Tonight we will light the fourth candle on our Chanukah Menorah. (Remember to light before Shabbat begins...) Maybe because tonight we light the 4th candle and it is Shabbat it would be a great evening to break out the dreidel and have some family time. Don't know how? Here you go:
Notice the Hebrew letters on each side of the dreidel, which represent the words, “A great miracle happened there,” referring to the miracle of the oil. Start the dreidel game with the proper supplies, which include 10 or 15 coins (real or of chocolate) for each player. Place one coin in the center pot. Have the first player spin the dreidel. Look to see which side faces up, once the dreidel falls down. Instruct the player to either take a coin from the pot or give up a portion of his or her coins, based on the following code:
- Nun– "nothing"– nothing happens
- Gimel– "all"– take everything in the pot
- Hey– "half"– take half of the pot (round up if necessary)
- Shin– "put in" – put one coin in the pot
Continue to play until one person has all of the coins.
A Chanukah Story
Before the USSR let the Jews leave for Israel, Jews used to hire a guide to smuggle them out of Russia. One Chanukah a group of Jews were playing "cat and mouse" with a Soviet army patrol as they approached the border. When the guide thought they had lost the patrol, he announced an half-hour break before continuing the trek. One of the escapees, hearing the "magic" number of "one-half hour" -- the minimum time a Chanukah candle must be lit to fulfill the mitzvah -- pulls out his menorah, sets up the candles, says the blessing and starts to light the candles. The other escapees immediately pounce upon him and the menorah to put out the candles -- when the Soviet patrol moves in and completely encircles them.
The head of the army patrol speaks: "We were just about to open fire and wipe you out when I saw that man lighting the Chanukah candles. I was overcome with emotion; I remember my zaideh (grandfather) lighting Chanukah candles .... I have decided to let you go in peace."
This Week's Torah Portion
This is Shabbat Mikeitz (Gen. 41:1 - 44:17). Mikeitz by the way is Hebrew for "at the end" yet we find those words at the beginning of parsha for this week. It has to do with counting the time since Joseph was sent to prison. It was time to begin the chain of events that would bring Jacob and his family to Egypt to fulfill the last part of the prophecy...that his offspring would be placed into slavery and persecuted (Gen. 15: 13-16).
The Torah says (Gen. 41:14) "So, Pharaoh sent and summoned Joseph, and they rushed him from the dungeon."
What is the Torah teaching us about life?
Rabbi Yisroel Meir Kagan, points out that when the time came for Joseph's liberation, he wasn't let out of prison slowly. Rather, he was rushed out of his captivity with the greatest of speed. This is the way the Almighty brings about redemption. The moment it is the proper time, not even one second is lost. "This is how it will be with the final redemption," said the Chofetz Chaim. "As soon as the right time comes, we will immediately be delivered from our exile."
What is the lesson here? In every difficult life situation, realize that in just one moment the entire picture can change. Joseph had no time set for the end of his imprisonment upon which he could count on being set free. His imprisonment and freedom were not ultimately dependent on the whims of his mortal captors. Rather, the Almighty gave him a set time to remain in prison; as soon as the time was reached, Joseph was immediately saved from his plight.
Knowing this can give us encouragement in difficult times. Even where you can make no change for improvement and you do not see the situation changing in the future, your liberation can still come in the next moment. Remember: The salvation of the Almighty can come in the twinkling of an eyelash!
Happy Chanukah and have a wonderful Shabbat!