D’var Torah: Hanukkah, Torah each bolster Jewish pride, engagement

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Rabbi Jeffrey Abraham, Congregation B’nai Amoona

Our Torah portion this week, Parashat Miketz, focuses on Joseph’s rise to power and what transpires when he encounters his brothers after a lengthy hiatus.

My focus has always been on the “what goes around, comes around” aspect of the story. The brothers are tricked by Joseph multiple times as he gets a semblance of revenge for their selling him into slavery. This allows his family to come to Egypt and eventually for Joseph’s dreams to become a reality, as he ultimately rules over them.

Rabbi Jeffrey Abraham serves Congregation B’nai Amoona and is a member of the St. Louis Rabbinical and Cantorial Association, which coordinates the d’var Torah for the Jewish Light.

However, it also contains a salient aspect to our story, which is not only their reconciliation but our people being able to thrive in a foreign country.

One question often asked is: “Why did the rabbis choose Miketz to always be read on the Shabbat during Hanukkah?”

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The core of our Hanukkah story focuses on the Greeks trying to oppress us and not allowing us to practice Judaism. Rabbinic commentaries bring down that Joseph had deviated from Judaism by becoming an Egyptian (by force), and it is only when he meets his brothers again that he actively resumes practicing as a Jew. Even with all of the temptations of the assimilated, non-Jewish world, both Joseph in our parsha and the Maccabees in the Hanukkah story choose to actively remain Jewish.

This is an important lesson for each of us. During this time of the year, in particular, and certainly in our world in general, there are numerous temptations that can pull us away from our Judaism and our core Jewish values. My hope and prayer for each of us is that we heed the lessons from this week and be reminded that we should be proud to be Jewish and take the sometimes difficult steps to remain active in our Jewish religion and community.

Shabbat Shalom and Happy Hanukkah!

Rabbi Jeffrey Abraham serves Congregation Bnai Amoona and is a member of the St. Louis Rabbinical and Cantorial Association, which coordinates the dvar Torah for the Jewish Light.