Parshas Vayeishev 5776
Candle Lighting Time: 4:17 pm
Dec 4, 2015
Volume 12 Issue 8
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Dvar Torah

  

20 CUBITS
 
By Rabbi Yosef Prupas

The Gemarah in Tractate Shabbos (21b - 22a) brings down two statements in the name of Rav Tanchum (author of the Medrash Tanchuma), one following the other. On the surface there seems to be no reason for their juxtaposition, but a closer look shows that they are connected on two levels.
 
The first statement in the name of Rav Tanchum is that one may not light the Menorah twenty cubits above the ground or below the ground. The reason is that at that distance the lights are not within the normal sight range of a person. Thus there is a lack of "Pirsumei Nisa," publicizing of the Miracle. The second statement made by Rav Tanchum has to do with this week's Parsha. Reuven sought to prevent the murder of his brother Yosef and suggested throwing Yosef into a pit (with the intention of eventually rescuing him). The Passuk says that the pit was "empty, without water." Rav Tanchum asks if the passuk already stated that the pit was empty, why did it have to say that there was no water? Rav Tanchum answers that the verse alludes to the fact that although there was no water, the pit contained snakes and scorpions. What is the connection between these two statements?
 
The Torah Temmima answers that the juxtaposition of these two statements in the Gemarah actually answers a different question. If Reuven was trying to save Yosef why would he throw him into a pit that was full of life threatening animals? A clue is found in the above Gemarah in Shabbos. Reuven was not aware of the perilous nature of the pit because the pit was more then twenty cubits deep, beyond his range of sight. We know that the pit was more than twenty cubits deep from the fact that the verse uses the word "Vayashlichu (and they threw him)." The Gemarah in Tractate Tamid says that whenever this term is used it means a throwing beyond twenty cubits. Thus we see the significance of these two statements being together, for just as the Menorah cannot be seen with clarity beyond twenty cubits, so too Reuven wasn't able to see snakes and scorpions in the pit.
 
But the connection goes deeper. It is brought down that after the funeral of Yakov our forefather, Yosef and his brothers on the way back to Egypt passed by this very pit. Yosef approached the pit, to the chagrin of his brothers, causing them to think that now that their father passed on he would avenge what they had done to him. Yosef then reassured them that that was not the case, and that he had wholeheartedly forgiven them. So why did Yosef approach the pit?
 
Once again the answer lies in the connection between the two statements of Rav Tanchum. The Meshech Chochma says that although the main miracle of Chanukah was that the few Maccabees were able to overcome the greater and superior Greek army, we make the bracha, thanking Hashem, only on the miracle of lights, which miraculously burnt for eight days. The reason for this is found in the laws of the Abudraham that a bracha for a miracle is only made on one that is supernatural. The battles between the Maccabees and the Greeks, even though they were miraculous, weren't obviously supernatural. The miracle of the oil on the other hand was clearly beyond nature. Hence we can understand, based on the juxtaposition of the two statements, why Yosef approached the pit. It was in order to make a blessing thanking Hashem. "Blessed is Hashem for performing a miracle in this place". What was the miracle? That he was not harmed by the snakes and scorpions in the pit.  Just as one must see the Menorah in order to make the appropriate blessing, Yosef too needed to approach and see the pit in order to make his blessing.
                            

   
 
Dvar Halacha
 
Laws of Chanukah      
Part 5  
 
  By  Rabbi Yochanan Eskenaz i
 
 
If one is lighting inside, the main parsumei neisa (publicizing the miracle) is for the people inside the house.  Therefore, one may l'chatchila light [even with a brachah] inside as long as at least one person is awake (Rama 672:2).  It is important to note, that even when lighting inside, it is still preferable to light within the time period that people are still found outside (Rama 672:2).  The reason is, that even while lighting inside, we are still displaying the menorah for the people outside and we try to be mifarseim haneis (Be'ur Halachah 672:2 s.v. u'mikol makom).  Therefore, if one did not light within the time of "ad shetichla regel min hashuk", one may light until alos hashachar [without a brachah] (Mishneh Berurah 672:11).  However, if one is lighting inside, as long as someone else is awake and present he may recite the brachah. If one returns home in close proximity of this time, it is proper to wake someone up in order to be able to light with a brachah (Mishneh Berurah 672:11).
 
It is important to note, if one is lighting inside, in a situation where one's wife is not home, it is preferable to wait for her return rather than light at the preferred time ["shalom bayis" comes first] (Emes L'Yaakov 678:ftnt. 592 & Koveitz Halachos 3:7).
 
On Friday afternoon, one may light as early as plag hamincha.  However, one should be careful to have enough oil that it will be able to last until after 30 minutes after tzais hakochavim (Mishneh Berurah 677:2).  It is preferable to daven Mincha before lighting the menorah (Mishneh Berurah 677:2).  The reason is it appears as tartee d'sasri (contradictory behavior) to light the neiros Chanuka [of Shabbos]and then daven Mincha of Friday (Shaar Hatziyon 677:7).  There is a machlokes haposkim, if one is in a place that does not have an early Mincha minyan, if it is better to daven individually without a minyan and then light or light and then daven b'tzibbur (Shloshim Yom Kodem Hachag pg. 283 ftnt. 126).  If one is lighting both neiros Shabbos and neiros Chanukah, it is preferable to light neiros Chanukah first(Shulchan Aruch 677:1).
 
On Motzei Shabbos there is a machlokes if one lights menorah before havdalah or not.  Either way a person chooses to do is fine (Mishneh Berurah 682:3).  One who is careful throughout the entire year not to end Shabbos before the tzais hakochavim of "Rabbeinu Tam", if one is lighting inside, should wait until Rabbeinu Tam has ended to light (Igros Moshe OC 4:62 s.v. v'chain). 

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