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Parsha Mikeitz - Recognizing the Song in our Lives

Welcome to another exciting Parsha. As Rabbi Nachman said – the Parsha is about you and me. It Is Mikeitz. Let’s learn and connect to what has kept the Jewish people alive and vibrant over the last 2000 years and more It is poignant as ever this week.

Our Parsha starts off with Joseph languishing in Prison, and we all know the story of how he was released from Prison and instantly became the viceroy of Egypt. Our sages were critical of Joseph, that he did display enough trust in God to release him and asked another person to help him. Here we see the tension between trust in God and our own efforts to bring outcomes. We deal with this dilemma daily when we work or are busy in business. While there are no easy answers here, ask any modest successful businessman the reason for his successes. While hard work and talent may be a factor, luck and timing (God) plays a major role.

We also see the event when Jacob comes down to Eqypt and describes to Pharaoh that he had a hard life. Again, the sages were critical of Jacob. We live in complex world, and with Covid19 things are much challenging and confusing.

So, how can we stay positive. In this teaching below, Reb Shlomo relates.

One who sees the light but does not hear the song, sees nothing. Yes, he sees light, but he does not see “the light that it is good.”

So, what does this mean for us? Was is this the song? While everybody will their own interpretation of this, for me the light may bring clarity, but unless we take the opportunity, see the good in life , ourselves , our family, and people, we are doomed for mediocrity and failure.

Let’s learn a little deeper how Reb Shlomo shares the light and song here.

Reb Shlomo Menorah

Channukah Gems - learning with Reb Shlomo זצ"ל

Chanukah Gems from Reb Shlomo zt"l

The Hidden Light and the Niggun

[the following is a loose free translation of a Reb Shlomo Chanukah lesson found in Lev Hashomayim p.167.]

Rebbe Nachman says that every thing has its own ‘niggun’- melody. Every country has its own ‘niggun’. Each wisdom has its own ‘niggun’. Every person has his own ‘niggun’. Every tree has a ‘niggun’. Every flower has a ‘niggun’.

However there are two all encompassing songs; may we merit to hear them.

The first ‘niggun’, is the Song of the Creation of the World.

Did you think that when Hashem created the world and said “yehi or – let there be light” – that He commanded it to be, in the manner of a police officer making commands?

Hashem said “Yehi or” with a ‘niggun’ – [He sang the world into being.] This is understood.

One who sees the light but does not hear the song, sees nothing. Yes, he sees light, but he does not see “the light that it is good.”

Only one who merits to also hear the Holy One’s b”H ‘niggun’ of “yehi or” merits to taste the “Or Haganuz” – the hidden light; the light that is hidden within everything in the world.

Every one knows that the light of Chanukah is the “Or Haganuz”, concerning which it says “and Elokim saw that light that it was good.” Why do we see the “Or Haganuz”- ‘the light that is good’ particularly on Chanukah,?

It is because on Chanukah there are two important mitzvot- the kindling of the lights and “Hallel v’hoda’ah” – praise and thanksgiving – i.e. ‘niggun’- songs of praise and thanksgiving.

The second all encompassing song is the ‘song of the future [redemption]’; we sing this song on Chanukah. This song too is hidden in “let there be light”.

On the verse, “Elokim saw the light that it was good, and Elokim separated between the light and the darkness.” Rashi says “G-d saw the light, and that it was not appropriate that the wicked should have use of it. So He separated it for the tzadikkim- for the for the future.”

I want you to know that there are those who keep everything hidden for the future. Listen, the Chozeh of Lublin was a Levi, a descendant of the holy Sheloh. He never sang because he wanted to preserve his voice until he would sing with the Levites in the Beit Hamikdash.

The Baal Shem Tov taught that Hashem hid the 'Or Haganuz' in the Torah. This means that one, who wants to benefit from the “Or Haganuz”, must study Torah. There he will find it.

So the Slonimer Rebbe asks if so then the “Or Haganuz” is not hidden!- the Torah itself is revealed light! The Slonimer answers, yes, the Torah is light, and still within its light, there is “Or Haganuz”- ‘hidden light’; if you want to hide something, the best place to hide it is in light - light within light.

When G-d gives you some light, you think that that you already have everything, because you do not realize that beyond this light there is even greater light, and beyond that there is even more and greater light.

It is somewhat similar to the Swiss Alps. You finally make it up one mountain only to realize that there is an even higher mountain further on, which makes the first one look small. You go up the next mountain and there you see another mountain even much higher than the one you just ascended.

So it is, and even more so with the holy light. A yid sees a little bit of light and he thinks, ‘wow! I’m wearing a kippah, I have tzitzit, I eat kosher – I am already filled with light.’ ‘Chapp nisht! - Relax!- Don’t grab!’ Further beyond, there is even greater light, and further beyond there is even greater light and so on, infinitely so!

Once one of the students of the Mezritcher Maggid went up to lead the Mincha- afternoon services, and he froze; he couldn’t utter a word. The Alter Rebbe went over to him and asked what was wrong. He said that he realized that there was such a huge gap between where he was and the supernal levels that he saw ahead of him, that he could not imagine how he could even open his mouth to say one word. The Alter Rebbe told him not to worry because when he will reach the place that he sees ahead, he will then see even further. So long as you see that there is a gap between where you are now and what you see ahead, it’s okay. But if you no longer see a gap ahead of you, then you have what to worry about.

On Chanukah, by combining the mitzvah of light with the mitzvah of song and melody- songs of praise and thanksgiving, we draw the “Or Haganuz” to penetrate into the entire world.

Then we suddenly realize that it all depends on us. When we see all the evil in the world- instead of getting angry we must know that we are responsible. The Holy One blessed is He, has given us light and melody, and we have the power to fix the whole world.

[this lesson is from Lev Hashamaim on Chanukah p32]

Rav Nachman said that every transgression you do causes you to hate another person in the world. This is because a transgression profanes the holiness of your heart. Obviously, the people who hate the whole world have made many mistakes in their lives.

I want to share something unbelievable with you. On Yom Kippur, God forgives us for all our transgressions. On Simchas Torah we sweep them out and with joy and dance. But when does God fix our hearts?[*]

[*] In the process of tshuvah, the focus is on regretting the wrongdoings of the past and making an affirmatively accepting to act correctly in the future. However, after tshuvah, there still remains the issue of healing the heart of the residual spiritual damage it suffered as a result of transgressing.

When does He take out all the hatred and all the evil from our hearts? When does God give us back the holiness of seeing somebody else's light and saying a blessing over it? When do we see that somebody else's light is SO beautiful? [] On Chanukah! [*]

[] With these questions Reb Shlomo is illustrating the nature of a spiritually healthy heart. Such a heart it is free of all hatred and evil, free to thank G-d over another’s light and heathy to see and appreciate the beauty of another’s light. – [*] The fixing of the heart takes place on Chanukah. To understand this, Reb Shlomo continues-

Chanukah is the time of Aaron the High Priest- the holiday of Aharon HaKohen haGadol. Aharon's specialty was making peace between two people. How can someone make peace between people? Aaron HaKohen had the holiness of being able to actually cleanse a person's heart of hatred. This is a very special blessing.

Each time you make a spiritual mistake you hate somebody. But you know what else? Each time you make a mistake, sadly enough, you love your children less. Your heart is not completely pure any more. Children need a pure heart. They need the purest light. So for the sake of our children, we better quickly cleanse and purify our hearts.

When does God clean our hearts again so we can have the privilege of giving over Torah to our children? On Chanukah.

The holiness of Chanukah lights is that they burn even in the middle of the night. We are crying, "If I make mistakes again next year, let this Chanukah light shine and illuminate and heal all my darkness. Let this Chanukah light keep me from ever hating people. Let this Chanukah light give me so much holiness that all the darkness of the world cannot take away my love for my children." Chanukah is the highest kind of fixing the world.

If each time you make a mistake you hate somebody else, let's face it, each time you make a mistake you hate yourself. Each time you make a mistake you get further away from your own neshamah, from your own heart. On Yom Kippur God fixes your soul. But when does your light shine again? When can you look in the mirror and see a great light instead of seeing a ‘nobody’? When do you see your light again? On Chanukah.

All year long whatever you do, you think is nothing. Whenever you do anything you think, "It's bad. It's stupid. It's nothing." This is because you think so little of yourself. On Chanukah you kindle a candle and you know it's God's light. You realize that you are bringing down God's light [to the world]. You realize that you have been bringing God's light down into the world all year long.

I want to bless you and bless myself that this Chanukah should fix us. It should reach the darkest corners in our hearts. Everybody knows that the nights of Chanukah are the longest and the

darkest nights. This means that the light of Chanukah reaches into the darkest places. In the dark night I suddenly realize, "Gevalt, this is God's light!"

[Consider, besides receiving the holy gifts and blessings of Chanukah, besides making the blessings and lighting the candles with ‘kavanah’ focused attention, you may try, as you are looking at your Chanukah meditating on bringing the light into yourself. Observe yourself within; in this light find and ‘see’ your innermost essence, your neshamah. Let it speak to you and listen to it with an open heart. Allow your heart to receive its holy illuminated and healing words and breaths. Welcome the holy light and allow it to heal your heart. Listen to hear your deepest and truest רצון desire. Let us be blessed to believe with perfect faith that all our light, strength, courage and healing are coming from Hashem alone. Let us be blessed to be true and joyous servants of Hashem. Let us be ever grateful for Hashem’s kindness and for the gift of opportunity to bring Hashem’s light into this darkest of worlds. And may we be blessed to see this manifest very quickly and pray for Moshiach Now!

Light is the level of the reaching higher than your 'self', deeper than everything in the world. You can learn something and know more or feel more. This is not the level of light yet. Sometimes you learn a word and it gets very deep in your heart. Suddenly you reach somewhere deeper than the deepest part of yourself. This is called light. That is where you have your house.

On Chanukah we want to wipe out pagan worship. In Hebrew pagan worship is called, 'Avodah Zarah' - strange worship. That means pagan worship is worship that you are a stranger to. You are serving God, but you are serving God like a stranger. You do everything like stranger. The whole meaning of Chanukah is that we are wiping out 'Avodah Zara', wiping out 'strange worship'. Everything we do has to flow from the deepest depths of our hearts.

Many of us Jews are strangers to our own holidays. We are strangers to everything holy. We do it, but who cares about it? We don't feel anything before we celebrate a holiday, and we don't feel anything afterwards.

Why are we losing our children? There is nothing in the Yiddishkeit that we offer them. If you tell children something and it doesn't come from the deepest depths of your heart, they don't want to listen. They are 100% right. To tell the truth, I don't want to buy it either.

I want to bless you and me and all our children that we should always find people to teach us about God. We should feel close to it. We should feel at home with it.

If we danced with our children each time they learned one more letter, they would keep on learning. Each time a child learns one letter it is mind blowing! If we realized this, each time a child learned one more word of Torah we wouldn't know what to do with ourselves for joy. Then our children would keep on learning.

The blessing that we say over the light is, 'l'hadlik ner shel Chanukah' - to kindle the light of Chanukah. We don't say, '…b'Chanukah' - to kindle the light on Chanukah. We kindle the light OF Chanukah. That means that the light is there already. We have only to kindle it. The light we are seeing right now is the light of my grandfather and your grandfather. It is actually the light of the Kohanim, the Priests. It is the same light that burned from the bit of oil which lasted eight days in the time of the Holy Temple. It's the SAME light. It is waiting in Heaven all year to be brought down through kindling of the Chanukah lamps.

The young people of today are not unlike the young people in the days of the Maccabees. They too have strayed from their holy tradition. We need someone like Judah Maccabee to show us how beautiful it is to be a Jew. Young people must understand that G-d needs each of them to make a special contribution to our religion, that only they are