For the week ending 24 December 2022 / 30 Kislev 5783

Parshat Miketz

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair -
Become a Supporter Library Library


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 to be his slave as punishment. Yehuda interposes and offers himself instead, but Yosef refuses.


In The Heart Of The Child

“So Pharaoh sent and summoned Yosef, and they rushed him from the dungeon…” (41:14)

Little children usually find it very difficult to do things by themselves. They need a constant helping hand, constant encouragement. They can be bold, but only when a parent is close by. When out of sight, tears quickly replace bravado until once again they feel the hand that comforts.

As babies, our first faltering steps are greeted by parental glee. Hands reach out to guide our every step. When we stumble, Mom and Dad are always there to stop us from falling.

There comes a day, however, when we stumble, but we find no helping hand. We fall to the ground. Tears fill our eyes and dismay fills our hearts. We look around in amazement. "Where are you? Mommy? Daddy? Are you still there?"

Only from the moment our parents let us fall can we learn to walk by ourselves. Only from the moment that our parents are prepared to let us become adults can we stop being children. If, as parents, we never give our children the possibility of falling down, they will never learn to stand by themselves. Of course, to everything there is a season. Everything has to be in its time. If a child is challenged beyond his capabilities, he may assume that he will never be able to achieve what is being asked of him, and suffer from this negative programming for life.

A challenge in its correct time is always an opportunity to grow, an opportunity to get to know who we really are.

The festival of Chanukah celebrates two events: The defeat of the vast Seleucid Greek army by a handful of Jews, and the miracle of the one flask of pure oil which burned for eight days in the Menorah. If you think about it, our joy at Chanukah should center on the deliverance from our enemies. However, our main focus seems to be the miracle of the lights. Why should this be so?

Chanukah took place after the last of the Prophets - Chagai, Zecharia and Malachi - had passed from this world. After they passed, Hashem no longer communicated directly with humans. Suddenly, we were like children left alone in the dark. The Parental Hand had gone. With prophecy taken from the world, we would need to grow by ourselves, to become like adults. No longer could we depend on Hashem to reach down to us. Now, we would need to stretch our arms upward to Him. We had been given a chance to grow. To find out who we were. In the darkness of a world without prophecy, we would need to forge our connection with Hashem in the furnace of our own hearts.

But it is difficult. Sometimes we feel "Mommy, Daddy...where are you? Are you still there?" The heart grows a little cold with longing. Sometimes we need a little extra help.

The joy of Chanukah is not so much because we got what we prayed for, that we were delivered from the Greeks, but the fact that G-d let us know that He was still there. He answered our prayers with a miracle. In a world where spiritual decay had tainted the holiest places, a light burst forth in the center of the world to tell us that He was still there. A light that told us that darkness had not extinguished the light. It was only hiding it.

Hashem communicated with us through the darkness of a world without prophecy. He let us know that He was still with us even in the dark. Even though the channel of prophecy had fallen silent, our Father was still there, watching over us.

That little flask of oil would burn and burn. It would burn not just for eight days. It would burn for thousands of years. We would take those lights with us into the long, long night of exile, and we would know by the very fact of our survival against all odds that He was with us even in the darkest of nights. He was always there. He has always been there.

Sometimes it seems that the darkness cannot get any darker.

More Jews observe Chanukah than any other Jewish festival. Those lights did not burn for just eight days. Those little lights have been burning for more than two thousand years. However far someone may be from their Jewish roots, you can still find a Menorah burning in the window. A little spark that lingers on. A holy spark hidden in the heart of a child.

© 1995-2024 Ohr Somayach International - All rights reserved.

Articles may be distributed to another person intact without prior permission. We also encourage you to include this material in other publications, such as synagogue or school newsletters. Hardcopy or electronic. However, we ask that you contact us beforehand for permission in advance at [email protected] and credit for the source as Ohr Somayach Institutions

« Back to Parsha

Ohr Somayach International is a 501c3 not-for-profit corporation (letter on file) EIN 13-3503155 and your donation is tax deductable.