The sefarim tell us that יוסף is gematria אנטיוכס the Greek King at the period of the Chashmonaeem and the story of Chanukah. Even the gematriah of מלך יון equals יוסף. Chanukah always comes out during these parshiyos of Yosef and his episodes in Mitzrayim. What is this the meaning of this seeming glaring connection?
Yosef symbolizes the Yid who remains adherent to the Torah and mitzvos even though he is involved in the work place earning a parnasah. By such an individual like Yosef, the Bais Medrash was in his office where Hilchos Choshen Mishpat was revisited daily to ensure that all his business dealings aligned themselves with the will of Hashem. Hilchos tzeneeus was preserved with all of its gedarim precautionary rules even though the presiding culture was lax and immoral and even fostered licentiousness. Yosef was the Yid that was always making a Kiddush Hashem wherever he went sending the message that all his success comes from Hashem alone, whom he himself is merely a conduit to bring about Hashem’s glory. As the Rhizhiner Rebbi interprets the passuk שמני אלקים לאדון על כל ארץ מצרים that I have placed Hashem as the master throughout Mitzrayim.
Although Yosef worked very hard serving as the viceroy of Egypt, his priorities never changed. Learning Torah was his utmost drive in life to the point that even after not seeing his father for over 22 years he sent him עגלות (wagons) to remind him of that he is still holding by the sugya parshas עגלה ערופה which they learned together at the time they departed from each other. It was because of his steadfastness to the learning of Torah which gave to him the insight to recognize the underlying lies of their host culture’s intentions in their scientific, astrological, and mathematical innovations and wisdom. To this the passuk alludes to when it says concerning Yosef עדות ביהוסף שמו בצאתו על ארץ מצרים שפת לא ידעתי אשמע. A testimony to Yosef, following his release from imprisonment, after being framed of a crime by the wife of Potifar. The malach Gavriel came one night and taught him seventy languages to the point שפת לא ידעתי a foreign language which he previously had not known, now אשמע he could hear and clearly understand fluently.
However, there is a different interpretation to this passuk. Pharaoh dreamed הנה עמד על היאר (Bereishis 41,1) he was standing above of the Nile River. On top means, that he was haughty as he saw himself above the deity the Nile River. He did not want to appear so conceited so when he told Yosef of his dream he added one word to על which was על שפת on the river bank of the Nile. Yosef immediately chapped the addition and remarked שפת לא ידעתי אשמע I hear the word שפת coming from you which means the “edge” of the river but I don’t know this word as being part of your dream. Pharaoh was flabbergasted that Yosef could actually recognize that he changed the word in order not to look conceited. Pharaoh then declared there is no one like you who possesses the ruach of Elokim at his service.
Yosef with a life infused with constant learning and deveikus with Hashem, can pick up the lies and the subliminal messages that the culture professes and strives to inculcate into its inhabitants. Yosef possessed his father’s middah of אמת. As the Bnei Yissaschor writes on the passuk אלה תולדות יעקב יוסף that the word תולדות refers to the filler letters (offspring) of each letter. The offspring of the letter א is לף 110, the offspring of the letter מ is 40 and the offspring of the letter ת is ו 6 together 156 the same gematriah of יוסף. The Torah Yid who lives a life of emes will easily detect the lies promulgated by society and its leaders on behalf of saving humanity. The truth however, is just the opposite. Technology is ultimately here for humanity to overthrow G-d. Our subliminal messages throughout our technological improvements are that we will soon be successful in becoming totally independent of Him (על היאור). But until we reach that point we don’t want to appear with such an extreme anti religious ideology so we keep our goal submerged and undercover, sort of at the “edge”.
ויוסף היה במצרים as Rashi comments the same Yosef who shepherded his father’s flock in Eretz Yisrael and was then a tzaddik, is the same Yosef 22 years later after living and functioning in one of the highest political positions of one of the most decadent cultures in the world. While the culture changes for the worse, Yosef remains steadfast in his unflinching loyalty to Hashem refusing to allow the pollution and tumah enter and influence his inner being.
The Greeks did not intend to wipe off the face of the earth the Jewish Nation. Rather their purpose was to uproot the special Yosef quality that is implanted in every the Yid. When the students of Aristotle found him in a house of prostitution they were perplexed of how could their teacher of Ethics enter such a house of ill repute. Aristotle responded to his students that this paradox does not present any problem. “Today I am not Aristotle”. Secular wisdom is called חכמה חיצונית peripheral wisdom for it remains on the external part of the one who learns it. It is like a garment that one could wear and remove from himself when necessary or to his advantage. A Yid who did not merit to spend his entire day in the Bais Medrash, takes the Bais Medrash with him to the work place and therefore we will never find him saying “Today is my off day of being a Ben Torah”. Someone once remarked that the famous words of Klal Yisrael at Matan Torah were נעשה ונשמע that resonated throughout the universe. These words are found in perek 24 passuk 7 alluding to the fact that dedication to Torah is 24/7. Torah is G-dly wisdom that is internalized. It doesn’t depend upon moods. This concept and internalization of Torah wisdom irked the great Greek philosophers when they realized that Torah wisdom is not merely an adornment to be worn or taken off at convenience. They strove to defile the Bais Hamikdash and all the oil that would bring kedushah to the vessels in the Bais and with which they would light the Menorah which symbolized the learning of Torah.
שפת לא ידעתי אשמע as we interpreted above the word שפת is a lie for it was not in the original dream. A Yid especially a Ben Torah who is immersed in the truth of Hashem can detect the sheker of the world even if it is packaged with exquisite gift wrapping and a ribbon tied with a bow.
Interesting to pay attention to, if you hadn’t already, is the acronym of these above letters ישאל which contain all the letters of ישראל except for the letter ר, which symbolizes the ראש. A “Yiddishe Kop” which is full of Torah, knows when a lie is perpetrated. We are all called שארית יוסף (Amos 5,15). We have the capability and spiritual talent of Yosef not to be deceived by the Other Side no matter in which form they appear. Chanukah is the Yom Tov in which we have the segulah to strengthen ourselves with the quality of Yosef even when on vacation away from our Bais Medrash, our Rabbeyim, our Mechanchim, our parents and spiritual guides. Yavan יון takes the yud representing wisdom and lowers and lowers it until it becomes a letter nun which symbolizes nun 50 gates of tumah. Their entire life is just one vacation which is בקש – ן for this is what they truly seek. Yosef in his biggest test saw his father’s countenance even though they were hundreds of miles apart. The Bais Medrash comes with us wherever we go. After all it is the makeup of Yiddishe kop. One ‘definitely takes his head with him and never leaves at home. One just has to use it and listen to what is says and you will be just fine.
Gut Shabbos Rav Brazil