Miketz 5767 – Gilayon #477


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Parshat Miketz

THE ONE

OPENED HIS SACK TO

GIVE FODDER TO HIS DONKEY AT THE LODGING PLACE, AND HE SAW HIS MONEY THERE IT

WAS, IN THE MOUTH OF HIS SACK.

(Bereishit 42:27)

 

Simon

and Levi are brothers – but are they not all brothers? Rather: "brothers

in scheming" – they devised a scheme against Shechem

and destroyed it, for it says: And two sons of Jacob, Simon and Levi took.

And they schemed against Joseph to kill him, for it is said: So they said

one to his brother, "Behold, that dreamer is coming.

 So now, let us kill him." Who were these

[who plotted against Joseph]? If you say it was Reuben, but Reuben wanted to

save him, for it is said: Reuben heard and saved him from their hand. If

you say Judah, but Judah said:

"What is the gain if we slay our brother? If you say it was the sons

of the woman servants, it has already been said, and he was a lad, [and was]

with the sons of Bilhah [and with the sons of Zilpah]. Who, then, were they? They were Simon and

Levi, for of them it is written: Simon and Levi are brothers. And

so, when they arrived in Egypt Joseph said: If I leave Simon and Levi together

in one place, they will scheme and destroy a great city of Egypt. Therefore, he

separated Simon from Levi, for it is said, and he took Simon from them. Since

he had separated them, Levi became an individual, for it is said: The

one opened his sack – but was he alone? Rather, it was Levi who was

left alone, separated from his partner. That moment Levi's strength was weakened;

that is why it is said, Simon and Levi are brothers.

(Yalkut Shimoni VaYehi 158)

 

The

one opened his sack – this might have been Levi, who had remained alone,

separated from his partner, Simon. It happened that he alone – and not the

others – had to open the sack because he may have had two donkeys, his own and

that leftover from Simon. He had brought the same quantity of fodder as the

other brothers had, but it was not sufficient for him [to feed Simon's donkey

as well as his own] and he had to take some barley or other grain from the

grain sack. The others did not have to open the grain sack because each had

brought enough fodder for his own donkey.

(Rabbi

Yitzhak Shmuel Reggio,

Bereishit 42:27)

 

Hanukkah and the Dreams of Kings

Avner Roei

Although we often read parashta Miketz on Shabbat Hanukkah, it would appear hat there is no

thematic connection between the two. Since there is no necessary correspondence

between the parshiyot and the holidays, the early Sages established relevant maftir and haftorah readings for Sabbaths

that are also holidays. That is why on the first Shabbat of Hanukkah we read

the haftorah from Zechariah 14, Sing and be Joyful, describing the

Menorah of the Second Temple, but when Shabbat Miketz

does not fall on Hanukkah we read And Solomon awoke and it was a dream (I Kings 3:15).

I shall presently explain how parashat Miketz

itself has a Hanukkah connection. The first source text that led me to make

this connection is found in Rashi's Torah commentary.

The Torah states that upon waking from his second dream,

Pharaoh's spirit was troubled (Bereishit 41:8). Rashi (Judaica

Press translation) explains the word va'tifa’em

[was troubled]: "that his spirit was agitated, knocking within him like a

bell [pa'amon]." He continues: "Concerning

Nebuchadnezzar, however, Scripture says: and his spirit was agitated va'titpa’em (Dan. 2:1). There were two [reasons for this] agitation: forgetting

the dream and ignorance of its interpretation." This comment refers to

Nebuchadnezzar's dream in the second chapter of Daniel. That chapter tells how

Nebuchadnezzar dreamt a frightening dream; he forgot the content of the dream

upon awakening but he asked his wise men to interpret it nonetheless. This was,

of course, impossible and the king's sages were sentenced to death for their

inevitable failure. When Daniel received word of the situation, he requested an

audience with the king and prayed to the Holy One blessed be He to reveal the

dream and its interpretation to him. Just as Joseph had stood before Pharaoh,

saying Not I; God will give an answer [that will bring] peace to Pharaoh,

so too Daniel says to Nebuchadnezzar: But there is a God in heaven Who

reveals secrets, and He lets King Nebuchadnezzar know what will be at the end

of days (Daniel

2:28).

Later, Daniel reveals the dream and its interpretation to the king. He says

that in the dream there appeared a great statue of a man, the parts of which

were each made of a different metal: the head of gold, the chest and arms of

silver, the abdomen and waist from copper, the thighs of iron and the feet of

mixed clay and iron. While the king looked at the statue, a stone came loose

from the mountain and struck it in its fragile feet. The statue broke into

fragments that spread all over and the stone that hit it became a huge mountain

filling all the earth. The interpretation is that the golden head represents

the Babylonian kingdom, and the other three metals represent the kingdoms that

arose after it, namely Media, Persia, and Greece. The stone is

the Kingdom of Heaven that shall

overthrow all the kingdoms and reign forever.

Biblical scholars and historians disagree about the nature

and time of composition of the anonymous and mysterious book known as Daniel.

Prof. Y. Efron suggests a solution to this puzzle in

his book Hikrei ha'Tekufa

ha'Hashmona'it [Studies in the Hasmonean

Period]. He claims that the book was written around the time of the

Hasmonean revolt. In its early history, the book served as a kind of spiritual

foundation for the rebels, infusing them with hope for redemption. Nebuchadnezzar's

dream is a cover story for the Hellenistic kingdom; Daniel and his companions become models for the rebels – Mathias and his sons who

observe their forefather's laws and refused to defile themselves with the king's

food.

Nebuchadnezzar's dream and its interpretation are based upon the principle of "the

replacement of the four kingdoms," the last of which is Greece (following Babylonia, Medea, and Persia). With the

fall of the "fourth kingdom," the Kingdom of Heaven shall reveal

itself in all its power. Sovereignty will be delivered into the hands of the

exalted holy ones, i.e., Israel, and the God of Israel shall be the God of

the entire world, as Zechariah said: And the Lord shall

become King over all the earth; on that day shall the Lord be one, and His name

one.

Let us return

to our comparison of Nebuchadnezzar's dream with those of Pharaoh. Unlike

Nebuchadnezzar's global dreams, Pharaoh's dreams were local. Joseph solved the

problem of how the Egyptian Kingdom would deal

with the famine and, at the end of the day, Jacob's

family would also go down to Egypt. The story's

continuation is well known: Joseph dies along with the rest of his generation

and a new king arises in Egypt who does not

know Joseph and who enslaves the people. Years later the Israelites are freed

by God's envoy, Moses, with great signs and miracles.

The

interpretation of Daniel's dream involves a more significant and universal

process. In effect, it casts the mold for the future redemption in which the Kingdom of Heaven will appear

after the great empires each take their leave of the historical stage, one

after the other. Since redemption was not realized in the days of the Hasmoneans, the "fourth kingdom" became Rome, then "Edom" – Christendom.

With the Moslem conquest it became "Ishmael," so on into the future.

In this aspect Hanukkah brings a greater message than does

Passover. Passover celebrates liberation from Egyptian bondage while Hanukkah

is the general holiday of freedom from enslavement by the nations. That is the

reason that the authors of the prayer book added a verse from Zachariah (14:9) to the Song of

the Sea when it is recited in the morning service: And the Lord shall become

King over all the earth; on that day shall the Lord be one,

and His name one. This tells us that the redemption of Israel is a stage

leading to the redemption of the entire world.

In Kabalistic and Hasidic literature we find the principle

that man is a "small world." The lofty goals of redemption, which

involve cosmological changes, become the intimate concern of human individuals,

with their thoughts and drives and their unending struggle between body and

soul, matter and spirit. Accordingly, the Menorah wandered from its place in

the Temple into the

private domain, "each man and his household." According to this line

of interpretation, the redemption from Egypt is redemption

from matter and the future redemption is the redemption of the soul – acknowledgement

of "the Kingdom of Heaven."

Avner Ro'i,

a member of Kibbutz Sa'ad, is writing a PhD

dissertation on the history of the Jewish people in the Second Temple and Mishnaic periods.

 

Memory of Sin – the Internal Punishment – is the Most Severe Punishment

And I shall stand guilty before my father forever (Bereishit

44: 32). This phrase is quite

precious, since it points to something not explicitly stated in the Torah,

which is that there is no punishment but the sin itself. For Divine justice,

the sin is itself the punishment – and it takes the place of reward and

punishment, that is why Judah says, And I

shall stand guilty [literally stand in my sin] before my father for ever.

(R. Eliyahu Ben Amozeg,

Em Lamikra)

 

 

Worship of God for its Own Sake vs. Utilitarian Faith

Rabbi Yohanan said: The wicked are sustained by

their gods, [as it is written]: Pharaoh dreamed that he was standing on the Nile (Bereishit 41: 1). But the God of the righteous is sustained by them: And the Lord was

standing on it [literally: on him] and He said, "I am the Lord, the

God of Abraham" (Bereishit 28: 13).

(Bereishit Rabbah 69)

 

…in the plain sense, the word "on" here means "upon the

ladder," but according to the midrash it means

"on Jacob". What is the meaning of this profound idea? Both cases

related to men of faith – people who are aware that humans stand before God.

Pharaoh the idolater is also a believer, but he views his god as a means

towards the satisfaction of his needs. He is "sustained by his god";

he has a god who carries him about, a god who is there for his sake, for his

benefit and sustenance. Jacob takes it upon himself to sustain faith in God.

His God is not an instrument for the realization of human interests. Rather, he

views humanity, and the entire world, as instruments for the preservation of

the fear of God. That is the difference between true religious faith and

idolatry, or – in the terminology of the Sages – between lishma

[for its own sake] and shelo lishma [not for its own sake], between the great

dreaming Patriarch, and the dreaming king of Egypt.

 (Yeshayahu Leibowitz"l,

He'arot le'Parshiyot Ha'Shavu, pg. 34)

 

Chanukah Candles: "Steadily decreasing" or "Steadily

increasing"?

The Rabbis taught: The commandment is for each man and his household to

light a Chanukah candle. Those who adorn the commandment with additional beauty

have each person light his own candle. As for those who excel in adornment of

the commandment; the House of Shamai says: They light

eight candles on the first night and from thence steadily decrease the number

of candles [each night]. The House of Hillel says:

They light one candle the first night, and steadily increase [the number of

candles through the subsequent nights].

(Shabbat 21b)

 

The House of Shamai is strict; they want to

completely consume evil, even the "barely evil," even the evil that

is hardly uncovered and recognized. That is also the secret of their

disagreement over whether the heavens were created first, as the House of Shamai thought, or the earth was created first, as the

House of Hillel claimed (J. Hagiga 10a). Heaven and earth relate to thought and action, respectively. The House

of Shamai was not satisfied when a person's actions

were proper; they also wanted his thoughts to be free of any hint of evil. The

House of Hillel found actions sufficient, if a

person's deeds are straight and pure.

(R. Shmuel Yosef Zevin, z"l, Or HaHalakhah)

 

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