The Light of the Dark

Kislev 29, 5783
December 23, 2022
Candlelighting Time 4:21 PM

            The trials and tribulations of Yosef are legendary. A young man of stellar potential cast away from his family, betrayed by his brothers and imprisoned on false charges. Seemingly, these events would be sufficient to destroy the ambition and self-assurance of anyone. Yet Yosef persevered and not only survived but prospered. Even in the depths of prison, it was evident that Hashem was guiding his every step and those around him noticed this clear display of Heavenly involvement and assistance. Eventually, he rose to the position of second-in-command in Egypt. His meteoric rise to power is dramatic and unexpected. However, perhaps we can understand this ascension to dominance not as a random event but rather as the harbinger for kingship in our nation as we will explain.

            Our Sages have a dictum pertaining to the invincibility of kingship. It is known that the king is entitled to knock down all barriers that confront and oppose him. Therefore, true kinship scales even the most difficult situations. King David a descendant of Ruth comes from such a perspective. She hailed from Moav which is rooted in an event where Lot’s daughter slept with her father. Certainly, incest is not a respectable act and yet the foundation of the House of King David, kingship in our nation, finds its initial basis in that moment of darkness.

            Yosef, assuming the mantel of leadership that was bestowed upon him as foretold by his prophetic dreams epitomizes that premise. And it happened in the flash of a wink. One moment he was in fetters and the next minute they quickly released him from prison and prepared him to meet royalty, Pharoah himself. And yet Yosef was not frazzled by this at all and his sovereignty assumed its rightful place immediately, a display of supremacy and dominion.  

            Chanukah was born out of a similar vein. The Jewish nation was battered with decrees that were destroying its very fiber and substance. The introduction of Hellenistic philosophy into our nation was a challenge and only a strong, powerful resistance would be able to counter and combat them. And that’s exactly what took place. The Maccabees, small in numbers but loaded with faith in Hashem that He would supply the necessary ammo to vanquish the adversary. And, of course, we know the end of the story.

            Therefore, when we read this parsha of Mikeitz, we actually are viewing a precursor of future events that would unfold in our rich legacy of history throughout the years when we would have to confront adversarial situations and yet, against all odds, emerge victorious and triumphant.

            And that conquest of light over darkness is illuminated each night when we kindle that small yet steady flame that shines brightly and invests us with the courage to remember the sacrifices of those before us that have given us the impetus to face down any and all challenges that we encounter. It isn’t always the quantity of force that prevails but rather the quality and caliber of those that represent that which is good and virtuous that eventually irradiates and provides us with salvation and redemption.


Chanukah gives us an introduction to the future festivals of Pesach and Shavuos. Although it was not a necessity initially, our difficulties in exile required this reinforcement. The dedication of the Maccabees is an all-time encouragement to always empower ourselves to strengthen our faith and trust in Hashem.                                                                                                                       

S’FAS EMES