The Mosaic Coat of Chanukah

Friday, 23 December, 2016 - 1:37 pm

I am overwhelmed at the outpouring of support as over 125 donors helped us meet our matching campaign goal.  It is gratifying and humbling to see how many diverse people care about our sacred cause. Thank you is the least we can say!

What is most striking and remarkable is not the dollar amount. It is the variety of individuals, from all walks of life and places, that came out to support the Chabad Jewish Center.


This week’s parsha, Vayeshev talks about the famous story of Yosef. The dreamer and outcast is despised by his brothers, who sell him into slavery.  After numerous challenges, he becomes the viceroy of Egypt and his dreams are realized, literally.

Why is Yosef described by the multi-colored tunic that his father bought him? Why do his brothers strip him specifically of his tunic?

The Mystics teach that Yosef’s tunic represented his way of life. He was a person that engaged the world.  He understood fashion and – as his story eventually demonstrates – commerce, politics and more. His brothers thought he was simply the black sheep. The one that was slipping away from Jewish tradition. You can’t – they argued – be a good Jew and engage the modern world as well!

But, Yosef persevered. And soon they came to bow to Yosef’s vision.

This vision is really what Judaism is all about. It’s not about escaping from the reality of modernity. Rather, Jewish values must be taught to the world. We must be an inspiration to the world rather than being influenced by it.


And this is what the Maccabees fought for. They fought against Hellenism, which represents assimilation into the non-Jewish world. Such an approach leads to the defeat of Judaism altogether. Rather, they championed integration of Judaism, meaning that Jewish values dictate the way of the world.

Fast forward two thousand years and indeed, the Greek ways are in the history books and the Chanukah menorahs are proudly displayed in the streets of America, Romania, Vietnam and countless other countries.

We don’t cave in to outside pressures and darkness. We simply share our own light.

Happy Light-Sharing and Happy Chanukah!

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