Sunday, December 24, 2006

Daf Yomi - Rosh Hashana 19 - Chashmanoim and Yosef

The Gemora relates that the Greeks had decreed that the Jews could not mention Hashem’s name. After the Greeks were defeated by the Kingdom of the Chashmanoim, they established that Hashem’s name should be written on all contracts. The Chachamim heard about this and stopped this because they were concerned that when the borrower will repay the debt, the unnecessary document will be thrown in the garbage. It was the third day of Tishrei when the Chachamim abolished this enactment and they made that day into a festival.

The Gemora in Shabbos which relates the story of Chanukah refers to the Chashmanoim in the same manner as our Gemora – the Kingdom of the Chashmanoim. A question is asked that at that time they were not the kings yet. It was only after the victory that the Chashmanoim assumed the throne but not before.

The commentators ask on the Rashi in this past week’s parsha. The chief cupbearer is relating to Pharaoh of an incident that transpired when he was in prison. The verse states “And there with us was a Hebrew lad, a slave of the chief slaughterer, and we told him, and he interpreted our dreams for us.” Rashi cites from a Medrash “A slave and in the statutes of Egypt it is written that a slave may neither reign nor wear princely raiment.” (Judaica Press)

What compelled the sar hamashkim to state that in the Egyptian constitution it is written that a slave cannot ascend the throne. What made him think that by Yosef interpreting the dreams, this would lead him to become a ruler in Egypt?

The answer is that a true ruler does not have to don a crown or wear princely raiment or sit on a throne. A ruler is one who can rule over himself, someone who is capable of control his desires. The Medrash states that Shlomo Hamelech was a king over seven different kingdoms but the highest level was that he ruled over himself.

The chief cupbearer recognized this in Yosef even when he was in prison. Yosef was clearly destined for leadership and that is what compelled the chief cupbearer to tell Pharaoh as to what was written in the Egyptian statutes.

This can be the explanation of the Gemora. It was true that the Chashmanoim did not ascend the throne until after they were victorious over the Greeks but they were kings beforehand as well. While some of the other Jews could not hold themselves back from joining the Greek culture and shunned the Torah and mitzvos, the Chashmanoim were steadfast and strong. They were kings over their desires and this was the characteristic which they possessed which ultimately led them to victory.


Moshe David Tokayer said...

Hi. I saw your note on my blog. I added a Daf notes link. Hatzlacha!