Torah Portion: Mikketz (At The End) (B’resheet) Genesis 41-44
Haftorah Reading: I Kings 3:15-4:1
Tonight we read the Torah portion Mikketz and we celebrate the seventh night of Chanukkah. I would like to explore the connection between the two by using a Hebrew word, “bitachon,” which means trust. But first a few words about the holiday. Chanukkah does not appear in the Hebrew scriptures. The events that serve as the foundation of the holiday take place in the 160’s BCE. The Greek king Antiochus ruled over Israel at the time. He suffered defeat in a war against Egypt and as a result dealt severely with Israel on his way back home.
His army desecrated the Holy Temple by erecting a statue of Zeus and sacrificing pig on the altar in the Temple. His army then went throughout Israel with the purpose of eradicating Judaism and the worship of the one true G-d. They met with much success until they arrived at the town of Modi’in, just west of Jerusalem. When they tried to force the priest of the town, an elderly man named Mattiyahu, to eat pork. He refused and professed his faith in G-d. A local resident volunteered to take the old man’s place and eat the pig. When he saw this, the priest grabbed a sword and killed the man. Mattiyahu’s sons joined him and drove the Greeks from the city. Thus began the revolution that saw this band of rebels eventually defeat one of the greatest armies of the world. They were able to retake the city of Jerusalem and cleanse the Temple. They erected a new altar and dedicated it on the 25th day of Kislev. However, they were able to find only enough pure oil for one day rather than the eight days of oil that would be needed. By a miracle, the oil lasted not one day, but eight days which gave rise to the holiday we celebrate tonight. Interestingly this holiday is mentioned in John 10:22 where it says Yeshua was in Jerusalem for the Feast of Dedication otherwise known as Chanukkah.
Where does trust or bitachon come into this story? These men were sure their cause was right and they stood up for that conviction against the most powerful army in the world. They trusted G-d to deliver them from the hands of the Greeks.
Now to our Torah portion. In the beginning of the portion we see Joseph being brought from prison to interpret the dream of Pharaoh. Here we have a prisoner who had been betrayed by his brothers, then set up by his master’s wife which landed him in prison for something he had not done. Enough to make anyone doubt his faith or that G-d cared for him.
Yet, after interpreting Pharaoh’s dream he does something amazing. He applied for the position he had just recommended to Pharaoh. Why? How could he have had the chutzpah to do this? It was because of his complete trust (bitachon) in G-d, even through all the things that had happened in his life that on the surface seemed to most as a sign G-d had forgotten Joseph. He knew G-d was still with him. We can see this in his words to Pharaoh when he gives G-d the credit for whatever he is about to say concerning the dreams of Pharaoh.
What do we learn from Joseph and from Chanukkah? As believers we know that we live in a world that has purpose and meaning. As believers we can have bitachon/trust in G-d that He is always with us and His plan is not for us to lead a meaningless life. No matter what odds we face He is always with us and will bring us into His plan no matter what it looks like on the surface. A person can approach life knowing that if G-d is with us He will provide us with the ability to overcome whatever obstacles we encounter to accomplish His will in this world. We are not a leaf driven by the wind. Both Chanukkah and Joseph teach us about trust.