Parshas Mikeitz/Shabbos Chanukah - Presents From Hashem

By BJLife/Moishy Pruzansky
Posted on 12/09/15

When the cupbearer presented Yosef to Pharaoh, he tried to denigrate him by describing him as a young lad, a Hebrew (a foreigner), and a slave. Regardless, Pharaoh was so impressed with Yosef's interpretation that he immediately appointed him as viceroy over Egypt. What could Yosef have possibly said that impressed Pharaoh so greatly - enough for him to dismiss all of Yosef's "flaws" and immediately declare that he wanted Yosef, an inexperienced slave, to be the viceroy? Additionally, although we know that it was Hashem's will for Yosef to rule Egypt, was there any specific merit that earned him this incredible position of power? 

R’ Avrohom Pam explains that after Yosef interpreted Pharaoh's dream so brilliantly, he could've requested anything that he wanted - wealth, power etc. Instead, Yosef profusely gave all of the credit to Hashem and repeatedly described himself to be merely Hashem's mouthpiece in conveying his interpretation. It was the revelation of this fundamental character trait of recognizing that all of his talents and accomplishments are a gift from Hashem that earned Pharaoh's respect and merited his elevation from slave to viceroy. Indeed, the most repulsive character trait both in the eyes of Hashem and man alike, is when someone is full of themselves and drunk with feelings of their own superiority. Conversely, man's most endearing trait is genuine humility. The fact that Yosef embodied the attitude that "there is no strength in my own hands; rather, I am the lucky one that Hashem has granted the opportunity to do His will" is what earned Pharaoh's, and more importantly Hashem's decision to grant Yosef such power.


The importance of recognizing that all of our talents and accomplishments were only made possible by the grace of Hashem plays a central role in Chanukah as well. Through it, we can answer the following fundamental question: The Gemara in Shabbos (21b) states that the main miracle of Chanukah was the fact that the Menorah’s oil lasted for eight days. If so, why does the bulk of Al Hanisim (the prayer that we add to Modim and Bentching on Chanukah to commemorate the miracle) discuss the war with the Greeks, and only mention the miracle of the oil in passing??? R' Nachum Lansky שליט״א explains that the purpose of bentching, as well as saying Modim three times a day, is to internalize that all of our accomplishments, talents, possessions, etc. are an absolute gift from Hashem and not due to our own superiority. Therefore, it is appropriate that when the Sages added Al Hanisim they specifically mentioned the war, which can be misconstrued as the result of our own superior military strength, strategy etc. When it came to the miracle of the oil lasting miraculously for eight days, however, there was no risk that we would take personal credit for it as it was clearly a miracle outside of the power of man. An underlying theme of Chanukah is to recognize that just as the oil that burned for 8 days was miraculous and a complete gift from Hashem, so too our victory in war was a tremendous gift from Hashem and not due to our own military prowess. EVERYTHING we have in life is a gift from Hashem!

Living Inspired

It has always been the practice of great Jews to regard their accomplishments as gifts from Hashem. Following in their example is not only a mitzvah; it is also the best method to living a happier and more meaningful life. Let's explain with the following parable: 

A millionaire couple had two sons. One son was never happy and always felt that his parents didn't give him enough. The other was the happiest kid alive. What was the difference behind their outlooks? One originally lived in an impoverished orphanage until he was ten years old and was only recently adopted by the wealthy couple. He recognized that every single thing that his parents gave him was an absolute gift and therefore he didn't take even the smallest favor for granted. The outcome was that he constantly felt incredibly loved and cherished by his caring parents. The parents loved their other son as well, but as a result of being spoiled his whole life, he felt that everything his parents gave him was owed to him and that he had nothing to be excited about. Therefore, no matter what he received, he never felt truly loved nor any reason to be happy.

The underlying message of this week’s parshah and the celebration of Chanukah is that Hashem is involved in every aspect of our lives and that everything we have is a GIFT from Him. This attitude is a present itself- for when one adopts such a mentality, they will always be on a high for they realize that they are constantly receiving incredible gifts from G-d Almighty Himself! Who wouldn't be smiling if they had this knowledge?? In fact, it is for this reason that Hashem commands us to make blessings before every pleasure. He wants us to wake up and realize how truly blessed we all are and how He is constantly showering us with pleasures and presents! Constant gifts from G-d? Hey, what can be better than that?! Let us always regard all that we have as gifts, notice that there are so many people who don't have the things that we sometimes take for granted and always have a tremendous sense of pride from the fact that we are cared for and loved by Hashem Himself!

Gut Shabbos and A Freilichin Chanukah