The gemara (Shabbat 23b) teaches: "Rav Huna said: `If one is
meticulously careful in lighting candles, he will merit to have
sons who are Torah scholars'." Rashi explains: "This is based on
the verse (Mishlei 6:23), `For a mitzvah is a candle and Torah is
light' - through the mitzvah of Shabbat and Chanukah candles
comes the light of Torah."
So many people light Shabbat and Chanukah candles, observed
R' Kalman Winter shlita (rabbi of Southeast Hebrew Congregation
in Silver Spring, Md.), yet there are relatively few Torah
scholars! Why? Because Rav Huna's promise is addressed only to
those parents who want their children to be Torah scholars.
Not so long ago, R' Winter added, the concept of studying Torah
"lishmah" / as an end in itself was relatively unknown in
America. If a young man announced that he wanted to remain in
yeshiva and study Torah, his relatives would ask, "But what will
you do with it? Do you plan to become a rabbi?" Rav Huna's
teaching, which relates the mitzvah of Chanukah candles to the
study of Torah, shows us that this attitude is wrong. Halachah
states that one may derive no pleasure from the Chanukah lights.
One may look at them, but nothing more. Similarly, there is a
concept of studying Torah lishmah, studying Torah without any
practical goal in mind. This is the type of Torah study which
creates real Torah scholars. (Heard from R' Winter, 23 Kislev
"Now let Pharaoh seek out a discerning and wise man and set
him over the land of Egypt. Let Pharaoh proceed and let him
appoint overseers on the land . . ." (41:33-34)
R' Gavriel Ze'ev Margolis z"l (1849-1935; rabbi in Lithuania,
Boston and New York) asks: If Yosef recommended that "Pharaoh
[himself] proceed" and "appoint overseers over the land," what
was the purpose of first recommending that Pharaoh appoint "a
discerning and wise man" to head the food-gathering effort?
He answers: Once, when there was a famine in 13 Russian
provinces. The Czar appointed a commission to oversee the
distribution of food to those provinces, and he named the crown
to prince to head that commission. Why did he do this? Because
without a very high-ranking official at the head of the relief
efforts, those efforts undoubtedly would have become bogged down
in inter-departmental red tape. Of course, the Czar himself
could not be expected to become involved in the day-to-day
activities of the relief effort, but someone whose stature was
close to that of the Czar's stature did have to participate in
order to cut that red tape.
Similarly, said Yosef, Pharaoh must appoint a discerning and
wise relief director whose stature would approach that of the
Pharaoh himself. When Yosef said, "Let Pharaoh proceed and let
him appoint overseers on the land," he did not mean that Pharaoh
should do this; he meant that the head of the relief effort
should be named "Assistant Pharaoh" in order to ensure that he
could mobilize all necessary resources.
What was the outcome? We read in the verses which follow
(verses 44-45): "Pharaoh said to Yosef, `I am Pharaoh' . . . and
Pharaoh called Yosef's name, `Zofnat Panai'ach'." Pharaoh gave
Yosef sweeping powers, but he made clear that there was only one
"Pharaoh" and that Yosef would have to be called by some other
title, not "Assistant Pharaoh."
"They said to him, `Why does my lord say such things? It
would be sacrilegious for your servants to do such a thing.
Here, look -- the money that we found in the mouth of our
sacks we brought back to you from the land of Canaan. How
then could we have stolen from your master's house any
silver or gold? Anyone among your servants with whom it is
found shall die, and we also will become slaves to my lord.'
"He replied, `What you say now is also correct. The one
with whom it is found shall be my slave, but the rest of you
shall be exonerated'." (44:7-10)
The above exchange took place when Yosef's servant overtook
Yosef's brothers and accused them of stealing Yosef's goblet.
What did the servant mean when he said, "What you say now is also
correct"? Does he not contradict them with his very next words?
(They said, "Anyone among your servants with whom it is found
shall die, and we also will become slaves to my lord," but he
said, "The one with whom it is found shall be my slave, and the
rest of you shall be exonerated.")
R' Noach Rabinowitz z"l (1839-1902; member of the Brisk
rabbinical court and rabbi of several Lithuanian towns) explains:
When a person is convicted of a crime, but the judge is unsure
how severe the punishment should be, the judge may consider
evidence of good character as a mitigating factor. However, when
the police come to search someone's house, character evidence is
irrelevant. The police say, "We have to search your house. Save
your character evidence for the judge."
When Yosef's servant came to inspect the brothers' bags in
search of Yosef's goblet, they offered character evidence -
"Here, look -- the money that we found in the mouth of our sacks
we brought back to you from the land of Canaan. How then could we
have stolen from your master's house any silver or gold?" The
servant responded: "What you now say is also correct." He meant:
Your character evidence is persuasive. But now is not the time
for character evidence. Save that evidence until sentencing so
that "the one with whom it is found shall be my slave" - instead
of being executed - "and the rest of you shall be exonerated " -
instead of becoming slaves.
(Toldot Noach p. 208)
From the Haftarah . . .
"[The angel] said to me, `What do you see?' I said, `I see,
and behold! -- there is a menorah made entirely of gold with
its bowl on its top, and its seven lamps are upon it and
there are seven tubes to each of the lamps that are on its
top. And two olive trees are near it, one to the right of
the bowl and one to its left.'
"I spoke up and said to the angel that was speaking to me,
saying, `What are these, my lord?'
"The angel who was speaking to me spoke up and said to me,
`Do you not know what they are?' I said, `No, my lord.'
"He spoke up and said to me, saying, `This is the word of
Hashem to Zerubavvel, saying, "Not through armies and not
through might, but through My spirit," says Hashem, Master
of Legions'." (Zechariah 4:2-6)
R' Joseph B. Soloveitchik z"l (1903-1993) explains these verses
in the name of his grandfather, R' Chaim "Brisker" z"l (1853-
The prophet Zechariah did not understand the images he was
seeing in the above verses: a menorah made entirely of gold and
two olive trees. Presumably, the two olive trees represent the
anointing of the two leaders of the Jews - the Kohen Gadol and
the king. But Zechariah lived in the Second Temple era, when the
Kohen Gadol and the king were not anointed with olive oil (unlike
their predecessors in the time of the First Bet Hamikdash).
Furthermore, the Jews in Zechariah's time were quite poor, and
the Second Temple did not have a gold menorah, only one of lead!
What, then, was G-d showing Zechariah?
The angel answered that Zechariah was seeing the future Third
Temple, not the Temple in his own time. "`Not through armies and
not through might, but through My spirit [will that Temple be
built],' says Hashem." R' Chaim explains: Rambam teaches that
the sanctification of Eretz Yisrael that resulted from Yehoshua's
original conquest of the Land was only temporary. [This refers to
Moshe's disciple Yehoshua, not to be confused with the Yehoshua
mentioned in our haftarah.] In contrast, the sanctification of
the Land as a result of Ezra's aliyah at the beginning of the
Second Temple Era was permanent. Why? Because Ezra sanctified
the Land by building the Temple, thus bringing the Shechinah to
the Land contemporaneously with its settlement. Yehoshua did not
Nevertheless, the sanctification of the Land through the
building of the Second Temple was incomplete. [For example, the
Holy Ark of Moshe was missing from the Second Temple.] That
missing sanctity will be supplied only in mashiach's time. Thus,
the sanctity of the Second and Third Temples are not independent;
they complement each other. "Not through armies and not through
might" - not through Yehoshua's conquest - "but through My
spirit" - through bringing the Shechinah into the Second Temple,
will the future Bet Hamikdash - which will be complete with a
gold menorah and anointing oil - be sanctified.
(Quoted in Reshimot Shiruim: Sukkah p.280)
R' Isser Yehuda Unterman z"l
R' Isser Yehuda Unterman, second Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi of the
State of Israel, was born on 14 Nissan 5646 / 1886 in Brest-
Litovsk (Brisk), where his father, R' Eliyahu, was a melamed /
teacher of children. Among R' Isser Yehuda's ancestors were R'
Yom Tov Lipman Heller (1579-1654; author of the Mishnah
commentary, Tosefot Yom Tov) and R' Shaul Wahl Katznellenbogen
(1540-1616). Legend records that this latter personality was
elected King of Poland for a day.
At a young age, the future R' Unterman became known as the
"Illui" / "Genius" of Brisk, and, before age 12, he was studying
under R' Simcha Zelig Reiger, the famous dayan / judge of his
hometown. In 1898, the future Chief Rabbi was invited to become
one of the founding students of Yeshiva Anaf Etz Chaim in
Maltsch, headed by R' Zalman Sender Kahana-Shapiro. For a time,
the young man studied in the Mir Yeshiva, but he later returned
to Maltsch. Eventually, the yeshiva in that town came to be
headed by R' Shimon Shkop, who R' Unterman considered to be his
primary teacher. Following his marriage, R' Unterman studied in
the kollel of the Volozhin Yeshiva, which had reopened under the
leadership of R' Raphael Shapiro, who ordained R' Unterman.
While R' Unterman was studying in Volozhin, he was invited to
open a yeshiva in the neighboring town of Visnhova. The yeshiva
was very successful - even the Chafetz Chaim sent one of his
nephews to study there - but R' Unterman soon developed
laryngitis, which ended his regular teaching career. He then
began a career in the rabbinate, with his first position being in
the town of Mohilna, near Minsk. Later, he moved to the town of
During World War I, R' Unterman refused to flee as the front
approached, and, when the Germans occupied his town, he became a
leading spokesman for Jewish interests before the new rulers.
This aspect of his leadership continued when the town passed to
Polish control after the war, as it did in every place where he
served as rabbi thereafter. After the war, R' Unterman served on
the board of Ezras Torah, which was devoted to rebuilding
destroyed Jewish institutions. In this period, he also began to
take an active role in the Mizrachi Zionist movement. In his
speech at the 1922 Mizrachi convention, and in articles which he
published, R' Unterman emphasized that Zionism must be more than
a call for a place to escape from anti-Semitism; rather, Zionism
must have "a soul," a solid Torah foundation. He called for all
Jews, whether they were affiliated with the Agudah, with
Mizrachi, or with the secular Zionists, to cooperate on achieving
shared goals, and he expressed the hope that enough Torah
observant Jews would settle in Eretz Yisrael that they would be
able to determine the nature of any future state. - To be
Rabbi and Mrs. Sam Vogel
on the yahrzeit of mother Miriam bat Yehuda Laib Kalkstein a"h
Rabbi and Mrs. Barry Greengart
on the first yahrzeit of father R' Hyman Friedman a"h
(R' Chaim Raphael ben Yom Tov Lipman)
Dr. and Mrs. Irving Katz, in honor of the bat mitzvah of