There is a question as to whether darkness is its literal meaning, or if it is simply the absence of light. The fact that light overcomes darkness is not an indication that darkness is merely a lack of light.
The month of Shevat, according to the Sefer Yetzirah, is associated with the letter tzaddik. A Tzaddik is, literally, a righteous person, one who eats to live, to have the energy to serve the Ribono shel Olam – versus the gluttonous, insatiable kind that live to eat, to satisfy their corporeal cravings.
In this week’s parshah (Shemos 6:6) Hashem tells Moshe to tell the Bnei Yisrael the four leshonos of geulah: v’hotzeisi, v’hitzalti, v’ga’alti, and v’lakachti. The Mishnah in Pesachim 99b says that a poor man should be given four cups of wine, even from money that is allotted for tzedakah. Rashi there quotes a Yerushalmi in Pesachim that cites Rabbi Yochanan’s opinion that the four cups of wine that we are commanded to drink at the Pesach Seder correspond to the four leshonos of geulah as mentioned above.
Before each person is born, he is predestined for certain abilities and talents, a particular level of intelligence, and an exact disposition and temperament. At the end of his days, he will be compared to what he could have become. How far did he grow? How much did he accomplish with the tools given to him? This system is subjective. How much of his potential did he fulfill?
On the ninth of Teves Ezra HaSofer was niftar. The Gemara (Megilah 15a) tells us that Ezra was actually Malachi – the last prophet. With his passing, the glorious era of nevuah, prophecy, came to an end.
The belief in the power of the evil eye and the desire to ward off its deleterious spell are rooted firmly in Jewish historical consciousness. Indeed, the Talmud is replete with numerous references to the notion of ayin hara and takes its existence for granted.
Yaakov Avinu spent the final seventeen years of his life in Mitzrayim. While there he lived in peace for the first time in many years and remained in that state for the rest of his life. Near the end of his days he called in his beloved son Yosef and made an impassioned request: “Please do not bury me in Mitzrayim.”
This week’s parshah begins with Yaakov Avinu on his deathbed. He called for and requested of Yosef not to bury him in Mitzrayim, but rather in Eretz Yisrael. Although Yosef agreed to fulfill this request, Yaakov asked him to swear that he would keep his word, which he did.
In this week’s parshah Yaakov Avinu takes his entire family down to Mitzrayim. The Torah lists the family members who made this journey. On the list is Shimon’s son, Shaul. The pasuk refers to him as Shaul ben haCanaanis – the son of the Canaanis.
According to the Sefer Yetzirah, each month is associated with a letter of the aleph-beis. Teves was formed by means of the letter ayin, which has a numerical value of seventy – a number that figures prominently in Judaism.
Having come to the conclusion that nobody was more qualified than Yosef to lead Egypt in anticipation of and during the approaching famine, Pharaoh appointed him prime minister. This appointment made Yosef the second most powerful man in Egypt.