Miketz 5768 – Gilayon #526


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Parshat Miketz

AND THE ANGEL WHO SPOKE WITH ME

RETURNED, AND HE AWAKENED ME AS A MAN WHO WAKES UP FROM HIS SLEEP. AND HE SAID

TO ME, "WHAT DO YOU SEE?" AND I SAID, "I SAW, AND BEHOLD [THERE

WAS] A CANDELABRUM ALL OF GOLD, WITH ITS OIL-BOWL ON TOP OF IT, AND ITS SEVEN

LAMPS THEREON; SEVEN TUBES EACH TO THE LAMPS THAT WERE ON TOP OF IT. AND [THERE

WERE] TWO OLIVE TREES NEAR IT; ONE ON THE RIGHT OF THE BOWL, AND ONE ON ITS

LEFT. SO I ANSWERED AND SPOKE TO THE ANGEL WHO TALKED WITH ME, SAYING, "WHAT

ARE THESE, MY LORD?" AND THE ANGEL WHO SPOKE WITH ME ANSWERED, AND HE SAID

TO ME, "DO YOU NOT KNOW WHAT THESE ARE?" AND I SAID, "NO, MY

LORD." AND HE ANSWERED AND SPOKE TO ME, SAYING,

"THIS IS THE WORD OF THE LORD TO ZERUBBABEL, SAYING: 'NOT BY MIGHT AND NOT

BY FORCE, BUT BY MY SPIRIT,' SAYS THE LORD OF HOSTS.

(Zachariah 4:2-6 – from the haftorah for Shabbat Hanukah)

 

Not by might and not by

force, but by My spirit

And he answeredthe word of God will build the Temple.

(Ibn Ezra ad loc)

 

And he answered…'Not by

might and not by force…' – Just as you saw the Menorah stand before you by its own accord,

without any person setting up the lamps or pouring oil into them, so too the

Temple shall be built without human effort but rather by God's spirit and will,

and the vision will be further explained to you in detail.

(ReDaK ad loc)

 

Rabbi Joshua said: I received a tradition from Rabban

Yohanan ben Zakai who heard it from his teacher, who heard from his

teacher – a halakhah given to Moses on Mount Sinai –

saying that Elijah will not arrive in order to proclaim some pure and others

impure, to push away [demote someone's pedigree] or draw near [improve

someone's pedigree]. Rather he will push away those who were brought near by

force, and draw near those pushed away by force. The Beit

Tzarifah family lived across the Jordan, and Ben Tzion pushed them off by use of force. Another family there

was brought near thanks to Ben Tzion's violence.

These are the kinds of cases in which Elijah will intercede, declaring pure and

impure, bringing near and pushing away.

Rabbi Yehudah said: [Elijah will come] to bring

near, but not to push away.

Rabbi Shimon said: To settle disagreements [regarding halakhah].

The Sages say: Not to push off or draw near, but rather to make peace in

the world, for it is said: Lo, I will send the prophet Elijah to you and

it concludes, he shall reconcile fathers with sons

and sons with fathers.

(Mishnah

Eduyot 8:7)

 

 

To be of Troubled

Spirit – and to Talk About It

Dalia Marx

Pharaoh, king of Egypt, dreamt two dreams and

the story of his dreams is told twice in our parasha.

The first time they are described by the biblical narrator and the second time

by Pharaoh himself, when we hear him relate the dreams that had troubled his

spirit to Joseph, the Hebrew youth. A comparison between the two versions of

the dreams opens up a rare window for us into the mind of the dreamer:

 

Narrator's

version (41:1-8)

Pharaoh's

version (41:17-24)

1. It came to

pass at the end of two full years, that Pharaoh was dreaming, and

behold, he was standing by the Nile.

2. And

behold, from the Nile were coming up seven cows, of handsome appearance

and robust flesh, and they pastured in the marshland.

3. And

behold, seven other cows were coming up after them from the Nile, of ugly

appearance and lean of flesh, and they stood beside the

cows [which were] on the Nile bank.

4. And the

cows of ugly appearance and lean of flesh devoured the seven cows that were of

handsome appearance and healthy; then Pharaoh awoke.

5. And he

fell asleep and dreamed again, and behold, seven ears of grain were

growing on one stalk, healthy and good.

6. And

behold, seven ears of grain, thin and beaten by the east wind, were growing up after them.

7. And the

thin ears of grain swallowed up the seven healthy and full ears of grain; then

Pharaoh awoke, and behold, a dream.

8. Now it

came to pass in the morning that his spirit was troubled; so he sent and

called all the necromancers of Egypt and all its sages,

and Pharaoh related to them his dream, but no one interpreted them for

Pharaoh.

17. And

Pharaoh said to Joseph, "In my dream, behold, I was standing on

the bank of the Nile.

18. And

behold, seven cows of robust flesh and handsome form were ascending

from the Nile, and they pastured in the marshland.

19. And

behold, seven other cows were ascending after them, emaciated and of very

ugly form and with meager flesh; I have not seen such ugly ones throughout

the entire land of Egypt.

20. And the

meager and ugly cows devoured the first seven healthy cows.

21. And they went inside them, but it was not known that they

had gone inside of them, for their appearance was as ugly as in the beginning;

then I awoke.

22. Then I

saw in my dream, and behold, seven ears of grain were growing on one

stalk, full and good.

23. And

behold, seven ears of grain, hardened, thin, and beaten by the east

wind, were growing up after them.

24. And the

thin ears of grain swallowed up the seven good ears of grain; I

told the necromancers, but no one tells me [its

meaning]."

 

 

Some of the differences are merely literary

variations, while others may help us to understand Pharaoh's perturbed state of

mind. Through the latter we may also learn something about the dreaming psyche.

The first dream scene is revealed to Pharaoh

as he stands upon the Nile. He is the

unquestioned ruler, not only a king but also a god in his eyes and in the eyes

of his people. He is upon the Nile, the source of Egypt's bounty and

blessing. Contrastingly, when he tells his dream to Joseph he displays a humble

attitude, describing himself as standing on the bank of the Nile.

Pharaoh's dreams, which are not yet intelligible to him, show him that he does

not posses absolute control. He is not existence itself,

rather, he can stand in the periphery, on the river bank, and look upon his

world from the side. Pharaoh is not trying to affect modesty before the Hebrew

youth – his humble language reflects his having been shaken by his recent

experience.

Pharaoh's

retelling leaves out one important detail from the dream: and they stood

beside the cows [which were] on the Nile bank. First the healthy cows

make their appearance and eventually they are eaten by the sickly cows, but

between those two events there was a stage in which the two sets of cows stood

next to each other. This was a kind of respite, a situation of uncertainty

regarding what would occur next. Perhaps the two groups of cows gauged each

other's strength. However, Pharaoh sees none of this process; he only sees the

impending calamity.

First Pharaoh emphasizes the bad looks of the

second group of cows, which were unlike any he had seen in the entire land of

Egypt (verse 19) and whose

hidden threat would only be revealed later. Next, he offers his own evaluation

of the event: And they went inside

them, but it was not known that they had gone inside of them, for their

appearance was as ugly as in the beginning.

Here

too, Pharaoh focuses on the result rather than on its

causes or on the process to which it belongs. The cow, the beautiful calf

which symbolizes fertile Egypt, has been hurt. Pharaoh is not surprised so much

by the cows being eaten, since they are quite vulnerable animals. Rather, he is

mostly surprised that they were eaten by their fellow cows – by weak and sickly

cows, rather than by some foreign force or beast of prey. The ridiculousness

and grotesqueness of the scene is what generates terror.

Careful

readers will discover a similar pattern of differences between the second dream

as it is described by the biblical narrator and as it is retold by Pharaoh, but

let us go on to consider the way the dream experience is described. Both the

biblical narrator and Pharaoh himself mention that he woke up after the first

dream. However, while the narrator states, And

he fell asleep and dreamed again, Pharaoh does not mention that he fell

back to sleep. It seems that he dived straight into the dream. The boundary

between dreaming and wakefulness is blurred for him. He feels confused and lost

between the reality of his life as ruler and the virtual reality of his dream.

The

necromancers cannot decipher Pharaoh's dreams. Are they incapable of

interpreting what any penny-psychologist would see? Pharaoh feels that the

necromancers understand his dream's message but refuse to tell it to him: no

one tells me. How could they stand before the great sovereign and tell

him that he suffers from anxiety due to his eminent status? That it is

precisely his unquestioned status that makes him so vulnerable? That

bountifulness brings fear of lack? That the blessing

generates fear of the curse?

Now

the Hebrew youth arrives. A slave, he was rushed from the prison, given a quick

shave, and hastily dressed so that he could try to help the imperator. His

first words to Pharaoh, Not I; God will give an answer [that will bring]

peace to Pharaoh, exclude the possibility of the situation being

interpreted as a contest of power between the two, and it allows Pharaoh's

troubled heart to speak without fear.

Are

Pharaoh's dreams (which, as Joseph says, are one dream) interpretable in only

one way, the way that Joseph managed to reveal? Or could it be that thanks to

the divine spirit that rested upon him, Joseph understood the king's distress

and addressed it? Either way, we can see that the essence of the dreams'

solution is the limiting of Pharaoh's unlimited power. Every reasonable father

or mother knows that they must set up clear limits in order to give their

children a sense of security. Every religious man or woman knows that in order

for freedom to be real it is necessary to set boundaries upon it.

Pharaoh

could have ignored his dreams but he chose to try to gain meaning from them. He

asks and investigates, he invites all the necromancers of Egypt and all its

sages, but they are unable to help. The necromancers are practiced in

exhibiting showmanship with their impressive answers; they make snakes jump and

fires burn, but they are unable (or unwilling) to understand the complexities

of the human psyche.

Joseph,

in contrast, understands that while people do not have control over their

dreams they do have control over what they make of them. And so, the first

dream interpreter we come across (an unconscious dream interpreter) is Pharaoh

himself, who lends significance to his experience. The second interpreter is

Joseph, who is a dreamer himself, and the son of a people whose experience is

founded upon a dialogue with the divine and the eternal. He is able to

interpret Pharaoh's dreams.

Pharaoh

rules over a vast land which, unlike its northern neighbor, is not dependent

upon rain or the gifts of nature. The Nile is like a tremendous womb that

supplies all of Egypt's needs, just like the healthy milk-cow and the good

sheaves. One must value nature's gifts in order to feel some measure of

security; one must limit irresponsible consumption and make preparations for

the years of famine. Such years can be expected to come for such

is the way of the world.

Limitation

and restraint are the prerequisites of human civilization. Not limitation for

the sake of hunger or self-denial, but rather restraint for the sake of always

valuing and taking notice of the grace given us. This approach stands at the

foundations of Beit Shammai's

ruling that we must remove a candle each day from the Hanukiya

(lately we hear voices in Israeli society calling for the adoption of this

view). In contrast, Beit Hillel

is sensitive to human fears of extinction, the fear which stands at the basis

of Pharaoh's dreams and of the hidden fears born by many among us. That is why Beit Hillel calls for the light

to be increased each day.

Each

day, as we light another Hanukah candle, we become aware of the bounty with

which we are blessed and recognize that it should not be taken for granted.

Dr. Dalia Marx

teaches Midrash and liturgy and is a visiting

professor at the Potsdam University in Germany

 

Readers Respond:

I greatly enjoyed Chaim Rubinstein's article, "And

the children struggled within her" from the parashat

Toldot issue. The notion that twins can represent the

internal battle that is the lot of kol adam bekhol

zeman uvekhol makom [all human beings in all times and place] (as the

early Hassidic darshanim would put it) very

much spoke to me.

I would like to add another two pairs to the list of polar opposites: the

first is "Adam the first" and "Adam the second" or "majestic

man" and "the man of faith" as found in Rabbi Soloveitchik's essay, "The Lonely Man of Faith." The

second is the difference between the hasid

and the mitnaged as archetypes, or as Rabbi Soloveitchik so well described it in his eulogy for his

father-in-law, the Admur from Telena,

with the expression kedusha umalkhut ["holiness and kingship"].

I would like to question one point in Chaim

Rubinstein's article. The author identifies the intellectual side with the "soft,

feminine aspect," "the aspect of Jacob" as against Esau, who was

stormy and emotional. This is founded upon the notion that the rational mind is

calmer and more internalized, while the emotional side can find expression in

outbursts of anger and violence. According to the author these latter are

associated with the masculine, Esau-like aspect. This is simply not true. Anyone

who has even slight acquaintance with the academic world or with the literary

world knows that competitive energy can flow into the life of the mind and high

culture, and that the written word can serve as a weapon in personal combat. According

to my own opinion and experience, the heart and soul, rather that the

cool, dry, and sometimes quite egocentric mind are the main sources of the

aspect which "supports and helps… [and]

understands" (in the emotional, human sense)

This was one of the things I learned from Rabbi Shlomo

Carlebach. Rabbi Shlomo's

life was, in my opinion, perhaps the example in our generation of a man

of the mind, a great scholar possessing wide knowledge of all areas of Torah,

both exoteric and esoteric, a man gifted with considerable analytic powers who

deliberately and consciously chose to leave all of that for the sake of the

heart. He developed a plain language of the heart and soul, of song and stories

and straightforward speech in order to reach the hearts of a public alienated

from Judaism. (Interestingly, he was a twin himself).This is not the place to

continue at length.

Yehonatan Chipman, Jerusalem

 

Chaim Rubinstein, author of the article,

comments:

I would like to expand upon my friend's words with two points. First: in

one place I emphasized duality over singularity. Singularity supports itself

while members of a pair must counter-balance and support each other. Polar

differences are only one aspect of duality. The more deeply we think about it,

the more duality becomes holism, a situation in which the foundation would be

undermined by the pair's separation. The second point: intellectual and

emotional aspects can only be separated artificially. For example, it is known

that comprehension is strongly influenced by the emotional state; no thought is

free of emotional influences. I admit that I was influenced by the classical

commentators when I followed the exegetical line of "man of tents

[refers to] the tents of Shem" [i.e., that Jacob dwelt in the midrashic "house of study of Shem and Ever" – translator's

note] and from there to an identification of Jacob with scholarship and

intellect. I do not deny that there are tongues that became swords, but I was

not thinking of that. There are two different ingredients to thought, the

analytic and the intuitive. Analytic thought solves book-keeping problems while

intuitive thought discovers new worlds. I imagine analytic thought as being

like a system of intermeshed gears of various sizes, while intuitive thought is

like waves lapping the beach. I compare analytic thought with masculinity and

its female partner is certainly feminine. Thus, the softness and the depth of

the world of scholarship doubtlessly come from the Jacob-like aspect. Combativeness

and debate come from the Esau-like aspect of the soul. That is what I was

referring to.

 

Comment on Nahem Ilan's article (parashat VaYetze)

In his enlightening article, Nahem Ilan teaches us about the last word of parashat

VayetzeMahanaim

– and its unique double-plural form. Biblical commentators beginning with R. Avraham Ibn Ezra identified the

two camps with the camp of God's angels and the camp of the patriarch Jacob. RaMBaN even writes "both were the camps of God, [both]

bless Him and avow to God's unity, may His name be blessed for all eternity."

I would like to mention that this double plural form is also found in the name Yerushalayim and tradition points to a

similar doubling: "Jerusalem of above" and "Jerusalem of above."

Jacob's vision of peace – in which human beings and the angels of God are

united in proclaiming God's unity – is well-situated in his life story, between

his reconciliation with Laban and his reconciliation

with Esau. May the deeds of our father Jacob be a sign for his children, that

we may take courage and be reconciled with our Palestinian brothers so that we

may be unified in our unification of God in Jerusalem!

Daniel Rohrlich, Jerusalem

 

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