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Shabbat Parashat Miketz 5783

Parashat Hashavua: Zecharias Daughter, Mother of Mashiach

Harav Yosef Carmel

The Rabbis instituted that we read, as the haftara of the Shabbat of Chanuka, the prophecy of Zecharia ben Berechya ben Ido. He was a prophet in the time of the return to Zion after the Babylonian exile, and he foretells the coming of Mashiach and describes the vision of a menorah as part of the imagery appropriate for this period.

Chazal taught us that whenever a prophet’s name appears with the name of his father, we can know that the father was also a prophet (Megilla 15a). Thus, Zecharia was part of a dynasty of prophets, as even his grandfather’s name was mentioned. Looking through Tanach, we find that the names mentioned are connected with prophecy over the period of hundreds of years. We find Yedo (=Ido) as a prophet at the time of King Shlomo (Divrei Hayamim II, 9:29). There is also a Zecharyahu ben Yevarechyahu, who was a trusted “witness” (and religious leader) in the time of Yeshayahu. Zecharia is also the name of the spiritual guide of Uziyahu, King of Yehuda, at the time of Yeshayahu (see Divrei Hayamim II, 26:5). It therefore makes sense that the repeated names indicate a family dynasty of prophets, stretching from the time of Shlomo until the time of the Persian Empire’s influence over the region.

One of the most important figures in our nation’s history was King Chizkiyahu. The gemara (Sanhedrin 94a) tells us that Hashem wanted to make Chizkiyahu the Mashiach and have the downfall of Sancheriv be the battle of Gog and Magog. How did Chizkiyahu reach such an unusually lofty level, considering that his father, Achaz, was one of the most wicked kings in the period of the First Temple (see Melachim II, 16:20)? Achaz, for example, sealed the doors of the Beit Hamikdash and extinguished the light of the golden menorah (Divrei Hayamim II, 29:7). The menorah served as a testament to the dwelling of the Divine Presence within Israel (see Shabbat 22b, regarding the miraculous property of the menorah’s western candle).

Achaz defiled the Temple, and his son Chizkiyahu purified it (see Divrei Hayamim ibid. 5). We could therefore say that Achaz was the first prototype of a Hellenized Jew, turning the Beit Hamikdash into a place of idol worship. The Hasmoneans thus are the spiritual inheritors of Chizkiyahu, by returning the Temple to a state of purity.

We will suggest the following explanation for the secret of Chizkiyahu’s source of spiritual greatness. Chizkiyahu’s mother was Avia bat Zecharyahu (ibid. 1). In other words, with all his wickedness, Achaz’s wife was a righteous woman, the daughter of the prophet Zecharyahu. This righteous woman raised a righteous king, who was fit to be the role model for the Hasmoneans, hundreds of years later, and even was fit to be Mashiach himself.

When we pray on Chanuka that Hashem should send us miracles like there were in days past, let us remember the righteous woman who raised a righteous king who purified the Temple and renewed the menorah.    

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Nir Rephael ben Rachel Bracha
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Adar II 17, 5782


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