Vayeshev 2015 Dec 5 /23 Kislev, 5776

As Chanukah approaches, we are almost always in the midst of the story of Joseph in our cycle of Torah readings.  In Vayeshev, we learn of Joseph’s special relationship with his father, Jacob, his struggles with his brothers, and his imprisonment in Egypt.  At the end of the parasha, things look grim for Joseph in the dungeon, but soon there will be a remarkable reversal of fortune.  The Chanukah story, too, is one of reversal of fortune.   As the story opens, in the Books of the Maccabees in the Apocrypha, Jewish self-rule in ancient Israel is under threat from King Antiochus and the Syrian-Greeks next door.  It seems as if its destruction is assured.  And yet, by the end of the story, the Hasmoneans retain control of Israel and reclaim the Temple in Jerusalem.  In both cases, right succeeds over might; Jewish powerlessness is overcome. In both stories, God is given all the credit. As we enjoy the lights of Chanukah in the coming week, let us reflect on the role that “fortune,” strong will, and the hand of God, has played in our people’s millennia of survival.  Chag Chanukah Samei’ach!