
The distinction given to Shabbos by Chanukah can be understood by first examining the special nature of Chanukah. The Talmud (Shabbos 21b) states that the days of Chanukah “were fixed and made for Yomim Tovim with praise (“Hallel”) and thanksgiving.” Although the full “Hallel” is recited on other Yomim Tovim — the first two days and nights of Pesach, the two days of Shavuos, the nine days of Sukkos including Shemini Atzeres – it has a unique quality on Chanukah. “Hallel” is recited on Chanukah because of the miracle of the oil with which the Menorah was light. Of the Chanukah lights it is stated that “these lights shall never cease” — although the lights of the Bais Hamikdosh (the cause of the Chanukah lights) have ceased in exile. Thus, although in the case of cause and effect the effect can normally not be stronger then the cause, the Chanukah lights (the effect) are eternal whereas the lights of the Bais Hamikdosh (the cause) have ceased. Moreover, although all the festivals will be abolished in the future, Chanukah (and Purim) will not be abolished.
The advantage of Chanukah, then, over the other festivals is that it alone is eternal. And it is this special quality which is infused into the farbrengen of Shabbos Mevorchim. A farbrengen's goal is the “bechein,” — the actual result that eventuates from the farbrengen — the undertaking of good resolutions to increase in Torah and mitzvos. There is obviously a great difference between a temporary result and something which lasts forever. When the farbrengen of Shabbos Mevorchim is during Chanukah, the element of eternality in Chanukah affects all aspects of the farbrengen, making the resolutions undertaken then much more durable.
The good resolutions undertaken at this farbrengen during Chanukah should be connected with Chanukah. The danger on Chanukah was to the souls of Jews, against Torah study and fulfillment of mitzvos, in contrast to Purim when the threat was to their physical existence, their bodies. More particularly, in spiritual things themselves, Purim is associated with mitzvos (“body”) and Chanukah with Torah (“soul”). Within Torah itself, Chanukah is connected with the esoteric aspect (the “soul” of Torah) and Purim with the exoteric (the “body” of Torah). This is emphasized in the miracle of the oil that occurred on Chanukah, for oil symbolizes the secrets of secrets of the Torah, its most esoteric aspects. Thus the unique nature of Chanukah is self-sacrifice for the esoteric aspect of Torah.
2. A further aspect to Chanukah is the kindling of the Chanukah lights. This is done “at the entrance of one’s house on the outside,” and the minimum length of time that the lights must keep burning is “until the feet of the Tarmudoi cease from the market.” [The Tarmudoi were merchants who were the last ones to leave the market place. The Chanukah lights must burn until the time they leave.]
The above teaches that it is not enough that a Jew illuminates his own home with the “lamp which is a mitzvah and Torah which is light,” but he must also make sure that the light reaches to the outside (“at the entrance of one’s house on the outside”), to the public.
“Tarmudoi” has the same letters as “Mordedes,” which means rebellion (against holiness). The Mitzvah of the Chanukah lights is to eliminate all rebellion, even in the market, in the public places.
Rebellion should be foreign to a Jew. A Jew’s conduct should be in the manner of “we will do” before “we will hear.” Understanding is, of course, very important; but a lack of it cannot prevent fulfillment of a mitzvah. Action must precede comprehension. Moreover, one’s striving to understand is itself only because one is commanded to understand.
If a Jew rebels, he must know that he is doing so against his own nature. Rebellion stems only from “the strange god that is within you” — but although it is “within you,” it is still “strange” to a Jew’s true self. Adding to “the lamp which is a mitzvah and Torah which is light” rids one of rebellion, for then a Jew’s true essence — his G-dly soul — shines forth.
This is the idea of the Chanukah lights: The light of Torah and mitzvos spreads forth to, and illuminates, the outside, “until the feet of the Tarmudoi cease from the market” — until rebellion is abolished.
“The feet of the Tarmudoi cease from the market” does not mean the “Tarmudoi” are themselves eliminated, but instead, they are now transformed into holiness. “Market” alludes to the “reshus harabbim,” the “public domain.” The “public domain” corresponds to a state of being separated from holiness (analogous to rebellion), whereas the “private domain” corresponds to G-d’s realm, sanctity. “The feet of the Tarmudoi cease from the market” means that a person leaves the “public domain” and enters the “private domain” — G-d’s realm.
This is the effect of the Chanukah lights, which are lit “at the entrance of one’s house on the outside.” The Chanukah lights are the prime example of “the lamp which is a mitzvah and Torah which is light,” and through this illumination, Jews who are in the “public domain” cease to be there and enter the “private domain.”
Not only do these Jews come in from the “public domain,” but the “public domain” itself is transformed. Halachically, a “public domain” is classified as a place through which at least 600,000 people pass through. Through causing all the Tarmudoi to leave the “public domain,” the halachic parameters for the “public domain” are no longer fulfilled, and it is no longer a “public domain.”
The practical lesson from this is that every Jew must illuminate the outside with the “lamp which is a mitzvah and Torah which is light,” to induce those who wander in the “public domain” to return to their true place, the “private domain.” But it is not enough to remain in one’s home and to, wait for the Chanukah lights to take their effect. The previous Rebbe said one must go out to the “public domain” and there convince Jews to return to G-d’s realm, the “private domain.”
Although a number of days of Chanukah have already passed, one can still remedy any omissions of service. The number of lights kindled each night of Chanukah correspond to the number of days of Chanukah that have passed. Thus on the fourth night of Chanukah, for example, four lights are kindled corresponding to the fourth, third, second and first days — and hence all the days that have passed are encompassed in that day. Therefore on any given day of Chanukah, one can compensate for any omissions of service on the previous days.
Some people claim that they are fatigued from their toil of the previous three days, and wish at least one day of rest — especially on Shabbos, the day of rest, similar to the future which is “the day which is all Shabbos and rest for life everlasting.” But a Jew must always be in a state of constant movement, rising ever higher in his spiritual awareness, as stated: “Torah Sages have no rest ... as said, ‘they go from strength to strength.”’ And every Jew is on the level of a Torah Sage, as stated: “All your children are learners of the Torah.”
If this applies every day of the year, it certainly applies on Shabbos, when the idea of “they go from strength to strength” exists in full force. For although one must take delight in physical things on Shabbos (eating and drinking), nevertheless, the ultimate service on Shabbos is to rise higher in Torah and mitzvos.
The above explanation of the service of Chanukah may be connected to the coming week’s parshah, Vayigash, the first words of which are “And Yehudah, approached him (Yosef). “Yosef” symbolizes study, while “Yehudah” symbolizes deed. “Yehudah approached him” means that a Jew must synthesize study and deed in his service to G-d — i.e., study is drawn down to and affects deed. This is the idea of Chanukah: The dissemination of Chassidus ("oil”) to the outside the loftiest concepts of the “soul of the Torah” are drawn down into the outside.
3. In addition to the above lesson drawn from Shabbos Chanukah in general, there is a lesson to be derived from the particular day on which Shabbos Chanukah falls this year — the third day of Chanukah. This lesson can be derived from the Torah reading of the day, which relates the offering brought by “the prince of the children of Zevulun, Eliav ben Chelon.” Zevulun’s unique quality is described by the Torah as “Rejoice Zevulun in your going out [to trade].” Yissachar (who brought the offering on the second day) was engaged in Torah study; Zevulun in worldly matters, beginning from good deeds, mitzvos, and extending to literal trade.
The service which serves as a preface to that of both Yissachar and Zevulun is that of Nachshon ben Aminadov of the tribe of Yehudah, who brought the offering on the first day. Nachshon, our Sages tell us, was the first to jump into the Reed Sea, for he possessed the quality of mesiras nefesh, self-sacrifice. And it is mesirus nefesh which is the necessary preparation to service in general, Torah study (Yissachar) and mitzvos (Zevulun). Before service can be started, one must be in a state of self-nullification and self-service, surrendering one’s will to G-d.
The connection between Zevulun and Chanukah is that both emphasize the idea of elevating the world, the outside. The Chanukah lights are kindled at “the entrance of a person’s house on the outside,” and Zevulun’s task is to go out to the world and refine and elevate it. Thus on the third day of Chanukah, when we read of the prince of Zevulun, special emphasis is given to one’s service “outside,” to elevate and refine the world.
4. Parshas Mikeitz talks of Pharaoh’s two dreams, and Yosef’s interpretation of them. Ch. 41, verse  relates Yosef’s explanation of why Pharaoh dreamed twice: “And concerning the repetition of the dream, it is because the thing is established by G-d, and G-d is hastening to do it.” In other words, the repetition of the dream is a sign that it will quickly come to pass.
There is a previous instance of a dream being repeated. Yosef, while still in his father’s house, first dreamed that he and his brothers were binding sheaves in the field, and his brothers’ sheaves bowed down to his sheaf. His second dream was that the sun, moon, and eleven stars bowed down to him.
In this case, we cannot say that Yosef’s dreaming twice is “because the thing is established by G-d, and G-d is hastening to do it (as in parshas Mikeitz). For the dream was fulfilled only after many years. Yosef dreamed when he was seventeen, and the dreams of his family bowing to him were fulfilled when he became viceroy of Egypt at age thirty. A thirteen year wait is hardly “hastening to do it.”
This question arises only when we learn parshas Mikeitz, for in parshas Vayeishev, where Yosef’s dreams are related, a student does not yet know there is any special import to the repetition of a dream. Only after learning in our parshah that the repetition of Pharaoh’s dream means something, does the student realize that the repetition of Yosef’s dreams demands explanation.
Many commentators on Scripture (among them, the Rashbam, Ramban and the Or Hachayim) ask this question and give various answers. Yet Rashi, the foremost commentator, makes no comment.
Rashi interprets Scripture according to its plain meaning. If Rashi makes no comment on an apparent difficulty, it indicates that its resolution may be easily found without his explanation.
The difference between Pharaoh’s dreams and Yosef’s dreams is that Pharaoh dreamed two dreams identical in content, and different only in form. Yosef’s dreams, however, differed one from another also in content.
Pharaoh’s first dream was about seven lean cows which followed and devoured seven fat cows. His second dream was about seven thin ears of corn which sprouted after seven fat ears and swallowed them up. These dreams are identical in content: the seven lean cows and seven thin ears of corn symbolizes the seven years of famine which will follow seven years of plenty, symbolized by the seven fat cows and the seven fat ears. Only the form of the symbol — ears of corn instead of cows was different. Thus the two dreams do not refer to two different interpretations, but to the fact that G-d is “hastening” to implement their meaning.
Yosef’s dreams were not identical. The first dream concerned his brothers’ sheaves bowing down to Yosef’s sheaf in the field, which symbolized that the brothers would need Yosef in “field” matters — they bowed down to Yosef when they came to buy food in Egypt. The second dream was that the sun and moon and eleven stars bowed down to Yosef. This is different from the first dream in two aspects.
1) The sun and moon, representing Ya’akov and Bilhah, are present, unlike in the first dream;
2) The brothers are on the level of “stars,” shining bodies, which is an infinitely higher level than when gathering sheaves in the field. It represents the bowing down of Yosef’s family to Yosef in the royal palace.
Thus the two dreams represent two different times and situations. There is no repetition, and therefore Rashi need make no comment explaining it.
5. [The questions posed by the Rebbe Shlita in the following analysis of Rashi’s explanation on a verse in parshas Vayeishev were actually asked on Shabbos parshas Vayeishev. But because the Rebbe gave the answers on Shabbos parshas Mikeitz, the questions and answers are presented here together.]
Parshas Vayeshev, ch. 37, verse 1, states: “Ya’akov dwelt in the land where his father had sojourned, in the land of Canaan.” Rashi, after bringing a number of Midrashim, states: “Another interpretation of ‘dwelt’ is that Ya’akov desired to dwell in peace, (but) the wrath (or troubles) of Yosef sprang on him. The righteous desire to dwell in peace; G-d said, ‘That which is prepared for them in the World to Come is not sufficient for them, but they seek to dwell in peace [also] in this world!”’
There are several difficulties in this explanation of Rashi.
1) Rashi explains Scripture according to its plain interpretation. He therefore never quotes an Aggadic interpretation (Midrash) unless it helps to explain a verse according to the plain interpretation (although it will not be totally according to the plain meaning). In our case, what difficulty does Rashi perceive in the verse “Ya’akov dwelt” that he feels it necessary to bring the above Midrash as an interpretation?
2) Rashi says that the reason Yosef’s troubles sprang on Yosef was because “That which is prepared for them in the World to Come is not sufficient for them, but they seek to dwell in peace [also] in this world.” This does not seem a valid reason to prevent Ya’akov dwelling in peace. G-d previously promised Ya’akov (Bereishis 32:13) that “I will surely do you good.” This promise was recounted by Ya’akov when he was praying to G-d to save him from Esav — something which is related to this world, not the World to Come. Thus the promise “I will surely do you good” refers to this world (as well as the World to Come). What then was wrong in Ya’akov wanting to dwell in peace in this world as well as the World to Come when G-d Himself had promised “I will surely do you good?”
The difficulty in the verse “Ya’akov dwelt” is as follows: Rashi says that when Ya’akov desired to dwell in peace, Yosef’s troubles beset him. This seems to imply that Ya’akov’s desire to dwell in a peace began only then, and was frustrated by Yosef’s troubles. Yet there was a period of time before Yosef’s troubles began when Ya’akov was already dwelling in peace. Yosef was sold to Egypt (the beginning of the troubles) when he was seventeen years old. When Yosef was born, Ya’akov wished to return to the land of Canaan, but acquiesced to Lavan’s request to stay another six years. After he left Lavan, he spent two years on the way to Canaan. Thus, when he reached “the land where his father had sojourned, the land of Canaan,” Yosef was eight years old. Ya’akov therefore dwelled in Canaan for approximately nine years before Yosef’s troubles began (at age seventeen). What event happened when Yosef was seventeen that should suddenly cause Ya'akov to wish to dwell in peace (and was then thwarted by Yosef’s troubles)?
Rashi’s comment that “Yaakov desired to dwell in peace” follows his comment on the previous verse, in which he states: “Ya’akov saw all of the chiefs [of Esav] who are written above [in the previous parshah]. He wondered and said, ‘Who can conquer all of them?' What is written below? ‘These are the generations of Ya’akov: Yosef.’ For it is written ‘And the house of Ya’akov shall be a fire, and the house of Yosef a flame, and the house of Esav shall be for stubble.’ A spark will go forth from Yosef that will consume and burn all of them.” In other words, Esav will be rid of his evil and transformed to good only through the combined efforts of Ya’akov and Yosef.
When Yosef was still young, and had not yet attained his full powers necessary to triumph over Esav, Ya’akov could not be expected to go to Mt. Seir to convert Esav to good. Thus there was nothing wrong in Ya’akov dwelling in peace then. But when Yosef turned seventeen, and had absorbed Ya’akov’s teachings, Ya’akov should have gone with Yosef to Mt. Seir to transform Esav to good. When “Ya’akov desired to dwell in peace” instead of going to “judge Mt. Seir,” then “the troubles of Yosef sprang on him.” It was measure for measure. Since Ya’akov did not utilize Yosef’s powers, but instead wanted to dwell in peace, it was it the troubles of Yosef” specifically which prevented him from dwelling in peace.
The Rebbe Shlita spoke here of the situation in Israel, and the reluctance of some Jews to stand firm and proud. It has been published as a separate essay, titled “Pride of Ya’akov.”
- (Back to text) Published in Ginzei Nistoros Or Yisroel; Introduciton to Likkutei Amarim of the Mezritcher Maggid.