וישמע ראובן ויצילהו מידם ויאמר לא נכנו נפש. ויאמר אליהם ראובן אל תשפכו דם השליכו אותו אל הבור הזה אשר במדבר ויד אל תשלחו בו למען הציל אותו מידם להשיבו אל אביו.
“And Reuven heard, and deliverd him out of their hand, and he said, let us not take his life. And Reuven said unto them, do not shed blood, cast himinto this pit' which is in the wilder-ness, but a hand you shall not put forth on him, in order to deliver him out of their hand, to bring him back unto his father.” (Bereishis 37:21-22)
Let us first preface an intriguing Midrash: “The flowers have offered their scent- this refers to Reuven, who saved Yosef from the pit. “At our doors are all kinds of sweets- this refers to the Chanukah light.” (Midrash Shir Hashirim) What is the relationship between Reuven and Chanukah?
The famous question is raised by the Bais Yosef, why we celebrate Chanukah for eight days. Sincethe Jews had found enough oil to burn for one day, then the miracle was onlyfor seven days, but not on the first day?
A beautiful story is told about a chasid who was soimpressed by the holy services of the Tzadik Reb Zusha, that he became hissupporter. Every Rosh Chodesh, he would visit Reb Zusha and contribute fundsfor the coming month. This chasid was rewarded with success, and he soon becamevery wealthy.
Once on Rosh Chodesh when he came to visit, the chasid wasdisappointed not to find Reb Zusha at home. He was surprised to hear that RebZusha had left town, to visit with his master, the Great Maggid, the Rebbe DovBer of Mezritch.
Returning home, his wife said: “Obviously, Reb Zusha’sRebbe is even greater than he. You will be even more successful by connectingwith the greater Rebbe instead.”
The chasid stopped helping Reb Zusha, and gave his moneyinstead to the Maggid Reb Ber.
Very soon, the chasid’s fortune took a turn for the worse,and he lost all his wealth. Sensing that this was related to his abandoning ofReb Zusha, he went to apologize, and asked Reb Zusha’s forgiveness.
Reb Zusha humbly replied: “G-d forbid, I have nothingagainst you. On the contrary, I can’t thank you enough for your kindness in thepast.... But let me explain your mistake. Hashem treats us in the same way thatwe treat others. When you supported me although I am not deserving, G-d gaveyou even if you were not fully worthy. But when you began to discriminate,choosing only the most worthy, disregarding a lesser person, G-d, too began toquestion whether you really deserve your wealth.”
This is a general lesson. What a great accomplishment itis to study Torah and observe its mitzvos even when one is not honored orrewarded for his Torah scholarship and observance. The real challenge is tostudy Torah when it is unpopular, as before the Chanukah miracle, when the Greeks killed anyone caughtstudying or observing Torah.
It takes great courage and sacrifice to observe Torah andMitzvos when it is unpopular to do so. This is why converts will not beaccepted when Moshiach comes. A convert’s sincerity is confirmed only whenchoosing Judaism in the difficulty of the Exile.
The same was true with Reuven and Yosef. Surely, everyonewanted to associate with Joseph and gain his favor after he became the viceroyof Egypt. But Reuven extended himself to Joseph long before, at a time whenJoseph was despised as an idle dreamer.
Refusing to follow Yehudah’s leadership, Reuven saved Yosef,knowing that G-d dislikes the high and mighty, for “G-d searches out the persecuted.” With hisdaring act, Reuven emulated G-d “Who dwells close to the lowly and broken-hearted.”
The first day of Chanukah is a great miracle to itself.The Maccabees defended Judaism during very harsh times, when G-d and the holyTemple were being desecrated, and the Hellenists oppressed and humiliatedTorah-true Jews.
But the few loyal Jews remained steadfast, caring only forG-d’s honor and not for their own. Despite overwhelming darkness, they remainedfaithful to G-d and his Torah.
The Greeks had defiled everything with their impurity, andhad almost eradicated Judaism. Yet there still remained one cruse of purity.Despite the frightening odds, the Torah light continued to burn within Jewishhearts. The Miracle of the First Day shows G-d’s awesome wonders, Whose Lightshines forth even in the worst darkness.
The First Chanukah Light reflects Reuven’s saving ofJoseph. “The flowers offered their scent - is Reuvenwho saved Joseph when he was at his lowest. “At our doors are all sweets is the onecruse of oil remaining within Jewish hearts throughout the darkness.
We kindle the Chanukah Menorah within 10 tefachim to the ground, toshow that G-d dwells with the lowly and humble, rather than with arrogantpeople who pretend to be high and above.
May G-d give us the strength to study Torah and serve G-dwith peace of mind, and all good blessings, Amein.