Dreams play a major role in both this week's and last week's
parashot. In this week's reading, Pharaoh says to Yosef
(41:15), "I dreamed a dream, but no one can interpret it." R'
Nosson Meir Wachtfogel z"l (the Lakewood mashgiach) asks: What
did Pharaoh mean by "no one can interpret it"? Rashi writes that
Pharaoh's advisers did offer him several different
R' Wachtfogel answers: The Gemara (Berachot 55b) teaches that
the meaning of a dream depends on the interpretation given to it.
Some dreams are neither good nor bad; rather, their fulfillment
depends on their interpretation. If a person interprets his
dream as a good "prophecy," that good may actually come to him.
On the other hand, if he interprets the dream as bad tidings,
that bad may befall him.
In Pharaoh's case, his advisers did offer him several
interpretations for his dreams. For example, they suggested that
he would father seven daughters who would then die. However,
Pharaoh did not want to have seven daughters who would die and he
did not like the other interpretations either; therefore, he
insisted that no one was able to interpret his dreams.
R' Wachtfogel explains further: When Hashem causes a person to
dream, He is giving the person raw materials with which the
person can "build" a future. This is why there are prayers by
which a person asks that a "bad" dream turn "good." One cannot
simply wish a dream away, just as one who has his hands full of
building materials cannot pretend that his hands are empty. The
building materials must be used for something - whether good or
bad - and so must the dream.
The Gemara teaches that a person should wait as long as 22
years for a dream to come true. [Twenty-two is the number of
years that Yosef had to wait after his dreams until his brothers
bowed to him.] Just as a dream may be compared to building
materials, so it may be compared to a seed. We know that a
person who plants seeds must wait for them to germinate. (Kovetz
"Yosef commanded that they fill their vessels with grain,
and to return their money..." (42:25)
"Then he instructed the one in charge of his house saying,
`Fill the men's sacks with as much food as they can carry
and put each man's money in the mouth of his sack'." (44:1)
Why did Yosef return his brothers' money, not once but twice?
R' Yaakov Yokev Ettlinger z"l (see page 4) explains: Our sages
teach, "Ma'aseh avot siman la'banim" / "What befell the
Patriarchs presages what will befall their descendants." Yosef
was hinting to his brothers: Just as you received money from
Egypt twice, so your descendants will receive money from the
Egyptians twice -- once at the time of the Exodus, and a second
time at the Yam Suf. (The Egyptians had decorated their chariots
On this subject: The Gemara (Berachot 9a) records a dispute
regarding the interpretation of the verse (Shmot 12:36), "Hashem
gave the [Jewish] people favor in the eyes of the Egyptians and
they granted their request - so they emptied Egypt [of wealth]."
Rabbi Ami says, "They emptied Egypt as a container is emptied of
wheat." Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish says, "They emptied Egypt as a
pond is emptied of fish." R' Ettlinger asks: About what are
these two sages arguing? Also, if Bnei Yisrael had emptied Egypt
of wealth at the time of the Exodus, from where did the Egyptians
get the wealth that they later carried to the Yam Suf?
R' Ettlinger explains: The difference between a container of
wheat and a pond of fish is as follows. A pond is a fish's
natural environment, while a container is not wheat's natural
environment. Wheat must be brought from another location and
placed in the container. The Egyptians had two types of wealth.
One, like fish in a pond, was their homegrown wealth, while the
second, like wheat in a container, was booty brought from other
countries. When Bnei Yisrael left Egypt, they emptied Egypt's
coffers of *one* of these types of wealth; Rabbi Ami and Rabbi
Shimon ben Lakish disagree which one. In either case, the other
type of wealth remained in the Egyptians' hands, only to be lost
at the Yam Suf.
"The day dawned, and the men were sent off, they and their
donkeys. They had left the city, they had not gone far,
when Yosef said to the one in charge of his house, `Get up,
chase after the men'." (44:1-2)
Why does the verse mention their donkeys? R' Hillel
Lichtenstein z"l (Hungary; 1814-1891) explains that these verses
and this event may be understood based on the principle of
"Ma'aseh avot siman la'banim" / "What befell the Patriarchs
presages what will befall their descendants." Our sages teach
that even the poorest among Bnei Yisrael left Egypt with donkeys
laden with riches. And, just as Yosef's servant chased after
Yosef's brothers, so Pharaoh chased after their descendants.
The Gemara (Berachot 63a) states, "If someone loosens his grip
on the Torah, he will be unable to stand at a time of trouble.
Some add: Even if he loosens his grip on only one mitzvah."
Commentaries explain that if a person has a chance to learn
Torah or do a mitzvah, but he puts it off, he will find it more
difficult to perform that mitzvah the next time around. This is
also true of a person who does study Torah or perform the mitzvah
at hand, but in a lackluster way.
This teaches us, says R' Gedaliah Schorr z"l (1911-1979; rosh
yeshiva of Torah Vo'daas in Brooklyn), that if a person does not
take advantage of his spiritual strengths, he will lose them.
This is why Hillel said (in Pirkei Avot), "Don't say, `When I
have time, I will learn,' because perhaps you will never have
time." The same learning will be harder tomorrow, because
today's strength is lost if it is not used.
As its name implies, Chanukah is a time of rededication. (The
root of Chanukah is "chinuch" / "dedication.") It is a time to
combat our tendency to perform mitzvot in a lackluster fashion,
merely out of habit. This, says R' Schorr, is alluded to in the
statement of the Gemara (Shabbat 23b) that the Chanukah candles
must burn "until the last foot (`regel') leaves the street."
Literally, this means until the streets are empty and there is no
one left to see the Chanukah lights. Homiletically, though,
"regel" is related to "hergel" / habit. Our task on Chanukah is
to work on rededicating ourselves until hergel / habit is
(Ohr Gedalyahu: Chanukah)
R' Shneur Kotler z"l (Lakewood rosh yeshivah) taught: When the
Greeks issued decrees against our observance of the Torah, it was
not that they were primarily interested in oppressing us and
attacking the Torah was a convenient method of doing so. Rather,
their very goal was to divest us of our unique character as a
nation of the Torah; for this reason, they wished to introduce us
to Greek wisdom.
As part of their plan to create a new kind of Jew, the Greeks
also wanted to translate the Torah into Greek -- the Hellenist.
Hellenists were Jews who took on the appearance and the character
of the Greeks, and they were a greater thorn in our side than
were the Greeks themselves.
R' Kotler continues: Our redemption from the Greeks was
different from our salvation from other oppressors. In this
instance, unlike all other redemptions, it was not necessary to
build a new Bet Hamikdash. It was, however, necessary to purify
the interior of the Temple. What is the significance of this
When G-d commanded the building of the mishkan (the forerunner
of the Temple), He did not say, "I will dwell in it," but rather
(Shmot 25:8), "I will dwell amongst them." We are the "Temple";
purifying the interior of the Bet Hamikdash is merely evidence of
the fact that we have purified ourselves.
The Torah reading on Chanukah tells of the dedication of the
mishkan by the twelve Princes of the Tribes. Perhaps, suggests
R' Kotler, it was specifically necessary that the mishkan be
dedicated, not by the whole nation, but by individuals who had
already purified their souls.
(Noam Siach p.106)
R' Yaakov Yokev Ettlinger z"l
R' Ettlinger was born on 29 Adar 5558 / 1798 in Karlsruhe, the
capital of the Grand Duchy of Baden, in southwest Germany. In
his youth, he studied under the local rabbi, R' Asher Wallerstein
(son of R' Aryeh Leib of Metz, author of Shaagas Aryeh). From
the age of 18, R' Ettlinger studied in Wurzburg under R' Avraham
Bing, from who he received semichah / ordination. R' Ettlinger
also attended the University of Wurzburg, where he studied
In 1825, R' Ettlinger was appointed rabbi of Mannheim, a
community of about 1,500 Jews. In Mannheim, R' Ettlinger also
headed a yeshiva of about 70 students, one of the last advanced
yeshivot in Germany. In 1836, he was appointed Chief Rabbi of
Altona and Wandsbeck and of the principalities of Schleswig and
Holstein. Reportedly, the bet din / rabbinical court in Altona
was the last one in Western Europe to enjoy official government
recognition. Until 1863, the court's decisions in money matters
had the force of a civil court judgment and were enforceable by
the police. During R' Ettlinger's tenure, Altona also was
unusual in that its customs were completely untouched by the
Reform movement that was sweeping Germany. When R' Shlomo Eiger
(son of R' Akiva Eiger) visited Altona, he complimented the
prayer service there as being "word for word, and at a much
slower pace than all the shuls in Poland."
When R' Ettlinger moved to Altona, he took his yeshiva with
him. Among his students in Mannheim and Altona were the two
foremost leaders of Torah Judaism in 19th-century Germany, R'
Samson Raphael Hirsch and Rabbi Esriel Hildesheimer.
R' Ettlinger's Talmud commentary Aruch La'ner is a classic that
is widely studied today. R' Ettlinger also wrote Bikkurei
Yaakov, an important work on the laws of lulav and sukkah, and a
Torah commentary Minchat Ani. He also founded two periodicals:
Der True Zionsw"chter, a journal of public affairs devoted in
large part to battling the Reform movement, and Shomer Zion
Ha'ne'eman, a Torah journal. Each of these journals continued to
be published for about 11 years.
R' Ettlinger passed away on the first day of Chanukah 5632 /
December 7, 1871. (Source: Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch pp. 40-