Dvar Torah-Parshat Miketz
We left off in last weeks reading, with Yosef counting on a ‘butler’ who had been freed from prison, to relate to Pharaoh about Yosef’s expertise in interpreting dreams, which would have in turn resulted in him leaving prison. However, the butler initially forgot to mention it to Pharaoh. Pharaoh had a dream two years later (Yosef’s 12th year in prison).
Pharaoh was unsatisfied with all the attempts made to interpret it, by various magicians and sorcerers. Pharaoh's Butler finally remembered that Yosef accurately interpreted his dream while in prison. Yosef in turn was released from prison and was brought in front of Pharaoh. (Bereishit 41:14)
We learn the significance of having ‘dream’s while being asleep. A Dreams outcome has been reported to be dependant on the way they are interpreted. Also a dream could be a form of communication between G-d and the Jews during periods of divine hiding. However in this case G-d created a dream for Yosef's benefit through Pharaoh (Chagiga 5b). Yosef interpreted from the dream that in due coarse there would soon begin seven years of abundance of food where the land of Egypt would be flourishing followed by seven years of a severe famine. (Bereishit 41:27)
He advised Pharaoh to appoint a wise person to store grain in preparation for the famine. Pharaoh appointed Yosef as viceroy to oversee the project, showing how quickly a man could rise to greatness, one minute Yosef was a prisoner and next the deputy of the main country in the world. We see elsewhere in the Tanach, leaders having significant dreams, in Parshat Vayaitze, we learned that Yaakov had a dream of the angels climbing up four different ladders, which symbolized four different exiles that the Jews would go through during history. Also the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar, dreamt about his monarchy in the book of ‘Daniel (Daniel 2:38).’
Pharaoh quickly switched Yosef’s Egyptian name, and changed it to ‘Tsafnat Panayach’, and gave over Potiphar’s daughter, Osnat, to Yosef as a wife. (Bereishit 41:45)
The flourishing state in which Egypt found themselves made them the main economic country in the world, and Yosef was thriving in his new position. He proved his wisdom to Pharaoh, proving he knew 71 different languages (Sota 36), one more language than the king actually knew (Hebrew), which actually at the time meant he was more deserving of the throne. During that era, an individual who knew the most languages was worthy of being the King. Throughout the Tanach, there were many individuals who obtained phenomenal wisdom, including, Adam, King David and King Solomon.
Yosef’s wife then gave birth to two children, Menashe and Ephraim. They were to later on become separate tribes. In fact, Ephraim would later on become the head of the ’10 tribes’ which rebelled against the King of Yehudah in the book of ‘Kings,’ many centuries later, which in turn resulted in the exile of the 10 tribes.
Yaakov then sent his sons to Egypt to buy food, as there was a famine throughout the world, just as Yosef predicted. The brothers came before Yosef and bowed down to him, proving that the dreams Yosef had in last weeks reading came true. Yosef recognized them but they did not recognize him, he had a different name and they hadn’t seen him for many years.
Yosef shrewdly made himself out to be a different person, as he didn’t want the brothers to know who he was, hoping they would be punished for the problems they caused him, which would in turn help them towards a mass repentance, sparing them from punishment in the heavenly court for their previous behavior.
Yosef purposely accused them of being spies, and kept Shimon hostage until they were to bring their brother Benyamin to him (Bereishit 42:24). Yosef commanded his servants to replace money in their sacks, so that they would have to come back later on and prove there honesty. On the return journey, they discovered the money in the bag and their hearts sank (Bereishit 42:27).
They returned to Yaakov and retold everything. Yaakov refused to allow Benyamin to go to Egypt, however when the famine grew to an unbearable level, he gave in (Bereishit 43:2). Yehuda guaranteed Benyamin's safety, and the brothers went to Egypt.
Yosef welcomed the brothers in a fabulous manner as honored guests. When he saw his full brother, Benyamin he rushed from the room and cried (Megilla 16). Yosef then instructed his servants to replace the money in the sacks, and to put his precious goblet inside Benyamin's sack, framing Benyamin of theft, this was done in order to prove if the brothers were willing to fight and protect Benyamin which in turn would prove their repentance.
When the goblet was discovered, Yosef demanded Benyamin to become his slave as punishment (at this point Benyamin knew that Yosef was his full brother and was play acting as an enemy, and he was assured of his safety). Yehuda (unaware of Yosef’s identity at this point) interposed and offered himself instead, however Yosef refused (Bereishit 44:17). We will see what happens in next weeks reading about how this episode turns out!
The natural Haftorah for this weeks reading comes from the book of Kings, Chapters 3 and 4, and it relates a dream that King Solomon had, where Hashem allowed him to request one thing, he chose to have enormous wisdom, making him the ‘wisest man in the world.’
I would like to dedicate this Dvar Torah for a refuah shelaima of Margalit Bat Yael Leah.
By: Michael Zerubavel
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