Getting Our Light Back
The portion Miketz begins with the word vayehi, representing something negative, which is strange, because this portion talks about a positive occurrence - Joseph coming out of jail. So, what is negative about it? The Ari, Rav Isaac Luria, explains that Pharaoh represents the Negative Side, and in the portion Miketz, Pharaoh receives a level of prophecy. Prophecy is an elevated level of connection to the Light of the Creator, but since Pharaoh represents the Negative Side, how could he possibly merit such prophecy?
To answer this, we have to begin with a teaching that my father, Rav Berg, would talk about often. In Hebrew, the word averah is mistakenly translated as “sin” or “transgression.” However, averah comes from the word “to give over,” as in he or she “gives over” his Light to the Negative Side; every time we act in a negative way we are giving our Light over to the Negative Side, and every lack or pain that we experience in our life comes from that energy we have given over.
The way the Negative Side has control over us is through the Light and energy that we have given it - through the averah, the transference of our energy, the Negative Side is able to control us and give us darkness, lack, pain, and sadness. Therefore, if a person is able to take away all the Light that he or she has given over to the Negative Side, then there is no more lack, sadness, or pain anymore, ever. And so, to the degree that we are able to take back all that energy we gave over is to the degree that we can remove all the darkness from our life. But, how do we take back that Light? The kabbalists use a parable to explain:
There was a blacksmith who saw camels carrying endless amounts of linens coming towards him. The blacksmith had a very small shop and had no idea what he was going to do, because he couldn’t possibly fit all of that linen into it. But then a wise man told the blacksmith that just one little spark from his hammering could ignite the linen and destroy it all in an instant.
In order to remove the darkness and take it all back, there is a process that is much easier than we think: one spark of Light can finish all of that darkness off in an instant, like the parable says. It all has to do with our consciousness; if we think that we have to battle to take back every single spark we’ve ever given over, we will never do it. But we have to remember, like the parable, that one spark will finish all the linen. One spark will take back all the Light we have given over to the Negative Side. That is the secret of the portion Miketz, and the secret of Chanukah, which falls during this portion.
Joseph fell slightly both when the wife of Potiphar tried to seduce him, and when he put his certainty in the wine steward. Giving over that energy to the Negative Side is what kept him in jail and what gave Pharaoh the power of prophecy. Therefore, the reason this portion begins with the word vayehi, which represents darkness or negativity, is because it is talking about a moment in time when Joseph was in jail – not physical jail, but spiritual jail. And, as such, Pharaoh had dominion, because Joseph had given his power over. However, the moment when Pharaoh receives the prophecy because of Joseph’s giving over the averot to the Negative Side is also the moment when Joseph takes his power back; Pharaoh says, “I've given you control of all of Egypt.” Egypt represents the Negative Side, and therefore, Joseph has taken back all the negativity, all the energy that he has given to Pharaoh, the Negative Side.
One of the greatest gifts of Shabbat Miketz and of Chanukah is the ability to take back control. To connect to this, we begin with the understanding that darkness comes from the Light we’ve given over. Then, we have to understand that to get it back we just need one spark. If Joseph had to fight for all the Light that he had given over, it would have taken forever. Instead, he came to the understanding that we only need one spark of Light to burn up all the forces of Negativity and bring back all the energy we have given over. Once Joseph came to that consciousness and understanding, he took back control.
One of the great secrets of this portion, and of Chanukah, is that we need very little. Of course, first we have to start with the clarity that the only reason we don’t have control in our life, the only reason we have darkness or lack, is not because of anybody else, or because of the Creator. It is because of our averot, the Light and energy we have given over to the Negative Side. If we don’t have that clarity, the next step - the understanding that all we need is one little spark to burn up all of the Negative Side - can’t come.
Through lighting the Chanukiah on Chanukah, we can get back all the Light we have given over to the Negative Side. Therefore, this has to be our consciousness and meditation during this time; if we needed to fight to get it all back, if we needed to earn it all back, it would take us endless lifetimes, but on Shabbat Miketz, and during Chanukah, we are given the power to do it. We can take control and get our Light back, and it’s not even work that we have do; it is, rather, an incredibly tremendous gift we are given.