Thursday, December 10, 2015

We Are Maccabees Too

In this week's parsha, Mikeitz, Yosef has two children, Menasheh and Efrayim. These names have meaning, Menasheh, "Hashem made me forget all my hardships and all my father's home." Efrayim, "Hashem made me fruitful in the land of my suffering."

Being in Egypt, Yosef was aware that he was put there to effect Egypt in a positive and G-dly way. But at the same time he needed to insure that he would not lose his Jewish identity, which is a possible effect when mingling in a foreign culture.

The names of his sons addressed these sentiments. Efrayim, to be fruitful in the land of my suffering, which is involving himself and effecting Egypt. Menasheh, is connected to his past, although he talks about forgetting, he is referring to the anguish he suffered, not the Jewish way of life and the Torah he learned, those he wanted to remember.

What lesson can we take from Yosef? Why did Minasheh come first? How does this connect to Chanuka?

Yosef sets the standard for all Jews at all times. We are Yosef! We are meant to effect the world around us, by participating and influencing our surroundings with Torah values. It is obvious that this is true, because Hashem put us here in a physical world.

The problem is that the world and its cultures are enticing, especially when we find success. This is why Menasheh comes first. In order to to be effective and not be swept away, we must constantly develop and strengthen our essential bond and foundation in Judaism. This needs to come first, if we want to be effective in our mission to change the world in a positive way.

In the story of Chanuka, many if not most of the Jewish people succumbed to the licentious lifestyle of the Greeks. They lost their way, and sense of moral superiority, their connection to Torah and holiness. The Maccabees, outnumbered and weak, saved the day and saved Judaism. Not because they were great warriors, but because they were true to Hashem and His Torah, and when your on Hashem's side you never loose.

Today, we find ourselves, again in a world of confusion and lies, the worlds culture is antisemitic and anti-Israel. As we witness the collapse of any semblance of decency, morality and truth. At this time we must strengthen our essential Jewish foundation. We must, like the Maccabees, stand strong for what we know to be the truth and the highest standard of living, the Torah way.

May the light of Chanuka light up the world and may we soon dedicate our Holy Temple again.