• Dvar for Miketz (Genesis 41:1-44:17)

    Parshat Miketz details the events of Yosef being stripped of his coat (39:12) and thrown in a pit for the second time (the first time by his brothers, the second time into jail, which the Torah calls a pit (41:14)), only this time with vastly different results. What changed this time, and how was this change instrumental in Yosef’s growth and ascent?

    Rabbi David Fohrman offers a beautiful explanation that brings several stories together, with a common practical lesson for us all to extract. He explains that Yosef’s troubles started with the negative reports he told his father about his brothers, where the Torah uses the word “dibah” to describe his brothers, a term used one other time in the Torah to describe the negative reports the spies delivered about the land of Israel. To rectify his first mistake, Yosef had to go back into a pit and correct his actions. When he comes out of this second pit to report to Paroh and interpret the dreams, Yosef tells Paroah “biladai”, or “it’s not me” – it’s G-d that interprets the dreams, not me. That level of selflessness is a more mature version of Yosef than the one that was self-absorbed the first time he was thrown into a pit, and ironically the reason why Paroh is comfortable bequeathing so much power over to Yosef.

    To underscore this message, there’s a similar growth parallel between the two coat episodes. The second time Yosef was stripped of his coat, it was done in an act of honor and integrity, and to avoid the temptations of Mrs. Potifar, despite the ramifications. The fact that Yosef was willing to lose his coat for the second time despite the disastrous results the first time, despite the unfortunate results the second time, simply to keep his integrity intact, showed tremendous growth as a person, which proved that he was ready to move forward as a leader, both for the house of Paroh and for the Jews.

    The integrity and humble characteristics that Yosef developed is what enabled him to grow as a person, and what ultimately enabled him to lead his family through some rough times. The Torah imparts this growth beautifully and subtly, such that only careful analysis and introspection will help us grow and ascend, as Jews and as people.

  • Dvar for Miketz (Genesis 41:1-44:17)

    Parshat Miketz tells of the sons of Yaakov traveling to Egypt to buy food and bring it back to their father. Yosef tries to foil their plans by accusing his brothers of being spies because their father wouldn’t have to send all 10 sons to get food, and the brothers respond that “we are all sons of one man” (42:11). How does that explain why they were all sent? The suspicion Yosef raises still exists!?

    In Majesty of Man, Rabbi Leibowitz explains that when Hillel and Rabbi Akiva emphasized loving our fellow man as ourselves, they were describing fundamental principles of the Torah. As the Ramban explains, although the trip to Egypt was long and dangerous, Yaakov felt that developing the brothers’ feeling of unity and brotherhood was worth the risk. This Ahavat Yisrael (love for a fellow Jew) is so critically important that Hillel and Rabbi Akiva stressed it, and Yaakov risked his own sons’ safety for it. If we neglect each other’s needs in the outside world, in the workplace and at home, we’re placing ourselves in danger of losing the comm”unity” we strive to be a part of.

  • Dvar for Miketz (Genesis 41:1-44:17)

    In this week’s Parsha, Miketz, we find Paroh having two dreams that none of his advisors can interpret satisfactorily. Yosef is then introduced, and he tells of the 7 years of plenty that will be followed with the 7 years of hunger. As part of the interpretation of the dreams, Yosef tells Paroh to appoint a man that is ‘smart and wise’ to overlook the storage of food for the hunger years. Paroh promptly appoints Yosef as that person, reasoning that Yosef has the ‘spirit of G-d’, and therefore is smart and wise. Paroh then gives Yosef more power then anyone in the entire country. Many of these actions need explanation…. Why would Paroh need a wise man to be in charge of storing food? Wouldn’t it be enough to have an efficient person? And if it was important to have a ‘smart and wise’ person in charge, why did Paroh then choose Yosef because he had a ‘spirit of G-d’, when it wasn’t even the requirement he was looking for? Furthermore, once he did appoint Yosef, why was he so eager to give him so much power?

    To answer these questions, we first need to know Rav E. Lapian’s insight into the ‘smart and wise’ requirement. He explains that although any bright person could have arranged for food to be stored, it takes a wise person to plan and implement for the future. It’s that extra bit of foresight a wise person has that gives him the added push to do what he knows must be done, although the results are not immediate, or immediately apparent. With this we can now explain what Paroh saw in Yosef… Not only was Yosef wise, but he also had the ‘spirit of G-d’ – meaning – Not only was he wise enough to think of the future, but he had G-d’s help in knowing how to do it, which is an even higher level. That’s why Paroh was so eager to give him all that power. Paroh himself knew that he didn’t have the potential Yosef had, and it was all because Yosef had G-d’s guidance. When we follow the guidelines of the Torah, we too show that we’re wise enough to not only think of what the Torah wants, but use those actions to save up for our future (in the next world), which takes the spirit of G-d, and even more of a commitment. It’s ironic that Paroh is the one that reminds us of how lucky we are to even have the Torah as our guide. We should all be wise enough to ‘store’ all the Torah study and good deeds we can, and enjoy their reward when it counts – in the future world.

  • Dvar for Miketz (Genesis 41:1-44:17)

    Parshat Miketz tells of the sons of Yaakov traveling to Egypt to buy food and bring it back to their father. Yosef tries to foil their plans by accusing his brothers of being spies because their father wouldn’t have to send all 10 sons to get food, and the brothers respond that “we are all sons of one man” (42:11). How does that explain why they were all sent? The suspicion Yosef raises still exists!?

    In Majesty of Man, Rabbi Leibowitz explains that when Hillel and Rabbi Akiva emphasized loving our fellow man as ourselves, they were describing fundamental principles of the Torah. As the Ramban explains, although the trip to Egypt was long and dangerous, Yaakov felt that developing the brothers’ feeling of unity and brotherhood was worth the risk. This Ahavat Yisrael (love for a fellow Jew) is so critically important that Hillel and Rabbi Akiva stressed it, and Yaakov risked his own sons’ safety for it. If we neglect each other’s needs in the outside world, in the workplace and at home, we’re placing ourselves in danger of losing the comm”unity” we strive to be a part of.

  • Daily Aliya for Miketz, Revii (4th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: The famine predicted by Joseph commenced, a grave famine that affected Egypt and the entire Mediterranean region. Exactly as planned, Joseph had sufficient stores of food, which he personally sold to all who needed. Meanwhile, in nearby Canaan, Joseph’s father, Jacob, dispatched his eldest ten sons – all of them excepting Benjamin – to Egypt to purchase food provisions. The brothers arrived and stood before Joseph, but did not recognize him, as his boyish appearance had changed in the interim years. When the brothers broached their request to purchase food, Joseph dealt with them harshly, accused them of espionage, and incarcerated them all for three days.

    The Gemara in Taanit says that Yaakov and family were still well-supplied with food at this stage in the famine. Yet he sent them to Egypt, rather than provoke the jealousy of others with less. When others have not, it is improper to flaunt what you have.

  • Dvar for Miketz (Genesis 41:1-44:17)

    Parshat Miketz tells of the sons of Yaakov traveling to Egypt to buy food and bring it back to their father. Yosef tries to foil their plans by accusing his brothers of being spies because their father wouldn’t have to send all 10 sons to get food, and the brothers respond that “we are all sons of one man” (42:11). How does that explain why they were all sent? The suspicion Yosef raises still exists!?

    In Majesty of Man, Rabbi Leibowitz explains that when Hillel and Rabbi Akiva emphasized loving our fellow man as ourselves, they were describing fundamental principles of the Torah. As the Ramban explains, although the trip to Egypt was long and dangerous, Yaakov felt that developing the brothers’ feeling of unity and brotherhood was worth the risk. This Ahavat Yisrael (love for a fellow Jew) is so critically important that Hillel and Rabbi Akiva stressed it, and Yaakov risked his own sons’ safety for it. If we neglect each other’s needs in the outside world, in the workplace and at home, we’re placing ourselves in danger of losing the comm”unity” we strive to be a part of.

  • Daily Aliya for Miketz, Shlishi (3rd Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: Pharaoh appointed Joseph as viceroy of Egypt, and placed him in charge of the impending food collection operation. Thirty-year-old Joseph was placed second-in command of the Egyptian empire, accountable to no one but Pharaoh himself. Indeed, the seven years of plenty arrived as foretold by Joseph, and Joseph skillfully oversaw the collection of the surplus grain. Joseph married Osnat, the daughter of Potiphera, and she bore him two sons: Manasseh and Ephraim.

    Even as Paroh conveyed second-in-command power to Yosef, he mentioned in various forms FIVE times that he was still the king and more powerful than Yosef, and then strangely proceeds to change Yosef’s name to Zaphenath Pa’neach. Why would he do that, unless he wanted to take ownership of everything that Yosef was, even his name. That way when people ask how Yosef got his new name, Paroh would enter the conversation. This is an important tip in how one can take ownership of something. If you personalize a Mitzvah, not only is it more dear to you, but others associate you with it, and that can only increase the positive results.

  • Daily Aliya for Miketz, Sheni (2nd Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: Pharaoh recounted his dreams to Joseph. Joseph told Pharaoh that both dreams contained a singular message: seven years of plenty were destined to come upon Egypt, followed by seven years of severe famine. Joseph proposed a plan to store the excess grain of the years of plenty, to serve as a reserve for the famine years to follow. Pharaoh was greatly impressed by Joseph’s wisdom.

    When Paroh called Yosef, he said that he heard that Yosef understood dreams, to which Yosef responded that it wasn’t his wisdom, but that it was G-d’s wisdom that he was relaying. At the end of Yosef’s interpretation of Paroh’s dream, he recommends that Paroh designate someone in charge of managing the excess food in preparation for the drought. Was that still G-d’s wisdom, or was that his own? Or is the wisdom G-d imparted “downloaded” to Yosef, and Yosef incorporated it into his words and suggestions? Since the Torah doesn’t specify when the interpretation ended and his suggestion began, it’s most likely that Yosef incorporated (i.e. owned) G-d’s wisdom, most likely through the knowledge he attained while learning in the Yeshiva if Shem and Eiver.

  • Daily Aliya for Miketz, Rishon (1st Aliya)

    General Overview: Joseph interprets Pharaoh’s dreams, becomes viceroy over Egypt, and implements his plan to save the region from famine. Joseph is harsh with his brothers who come to Egypt to buy food, and demands that Benjamin be brought to Egypt. When Benjamin eventually comes he is framed and accused of theft.

    Aliya Summary: Pharaoh had a dream: seven fat cows arose from the Nile, followed by seven emaciated cows. The gaunt cows then consumed the robust ones. He then had a second dream, wherein seven healthy ears of grain were eaten by seven thin and parched ears. In the morning, none of Pharaoh’s wise men were capable of interpreting the dreams to Pharaoh’s satisfaction. Pharaoh’s butler approached and related his past jailhouse experience, when a Hebrew boy, Joseph, successfully interpreted dreams. Pharaoh ordered Joseph’s release, and he appeared before the king.

  • Daily Aliya for Miketz, Shvii (7th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: Upon seeing his brother Benjamin, Joseph was overcome with emotion, which he concealed. The brothers sat down and enjoyed a feast, and Joseph presented them all with gifts—Benjamin’s gift greater than all the others’. In the morning the brothers departed, but not before Joseph had his royal goblet planted in Benjamin’s sack of food. Joseph then dispatched a posse to confront the brothers and “uncover” the planted goblet. The brothers were all brought back to Joseph, who demanded that the “thief,” Benjamin alone, remain behind as his slave.

    By giving Binyamin a bigger gift, Yosef was creating the potential for jealousy so that the brothers would be put into a similar situation as with him. Yosef was testing them to see how they would react, and if they’d matured and learned from the mistakes they had made with him.

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