The portions of Yosef come to light during the darkest days of the year always at the end of Kislev. Something happens in the dark – the light of Chanukah is revealed. Something happens to Yosef too as he dreams in the dark of night. Pregnant with revelation, Yosef understands that all that transpired in his father’s life- so too he is to experience. He is taken out of his home, separated from his brothers. He sees that in Potiphera’s house all he does, he succeeds, like his father in the house of Lavan. He doesn’t make an effort to “call home” even when 22 years have passed by. Like Ya’akov who had to go into exile in order to build the physical house of Israel being the tikkun of the revealed world. But the buck stops there for him. Yosef is sent by Hashem to the most cultured, civilized modern society of that time, Mitzrayim. Our holy torah never uses the word dark, aside from one instance: to describe Mitzrayim. It is to this place that Yosef falls, deeper than any pit, where the occult ruled and belief in One G-d did not exist. Here the Tzaddik superseded his father in the trials of the darkness of Egypt. He wrestles with more than angels; his job is to “bring up” the holy sparks that reside even there. Only the Tzaddik has the ability to hold the candle of righteousness and show the true light in a place so seemingly alive with culture that accompanies the fat of the land. When he is tested by the most beautiful woman that lived on earth at that time he saw the living picture of his father and prevailed.
By the same token, The Macabees raised the torch of torah light in a time when Greek culture ruled, even in Israel. The objective of Greek culture was the worship of the body and philosophy. Instead of the holy light of the Temple, they erected pagan idols and set up violent gladiator games that they considered sport in coliseums. They forbade the Jews to worship the torah, the sacred times of the year, Shabbat and of course the brit (the Yesod, thus rejecting Yosef haTzaddik who was sent to sanctify the physical world.) Therefore before Chanukah it was considered a dark time not only because there was no light in the Temple but because the traditions passed down from father to son were either abolished by mandatory rule or forgotten due to assimilating into the Greek culture. Chanukah is not only the winning of a physical battle but the time that the holy light prevailed over the darkness of the carnal culture of Greece that threatened to abolish Judaism completely. That is why this is such a blessed time.
The seasonal Chanukah couldn’t be better timed. As we add another light to the menorah, the days of the year begin to lengthen too. The book of Chaggay even speaks about the auspicious time of the 24th day of the 9th month (kislev) as being the window of opportunity for the dedication of the Temple.(way before the second Temple!)- “But now consider from this day onwards, from the twenty forth day of the ninth month, from the day that the foundation of the lord’s temple that was laid, consider it. From this day I will bless you.”
Let us take this opportunity to remember that it is NEVER totally dark. It is up to each and every one of us to spread the light. Greece was the FIRST country to come to Israel’s aid in the terrible fires on the Carmel. May we hear only besoorot tovot, yeshuot venechamot.
Shabbat Shalom, Chanukah Sameyach Leah Goldsmith