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Chanukah


5760 Chanukah, the holiday of lights, is probably the most observed of all Jewish holidays. Even the most non-observant Jews know the blessing (with the accompanying melody of course). And for many it is the only blessing they know.
5761 (1) This story takes place about one hundred years ago in Baghdad at the Shabbat table of Mr. Avraham Pinchas, a rich Jewish merchant. Usually Mr. Pinchas had a table full of guests but this Shabbat he only had one; a poor man that he had invited from the Bait Knesset (Synagogue).
5761 (2) Israel Solomon was cold, but his mind was neither on the freezing winter of Valley Forge nor on tomorrow’s battle. He was trying to light his Chanukah Lights without waking anyone or attracting attention. ‘This could be my last Chanukah,’ he thought to himself as he blew into his hands to warm them up so he could hold the match. But as the fire caught the wick he suddenly felt different; he felt strangely warm and happy.
5762 This week's section is always read in the days of Chanukah. One unique thing about Chanukah is that even the most non-observant of Jews observe it. The rest of the year they don't believe in commandments, blessings, miracles or holiness, but on Chanukah they light the Chanukah candles, say the blessings, know about the eight-day miracle, and even know that it happened in the Holy Temple.
5764 This week's Torah section is read each year in connection with Chanukah. One obvious connection is that just as Yosef, the star of our section, was victorious over the superpower Egypt so also a handful of Maccabees (thirteen according to Rashi Deut. 33:11) defeated the entire Greek army to begin the miracle of Chanukah. At first glance this is very strange.
5765 This week's section always coincides with the holiday of Chanukah. 'Mikaitz' means 'At the end' and refers to the end of Joseph's imprisonment. But it also hints at Moshiach and the raising of the dead. In fact, so do Josef's release and Chanukah.
5767 This week's Torah portion falls on the last day of Chanukah and tells of the rise of Yosef from an obscure prison to ultimate power in just moments because of dreams: especially those of Pharaoh. What are dreams? Why were they so important in this story? And what is the connection of all this to Chanukah?
5769 This week's Torah section tells the story of a truly unfortunate Jew by the name of Josef who became the ruler of Egypt, and eventually the entire world, because he knew how to interpret dreams.
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