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R Pesach Siegel

Parshat Miketz

Nov 29, 2013

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Chanukah 5774

In the al hanissim prayer we thank Hashem. We thank him for the wondrous miracles that he performed for us. He delivered the many into the hands of the few, the mighty into the hands of the weak. This was a miracle. By the laws of nature a mighty army will defeat a weak one and an army of many will overwhelm a miniscule force. For this we express our gratitude.

The prayer continues, “You delivered the impure into the hands of the pure, the wicked into the hands of the righteous, and the evil hearted ones into the hands of those who toil in Torah.”

Wherein lays the miracle in this?

It appears as if one who is pure, righteous, and toils in Torah is at a disadvantage in a physical war with one who is impure, wicked and evil hearted. It is a miracle when a force composed of such men emerges victorious.

Cannot a pure hearted individual be proficient in war?


The gemara relates that Hashem gave a person a Yetzer Hara – evil inclination. The Yetzer Hara is one’s greatest enemy. Every day, from afresh, he attempts to kill his host. Were it not for the divine assistance of Hashem one would not be able to defeat the Yetzer Hara.[1]

The Yetzer Hara was created with the strength to defeat man. There is no man, however strong or righteous, who possesses the power to overcome the Yetzer Hara on his own. Hashem made him this way for a purpose. Hashem wishes his creation to reach out to Him. He wants a relationship with those who serve him.

There is only one way to defeat evil. That is by reaching up beyond the confines of this world, piercing through the veil of the false physical reality. When one views himself a primarily a spiritual being who can relate directly to a non-physical G-d, the Yetzer Hara has no power over him. There is only a Yetzer Hara in this physical world where Hashem’s presence is masked. There is no evil inclination when one senses that he is in the presence of the Creator.

In the physical realm the Yevanim reigned supreme. They attained perfection in every area of worldly wisdom. They mastered the body, excelling in their physical accomplishments. Their culture was an elevated one. Their music possessed an alluring attraction.

The Bais HaMikdash is the most sacred place on earth. Although it is a makom kadosh, its place is on this earth. One who is inside the sanctuary is very much present in the physical reality. The power of the Yevanim extended even over the sanctuary. They sought not to destroy the Bais HaMikdash but rather to master it. They overpowered the sanctity of the Bais HaMikdash by defiling it.


When we are beset upon by our enemies it is up to us to determine the location of the field of battle.

Mori VeRabi, HaRav Chaim Stein, z”l,[2] would tell us that if we view ourselves as residents of a physical world, we are doomed to failure. In the world of the physical the righteous, the pure, and those who toil in Torah are at a loss. The physical world is not their world. It belongs to the Yevanim. The Yevanim are as the Yetzer Hara. They are strong, stronger than those they seek to kill. We cannot hope to engage them in battle on their turf.

The MaHaral writes that the numerical value of the word heichal (sanctuary) is 65. The numerical value of the name Yavan is 66. The Yevanim are more powerful than the heichal.[3]

But there is a hidden letter in the word heichal. The word heichal is pronounced hay y’chol (hay, yud, yud, chof, lamed). The gemara tells us that the letter yud is the letter of Olam HaBa. Hashem fashioned Olam HaBa from the letter yud.[4]

In the revealed world, the Yevanim reign supreme and there is no hope of defeating them. If we raise ourselves up, and we view ourselves as temporary residents of this revealed world, we remove ourselves to a place that the Yevanim with their supreme forces of nature cannot affect us.

The Maharal adds that the gematria of the word hay y’chal (with the extra hidden yud) is 75. This is the gematria of the word kohen. It represents the Kohen Gadol. The Kohen Gadol entered the Kodesh HaKadoshim. When he entered the Kodesh HaKadoshim he literally exited this world. The laws of time and space do not exist within the Kodesh HaKadoshim.

It was the Kohanim who elevated the people to see beyond the possible and view the impossible.

In this world, they win and we lose.

This is the true miracle of Chanukah. Those who were a part of this world were able to lift themselves up and remove themselves to a higher existence beyond the reach of the forces of nature.

Thus, they found a small jug of oil with the seal of the Kohen Gadol. They lit it and it too transcended the limitations of this world.

[1] Meseches Kiddushin, daf 30b

[2] Rosh Yeshiva of Telshe Cleveland

[3] Sefer Ner Mitzvah, page 22

[4] Meseches Menachos, daf 29b

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