In this week’s Parashah of Vayeshev (Genesis 37:1-40:23) we find a remarkable story which all of us can relate in some way or another, as God calls Joseph as a Prophet and Seer and in turn, through a great act of betrayal, his bother Simeon plots to kill him out of jealousy, Yet instead of death, through the leading of Reuben refutes the will of Simeon and Levi and they throw Joseph into a pit, where later he is sold to a band of Ishmaelites who drags him off to as a slave to Egypt! For Joseph, all seems lost, and his father Jacob is deceived and lead to believe that his favorite child has been ravaged by beasts and was killed and eaten alive! If our story was to stop there, what hope or suggestion of good news would there be, but this was not the end of the story where later in Genesis, Joseph is affirmed by Pharaoh for his prophetic gift and is elevated to the second-highest office in the land!
Now in saying that this is a remarking story which all can relate to, some might retort and disagree , stating, “No, not everyone can - for who can claim to having to endure such dire circumstances and as a result, receive such a great elevation or high-reward?" Although this may be true for many, what nevertheless stands true is that the indelible imagery and reality of hope in the human heart and our desire to be free from oppression, neglect and seemingly hopeless circumstances is ever with us!
Such a story is also reminiscent of our Chanukah story, where God sent Judah Maccabee (a young man like Joseph) to do great exploits for the purposes of God and His Kingdom and people. Through invasion and assimilation, we as Jews faced utter annihilation and extinction, yet from the direst circumstances Adonai used a band of teenagers to change the course of both Jewish and human history! Through Chanukah we are reminded that our greatest fears and worries can be transformed to light and to a hope fulfilled for us and for all the nations of the nations of the world in Messiah’s name! Yet as with Joseph and Chanukah, it was never our own strength which has saved us, but as Maoz Tzur reminds, it has always been the Lord who has been our defense and He will rescue us in every circumstance!
Rabbi Mark Rantz
Happy Chanukah, 5781
26th of Kislev | December 12, 2020
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