Monday, December 26, 2016

It's All About Hashem

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The way that our parshas are set up, we always read about Yosef on Chanukah. And being that everything in Torah is exact, even what our great sages enacted, we must ask:

What does Yosef have to do with Chanukah? What lesson can we take from Yosef and Chanukah, to help us deal with difficult times?

In the story of Chanukah, there were miraculous victories. Strong in the hands of the week, many in the hands of few, etc. But when the Talmud tells us what Chanukah is all about, it tells us only about the miracle of finding the pure oil and that it burned for eight days. When Chanukah was established as a holiday, only one mitzvah was ordained, to light the lamps of the menorah.

Why is there no mention of the great victories? And why isn't there a mitzvah to have a meal like on Purim?

The question is, what do you choose to focus on? In the story of Chanukah, the Greeks did not want to hurt us, they didn't want to fight with us. What they wanted is to put ourselves before Hashem. The only mitzvahs they took issue with, were the ones that we have no reason for, other than, because Hashem said so. In other words, be Jewish because you enjoy it, not because Hashem wants you to.

We went to war to put Hashem first, which in essence, is what being a Yid is all about. To focus on the war or on a meal, would take away from the message of Chanukah. The most spiritual thing we have in this physical world is light, and lighting the menorah sets our focus on the spiritual and Hashem. It is all about Hashem.

This now brings us to Yosef. Despised by his brothers, sold into slavery, and thrown into jail on false charges. An orphan, alone, in a foreign land. Yet you don't get the feeling that Yosef was depressed or down at all. He seems positive, able to rise above and succeed in every situation.

How was Yosef able to stay positive?

Yosef's paradigm was the key to his positive outlook. Yosef saw himself as part of Hashem's plan, he saw every situation as part of the plan. When you perceive the world from this perspective, every difficulty, hardship and challenge is nothing more than part of Hashem's plan and therefore positive. To Yosef, it was all about Hashem.

Our perspective is the key to our happiness. When we only see ourselves, we are stuck with the difficulties the pain, the hurt, the anguish, the suffering, etc. However, when it is about Hashem, and you see everything as part of Hashem's plan, every situation is seen as an opportunity. The crazier and stranger the situation, the more meaning could be found in it. Instead of being knocked down by the difficulty, you are uplifted.

We are happiest and strongest when we are the way Yiddin are meant to be, focused on Hashem.

This idea has kept me positive as well. Ever since I was diagnosed with ALS, I felt that I was chosen by Hashem for a special mission, to strengthen and lift the spirits of Yiddin. Though I daven every day to be healed, as long as I am in this predicament, I will use it to do what Hashem wants.

Through making our lives about Hashem, we will merit the end of all the difficulties and darkness. Like Yosef who became the viceroy of Egypt, we too will be on the top. Like the miracles of Chanukah, we will have the ultimate miracle, the coming of Moshiach. May he come soon.


  1. so beautiful and uplifting. Thank you Rabbi.

  2. So very powerful! I thank you so much for taking the time to do these blogs and I pray that HaShem blesses you beyond measure for it. Many Blessings to you, Rabbi!