Parashat Miketz

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Parshas Miketz is the 10th parsha in the Book of Berashis. It contains 146 pesukim. For the Haftora, the section of Milachim describing the first trial of King Shlomo with the two woman and the baby, is read.


[edit] Pharaoh's Dream

Two years following the ending[1] of the incident of the Royal Baker and Cupbearer, Pharaoh had two dreams. In the first he witnessed seven fat cows emerge from the Nile river who were soon devoured by seven skinny cows that followed them. In a consecutive dream Pharaoh saw seven thin ears of grain swallow seven healthy ones. All his sages and sorcerers could not provide an acceptable interpretation.

[edit] First Dream

In his first dream Pharaoh was standing by the Nile river (The Yeor, Egypt's main river that would flow into many man dug canals, created to spread water in the parched country)[1] and saw seven handsome, plump cows emerging from the water. They continued to pasture in the surrounding marshland of reed grass.[2] Pharaoh then witnessed seven ugly, thin cows emerging after them from the Nile. They stood beside the seven fat cows on the Nile bank and proceeded to devour them. Pharaoh then awoke. This occurred to create space between the dreams so Pharaoh would not forget them or intertwine them.[3]

[edit] Second Dream

Pharaoh fell back asleep and had a similar second dream where he observed seven ears of healthy, good grain growing on one stalk.[4] He then saw seven ears of grain growing after them, that looked thin, burnt up, parched[5] and beaten by the east wind. These thin ears of grain proceeded to swallow the seven healthy, full ears of grain. Pharaoh awoke, realizing it was a dream. Knowing that the dreams of kings have serious ramifications upon their people,[6] he realized it contained a hidden message that would require interpretation.[7]

[edit] Troubled Spirit

In the morning Pharaoh awoke with his spirit troubled, agitated and knocking within him like a bell.[8] During the dreams he was also informed of their interpretation,[9] now Pharaoh remembered the dreams but was ignorant their meaning. This was unlike Nebuchadnetzar who forgot his dream as well.[8] Pharaoh summoned all the sages of Egypt as well as its sorcerers, who could divine answers through the bones of the dead.[8] He related his dreams to them but none could provide an acceptable interpretation. Some interpreted the cow dream, saying; Pharaoh would have seven daughters and then bury them[8] and the wheat dream, saying; Pharaoh would conquer seven lands but seven kingdoms will rebel against him.[10] Pharaoh had no satisfaction from their interpretation,[8] especially considering that he had once known the true meaning of the dreams but had forgotten it.[11]

[edit] Cupbearer's Confession

All along, the Royal Cupbearer knew Yosef had the power to interpret Pharaoh's dreams, but refrained from divulging this out of jealousy for the reward Yosef would be granted. Upon seeing that Pharaoh was on the verge of insanity and fearing that he might be replaced from his position in the new government of a successor,[12] the Cupbearer spoke with Pharaoh. First he recollected his two crimes, the first that sent him to the Chief Executioner's prison along with the Chief Baker. As well as his second crime of remaining silent about Yosef, not repaying his good and also for holding back as Pharaoh suffered.[13] He then related how both he and the Baker had dreams on the same night, that were fit for interpretation[14] and were properly interpreted by Yosef, a Hebrew lad and slave of the Chief Executioner, in accordance to each dream and close to its contents.[15] Both interpretations had come true, Pharaoh having restored him to his former position of Cupbearer, while the Baker was hung. Additionally, each Minister had dreamt the interpretation of his friend's dream and therefore know Yosef's words to be true.[16]

Being wicked, who even their good actions are flawed[15] the Cupbearer described Yosef with contempt, calling him a 'youthful Hebrew slave'. Youthful, implying that he was foolish and therefore unfit for a high position,[15] a Hebrew foreigner that did not even speak Egyptian properly[15] and a slave, which according the Laws of Egypt made him unfit to hold a position of rulership or wear royal attire.[15] Ironically it was the Cupbearer's selfishness that had raised Yosef to greatness. For only after all the wise sages and sorcerers of Egypt had failed, could Yosef's success really stand out.[13]

[edit] Release of Yosef

Pharaoh sent for Yosef and he was rushed from the dungeon pit.[17] First his long jail hair was cut and his prison garments changed, in honor of the throne.[17] It was his dreams that first sent Yosef into slavery and now it was through dreams that he was released. Unlike humans, Hashem has the power to afflict and then cure with the same elements.[18]

[edit] Interpretation Request

Pharaoh related that he had a dream but no one could interpret it and had heard that Yosef could. Despite this being a once in a lifetime opportunity to attain freedom, honor and wealth, Yosef responded that it was not his wisdom but rather it was Hashem that would place an answer in his mouth, that would bring peace to Pharaoh.[15]

Pharaoh describing his first dream where he stood on the bank of the Nile and watched seven handsome, plump cows emerge and then pasture in the marshland. They were followed by seven thin and ugly cows, that he had never seen the like of in the entire land of Egypt. These thin ugly cows devoured the first seven healthy cows, which went inside them but did not change their ugly thin appearance and was as if they had swallowed nothing.

Pharaoh continued, describing his second dream, where he saw seven ears of healthy good grain growing on one stalk. These were followed by seven ears of hardened, thin, eastern wind beaten grains, which proceeded to swallow up the seven good ears of grain. He then said how he had already related these dreams to his sorcerers but none could interpret them.

[edit] Yosef's Interpretation

Yosef replied that through the dreams, Hashem was telling Pharaoh His future plans, both of them containing the same message. Both the seven good cows and the seven good ears of grain represented a period of prosperity lasting seven years. Handsome cows of good appearance symbolize days of plenty, when creatures appear handsome to one another, for no one envies his fellow.[2] Both the seven thin cows and the seven empty ears of grain represent a seven year period of famine.

Yosef continued saying how the seven years of great plenty were coming throughout the entire land of Egypt. Seven years of famine would then follow, where all the plenty would be forgotten and the famine will destroy the land, as implied by the 'swallowing'.[19][20] So severe will be the famine that it would be as if the years of plenty never happened, as implied by their being no noticeable change after the 'swallowing'.[21]

Concerning the repetition of Pharaoh's dream, it was a message from Hashem that He is hastening to execute it.

[edit] Yosef's Advice

Concluding the interpretation, Yosef went on, advising Pharaoh to seek out an understanding, wise man and appoint him over the land of Egypt. Officials should then be appointed to prepare the country during the seven years of plenty by collecting food during these good years, storing them in each city in the storehouses of Pharaoh, under his custody.[22] This food would remain as a reserve for the land during the seven years of famine, preventing the land from being destroyed.

[edit] Appointment of Yosef

Pharaoh and all his servants were pleased by Yosef's advice. Pharaoh commented to his servants, that even were they to search[23] they would not be able to find a man like Yosef upon whom rested the spirit of Hashem. Pharaoh told Yosef that since Hashem had revealed all of this to him, they would not be able to find the wise understanding man he had suggested, that was better then himself. He is therefore appointing Yosef over his household, and through his command all Egyptians shall be nourished. Only Pharaoh himself would remain greater than Yosef, retaining the title of 'king'.[24]

Announcing how he had appointed Yosef over the entire Land of Egypt, Pharaoh removed the ring from his own hand and placed it on Yosef's hand, dressed him with a garment of locally valued fine linen,[24] and placed a golden chain around his neck. This act of giving the king’s ring was a sign, that the recipient was being promoted to be second in rank to him.[24]

[edit] Linen Garment

Even great Tzadikim, as long as they have not been tested, have to fear that they have not completely vested themselves from all contaminated spiritual garments. It is only through passing tests that they can completely rid themselves of these contaminated garments. When Yosef passed the test of Potifar's wife, he rid himself of these contaminated garments. This was manifested by him leaving his garment in her hand and fleeing outside. Now, having been released from jail and having completely passed this ongoing testing episode, Yosef was given a fine linen garment which manifested his complete doning of only pure spiritual garments. Later Yosef rose to a higher level of Tzadik, that is able to clean even his students and friends from contaminated garments and therefore dressed each of his brothers in fresh garments.[25]

[edit] Second to King

Pharaoh had Yosef ride in the chariot of 'second to king', which would ride along side his own,[26] thereby appointing him over the entire land of Egypt. Wherever Yosef went they called out before him "Avrech", literally; 'This is the king's patron' but also denoting that Yosef was a father in wisdom but young in years, as well a reference to the knees of the people who would all enter and exit under his control.[26]

During this ceremony Pharaoh once again clarified that it was only through the power of his rulership over the land, he was decreeing that without the agreement of Yosef no one may raise their hand to bear arms or their foot to ride a horse[27] in the entire land of Egypt. Despite this, Pharaoh was still to remain the supreme ruler over the land.[27] Pharaoh renamed Yosef, calling him Zaphenath Pa'neach - 'He who explains hidden things'. Yosef was thirty years old at the time of this ceremony.

[edit] Marriage to Osenat

Pharaoh gave Yosef, Osenat the daughter of Poti Phera, the governor of On, for a wife. This was no other then the daughter of Shecem and Dina who had been adopted by Potifar who was now referred to as Poti Phera since he had became emasculated after desiring Yosef for impure relations.[28]

[edit] Years of Prosperity

In the seven years of prosperity the Egyptians[29] gathered food by handfuls, storing it hand over hand.[29] Yosef collected all the food of the seven years in Egypt and placed it in the cities surrounding the fields where the crops had grown, since each land preserves its own produce.[30]. Additionally he would mix some of the soil from the field where the grain had grown, with in it, to preserve the grain and prevent it from decaying.[30] Yosef gathered grain like the sand of the sea, in great abundance, until the accountant could no longer counted out of lack of numbers.[31]

[edit] Efraim and Menashe

Yosef had two children from his wife Usnat the daughter of Poti Perah the priest of Ohn. They were born before the start of the Great Famine, since it is forbidden to have marital relations during the time of famine.[32] Yosef named the firstborn Manasheh, since Hashem had caused him to forget (נַשַּׁ֤נִי) all his toil and all his father's house." He named his second son Ephraim, since Hashem made him fruitful (הִפְרַ֥נִי) in the land of his affliction.

[edit] Years of Famine

When the seven Years of Plenty in the Land of Egypt came to an end, the seven Years of Famine began. just as Yosef had said. There was famine in all the countries but throughout Egypt there was bread. Although all the Egyptians had stored grain, all their stockpiles had decayed, except those organized by Yosef.[33] When the Egyptians hungered, they cried out to Pharaoh for bread. Pharaoh responded to the Egyptians that they should go to Yosef. When they told Paraoh that Yosef had insisted that they circumcise themselves, he rebuked them asking them why they had not stored their own grain after Yosef had announced that a famine was coming. They replied that they had gathered but it rotted. Pharaoh pointed out that Yosef must had issued a decree upon their grain and it rotted, now if he wanted he could issue a decree on them that they should die, therefore they must do as Yosef instructed them[33] and circumcise themselves.

When the famine spread over all the face of the land, affecting even the wealthy,[34] Yosef opened all the storehouses of grain[34] and sold[34] it to the Egyptians as the famine intensified in the land of Egypt. Also all the inhabitants of neighboring countries came to Egypt to purchase from Yosef[35], for the famine had intensified.

[edit] Journey of the Tribes

[edit] Stockpiles in Egypt

Yackov heard[36] that there was grain being sold in Egypt. At the same time he also had a revelation that he had some hope pending in Egypt.[36] This revelation was through Ruach Hakodesh and not direct prophecy and was not explicitly revealed to him that it was Yosef.[36]

Although at the time, the Tribes still had a supply of grain,[36] Yackov asked his sons why do they wish to appear satiated in front of the families of Esav and Yishmoel who had already ran out of food. Additionally why should everyone stare at them and wonder why they are not seeking food before their stock soon becomes depleted [36] and why should they become weak and thin from the famine.[36]

Yackov then stated how he heard grain was being sold in Egypt and he instructed his sons to travel there and purchase food, so they will live and not die. As Divine Spirit always rested on Yackov and manifested in his speech even during the years of mourning Yosef when prophecy was taken away from him,[11] he used the less common word of 'רְדוּ' telling them to go down as it has a numerical value of 210, which alluded to the 210 year that they were later enslaved in Egypt.[37]

[edit] Trip to Egypt

By that point all the Brothers regretted selling Yosef, and knowing that he had been ported to Egypt, they decided to use the opportunity to find him,[11] behave toward him in a brotherly manner and to ransom him for whatever amount of money would be demanded of them.[38] They then went down to Egypt as Yosef's ten brothers to find him and to buy grain.[38] Regarding Yosef they their levels of love and hate each varied and could be viewed as 10 individuals, but regarding the purchasing of grain, they all went with one heart.[38] Yackov did not agree to send Binyamin with the other brothers out of fear that a misfortune might happen to him on the way, since traveling is a time of danger, and the Satan prosecutes a person at the time of danger.[39]

[edit] Arrival of the Brothers

The sons of Yackov came to purchase food hiding themselves in the crowd[40] of others who also came from Cannan to avoid the famine, so that they would not be recognized. [40] This was done at the instruction Yackov who commanded them to each enter Egypt through a different entrance to avoid all the going through the same entrance so the evil eye would have no power over them, for they were all handsome and strong.[40]

[edit] Meeting Yosef

Yosef was the ruler over the land and it was he who sold grain to the entire populace of the land. Yosef's brothers came and prostrated themselves to him, spreading out their hands and feet[41] with their faces to the ground. Yosef saw his brothers, and he recognized them but choose to treat them like a stranger through his harsh words.[42] While Yosef recognized his brothers because he had left them when they were already full-bearded,[43] they did not recognize him because when he left them, he was not full-bearded, and now they saw him full-bearded.[43] He also 'recognized his brothers' when they were delivered into his hands and had compassion on them. But when he fell into their hands they did had no compassion on him and did not 'recognize him as a brother'.[43]

Yosef spoke to them harshly asking them where they came from. His brothers responded that they arrived from the land of Canaan to purchase food. Yosef remembered the dreams that he had about them,[44] knowing that they had been fulfilled, for they had bowed down to him.[44] He then accused them of being spies who came to see the weakness[45] and exposure of the land, from where it can be easily conquered.[44]. To this the Brothers responded that Yosef their master, should not say that,[46] rather they 'his servants' had only come to buy food.

Yosef asked them if they had a father or other brothers. He did not ask them about their mothers as he already knew the status of his mother since she had passed away before he was sold.[47]

[edit] References

  1. ^ a b Rashi Berashis 41:1
  2. ^ a b Rashi Berashis 41:2
  3. ^ Sefer Avosanu, Miketz / Rivash 41:4
  4. ^ Rashi Berashis 41:5
  5. ^ Rashi Berashis 41:6
  6. ^ Sefer Avosanu, Miketz / Berashis Rabba 89 4A
  7. ^ Rashi Berashis 41:7
  8. ^ a b c d e Rashi Berashis 41:8
  9. ^ Sefer Avosanu, Miketz / Tosfes Hashalem 41:8-6
  10. ^ Sefer Avosanu, Miketz / Berashis Rabba 89:6
  11. ^ a b c Shover Zadim Parashat Miketz
  12. ^ Sefer Avosanu, Miketz / Berashis Raaba 89/7
  13. ^ a b Sefer Avosanu, Miketz
  14. ^ Rashi Berashis 41:11
  15. ^ a b c d e f Rashi Berashis 41:12
  16. ^ Sefer Avosanu, Miketz / Yonason 41:11
  17. ^ a b Rashi Berashis 41:14
  18. ^ Sefer Avosanu, Miketz / Tanchuma Vayeshev 9A
  19. ^ Rashi Berashis 41:31
  20. ^ Rashi Berashis 41:4
  21. ^ Rashi Berashis 41:32
  22. ^ Rashi Berashis 41:35
  23. ^ Rashi Berashis 41:38
  24. ^ a b c Rashi Berashis 41:40
  25. ^ Likutay Halachos Hillchos Bitziyas Hapas 40
  26. ^ a b Rashi Berashis 41:43
  27. ^ a b Rashi Berashis 41:44
  28. ^ Rashi Berashis 41:45
  29. ^ a b Rashi Berashis 41:47
  30. ^ a b Rashi Berashis 41:48
  31. ^ Rashi Berashis 41:49
  32. ^ Rashi Berashis 41:50
  33. ^ a b Rashi Berashis 41:55
  34. ^ a b c Rashi Berashis 41:56
  35. ^ Rashi Berashis 41:57
  36. ^ a b c d e f Rashi Berashis 42:1
  37. ^ Rashi Berashis 42:2
  38. ^ a b c Rashi Berashis 42:3
  39. ^ Rashi Berashis 42:4
  40. ^ a b c Rashi Berashis 42:5
  41. ^ Rashi Berashis 42:6
  42. ^ Rashi Berashis 42:7
  43. ^ a b c Rashi Berashis 42:8
  44. ^ a b c Rashi Berashis 42:9
  45. ^ Onkeles Berashis 42:9
  46. ^ Rashi Berashis 42:10
  47. ^ Baal HaTurim Berashis 44:19
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