Vayeishev & Chanukah: Sheaves & Flames
In Joseph’s dream, his sheaf stood upright, while his brothers’ sheaves bowed down to his (Vayeishev 37:7-8). Joseph, as a Tzaddik, was the nurturer by definition. It is through him that
God would provide sustenance for Egypt, and for the brothers as well.
At the time of the dream, the brothers are depicted as bowing; it is still at a stage where they failed to regognize Joseph’s role and the dynamics that exist between them.
Are the tribes to be indefinitely in a state of submissiveness because of how they benefited from Joseph’s power? Would their sheaves ever be able to stand up straight?
Now picture the Chanukah Menorah. The Shamesh surrounded by the other lights. The Shamesh igniting and giving life to the other candles. Yet each flame stands erect, pointing up. It doesn’t matter which way the candle is pointing; the flame itself will always dance skyward. The light of the Shamesh is what kindled the fire; yet each new light stands independent and bright.
This is the gift of true nurturing. When the brothers realize what was unique about Joseph and how he was to infuse them with what was necessary not just for their physical survival, but for what would make them thrive as God’s tribes; when they understand that what happened was not about Joseph, but about the story of an emerging nation, they were then able to stand on their own and assert their individual strengths.
It is when they became aware of what made Joseph’s sheaf stand upright and remain erect, that being sustained through him did no longer present a hindrance to their development, each one as a unique tribe of Israel.
When we touch the flame of the Shamesh to the wick of our yet unlit candles, we can reflect on the nurturers that God placed in our lives. When we acknowledge what sets them apart as our guides, teachers, illuminators (see: What Is The Reason: Songs & Wisdom II), we can appreciate how what they provide us with serves to make us stand upright; the flame of our inner candle soaring upward.