Tidbits of Torah

Happy Chanukah!        headshot white 2015cropped

  Shabbat Parashat Mikkets

Chanukah – Day 4! 

Shabbat Mevarekhim HaChodesh 

December 16, 2017- 28 Kislev 5778 


Dear Friends,


Chanukah is about miracles, big and small, communal and personal.  It is about noticing God’s presence in the world – not only as Creator in the distant past, but also as Creator of opportunities day in and day out.  But, can we discern those opportunities?

It is not always an easy task to recognize God’s presence in our world.  It is not always an easy task to discern opportunities that will allow us to be active partners in the on-going work of creation.  But, Chanukah reminds us to look for the light, to look for the miracles, to celebrate the opportunities that give our lives meaning and purpose.

The Mishnah (Berachot 9:1) teaches us: When one sees a place at which a miracle occurred for our people Israel, one recites the following blessing:  Barukh sh’asah nisim l’avoteinu baMakom haZe [Blessed is the One who wrought miracles for our ancestors in this place].  This blessing is designed to draw our attention to the miracles that occurred in ancient times – miracles that contributed to our survival as a people.

But, there is also a blessing that we can recite when we see a place where we, personally, experienced a miracle.  That blessing is noted in a Midrash connected with the story of Joseph (which we are still reading in our weekly Torah portion of Mikkets).

Midrash Tanchuma (VaYechi, 17) tells us that after Joseph and his brothers buried their father, Jacob, and while they were on their way back to Egypt – Joseph spotted the pit into which his brothers had thrown him before they decided to sell him into slavery, years and years earlier.

The Midrash tell us that Joseph stopped at that site and made the following blessing: Barukh haMakom sh’asah li nes baMakom haZe [Blessed is the One who performed a miracle for me in this place].

Joseph saw the place and realized that it could have signaled the end of his life.  Instead, a miracle happened to him!  He was pulled out of the pit, sold into slavery, and ended up flourishing and saving his people years later.  Revisiting the pit, so many years later, Joseph was moved to respond with words of blessing, recognizing the site at which his personal miracle had occurred.  This blessing is available to each of us today if and when we may be privileged to revisit a site where we experienced a personal miracle.
On Chanukah we remember the miracles, great and small, communal and personal.  May the light of the candles remind us of God’s presence in our world, of the miracles that shape our lives, and of the opportunities that we have to be make our world a better place!

Shabbat Shalom and a very Happy Chanukah!


Rabbi Gilah Dror