Miketz 5768 – Gilayon #526
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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
"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 answered – the 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.
To be of Troubled
Spirit – and to Talk About It
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:
1. It came to
pass at the end of two full years, that Pharaoh was dreaming, and
behold, he was standing by the Nile.
behold, from the Nile were coming up seven cows, of handsome appearance
and robust flesh, and they pastured in the marshland.
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.
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
and Pharaoh related to them his dream, but no one interpreted them for
Pharaoh said to Joseph, "In my dream, behold, I was standing on
the bank of the Nile.
behold, seven cows of robust flesh and handsome form were ascending
from the Nile, and they pastured in the marshland.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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,
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
Comment on Nahem Ilan's article (parashat VaYetze)
In his enlightening article, Nahem Ilan teaches us about the last word of parashat
Vayetze – Mahanaim
– 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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