Torah Weekly

For the week ending 8 December 2018 / 30 Kislev 5779

Parshat Mikeitz - Chanukah

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair - www.seasonsofthemoon.com
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Overview

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.

Insights

Scharfer!

“Now let Pharaoh seek out a wise and discerning man…” (41:33)

Yerushalmis are noted for being scharfers, meaning that they have quick and incisive minds.

Last Erev Rosh Hashana I was leaving the mikveh through the turnstile, and just as soon as I got to the other side I realized that I had left my tzizit in the changing room and to get back inside was going to cost me another twenty shekels. While I was thinking about what to do, a skinny Yerushalmi was just about to enter the turnstile. I explained to him what had happened and asked if I could squeeze through together with him. “Sure!” he replied. As we were going round the turnstile I said too him, “It’s lucky you’re thin.” He said, “No, it’s because you don’t have your tzizis on!”

“Now let Pharaoh seek out a wise and discerning man…”

Seeing as Yosef had been brought to Pharaoh to interpret his dream, why was Yosef giving Pharaoh advice on how to run the country?

The Mishna says that “On Pesach the world is judged regarding the produce of the field.” Pharaoh’s dream happened on the night of Rosh Hashana, as it says, “On Rosh Hashana, Yosef got out of prison.”

Ostensibly we could ask: If G-d wanted to reveal to Pharaoh that years of famine were approaching, why wasn’t his dream on the first night of Pesach, the time of judgment for the produce of the land?

“Now let Pharaoh seek out a wise and discerning man…”

This is the subtext of this verse: If you ask why should Pharaoh have a dream “Now” about good and bad sheaves of wheat, a subject relevant to Pesach, the answer is: “Let Pharaoh seek out a wise and discerning man and set him over the land of Egypt.” This is because Rosh Hashana is certainly the time for dreams about the fate of man, as taught in Mishna Rosh Hashana: “On Rosh Hashana all those who come to the world pass before Him like sheep.”

Scharf!

· Source Kehilas Moshe in Mayana shel Torah

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