Parashat Vayeishev, begins the Joseph tales and, as it often does, this week’s Torah Portion falls during our celebration of Hanukkah. Generations of rabbis have sought a connection between these tales of Joseph and the Hanukkah story. It is not an easy match.
Joseph is a spoiled child, favored by his father, dreaming of some future glory and angering his brothers to no end along the way. Joseph is cast into a pit, sold into slavery, and then tossed into prison… only to rise to glory in Pharaoh’s court. Hanukkah is a tale of bravery and self sacrifice, the triumph of the few against the many, the value of independence and the commitment of our people to the service of the One true God.
The only real connection between the two stories lies in the unlikely outcome of them both.What they have in common is less about the events and more about God’s quiet role within them. The passage of time and the path of history can sometimes be a pretty strange and treacherous journey for us to make. At times we see God’s hand in its direction and at times we can only see God’s hand in its unfolding, but the lessons of Vayeishev and Hanukkah come to teach us that at all times we are cradled in Divine hands, seen and unseen, as we journey forth along our way.
May this Season of Light, and the light of Torah’s learning, carry us always out of the darkness and into the light. And may our journeys bring us wisdom along the path to a brighter day.