Thoughts from Kollel KLAL


Yosef tells the brothers, “את האלקים אני ירא, I fear G-d.” In Parshas Vayechi it states, “התחת אלקים אני,” which Rashi explains as a question, “Am I in place of Hashem? If I would have wanted to do bad to you, would I have been able to? All of you thought to do bad to me and you were not able, since Hashem thought it out to be for the good. If so, how can I alone do bad?” Onkelos translates התחת אלקים אני different: as a statement, don’t worry “I am one who fears Hashem.” Simply, Yosef says this in order to make the brothers tranquil. Don’t worry, I won’t do any harm, I am afraid of Hashem. The Sefer Panim Yafos points out, that we see from the two pessukim above that one could be מתפאר – proud about himself that he is a yarei Shamayim.

This seems to be difficult because the passuk states, “והצנע לכת עם אלקיך, and go modestly with your G-d.” One should not publicize and let others about his mitzvos and maasim tovim, but, rather, he should keep them quiet. The Panim Yafos answers that Chazal say, “everything is in the hands of Hashem besides for yiras Shamayim. This means everything that a person does and accomplishes is together with Hashem. However, yiras Shamayim is different. Hashem presents a person with a challenge whether to do good or bad, and says to the person, “you choose.” He then chooses and decides on his own between the good and the bad. If so, one who is a yarei Shamayim is because the person on his own chose the good over the bad. This attribute is a person’s personal accomplishment which he can be proud of.

On Chanukah there seems to be another exception to the rule of keeping mitzvos quiet. There is a specific mitzva to light candles at the entrance of one’s door, outside, for everyone to see in order to publicize the miracle. So too on Purim we can lein the megillah for someone who doesn’t understand lashon haKodesh and he fulfills his obligation. The Gemara is bothered, but he doesn’t know what is being said? The Gemara answers that he fulfills the mitzva of reading and publicizing the miracle. Rashi explains although he doesn’t know what is being said he will ask around the listeners and they will explain what the words mean and the miracles that occurred.

The Tur paskins, if one is traveling and he sees candles, and he won’t be lighting later on and no one will be lighting for him, he needs to make the bracha שעשה נסים and שהחיינו. The Smag gives an example, someone who is not married and doesn’t have a wife to light for him. However, a married person has his wife who will light for him, therefore even if he is traveling, he does not need to make a bracha when he sees candles. The Bach is bothered, that which his wife lights for him in the house only exempts him from the obligation placed on his money to light candles in order to publicize the miracle, however the hodaah about the miracle and the bracha of shehechiyanu is an obligation on his body. He should not be exempt from this even if someone lights in his house, unless he is standing there and hears the bracha. We see from the Bach that there is an obligation on a person to express appreciation, and also on his house, that his money should express thanks.

Although in general we are supposed to be modest with mitzvos, by Chanukah, we are meant to publicize the miracle. We share the miracle with others and express our appreciation.

Let us become better yarei Shamayim, and express appreciation to Hashem for His miracles.

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