For the week ending 28 December 2019 / 30 Kislev 5780

Parshat Miketz

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.


If Ya’ Got It, Don’t Flaunt It!

“So, Yaakov said to his sons: ‘Why do you make yourselves conspicuous?’” (42:1)

For many years, Rabbi Arthur Kohn zt”l was the Rabbi of Finsbury Park Synagogue in London. Once, at a wedding, delighted to see that Rabbi Kohn was in the crowd, one of the organizers rushed up to him and asked if he would accept the honor of saying one of the sheva berachot (seven wedding blessings) that are traditionally recited under the chupa (wedding canopy). Rabbi Kohn readily agreed, but when the organizer came to tell him that his beracha would be the next one, he firmly refused.

The beracha that he was to recite was:”Sos tosis…” “The barren one will surely exult and be glad in gathering her children to herself joyfully (in haste). Blessed are You, Hashem, The One who gladdens Tzion by way of her children.” “But Rabbi Kohn,” said the organizer, “please accept the honor!” “You don’t understand,” said Rabbi Kohn, “we have no children. If I say this beracha, how will my wife feel?”

“So, Yaakov said to his sons: ‘Why do you make yourselves conspicuous?’”

In the Gemara in Ta’anit (10b) Rashi explains that Yaakov was telling his sons to be sensitive to the plight of Yishmael and Esav, through whose lands they would have to travel on the way to Egypt. When everyone else is starving, be sensitive to others and don’t flaunt your good fortune.

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