of the Torah Reading
To be read on Shabbat Miketz, 28 Kislev 5778
Torah: Genesis 41:1-44:17, Numbers 7:48-53 (Chanukah-8th
Haftorah: Zachariah 2:14-4:7
Miketz is the 10th Reading out of 12 in Genesis and
10th overall, and 4th out of 54 in overall length.
opens with two dreams of Pharaoh. In the first, seven lean cows swallow
seven fat cows; and in the second, seven thin stalks of grain swallowing
seven fat stalks. No one could interpret the dream, but finally the
butler recalled Yosef who was summoned from the dungeon and made presentable.
He interpreted that both dreams foretold of seven years of agricultural
plenty that would be followed by seven years of famine. Yosef suggested
that Pharaoh seek an administrator to supervise food storage food during
the years of plenty to preserve for the famine. Realizing that the wisest
man for the task was Yosef himself, Pharaoh appointed him viceroy, named
him Tzafnat Paneach, and married him to Osnat with whom he had two sons,
Menashe and Efraim. Yosef built storage cities during the years of plenty.
The years of famine eventually arrive all over the world drawing people
to Egypt to purchase stored food. So too, Yaacov's sons came to Egypt,
excluding Benyamin. Yosef recognized his brothers though they didn't
recognize him. He pretended to be angry and accused them of spying the
land to attack it. To prove their innocence, Yosef told them they must
bring their youngest brother, Benyamin, to Egypt and kept Shimon hostage
until their return. Yosef wept when overhearing his brothers conclude
that the episode was punishment for having sold Yosef years before.
Upon relaying to Yaacov what happened, he was grieved, but reluctantly
allowed his sons, this time including Benyamin, to return to Egypt when
their food supply depleted. This time, they bring a gift for Yosef.
After seeing that Benyamin also arrived, Yosef asked that a meal be
prepared for himself to eat with his brothers. Upon meeting them, Yosef
asked about his father, and hid his tears when meeting Benyamin. After
the meal, Yosef instructed that his brothers' packs be filled with food,
and in Benyamin's money and Yosef's 'magic' chalice should be replaced
in his pack. After the brothers left the city, Yosef's men pursued them
to catch Benyamin with his 'theft'. The brothers were brought back before
Yosef who declared that Benyamin must remain in Egypt as his slave as
punishment for stealing.
essay from Rabbi
Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent
(for a free weekly email subscription, click
This week's Torah portion is called "Miketz",
which means "at the end". The story begins with Joseph in
prison, telling how he was about to be released. The Midrash explains
this topic and opens with a verse from Job, "There will be an
end [in Hebrew, 'ketz'] to the darkness". The Midrash
compares Joseph's release from prison to the final redemption of Mashiach
when there will be no more spiritual darkness.
The Baal Shem Tov explains the Midrash as follows: As long as a person's
evil inclination, his or her desire to do negative things, exists,
it is like being in prison, because they can not freely serve G-d.
Pitch blackness and the shadow of death characterize their reality.
The great Rabbi Yitzchak Luria, the Arizal of Safed, describes this
in connection with the concept of the extraction of "divine sparks"
from the physical aspects of the world with which we come into contact.
These sparks were originally part of supernal spiritual "vessels"
that were shattered, and their shards became the inner dimension of
this physical plane. Our purpose is to extract and elevate these sparks
from the inanimate, vegetable, animal and human spheres, and return
them to their source on high. This is the Torah way of life and is
true in every aspect of the things we do, from mitzvah observance
to what we think about when we eat.
The Baal Shem Tov continues saying something revolutionary: The divine
spark that exists in every part of the physical world, but particularly
in the inanimate and vegetable kingdoms, is made up of the same 248
spiritual limbs and 365 spiritual veins, arteries and sinews that
are the spiritual make up of a human person, of which the body is
its physical mirror image! As long as this spark is confined in the
physical object, it is like a person in prison! And the individual
who is able, through thoughts and intentions, to extract and elevate
these sparks is fulfilling the Torah commandment of redeeming captives!
How much more, if we imagine that these divine sparks are very dear
to the King of Kings, that it they are like His son, the prince, who
is imprisoned, than how much merit will come to the prince's redeemer!
Who is it that will make an end to the darkness? Just as the Almighty
decides when Mashiach will come, so also it is a divine judgment how
long each spark will be imprisoned, when it will merit to be released
and who will be the vehicle for that redemption to happen. When an
opportunity presents itself, do not let it sour. You have been chosen
by the King of Kings to redeem the spark from exile.
Happy Chanukah and Shabbat Shalom, Shaul
(for a free weekly email subscription, click
For last year's essay by Rabbi Leiter on this
week's Reading, see the archive.
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click to Miketz
From the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe; adapted by Moshe Yaakov
The reality of exile
is analogous to that of a dream, consisting of coexisting conflicting
and contradictory elements. We pray to G-d with absolute devotion and
yet, in a matter of minutes, we may find ourselves acting in ways that
contradict G-d's directives.
The Torah teaches
us that although our actions are inconsistent and may seem hypocritical
at times, we should not become disheartened, for the effects of our
good deeds nonetheless will last forever.
To continue reading
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