In every generation, the Jewish people are blessed by the Almighty with a leader to whom, regardless of the domain - be it communal or individual life - nothing is done without his advice or consent. R’ Yitzchok Elchanan Spektor zt”l was known as “Rabban shel kol Yisroel” (Teacher of all Israel), and although he led various communities during his almost 80 years of life, his greatest renown arose from the city of Kovno, Lithuania, where he served as Rav for more than 30 years. It was there that he established his reputation as the “Posek Hador” and maintained a large correspondence with rabbis, Roshei Yeshivah, laymen, communities, philanthropists, and representatives in many parts of the world, who sought his advice and instruction on all conceivable subjects relating to Klal Yisroel. His sound reasoning and love of peace established him as truly one of the great leaders of world Jewry. The Netziv, R’ Naftali Tzvi Yehuda Berlin zt”l of Volozhin, once said that R’ Yitzchok Elchanan merited all this because of his exceptional diligence in Torah study. “He is the greatest masmid of our generation,” said the Netziv. who was also known for his exceptional diligence.

Throughout the entire parshah, we continuously read how Yosef, the favored son of Yaakov Avinu, suffered horrible humiliation, debasement, and extreme degradation. From the moment he was whisked away from his home and family to the abject slavery of an Egyptian master, finding himself thrown into jail for no fault of his own, it would have been logical for Yosef to become absorbed in his own pain, angry at the world. But Yosef did not become bitter. He remained sensitive to others and to his Divine mission in life. Not only did he perceive the anguish of Pharaoh’s servants, but he also reached out to help them. To Yosef, the fact that Hashem had arranged for him to notice someone in need indicated that it was his duty to help.

It was the chasunah of a relative – a happy time, a special time, and Reb Anshel was filled with gratitude to be there. A retired businessman with a large and ever-growing family immersed in lives of avodas Hashem, Reb Anshel is known and respected in the Toronto community and beyond. As a guest myself, I was also participating in the beautiful simchah. During the chasan’s tish, waiting for the badeken ceremony to begin, I noticed Reb Anshel coming out of the crowd toward me.

Rivka Toledano, a religious emergency room nurse, has seen a lot in her time, but on one occasion, she recalls a miraculous occurrence that she personally witnessed while working in a Canadian hospital. It was a cold December night, in the middle of a snowstorm, which means the ER can get pretty crazy. Chanukah was starting that very night, and Rivka was looking forward to completing her shift and going home to light the menorah with her family.

The Zohar states that 974 generations of souls were reincarnated in Lavan’s sheep. Before Yaakov’s arrival at Lavan’s home, they were trapped by the Sitra Achra. Yaakov rescued these souls by implanting emunah into them in the form of the rods that he placed in the water, and when the sheep gazed at the rods, the souls inside them were transformed with purity.