Content with Life by Rabbi Joel Grossman

(2002/5763)

“They drank and became intoxicated with Yosef” (43:34).  Rashi comments, “From the day when they had sold Yosef, the brothers had not drunk wine, but on that day they drank wine.”

What was so special about this day that the brothers drank wine?  There are two answers presented in theמעינה של תורה.  One is that the brothers felt that if they did not drink the wine Yosef would accuse them again of being spies and refusing wine so they would not be led to give out the secret information they had gathered.  A second reason is that they saw that Binyamin had received larger portions of food than they had, yet they were not jealous of him.  They realized that they had removed from themselves the envy that had led them to sell Yosef into slavery, and consequently they felt they could drink wine again.

Removing envy is an area in which we should constantly strive to improve.  The Mishna in Pirkei Avot teaches that the three traits of jealousy, desire, and drive for honor take a person away from this world.  If we want to succeed in this world we must remove these bad traits from ourselves.

We have just completed celebrating the holiday of Chanukah.  The last day of Chanukah is known in our rabbinic literature as זאת חנוכה, “this is Chanukah.”  Why did the last day of Chanukah get this name?  One celebrated answer is that the term זאת חנוכת המזבח appears in the Torah reading of that day.  Rav Moshe Feinstein, zt”l, presents another explanation.  He writes that oil burning, a common event, is also a miracle, and therefore the last day of Chanukah is called זאת חנוכה, this is the Chanukah oil that burns.

There is a story told about a person whose investment made him one million dollars.  He was very happy.  A week later, he was saddened to find out that his neighbor made a few million dollars on this investment.  This story typifies many of our lives.  We should be happy with what we have as the Mishna in Pirkei Avot says, “Who is a rich man?  One who is satisfied with his lot,” and we should not be jealous and envious of what others possess.

If we can look at every event that happens as an event that is divinely ordained to happen, then we will remove envy from our hearts, be able to live longer by appreciating life, be able to drink our wine with a feeling of gratitude, and be happy for the good fortune of others.  With that type of attitude there would be more peace in our communities and throughout Klal Yisrael.

Were the Chashmonaim Right? by Ari Michael

Chatzi Hallel by Rabbi Chaim Jachter