I think that the fundamental Yesod of Parshas Vayeishev is a Gemara in Maseches Sanhedrin 106a (8 lines from the bottom). The Gemara there says (אמר רבי יוחנן כל מקום שנאמר וישב אינו אלא לשון צער שנא’ וישב ישראל בשטים ויחל העם לזנות אל בנות מואב וישב יעקב בארץ מגורי אביו בארץ כנען ויבא יוסף את דבתם רעה אל אביהם ונאמר וישב ישראל בארץ גשן ויקרבו ימי ישראל למות וישב יהודה וישראל לבטח איש תחת גפנו ותחת תאנתו ויקם ה’ שטן לשלמה את הדד האדומי מזרע המלך הוא באדום ואת מלכי מדין הרגו על חלליהם וגו’ את בלעם בן בעור הרגו בחרב בלעם מאי בעי התם א”ר יוחנן שהלך ליטול שכר עשרים וארבעה אלף) that anywhere that the Posuk mentions the word Vayeishev is a prelude to Tzar. The Gemara brings 3 examples. One of course is this Parsha where the word Vayeishev is a prelude to the Tzar of Mechiras Yosef.
The next Posuk that is brought is from Melachim I 5:5 (וַיֵּשֶׁב יְהוּדָה וְיִשְׂרָאֵל לָבֶטַח, אִישׁ תַּחַת גַּפְנוֹ וְתַחַת תְּאֵנָתוֹ, מִדָּן, וְעַד-בְּאֵר שָׁבַע–כֹּל, יְמֵי שְׁלֹמֹה) that Yehuda was sitting comfortably and then shortly after in 11:14 the Posuk says ( וַיָּקֶם ירוָר שָׂטָן לִשְׁלֹמֹה, אֵת הֲדַד הָאֲדֹמִי: מִזֶּרַע הַמֶּלֶךְ הוּא, בֶּאֱדוֹם) that Hashem raised up an adversary against Shlomo Hamelech.
There is a third example which is found in Bamidbar 25:1 ( וַיֵּשֶׁב יִשְׂרָאֵל, בַּשִּׁטִּים; וַיָּחֶל הָעָם, לִזְנוֹת אֶל-בְּנוֹת מוֹאָב). So that Vayeishev is something that comes prior to something of difficulty and Tzar which follows shortly thereafter. Now of course it needs a Hesber. Is it just a code word “Vayeishev” or is there some meaning to it?
The Maharal in Derech Chaim which is a Sefer on Pirkei Avos on 2:2 gives us a wonderful insight, a beautiful Yesod. He says that Aveiros come to a person because he has some Chisaron and he has something missing. A perfect person of course doesn’t sin. The Hashlama of a person in this world comes primarily from Ameilus Batorah, from hard work in learning or even hard work in Avodas Hashem. But Ameilus is what brings a person Bishlaimus, to completion. A person who sits back and takes it easy, fails. Ameilus comes when a person is ready to work and that is what makes a person safe, makes a person stay away from Aveiros. It is hard work in the right things.
Vayeishev is an expression of a person who is sitting comfortably, a person who is sitting and relaxing. Adam Yoshev Enoch K’ilu K’var Umushlam. Says the Maharal, a person who sits and relaxes as if he is already complete, that is a prelude to Puraniyos. That is going to be followed by some sort of a disaster. Therefore, Vayeishev is always used as a prelude to some type of problem, some type of disaster.
The Maharal goes on. There is another Gemara in Maseches Sanhedrin 91b (27 lines from the top) (מאימתי יצה”ר שולט באדם משעת יצירה או משעת יציאה א”ל משעת יצירה א”ל א”כ בועט במעי אמו ויוצא אלא משעת יציאה) that says that the Yeitzer Hora comes into a person when he leaves his mother’s womb. Why does it wait until he leaves his mother’s womb and why not in his mother’s womb?
He answers that in the mother’s womb the child is doing everything he could to become a Shaleim. There are no additional factors that could take place to make him more of a Mushlam. Therefore, there is no Yeitzer Hora. When a person comes into the world and there are already more variables in his life, things that can be done one way or another way when a person is missing Shlaimus that is the Yeitzer Hora. Vayeishev is someone who sits on his laurels and sits on his accomplishments and that is terrible, that is a failure. Relaxation is only good if it is a preparation for hard work. Going for a vacation is only good if it leads to something positive, something constructive. This world is not a world in which to relax, it is not a world in which to sit in the sun, it is not a world to sit in beach chairs. I don’t understand people sitting in beach chairs and doing nothing. How can a person do nothing? Sometimes you have to relax and get your energy back but if it were not for that, Vayeishev is not only a prelude to failure, but to Tzar and difficulties. Because Hashem sends Tzar to make a person stop sitting calmly, getting up and doing what he has to do. That is the lesson of Vayeishev as it comes from the Gemara.
Regarding Chanukah it is well known that there are 2 primary occurrences which we mark on Chanukah. One of them is winning the battle which is mentioned in Al Hanissim and the second is the miracle of the Pach Hashemen of the oil that burned for 8 days which we mark by lighting the Menorah and saying Haneiros Halalu. Everybody knows that these are the two ideas of Chanukah. Everyone that is except for the Rambam.
The Rambam in the beginning of Hilchos Chanuka writes that 3 things happened. This can be found in Zemanim, Hilchos Megilla V’chanukah 3:1 (וחזרה מלכות לישראל יתר על מאתים שנים עד החורבן השני) (http://www.hebrewbooks.org/rambam.aspx?sefer=3&hilchos=21&perek=3&hilite=). Another wonderful thing happened. The Malchus came back to the Jews, the Chashmanayim were kings for over 200 years and that is also a celebration of Chanukah.
This flies in the face of the Ramban who says that the Chashmanayim taking over the Malchus was a disaster, it was wrong. The Rambam says I guess he might agree that the Chashmanayim shouldn’t have taken over the Malchus but the end result of Malchus of Yisroel is good. How does he know this and from where did he get it. Why don’t we mark it on Chanukah just like we mark that we won the war with Al Hanisim and the Neis of the Pach Hashemen with Hadlakos Haneiros.
I heard Maimur from Rav Yitzchok Hutner Zatzal who says beautifully. The Gemara in Maseches Megillah 14a (25 lines from the top) (רבא אמר בשלמא התם הללו עבדי ר’ ולא עבדי פרעה אלא הכא הללו עבדי ר’ ולא עבדי אחשורוש אכתי עבדי אחשורוש אנן) says that on Purim we don’t say Hallel because in the time of Purim we were still slaves to Achashveirosh and not slaves only to Hashem.
On Chanukah we do say Hallel. If we were still Avdei Antoninus then we would not say Hallel. Hallel is recited because (הללו עבדי ר) we were Avdei Hashem and not Avdei Antoninus. Therefore, Hallel is a fact that we were not under the Malchus of Ovdei Avoda Zorah, we were under the Malchus of Chashmanayim. Even though they were not from Sheivet Yehuda they were still wonderful Ehrliche people. That is a celebration of (וחזרה מלכות לישראל), is in the saying of Hallel. We were free to be Avdei Hashem.
To add to this, the Maharan Mipaneil says that we find that the Av Bais Din that is mentioned in the first Perek of Pirkei Avos, the head of the Bais Din was never a father and son until Hillel. From Hillel the next 10 generations we have 10 generations of father and son.
What changed, what happened all of a sudden? Hillel lived in the time that the Malchus Chashmonoyim came to an end in the time of Hurdas. The Malchus Yisrael then went over to the Keser Torah, it went over to the Av Bais Din and it passed father to son as we know Hillel was from Sheivet Yehuda. At any rate, this celebration of (וחזרה מלכות לישראל) was marked by Hallel. This is the thought regarding Chanukah. There is a connected thought to this that I hope to share with you next week.
The question of the week is: We have in 40:4 (וַיִּהְיוּ יָמִים, בְּמִשְׁמָר). The Sar Hamashkim and the Sar Ha’ofim were in jail, days. Rashi says (ויהיו ימים במשמר: שנים עשר חדש), that they were in jail for a year.
Earlier in Parshas Chayei Sarah 24:55 (תֵּשֵׁב הַנַּעֲרָ אִתָּנוּ יָמִים אוֹ עָשׂוֹר). There Rashi says (ימים: שנה) that it also means a year, however, in the next Rashi he asks (או עשור: עשרה חדשים. ואם תאמר ימים ממש, אין דרך המבקשים לבקש דבר מועט ואם לא תרצה תן לנו מרובה מזה). Maybe Yamim means days and not a year? He answers that it is not the Derech of someone who makes a request to request less and then more so Yamim has to be more than 10 months, so Yamim is a year.
There is a major difficulty here. There in Parshas Chayei Sarah Rashi is saying that Yamim means year and if so it should have said Yamim Mamish, really it should mean days but we have something that is forcing us to say it means a year. Geshmak. Why doesn’t Rashi do the same thing here and say here (ואם תאמר ימים ממש)? That maybe it wasn’t a year and maybe it was days? Why doesn’t Rashi say the same thing here because here it could actually mean days because it is not like it says anything about a shorter period of time to say that this has to be a greater amount of time.