Miketz 5770 – Gilayon #630

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Parshat Miketz

He searched; he started with the eldest and finished with the youngest,

 and the goblet was found in

Benjamin's sack.

(Bereishit 44:12)


he started with the eldest.

So that they would not realize he knew that the goblet was by Benjamin and did

it in order to estrange himself from them.

and the goblet was found in Benjamin's sack.

They humiliated him and called him "thief son of a thief," in

accordance with Scripture, and Rachel stole the teraphim (Bereishit 31:19) and they beat him on his

shoulders. And since they suspected him incorrectly, he merited having the

Shekhinah dwell in his portion of land, as it is written: and He dwells between his shoulders (Devarim 33:12).

When it is written, and they tore their

clothes, this includes Benjamin, and since they suspected him while he

was innocent, he took a crown for that, for from him came Mordechai, who tore

his clothing for Israel, as it is said, and Mordechai tore his clothing (Esther 4:1). But they

deserved this, for they caused their father to tear his clothing, as it is

said, and Jacob tore his clothing (Bereishit 37:34). This is a matter of poetic

justice (mida keneged mida), both as to the punishment and the reward. Joseph's

brothers tore their clothing because of Menasheh, since the verse, Then he

commanded the overseer of his house (Bereishit 44:1) refers to Menasheh [as the

overseer]. Since he [Menasheh] executed the entire business and was sent to

chase after them and torment them with the goblet and was the cause of their

tearing their clothing, that is why his portion of land was torn, half of it in

the land of Canaan, and half of it across the Jordan.


Behayeiy 44:12)


Former of Light and

Creator of Darkness

Pinchas Leiser

In memory of my dear


Natan, son of Yisrael

Yaakov and Shoshana

and Miriam, daughter of

Pinchas and Hannah, z"l,

who dreamt of Zion but

did not have the good fortune to settle there,

but who were interred in

its dust.

Our Rabbis taught: When the original Adam saw

the days getting gradually shorter, he said, "Woe is me, perhaps because I

have sinned, the world around me is being darkened and returning to its state

of chaos and confusion; this then is the kind of death to which I have been

sentenced from Heaven!" So he began keeping an eight days' fast. But as he

observed the winter equinox and noted the days getting increasingly longer, he

said, "This is the world's course," and he set forth to keep an eight

days' festivity. In the following year he appointed both as festivals. Now, he

fixed them for the sake of Heaven, but the [heathens] appointed them for the

sake of idolatry…

Our Rabbis taught: When Adam, on the day of

his creation, saw the setting of the sun he said: "Alas, it is because I

have sinned that the world around me is becoming dark; the universe will now

become again void and without form – this then is the death to which I have

been sentenced from Heaven!" So he sat up all night fasting and weeping

and Eve was weeping opposite him. When however dawn broke, he said: "This

is the usual course of the world!" He then arose and offered up a bullock

whose horns were developed before its hoofs, as it is said, And it [my

thanksgiving] shall please the Lord better than a bullock that hath horns and

hoofs (Psalms 59). (Avodah Zara 8a, Soncino translation)

Adam was afraid that darkness was taking over

the world. Many people have feared the dark.

Since this was Adam's first encounter with

darkness, this new and unknown experience aroused extreme anxiety; he thought

the world was coming to its end. His anxiety was accompanied by feelings of

guilt and when he finally realized that "this is the usual course of the

world" he calmed down and established "festivals" "for the

sake of Heaven." Eventually, anxious days become holidays.

Adam experiences the dominion of darkness in

both the diurnal and yearly cycles. When he discovers that dawn follows night,

he offers a sacrifice; when he discovers that the shortening of days reaches

its climax at the winter solstice and then the days begin to lengthen once

more, he finally understands the cyclical nature of existence as part of the

usual course of the world, and celebrates the comforting regularity imposed by

God's laws.

I think there is an interesting connection

between Adam's feelings and the position of Beit Shammai regarding the lighting

of Hanukkah lamps. We read in a Baraita:

Our Rabbis taught: The precept of Hanukkah

[demands] one light for a man and his household; the zealous [kindle] a light

for each member [of the household];

and the extremely zealous, – Beit Shammai

maintain: On the first day eight lights are lit and thereafter they are

gradually reduced;

but Beit Hillel say: On the first day one

is lit and thereafter they are progressively increased. (Shabbat 21b, Soncino translation)

Later in the discussion, one of the Amoraim

explains Beit Shammai's position as "paralleling the coming days."

This explanation can be understood simply,

i.e., the remaining days become increasingly shorter. However, I believe that light

becomes lessened in the course of those days. Perhaps Beit Shammai's ruling

should be understood as expressing a warning of the coming darkness alongside

its recognition of the miracle? The "coming days" are those

increasingly shorter days which terrified Adam, and Adam is actually each and

every one of us.

In his book, Keshe'okhlim im Hasatan [When

Dining with the Devil] (Am Oved, Ofakim

1989), Eli Ben Gal, a member of Kibbutz Baram, writes as follows

regarding Beit Shammai's ruling on the Hanukkah lamps:

Another ancient tradition, ascribed to the

stubborn and uncompromising Shammai, is the pietistic tradition of one who sees

the victory and also the waning light in its wake. After political sovereignty

was gained, the Sages witnessed the deification of the regime, the growing

assimilation, how the sacrifices made earlier were being wasted.

That is why in my kibbutz, as in most

kibbutzim and state schools and in the other public celebrations of Hanukkah, a

full Hanukkiya of eight candles plus the shamash is lit on the first day

of the festival, as was ruled by Beit Shammai. Later I remove one candle each

day in order to warn myself and to recall what happened then and what might

happen again.

Political Zionism's great victory was

supposed to lead to the next stage of exaltation, rejuvenation, and unification

towards the creation of an original Jewish civilization. Now we have reached a

dead end. Nationalistic zealotry or assimilation on the one hand, Haredi

extremism on the other. The light in our lives really does seem to me to be

waning. According to Zionism, Judaism cannot survive under the conditions of

the 21st century without a state. I agree, but I also think that the

existence of a Jewish State without Jewish content is unnecessary and hopeless.

As long as Jews light candles in

commemoration of the revolt and warn themselves that the light is not

guaranteed, that it is waning and may be extinguished, it can continue to

generate light. Such is the power of freedom.

Of course, the halakhah adopted the ruling of

Beit Hillel, perhaps because the Sages, despite their qualms regarding the

Hasmonean dynasty, viewed the "miracle of Hanukkah" and the struggle

for cultural and spiritual autonomy as a foundational event. The Sages of the

Talmud and the halakhic authorities made certain events of Jewish history into

milestones without any connection to historical circumstances.

This approach expresses hope based upon the faith

that if we were saved from a danger that threatened our physical, cultural, or

spiritual existence in the past, it can happen again and that we must believe

that the Eternal of Israel will not lie. This does not mean that such a

hope must lead us to passivity and the belief that such salvation is guaranteed

to us at any price and without any connection to our deeds. However, this

approach does foster faith in the reversibility of processes and can encourage

us to avoid despair and take action for a better future.

Despite the fact that the halakhah follows

Beit Hillel's ruling, there may be room to consider the truth found in the view

of Beit Shammai and Eli Be Gal's interpretation of it: every victory brings the

danger of exaggerated euphoria. Is Eli Ben Gal correct to say that the light is

waning in our lives?

There are certainly moments in a person's

life when this is the dominant feeling. Sometimes a person feels there is more

"darkness" than "light" in his life. Sometimes, observation

of Israeli society can produce the impression that the days "are getting

gradually shorter." Since reality is apparently complex, much depends on

the eye of the beholder and what he chooses to focus on; it is perhaps really a

world in which light and shadow are mixed.

It may be possible, however, to read Beit

Shammai's ruling differently in light of the following story about Rabbi and

Rav Hiyya:

Rabbi and R. Hiyya were once going on a

journey. When they came to a certain town, they said: If there is a rabbinical

scholar here, we shall go and pay him our respect. They were told: There is a rabbinical

scholar here and he is blind. Said R. Hiyya to Rabbi: Stay [here]; you must not

lower your princely dignity; I shall go and visit him. But [Rabbi] took hold of

him and went with him. When they were taking leave from him, he said to them:

You have visited one who is seen but does not see; may you be granted to visit

Him who sees but is not seen. Said [Rabbi to R. Hiyya]: If now [I had hearkened

to you] you would have deprived me of this blessing. (Hagigah 5b, Soncino translation)

I find the sentence, "You have visited one who is seen but does not

see" amazing in that it speaks of an experience that seems to subsume both

revelation and hiding simultaneously. The experience of connection with the

blind scholar and the "visit" result in a blessing which allows

revelation (to visit Him who sees but is not seen).

Perhaps this spiritual experience becomes possible precisely in the wake

of an encounter with someone who seems to dwell in "darkness."

This may also be the point of Beit Shammai when they urge us to

experience the dwindling light in order – on the one hand – to warn us against

dangers which await us, but perhaps on the other hand also in order to make use

of the darkness in order to "see" the great light which we can yet

discover if we are not blinded by the existing light.

Pinchas Leiser, edtior of Shabbat

Shalom, is a psychologist.


Who Gives Light to


Thus Scripture says, for

you light my lamp (Proverbs 18:29). Israel

said to the Holy One, blessed be He: "Sovereign

of the Universe! Do you ask us that we should give light before You? You, surely, are the Light of the universe, and

brightness abides with you, as is written, The

light dwells with Him (Daniel 2:22)! Yet

You say, The lamp shall give light in front of the

candlestick (Bamidbar

8:2)!" This explains, For You light my

lamp. The Holy One, blessed be He said to them,

"It is not because I require your service, but in order that you may give

Me light even as I have given you light. For what purpose?

That you may rise in the estimation of the nations, who will say: 'See how

Israel give light to Him who gives light to the whole world!'" This may be

illustrated by a parable. To what may it be compared? To the

case of a man who could see and a blind man who were walking on the way.

Said the man who could see to the blind: "When we enter

the house, go and kindle this lamp for me and give me light." The

blind man replied: "Will you be good enough to explain? When I was on the

road you supported me. Until we entered the house you accompanied me. Now,

however, you tell me: 'Kindle this lamp for me and give me light!'" The

man who could see answered him: "The reason why I asked you to give me

light is in order that you might not be under an obligation to me for having

accompanied you on the road." Thus, the man who could see represents the

Holy One blessed be He, as it says, The eyes of the Lord, that run to and

fro through the whole earth (Zechariah 4:10);

and the blind man is Israel; as it says, We grope for the wall like the

blind (Isaiah 54:10). The Holy One,

blessed be He led them and gave them light; as it says, And the Lord went

before them by day in a pillar of cloud… and by night in a pillar of fire, to

give them light (Shemot

13:21). When the Tabernacle was erected, the Holy One, blessed be He, called to Moses and said to him: "Now give you

light to Me," as it says, When you raise the lamps; implying; in

order that you may be elevated.

(Bamidbar Rabbah 15:5, after the Soncino



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)


Stereotypical Vision

and Alternative Exegesis

A Hebrew youth was

there with us, a servant of the chief steward; and when we told him our dreams,

he interpreted them for us, telling each of the meaning of his dream.

(Bereishit 41:10-12)


Youth – a


Hebrew – who

does not even know our language


and it is written in the laws of Egypt that a slave may not rule nor wear the

clothing of an official.

(Rashi ad loc)


 A Hebrew youth… a servant – Each detail

adds more astonishment: he was an unschooled boy; a Hebrew – so he did not use

the power of magic; a servant – who is not allowed to enter the houses of

wisdom. In that case, it is Divine perception, for it is known that the family

of the Hebrews is above the nature of other human beings, and things more

exalted than the common way of the world are not beyond them, and so the matter

has no end or boundary.

(Ha'amek Davar, ad loc)


Dreams "Go After

the Mouth": the Freedom to Interpret and Understand a Dream's Significance

for Life

….R. Akiva said…

reporting a certain elder – and who was this? R. Bana'ah: There were

twenty-four interpreters of dreams in Jerusalem. Once I dreamt a dream and I

went round to all of them and they all gave different interpretations, and all

were fulfilled, thus confirming that which is said: All dreams follow the

mouth. Is the statement that all dreams follow the mouth Scriptural? Yes, as

stated by R. Eleazar. For R. Eleazar said: Whence do we know that all dreams

follow the mouth? Because it says, and it came to pass, as he interpreted to

us, so it was. Rava said: This is only if the interpretation corresponds to the

content of the dream: for it says, to each man according to his dream he did

interpret. When the chief baker saw that the interpretation was good. How did

he know this? R. Eleazar says: This tells us that each of them was shown his

own dream and the interpretation of the other one's dream.

(Berakhot 55b, Soncino translation)


The Dream which

Endangers and the Dream which Restores

It was only because of his

dreams that Joseph was sold, as it is said: Here comes that dreamer… now

let us go and kill him… (Bereishit 37:19-20). And he was restored by a dream: After

two years' time, Pharaoh dreamed… (41:1).

As it is written: But I will bring healing to you,

and cure you of your wounds [literally: cure will come from those which

strike you] (Jeremiah 30:17).

(Midrash Aggadat



Rabbi Haninah

said: He who sees a well in a dream shall see peace, for it is said: And

Isaac's servants dug in the wadi, and found a well of

water there (Bereishit


(Berakhot 56b)


Rabbi Yehoshua

ben Levi said: He who sees a river in a dream should

say upon awakening, I will extend to her peace like

a river (Isaiah 66:12) before he says

any other verse [such as] when the oppressor comes as a river (59:19).

(Berakhot 56b)


And may the Almighty God grant you compassion

before the man, and he will release to you your other brother and Benjamin, and

as for me as I am bereaved, I am bereaved.

(Bereishit 43:14)


your… brother: This is Simeon.

other: The

Holy Spirit [of prophecy] was cast into him to include Joseph.

(Rashi ad loc)


And he will send away your other brother, and Benjamin: It

seems that according to the plain meaning of Scripture, Simeon was not wanted

by his father because of what happened in Shechem. Therefore it is not written

and Simeon, my son, and Benjamin. He is not mentioned by his name. When they

left Egypt for many days, and there was not a famine in their home, and he had

not sent yet Benjamin, they would have left him in Egypt.

Rashi wrote The Holy Spirit [of prophecy] was

cast into him to include Joseph. Bereishit Rabbah (92:3), also states: And he will send

away your other brother, this is Joseph, another, this is Simeon.

The truth is that he thought that at the time that he prayed for the other

perhaps he is still alive.

(RaMBaN Bereishit 43:14)


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