Parshat Miketz – Shabbat Chanukah!

Dear Friends and Family,

This D’var Torah was written by my hubby Daniel!!!

 

If you flip through the Chumash, at the end of each Parshah is listed the total number of pesukim ( verses) of the Parshah. At the end of Parshas Miketz not only listed the number of verses, but also that there are 2025 words. This aludes to Chanukah, which falls out on Parshas Miketz each year. On Chanuka, we light a new Ner (candle), for each of the eight nights. The numerical value of Ner is 250 and if you times it by eight night it equals 2000. Chanukah begins on the 25th night of Kislev. 

There is a famous question that has been asked by many Torah Scholars.  If there was enough oil to last for the first night, the miracle of Chanukah is really that the oil lasted 7 more days.  Why do we celebrate it for 8 days and light 8 candles?    

Greek culture has taught is that what’s important is the results and not the effort.  Pirkei Avot (Ethics of Our Fathers) teaches us that “According to the effort is the reward.” (5:22-23) This is the essential battle between the Greek and Jewish Philosophy. 

 

Perhaps, this can be an answer to our question, when we do our part and put in the necessary effort then miracles can occur.  Once we have done so, the effort we put in is included as part of the miracle as well.  Perhaps, the extra candle and day is to commemorate the fact that we won can can continue to win the battle of results versus efforts, Greek versus Jewish Philosophy.  We have to remember that all we can control is our efforts and that the results, are up to Hashem.  Once we do that, we turn our efforts into miracles.

 

 

May Hashem instill within us, the ability to put in the necessary efforts, see them produce miracles and turn our efforts into miracles.

 

Happy Chanukah and Shabbat Shalom,

The Behars

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Parshas Vayishlach!

Dear Family and Friends,

Lately on NPR, they have been talking a lot about climate change and sea level rise. The whole thing is starting to get to me and I don’t know if it’s the fact that Miami has been a little grey this week, but I am getting sea level rise anxiety! There are three things that could probably help, one being to stop listening to NPR and two is to work on my emunah and three move to south dakota! I think I will stick to option one and two for right now…but a thought on the parshah gave me some clarity.
When Yaacov goes to meet up with his brother (who hates him), he brings him gifts. Eisav tells Yaacov “ I have plenty, let what you have remain yours” and Yaacov replies, “Please accept my gifts which was brought to you inasmuch as G-d has been gracious to me and inasmuch as I have everything.” (33:11) Rashi point out the difference in the two brothers outlooks. The righteous feel that no matter how much or how little they have in absolute terms, they have everything they need. Eisav here is speaking boastfully, emphasizing the abundance of his possessions and proclaiming that he has accumulated more than he could ever want!
The above Rashi and lesson is one that is quite well known and simple. Righteous people are happy with what they have and the wicked always want more. I am not saying which category I fall into, but I have a running list at all times of “wants”. I can break it down into shoes, clothes, household items….and it can go on forever. I seem to be always adding to it and very rarely taking off items! This week is my 1- year engagement anniversary and I must say you can go on and on with wants, but I am so thankful in this present moment for all that I have been blessed with. Ok…I might still have a Chanuka wish list, but I stop remind myself of what truly matters to me and am so very thankful that Hashem has blessed me with all that I need and want.
So going back to my sea level rise anxiety, I realized that part of gratitude is living in the present. It is realizing the that we must be thankful for what we have NOW and not focusing on what we don’t have or worrying too much about what we will or won’t have tomorrow.
Best cure of anxiety: come into Shabbat and think about 3 things you are thankful.
1) My parents and in-laws are home from Morocco safe.
2) I am healthy and feel good.
3) I live in Miami where it is not snowing…
Have a beautiful and uplifting Shabbas and May we each have the clarity to always be thankful for the blessings G-d gives us!
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Parshas Vayeitzei!!!

Dear Friends and Family,

This past week I have been filling in for my mother in her therapy sessions and went back to pre-school! It’s been a little fun to color again and see how many kids I can diagnose with ADD within 10 minutes. I have been also listening to Parshah while sitting on the floor Indian style and it bring me back to being a little kid. Ironically I still love learning the Parshah just not while sitting on the floor. Besides for the fact that I am now a little taller than my 5-6 year old self, I also get to look at the Parshah with an older view and they take on a different meaning.

 Yaacov knows that he is destined to have the 12 tribes. After the brachos bebacle of last week, he runs away because Eisav wants to kill him. Yaacov goes to his mother’s brother, Lavan, house. Lavan has two daughter’s, Rochel  (younger) and Leah (older). Yaacov right away realizes upon seeing Rochel that she is his soul mate and he falls in love with her. He negotiates with Lavan to work for him for 7 years to marry, Rochel, his younger daughter. Yaacov knows that Lavan will try and trick him into marrying Leah so he makes it very clear which daughter he is working for. In the end, Yaacov does get tricked and marries Leah.  Yaacov and Rochel had made signs that only each other knew to prevent this from happening, but Rochel does not want her sister to get embarrassed and gives them over to Leah. Yaacov wakes up and realizes he married the wrong girl and goes to Lavan. They negotiate that Yaacov will marry Rochel after sheva brachos and then work another 7 years for Lavan. Yaacov marries Rochel.  

The story is only just beginning…there is jealousy, rivalry, trickery, and conflict and there is humanity. 

As I read through the exchanges, I saw glimpses of people. I saw sisters, fathers, husbands, wives and mothers. I saw women who knew that their mission was to be  mothers of tribes of the nation of Israel. They were human beings who know that from them will come greatness and they will fight to merit it.  The Torah shows a conversation between Rochel and her husband. Rochel comes to him and asks him why is he not praying for her to have children like his father Yitzchak prayed for Rivka. Yaacov gets angry and says  “Am I instead of God, Who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?” (30:2) Rashi explains that he was saying I am not in the position my father was in, I already have sons. Yaacov is also saying something deeper her: Rochel, this is between you and G-d. There is a spiritual blockage in your heart and it is not something my prayers will take away. You have to be the one to pray for yourself. Right after Rochel gives him her maidservant, Bilha, to be built up from her. She realizes that she must remove the spriritual blockage between her and G-d to merit children and the Bilha gets pregnant.

 The entire Sefer Berashis is the story of the Jewish people. In is about conflicts and resolutions. It is about humanity. As I read through the Parshah, my mind was blown. We see our imahos (mothers) fighting with each other, we see their internal conflicts, their struggles, their reactions and emotions and we get to meet them. After Leah has her fourth son, she names him Yehuda, to thank G-d for the extra child she merited to have. Leah is the first person in the Torah to publicly give thanks. After this, Rashi explains that the Matriarchs were prophetesses, they knew that twelve tribes would emanate from Jacob, and that he would marry four wives. They knew that they were the ones who would have the tribes and were focused and went for their goal…does this sound like any Jewish mothers I know?

Have a beautiful and uplifting Shabbas!

 –       Michal

Ps. Thank you Deeda for helping me out with this one!

Pps. Mazel Tov to my dear friend Esther Nueman on her engagement!

Parshas Toldos

Dear Family and Friends, 
 
In the beginning of this week’s Parshah it tells us the struggles of Rivka and Yitzchak to have children. “And Isaac prayed to the Lord opposite his wife because she was barren, and the Lord accepted his prayer, and Rebecca his wife conceived.” (25:21) Rashi comments that the implication of the masculine singular form is that G-d responded to Yitzchak’s prayer, rather that Rivkah’s. There is no comparison between the prayer of a righteous child of a righteous person and that of a righteous child of a wicked person.  
 
I was bothered by this Rashi a little. How is this fair? Rivkah has to work so hard to not follow her family’s way and do Teshuva and yet, she still will not be viewed the same as Yitzchak. We must understand this through looking at it with a different lens. Although it is much more difficult and therefor meritorious for the product of an evil family to become righteous, Yitzchak’s achievement was even more unique than Rivka’s. It would have been easy for him to become a carbon copy of his father, surely as great a role model had ever lived, but Yitzchak did not content himself with that. He forged his own path toward the service of G-d, and the merit of such an accomplishment is awesome. 
 
I think the perspective is not about looking at who is greater, but understanding that it is not enough to just follow in the footsteps of our parents, but make Torah our own. It is about taken all the opportunities given to you and using them to be your own person who serves G-d. 
 
Have a beautiful and uplifting Shabbas! May we each take the gifts that G-d has bestowed on us and use it forge our own path! 
 
– Michal