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Parshat Mikeitz (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.
First of all; all of them, Moshiach, Josef's release and Chanukah are miracles without precedence and totally above nature, but they affect the entire world.
Josef's miraculous rise from prison to become ruler of the entire world is like Moshiach who will elevate the Jews from exile, spiritually rule the world and eventually raise the dead.
Chanukah, with its amazing victory and discovery of one vial of pure oil that lit for eight days is like 'Moshiach' (which means 'anointed with oil') who will defeat the enemies of Judaism and illuminate the world with the 'oil' (deepest secrets) of the Torah (See Rashi on Song of Songs 1:2).
[The essence of the Torah is likened to oil because it floats 'above' even the spiritual while simultaneously permeating the entire creation; as oil floats above all liquids and permeates all solids.]
And the number eight hints at revelation above nature (above the seven days of creation) that will accompany Moshiach. The harp of Moshiach will have eight strings. Moshiach will bring the circumcision of our hearts and circumcision is connected to the number eight.
But what does all this mean to us? The miracle of Chanukah occurred over 2,000 years ago and that of Josef some 1,500 years before that! And even if they can be connected to Moshiach, so what? Moshiach will happen when G-d wants it to. What has it all got to do with us?
To understand all this here is a story.
In 1927 the previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak, was imprisoned by Stalin's police and sentenced to death as the arch enemy of communism.
But like Josef in this week's Torah section, he was also miraculously exiled, then released, to become the leading positive force in world Judaism.
He moved from Russia to Riga, Latvia in 1928 then again in 1940 to Brooklyn N.Y. where he began what became today's 'outreach' movement that is saving Judaism and the world.
But despite all his tribulations and successes what concerned him most was his followers (Chassidim) that he was forced to leave behind in Russia. There was literally no way they could cross the Iron Curtain between the U.S.S.R. and the rest of the world and they were totally at the mercy of Stalin's deadly and viciously anti-Semitic police network.
But there are always miracles.
In the year 1945 in the city of Somerkand (in the communist satellite country Bukhara not far from Iran) a group of Chabad Chassidim were celebrating the eighth and most joyous day in the 8 day holiday of Succoth Simchat Torah with a Chassidic 'Farbrengen': a very informal Chabad Chassidic gathering around a table with much vodka, deep soul-stirring words and joy.
But in Somerkand, although it was far from the center of Russia, there was still ample reason to worry; The Communist sword of death was always hanging above their heads. Chabad Chassidim were officially public enemy number one and Informers, secret police, and soldiers were everywhere.
Nevertheless, tonight, on this festive holiday these Chassidim didn't worry. They only cared about two things rejoicing with G-d and … seeing the Rebbe again.
The Rebbe was their Moses!
Without the Rebbe selfishness is easy while joy and brotherly love are difficult. Look what happened at Mount Sinai when the Jews thought Moses wasn't going to come back. They got nervous and worshiped the Golden Calf, just days after they heard G-d PERSONLALLY forbid it!!
So, the Chassidim gathered around the table; made l'chiams, talked about loving G-d, about serving G-d, about learning Torah. They told interesting stories and sang deep Chassidic songs to open their minds and inflame their hearts.
But a few didn't want to sit. In fact one of most respected Chassidim, Reb Nisson Neminov, stood up and began dancing! It was Simchat Torah! A few Chassidim stood up and began with him. Dancing with the Torah and dancing for redemption, for freedom, for the Rebbe!! The Moses of our generation - the Moshiach of our generation!!
Then someone pounded on the table and most of the Chassidim sat back down for some more serious talk.
But Reb Nisson didn't. He took a few chairs put them in a row, sat on one and announced joyously "Who wants to take the train to the Rebbe!? Choo Chooooo!! We're going to the Rebbe 'ChooCHOOOO!"
The other Chassidim weren't impressed. Exactly the opposite: this foolishness and noise annoyed them and they told him so; but he refused to quiet down and get back to the table. In fact he increased.
"Come! ChOO CHOOOO!" Reb Nissan called out as he pushed the chairs around the room. "Who wants to go to the Rebbe!!"
But the Rebbe was thousands of miles away and they were hopelessly locked in Russia. How could this nonsense possibly help? They didn't even want to think about it it made them sad. They were deeply involved in their Farbrengen and he was disturbing.
"Come and join me!" yelled Reb Nisson. "Don't you want to see the Rebbe? We have to do all we can, no matter how crazy! Choo ChOOOO!!"
A few of the Chassidim were wild enough to join 'the Rebbe train' and also stood up and began pushing the chairs around the room yelling "Choo Choo, we're going to the Rebbe!!" while the others just tried to ignore the noise.
But a few months later an interesting thing happened.
A small escape route opened via Lemburg to Warsaw by taking a train with forged Polish passports. It was very dangerous, expensive and very erratic. Some departures were announced only moments before departure and some were intercepted which meant getting sent back, losing all your money and even getting arrested and severely punished.
So needless to say, few were willing to take the chance even if they had the funds for the trip, and not everyone that traveled actually made it to freedom.
But, lo and behold, ALL the Chassidim that participated in Reb Nemeoff's crazy 'Rebbe Train' made it out! Each and every one of them! And actually got to see the Rebbe!!
While those at the 'Farbringen' who were 'normal' were not as fortunate.
This is the lesson of Yosef and of Chanukah to us.
Although things seem to be dark and impossible we must always try to get on the 'train' of optimism and that very optimism will open the door to Divine assistance.
Just as Josef never lost hope of leaving prison and the Maccabees were optimistic in the face of impossible odds and precisely that optimism opened the door and brought miraculous results.
The only condition is, there must be a worthy and a true goal like the Maccabees who believed that G-d did not want Judaism to be 'normal' as the Greeks desired.
[The Greeks didn't destroy the Temple or even spill out the Menorah oil. They allowed Torah learning and the observance of the commandments because their goal was to normalize Judaism. The Greeks also had their gods.
They objected to 'crazy' Jews like the Maccabees who believe that G-d creates everything; from the most mundane and 'private' details of the physical to the very gods the Greeks worshipped.
And that is our goal.
In other words to bring Moshiach.
Moshiach will, like Josef, change the entire world and like the Maccabees defeat all the enemies of truth (but not necessarily with bloodshed). He will teach all mankind to know the Creator, bring peace, health and prosperity to the entire world, put an end to all suffering and eventually even raise the dead: Heaven on earth.
But it all depends on us.
The only way to make it all happen is to learn from Josef and the Maccabees and the Chassidim in our story. We must be 'crazy' about Moshiach or, in the language of Chassidut; "Shtoot D'Kedusha".
Only then will we bring the true END of darkness. Just one more 'crazy' good deed, word or even thought can tilt the scales and fill the world with the light of...
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