Wednesday, December 28, 2005

PARSHAH IN A NUTSHELL: Week of December 25-31, 2005 (Mikeitz)


Kislev 27, 5766 * December 28, 2005


TORAH PORTION: Mikeitz (Genesis 41:1-44:17)

Torah Reading for Week of December 25-31, 2005

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Joseph's imprisonment finally ends when Pharaoh dreams of seven fat cows that are swallowed up by seven lean cows, and of seven fat ears of grain swallowed by seven lean ears. Joseph interprets the dreams to mean that seven years of plenty will be followed by seven years of hunger, and advises Pharaoh to store grain during the plentiful years. Pharaoh appoints Joseph governor of Egypt. Joseph marries Asenat, daughter of Potiphar, and they have two sons, Menasseh and Ephraim.

Famine spreads throughout the region, and food can be obtained only in Egypt. Ten of Joseph's brothers come to Egypt to purchase grain; the youngest, Benjamin, stays home, for Jacob fears for his safety. Joseph recognizes his brothers, but they do not recognize him; he accuses them of being spies, insists that they bring Benjamin to prove that they are who they say they are, and imprisons Shimon as a hostage. Later, they discover that the money they paid for their provisions has been mysteriously returned to them.

Jacob agrees to send Benjamin only after Judah assumes personal and eternal responsibility for him. This time Joseph receives them kindly, releases Shimon, and invites them to an eventful dinner at his home. But then he plants his silver goblet, purportedly imbued with magic powers, in Benjamin's sack. When the brothers set out for home the next morning they are pursued, searched, and arrested when the goblet is discovered. Joseph offers to set them free and retain only Benjamin as his slave.

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- And it came to pass at the end of two years (Genesis 41:1)

Every affliction to befall man has a set time to end; as it is written, "An end He set to darkness, and every limit He investigates" (Job 28:3). This is said regarding Joseph, who was ten years in prison [when he asked the chief butler to intercede for him] but G-d investigated and saw that it is necessary for him to be imprisoned for another two years... "In every sorrow there is profit" (Proverbs 14:23). This, too, is said in regard to Joseph, who suffered in prison and then profited from it [in becoming] ruler over Egypt... (Midrash Tanchuma)

- As he interpreted to us, so it was (Genesis 41:13)

Said Rabbi Banaah: There were twenty-four interpreters of dreams in Jerusalem. Once I dreamt a dream and I went around to all of them and they all gave different interpretations, and all were fulfilled, thus confirming that which is said, "All dreams follow the mouth." (Talmud, Berachot 55b)

- Joseph recognized his brothers, but they did not recognize him (Genesis

The brothers could not comprehend Joseph's manner of serving G-d. Like their fathers before them, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Joseph's brothers were shepherds -- a vocation which takes a person far from the tumult and vanities of society to a life of seclusion and communion with nature. As such, they could turn their backs on the mundane affairs of man, contemplate the majesty of the Creator, and serve Him with a clear mind and tranquil heart.

They could not understand how Joseph can be a man of the world, a "fortuitous achiever" in commerce and politics, and at the same time remain completely bound to G-d in his every moment and every endeavor. (Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi)


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Copyright (c), 2005

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