Joseph’s Link to Channuka

Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim

Rav Kahana elaborated on Joseph’s capture by his brothers: 

Rav Natan bar Manyumi taught in the name of Rav Tanḥum, “And they took him and cast him into the pit. The pit was empty; there was no water in it” (Gen. 37:24). Since it states, “the pit was empty”, do I not know that “there was no water in it”? What then is the additional teaching of “there was no water in it”? Water it did not contain, but there were serpents and scorpions in it.  (Sabbath 22a)

Why does the Talmud insert Rav Kahana’s discussion of Joseph’s salvation in the midst of a discussion on Channuka lights? Despite the venomous creatures, God saved Joseph from his many brothers who placed him in the pit. So too, God saved 5 Maccabees from myriads of Greeks. Perhaps that is Rav Kahana’s theme and why the Talmud inserted Rav Kahana addressing Joseph’s salvation in the midst of a discussion on Channuka lights. He wished to show God’s repeated providence for those deserving it: the righteous, although few, are unaffected by the many. King David said the same:  “A thousand may fall at your left side, and ten thousand at your right, but it (harm) shall not reach you” (Psalms 91:7). Numbers cannot overpower God’s will to save the righteous man.