Kenneth Cohen

Purim and Chanukah

In the Jewish calendar, Chanukah and Purim are two holidays that were ordained by the Rabbis. They were seen as significant, miraculous events, worthy of commemoration.

In modern times, two new holidays were added to the calendar. Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel Independence Day, is celebrated on the fifth of Iyar, commemorating the establishment of the State of Israel. And Yom Yerushalayim on the twenty-eighth of Iyar, is a festive day acknowledging the liberation of Jerusalem in 1967.

It is interesting that Parshat Miketz always falls on Chanukah. This year, I noticed four similarities in the Parsha that are connected with Purim.

The first is that Yosef suggests sending out פקידים, or, appointed messengers, to gather grain during the years of plenty. In the Megillah, Achashveirosh is advised to send out פקידים, to gather the most beautiful women in the land, to choose a queen.
Both Pharoah and Achashveirosh removed their ring, as they appointed Joseph and Haman, to be the second to the king.

The third connection is the similar language used by Yakov and Esther, when they needed to make a difficult decision. In Yakov’s case, he said, כאשר שכולתי שכחתי, “If I am to be bereaved, I will be bereaved.” Esther’s words were, וכאשר אבדתי אבדתי, “If I perish, I perish.”

And the fourth similarity is the use of the word, ויתאפק, “and he restrained himself.” This word is only found twice in all of Tanach. In Yosef’s case, he restrained himself from crying, after seeing his younger brother, Binyamin. In Haman’s case, he restrained himself when he saw that the defiant Mordechai, would not bow to him.

It is so interesting to unlock these so called coincidences in the Torah. Parshat Miketz was read long before the Purim and Chanukah miracles occurred. And yet, we can clearly see that this was part of a Divine plan.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at