Parshat ha Shavuah Verses -Miketz

Sitting in the dungeon I cry
For my family
Why did my father abandon me?

Recently, I have hosted a beit Midrash in my house with the wonderful teacher I met at Pardes, Joe Wolfson. He suggested, based on a lesson from Rabbi Yoel Bin Nun that Yosef did not know about the real feelings of his father based on the fact that he himself sent Yosef to see the brothers knowing about their negative feelings toward Yosef.

So, Yosef, whose life is a roller coaster of pits and high chairs is the one really in mourning for his family.

And then he has another turn around of events

יד  וַיִּשְׁלַח פַּרְעֹה וַיִּקְרָא אֶת-יוֹסֵף, וַיְרִיצֻהוּ מִן-הַבּוֹר; וַיְגַלַּח וַיְחַלֵּף שִׂמְלֹתָיו, וַיָּבֹא אֶל-פַּרְעֹה.

14 Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they brought him hastily out of the dungeon. And he shaved himself, and changed his raiment, and came in unto Pharaoh.

You were worried about your looks
Curling your hair?
How did you like your chance to clean up again? But for whom?

There is something astonishing that happens in Parashat Miketz.  Pharaoh, the most powerful man in the ancient world accepts the interpretation of Joseph, a foreign-born former-slave and convict -and Pharaoh bets the state on him.  
How do you choose what to believe and whom to trust?  Menachem Mendel of Kotzk (1787–1859; Chassidic rabbi and leader) teaches we should look for truth as if we had never seen it before.  The key to recognizing it is to be a freethinking person and not let your biases cloud your vision.   
Pharaoh’s behavior is striking when compared to that of Antiochus in the Chanukah story we celebrate this week.   Antiochus demands everybody think and behave like him; he loses his throne to the Maccabees as a result.  (*This perush comes from my colleague, R. Irv Elson

It is remarkable that as our parshah progresses, we see the transformation of the brothers. I believe that both Yosef and his elder brothers undergo a huge inner search and move toward the joint understanding and appreciation.While Yosef rethinks the earthly and G-dly reasons for his suffering and ultimately success in Egypt, the brothers deep down begin to understand their part of the story and appreciate the gravity of their sin. This is, precisely, what moves them later to reject a deal closely resembling the one with Yosef – leaving a brother in “foreign” hands.

The story will continue in the next Torah reading, but I would like to point out two things:

  • The story of Yosef is always read on Chanukah.
  • The Haftarah  reading for this Shabbat comes from Prophet Zechariah, who says that the victory will come ” ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says HASHEM, Master of Legions.” (Zechariah 4:6)

Today, when our world seems so dark, when our “friends” abandon us again and again, we need to understand that G-d has a plan, and it is His plans we all are trying to fulfill. We just need to do our best. The rest is up to Him.

May the last days of Chanukah bring more light to you, your families, and the world around us.


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