Torah Weekly

For the week ending 15 December 2012 / 1 Tevet 5773

Parshat Mikeitz

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair -
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It is two years later. Pharaoh has a dream. He is unsatisfied with all attempts to interpret it. Pharaoh's wine chamberlain remembers that Yosef accurately interpreted his dream while in prison. Yosef is released from prison and brought before Pharaoh. He interprets that soon will begin seven years of abundance followed by seven years of severe famine. He tells Pharaoh to appoint a wise person to store grain in preparation for the famine. Pharaoh appoints him as viceroy to oversee the project. Pharaoh gives Yosef an Egyptian name, Tsafnat Panayach, and selects Osnat, Yosef's ex-master's daughter, as Yosef's wife. Egypt becomes the granary of the world. Yosef has two sons, Menashe and Ephraim. Yaakov sends his sons to Egypt to buy food. The brothers come before Yosef and bow to him. Yosef recognizes them but they do not recognize him. Mindful of his dreams, Yosef plays the part of an Egyptian overlord and acts harshly, accusing them of being spies. Yosef sells them food, but keeps Shimon hostage until they bring their brother Binyamin to him as proof of their honesty. Yosef commands his servants to replace the purchase-money in their sacks. On the return journey, they discover the money and their hearts sink. They return to Yaakov and retell everything. Yaakov refuses to let Binyamin go to Egypt, but when the famine grows unbearable, he accedes. Yehuda guarantees Binyamin's safety, and the brothers go to Egypt. Yosef welcomes the brothers lavishly as honored guests. When he sees Binyamin he rushes from the room and weeps. Yosef instructs his servants to replace the money in the sacks, and to put his goblet inside Binyamin's sack. When the goblet is discovered, Yosef demands Binyamin become his slave as punishment. Yehuda interposes and offers himself instead, but Yosef refuses.


Coming To A Theater Near You

“Seven years of famine...” (41:27)

As a young boy I remember sitting glued to the screen of the Golders Green Ionic, waiting to see the trailer of the next Steve Reeves epic. Steve would battle some unlikely plastic reptile with the shadow of the ice-cream lady falling all over him. Her torch usually managed to wash-out most of the picture until you could barely tell the difference between the lizard and Steve.

How things have changed.

On a recent trip to the States I was subjected to about an hour of broadcast television. I was amazed at how much time was taken up ‘trailing’ coming attractions. The identical trailer for some up-coming program was repeated ad nauseam.

We are rapidly reaching the Brave New World where trailers become so frequent and pervasive that there will be no time for the features themselves.

This will be the perfect paradigm for the dream-box which has always been long on promises and short on delivery.

At the root of this mania, however, is some solid reasoning. You can’t get people to listen to you unless you can first grab their attention.

The most important part of a record is the first twenty seconds. By that point the listener has already decided whether he wants to listen further or not.

It’s the same in a business interview. Much stress is placed on the way you look because first impressions are, as they say, lasting impressions.

In this week’s Torah portion there’s an interesting anomaly. When Yosef interprets Pharaoh’s dream, he starts off by telling him about the seven years of famine. Chronologically, the seven years of plenty came first. Why didn’t Yosef start by talking about them?

In a country as prosperous as Egypt talking about seven years of plenty would have been about as interesting as watching wallpaper. Yosef deliberately started speaking about the famine because he knew that this was a ‘trailer’ that would certainly make Pharaoh sit up and take notice.

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