In the ongoing story of Joseph and his brothers, our Parasha ‘Miketz’ is about the most significant turning point in Joseph’s life. From the Egyptian prison, where he is thrown into slavery following a false accusation, he appears before Pharaoh, the king of the Egyptian empire. After he successfully interprets Pharaoh’s dreams, Pharaoh exclaims: “There is none wiser than you in all Egypt” and hands Joseph the royal ring.
Thus, Joseph became the second most important figure in Egypt after the king. Such a transformation shows us that even in the deepest darkness there is a chance for the light to break through. Even the darkest night ends with the sunrise. And that even in the direst straits, we shouldn’t lose hope in our God. Joseph is the example of a person who was put in an extremely difficult situation in life, but then suddenly, he became one of the most influential figures in the Egyptian Empire. During all this time, in all the difficulties that befell his life, Joseph’s trust in God is a purpose and direction in every event that befalls him. After years, he realized that the path he had followed prepared the possibility for his entire family to come to live in Egypt during the famine years.
With perfect timing, every year, we read Parashat ‘Miketz’ during Hanukkah. We celebrate the days of Hanukkah by lighting candles and saying the “Hallel” prayer, in memory of the victory of a handful of Jews who fought against the foreign rule of the Greeks, who sought to forbid the Jews from observing the Torah’s teachings and rules. In a spiritual sense, The Maccabi’s victory, which took place about 2200 years ago, conveyed an exit from darkness to light.
The Jewish people in the Land of Israel won political independence and could maintain a Jewish way of life. In the practical way, the temple which was defiled– was illuminated again with the light of the holy menorah. The handful of Cohanim, who went to war against the Greek army, believed that the dark reality should be illuminated. They believed that God would save them from their miserable situation. That belief gave them strength and led them to victory.
Symbolically, the days of Hanukkah coincide with the shortest days of the year. The time of the year when the hours of light are the shortest and the hours of darkness are longest, and even the moon is almost invisible. In this darkness we light candles, announcing to ourselves, our families, and to anyone else interested to hear that, as Jews, we believe in the victory of light over darkness. By lighting the Hanukkah candles, we are not only lighting our streets and the houses, but also our hearts with the light of faith.
Hag Hanukkah Sameach,
Rabbi Refael Cohen