ויאמראליהם יוסף ביום השלישי זאת עשו וחיו את האלקים אני ירא
“And Yosef said to them on the third day: This youshall do and you shall live, for I fear the Al-mighty.” (Bereishis42:18)
ויאמראליהם ישראל אביהם... זאת עשו קחו מזמרת הארץ...
“And Yisroel, their father, said to them: This youshall do; take from the produce of the land…” (Bereishis43:11)
We see a striking resemblance between Yosef’s words tohis brothers, before he sent them off to bring Binyomin, and Yakov’s words tohis sons when instructing them to bring gifts to the Egyptian viceroy upontheir return to Egypt. Both use the words “zos asi – this youshall do.” Although father and son were far away from each other, they stillspoke with identical words.
What exactly does the word “zos” mean? Simply,it means “this”, but often it means “this” as opposed to something else. Theword zos stands for something very important that overridesall other surrounding considerations.
The last day of Chanukah is called Zos Chanuakah, meaningliterally: This is Chanukah. It may seem as if we are saying that the last dayof Chanukah is the true Chanukah, while the preceding seven days were not partof the real Yom Tov. Otherwise, why would we say of the eighth day that “thisis Chanukah”? How do we explain this, when we know that in fact all eight daysare part of the same Yom Tov?
The teaching behind the word zos, as it isused in Zos Chanukah and in the two verses above, can be understood with abeautiful little story:
A simple fellow came to the holy Shinover Rav askingfor a blessing regarding a personal problem that he was experiencing. TheShinover Rav gave his blessing, but unfortunately, the fellow did not benefitfrom any miraculous salvation as he had hoped. A short while later, one of theShinover Rav’s disciples asked for a blessing regarding the exact same problem.Once again, the Rav gave his blessing, and the disciple was helpedmiraculously. When the simple fellow heard about this, he came to the Rav tocomplain. “How come he was helped and I wasn’t, when both of us asked for theexact same blessing?” he cried.
The Rav spoke kindly to the man, using a parable toexplain what happened: A merchant visited one of his major suppliers and boughtloads of merchandise, which he hauled onto his wagon to be taken back home tohis warehouse. As he was about to depart, he realized that the wheels of hiswagon needed to be greased in order to be able to make a smooth return trip.“Where can I obtain some grease?” he asked his supplier.
“Don’t worry about it,” the supplier generously said.“My servant will be outside in a moment with some grease from my own supply,and he will help you oil the wheels.” Sure enough, a few moments later thesupplier’s servant was kneeling beside the wagon, deftly oiling the wheels.
Shortly after the merchant departed, another fellowdrove up to the supplier’s warehouse. “I came to purchase some grease for mywagon,” he explained.
“I’m sorry, but I don’t have any,” replied thesupplier. “Please look for grease in the market square.”
“Hey, I just saw your servant oiling the wheels of thatother person’s wagon! How come you sold him grease, but you won’t sell me any?”
The supplier chuckled, quite amused. “That person isone of my best customers. He just bought loads of valuable merchandise, so whenI saw that he needed some grease I gladly gave him some from my own supply. Butyou – you’re not my customer, and I don’t sell grease. I’m sorry, but if allyou came here for is grease, you had better look for it somewhere else.”
“Do you understand, my dear Yid?” the Shinover Ravconcluded. “Material things are like grease, making our ride in this world lessbumpy. But these things are not what we came here for. The other person whocame to me for a blessing is a ‘good customer’ of valuable spiritualmerchandise. He just needed that blessing in order to have an easier timeserving Hashem. In that case, the blessing was fulfilled. But you came just forthe grease – just for material things, not because you needed it to help youserve Hashem. All you were interested in was material comfort. But my dear Yid,I don’t sell grease… I sell much more valuable merchandise – the reallyimportant things in life. I can offer material blessings as an aside whenneeded, but those who come only for this type of merchandise are oftendisappointed…”
If a person stays focused on what is truly valuable, hewill never lose himself over a bit of “grease.” Most politics and fightingbetween individuals, families and communities, revolve around trivial issues,mere “grease.” Those who spend their days in search of valuable merchandiselike Torah and mitzvos, do not get involved in petty squabbles.
Yosef’s brothers were jealous, and this led to a longand bitter conflict that caused so much pain to all parties involved. ButYosef’s spirit never succumbed to the suffering he endured. Twenty two yearsafter he was sold into slavery, he tells his brothers: “Zos - thisyou shall do, because I fear the Al-mighty.” His words implied that “this” –fearing the Al-mighty, is the most important thing. Everything else is trivialin comparison.
Yakov, too, conveyed to his sons what he felt was mostimportant of all: “Zos – this you shall do: take from the produce…”The verse uses the word zimras for “produce.” The word zimras canbe interpreted as “song”. Yakov was telling his sons that above everythingelse, “this” is the most important thing: to sing and praise Hashem, and tostay focused on joyful prayer.
One of the answers to the famous question of the BaisYosef (as to why Chanukah has eight days instead of seven, since on the firstday the Menorah burned naturally due to the oil that was found), is that thesmall flask of oil was immediately refilled, right after all of the oil wasemptied into the Menorah. However, this answer doesn’t resolve the issue,because if we go according to this opinion it would mean that on the eighth dayno miracle happened, since the flask was no longer refilled for the next day.Our Rebbes have explained: “True, on the eighth day there was no miracle, butour sages made the eighth day a Yom Tov in its own right, because Zos Chanukah– this is Chanukah! Praising Hashem is the purpose ofChanukah.” After concluding seven days of praising Hashem, we celebrate anextra day to show our gratitude and thanks for the opportunity to sing Hashem’spraises! This is in itself a reason to celebrate.
Yakov and Yosef conveyed this message: “This” is whatshall be done – fearing Hashem and singing His praise. If we remember that thisis the true purpose of our existence, then all physical hardships will fall bythe wayside as we focus on praising Hashem for His goodness, while beinggrateful for the opportunity to praise Him, May we all behelped with whatever yeshuos and refuos the need. And may we merit greetingMoshiach speedily, in our days, Amein.