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Miketz
Why did it take the chief butler two years to mention Yosef? Print E-mail
Sunday, 09 December 2018

In Honor of Marigold Warmund’s Bat Mitzvah

At the end of Parshat Vayeshev, after Yosef interpreted the chief butler’s dream, he made a request (Breisheet 40:14-15) “Remember me when things go well with you. Please deal kindly with me and mention me to Pharaoh and take me out of this house (jail). I was kidnapped from the land of the Hebrews, and here I have also done nothing that they should have put me in this dungeon.”

In the last verse of Parshat Vayeshev (Breisheet 40:23) we read: “However, the chief butler did not remember Yosef, but forgot him.”

Parshat Miketz begins two years later with Pharaoh’s dreams which nobody is able to interpret. The chief butler finally speaks up (Breisheet 41:9-14):

“I recall my sins today: Pharaoh was enraged at his servants, and he placed me under guard in the house of the chief executioner; me and the chief baker. We had a dream on the same night, I and he, each according to the interpretation of his dream, did we dream. With us there was a young man, a Hebrew, a slave of the chief executioner. We told him about our dreams, and he interpreted our dreams, he interpreted each man’s dreams accordingly.  It came to pass, that as he interpreted for us, so did it occur; he restored me to my position, and him he hanged.” Pharaoh sent and summoned Yosef. They hurried him out of the dungeon, but Yosef first shaved and changed clothes and then came to Pharaoh.

Why did it take the chief butler two years to mention Yosef? Why did it say both that he did not remember Yosef and that he forgot him?

From the plain reading of the text, the chief butler listened to Yosef’s request to remember him and mention him, but never committed himself to mention him to Pharaoh. From a logical point of view, it makes sense that once he was released from prison he wanted to move on with his life and not think about his experiences there. In addition, it would have been awkward to approach Pharaoh and rehash the incident of why he was thrown in jail and the fact that he was looking to help the other inmates.

According to Rashbam, God specifically wanted the chief butler to forget Yosef until the time that God was ready to perform miracles for Yosef.

Breisheet Raba 89:3 explains that it was necessary for the chief butler to forget Yosef for two years so that Yosef would rise to power due to Pharaoh’s dreams which Yosef interpreted to mean that there will be seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine. In this way Yosef was immediately chosen by Pharaoh as the best candidate to be second in command.

It is impossible for us to fully understand God’s plans as to why certain things take place at designated times. Once Yosef was released from prison, he understood that God was orchestrating everything that was happening to him and he did not hold any grudges. Even when Yosef reveals his true identity to his brothers, he doesn’t blame them for selling him. Rather, he explains that it was all part of God’s greater plan to save lives during the famine.

 
Clothes make the person Print E-mail
Monday, 26 December 2016

After Pharaoh chose Yosef to be second in command we read (Breisheet 41:42) “Pharaoh then took off his ring from his hand and he placed it on Yosef’s hand. He dressed him in linen (shesh) garments and put a gold chain (revid) around his neck.”

Rashi comments that the giving of the king’s ring is a sign for the one to whom it is given that he is to be second in command to him.

Ramban adds that the king’s ring contains his seal (as we see as well in Megillat Ester 8:8). The king gave Yosef his seal so that he should be a leader and a commander of the entire government and seal with the king’s ring whatever he desires.

Rashi also points out that linen garments are considered very valuable in Egypt.

Chizkuni adds that only kings and important people wore this type of linen in Egypt.

Rashbam mentions that Yechezkel 27:7 states in reference to Tyre’s beauty: “Of embroidered Egyptian linen was your sail”.

In Eshet Chayil, Woman of Valor (Mishlei 31:22), which is recited each Friday night we read “Marvadim astah lah, shesh v’argaman levusha”, “She makes herself coverlets, her clothing is fine linen and purple”.

The same terminology that describes what Yosef wore when he became second in command to Pharaoh is used by King Solomon to describe the way that the accomplished woman dressed.

We learn from here the level of respect that the woman was given at the time of the First Beit HaMikdash (Temple). She had a spouse, children, a household to run and a few careers yet she was dressed in beautiful garments. This can be compared to Yosef who commanded a presence wearing royal garments while taking care of Egypt and beyond, making sure that everyone was provided for.

 
Be Proud of Your Heritage Print E-mail
Thursday, 22 December 2011

In Parshat Miketz, when nobody else is able to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams,

 the chief butler, who has already been out of jail for two years, finally remembers to mention Yoseph to Pharaoh.

 

In Breisheet 41:12 the chief butler tells Pharaoh: “With us (in jail) there was a lad, a Hebrew (Ivri), a slave of the chief executioner. We told him about our dreams and he interpreted our dreams, he interpreted each man’s dreams accordingly.”

 

The butler knew that Yoseph was an Ivri since after Yoseph interpreted his dream and told him that he would return to work for Pharaoh Yoseph made one request (Breisheet 40:14-15) “But remember me when things go well with you. Please deal kindly with me, and mention me to Pharaoh, and take me out of this house. I was kidnapped from the land of the Hebrews, and here I have also done nothing that they should put me in this dungeon.”

 

Yoseph made it very clear that he was an “Ivri”.

 

Even before this, when Potiphar’s wife accused Yoseph of attacking her she said (Breisheet 39:14) “…See, he brought us a Hebrew man to mock us…”

 

The Midrash in Devarim Raba states:

 

Rabbi Levi said:

 

Moshe said before God: “Master of the Universe, the bones of Yoseph are entering the Land and am I not to enter the Land?”

 

The Holy One Blessed Be He said to him: “He who acknowledged his land- is to be buried in his land, and he who did not acknowledge his land- is not to be buried in his land. Joseph acknowledged his land- he is to be buried in his land. But you who did not acknowledge your land, you will not be buried in your land.”

 

When did Moshe not acknowledge his land?

 

When the daughters of Yitro said: (Shmot 2:19) “An Egyptian man saved us from the hand of the shepherds.”

 

 Moshe heard them yet remained silent; therefore Moshe is not buried in the land while Yoseph’s bones were buried in Shechem.

 

What we learn from here is the importance of being proud of our heritage which is not easy especially when Jews are living outside of the Land of Israel.

 

A few weeks ago there was a campaign in the United States to try to get Israelis to return to the Land of Israel by telling them that if they stay out of Israel they may forget their heritage and that their spouses and their children won’t understand them.

 

Unfortunately, it is not enough just to have been brought up with Israeli culture, one must be brought up in the Jewish religion, understand what Judaism is about and be a proud Jew.

 

One of the billboards in the campaign said that if you are away from Israel for too long, then your children will not call you “Abba”, they will start to call you “Daddy”. Is that what the media campaign is concerned about? We have been living in Israel for 7 and a 1/2 years and our three young children who speak Hebrew and English fluently and are fully observant, proud Jews and Israelis call us Mommy and Daddy.

 

Another ad showed a child in the US skyping her grandparents in Israel. When the grandparents asked what holiday it was, the grandchild said Christmas instead of Chanuka and the grandparents were extremely sad and disappointed. Sure, when you are in Israel, you barely know about Christmas unless you live near Beit Lechem or the Old City of Jerusalem and only Chanuka is celebrated in the schools so there is no December dilemma but there are plenty of Israelis who live abroad and are proud of their heritage and continue to celebrate the Jewish holidays.

 

It may be easier to be a proud Jew in Israel, but you can certainly be a proud religious Jew in Chutz l’aretz (outside of the Land of Israel).  Each of us has to make the conscious decision if we want to make Aliya and move to Israel, stay in Israel or leave Israel. This important decision should not be made based on a billboard.

 

 
What Goes Around Comes Around Print E-mail
Friday, 03 December 2010
Yoseph’s brothers did not take the goblet, yet when Binyamin was accused by Yoseph (before they knew who he really was), Yehuda said (Breisheet 44:16): “What shall we say to my master? What can we speak? How can we justify ourselves? God has found the iniquity of your servants”. 

 

According to Rashi, Yehuda was saying that: “We know that we have done no wrong, but it has come from God to bring this upon us. The Creditor has found an opportunity to collect his debt”.

 

Yehuda does not admit to any guilt concerning the goblet, only that God has found a way of punishing them for an old sin.

 

Even before the brothers knew who Yoseph was, the guilt for having sold Yoseph was still on their minds.

 

Yoseph’s actions- not revealing who he was right away, calling his brothers spies, putting their money back in their bags, putting the goblet in Binyamin’s bag etc which may seem strange- were all done in order to help the brothers do Teshuva and to receive full atonement. Only after a person has done full Teshuva and committed to not making the same mistake in the future can a person be fully forgiven. The fact that this time the brothers were not willing to endanger Binyamin the way that they had endangered him showed Yoseph that they had really regretted what they had done and that they really went through a complete Teshuva process.

 
Watch What You Say! Print E-mail
Friday, 25 December 2009
Parsha Points- Miketz 5770
 
Watch What You Say!
 
In Parshat Miketz 42:21-22 when Yosef was still concealing his identity and accusing his brothers of being spies we read: “Then they (Yosef’s brothers) said to one another, “Indeed we are guilty concerning our brother inasmuch as we saw his  heartfelt anguish when he pleaded with us and we paid no heed; that is why this anguish has come upon us.” Reuven spoke up to them saying, “Did I not speak to you saying, ‘Do not sin against the boy,’ but you would not listen! And his blood as well-behold!-is being avenged!”
 
The brothers were now feeling guilty for having sold Yosef and they felt that they were now finally being punished for their crime. Reuven especially felt responsible especially since he assumed that Yosef did not survive the ordeal of being sold as a slave.
 
Breisheet 42:23-24 continues “Now they did not know that Yosef understood, for an interpreter was between them. He turned away from them and wept…”
 
Yosef understood everything that his brothers said but he had the interpreter there to make it seem that he did not know Hebrew.
 
The brothers didn’t realize that Yosef understood and they let down their guard.
 
According to Rashi, Yosef turned away and cried because he didn’t want his brothers to know that he understood and also because he saw that they finally did Tshuva for having sold him.
 
We see from here that we should be very careful with what they say (even if it is in another language) because you never know who may be listening and who may understand what you are saying.
 
 
Everything is in the Hands of God Print E-mail
Friday, 26 December 2008

In the beginning of Parshat Miketz (Breisheet 41:1-7), Pharaoh had two dreams that the necromancers and wise men of Egypt could not interpret:

 

Pharaoh was dreaming that behold he was standing over the river, when behold out of the river there emerged seven cows, of beautiful appearance and robust flesh, and they were grazing in the marshland. Then behold seven other cows emerged after them out of the river of ugly appearance and gaunt flesh; and they stood next to the cows on the bank of the river. The cows of ugly appearance and gaunt flesh ate the seven cows of beautiful appearance and robust.

 

Behold seven ears of grain were sprouting on a single stalk, healthy and good. And behold, seven ears, thin and scorched by the east wind were growing after them. Then the seven thin ears swallowed the up the seven healthy and full ears.

 

According to Chochma im Nachala, the necromancers and wise men of Egypt could not interpret the dreams since they were taught that the world runs strictly by the laws of nature. Pharaoh’s dreams however went against the laws of nature. According to nature the stronger ones would win a war against the weaker ones and the healthier one would be victorious over the thin ones. In Pharaoh’s dreams the weak ate the strong and the necromancers couldn’t deal with the fact that this was the opposite of nature. Yosef, who grew up in the house of Yaakov was taught that everything is done by the hand of God, even if it seems contrary to the natural order of the world. Since God created the world, God can change nature as God sees fit.

 

Therefore, after Yosef heard the dream, before he interpreted it he said “What God is about to do He told to Pharaoh” (41:25) even though he had already told Pharaoh before hearing the dream “This is beyond me; it is God Who will respond with Paraoh’s welfare” (41:16).

 

God created the world and He can lower us down and raise us up, have the weak become victorious over the strong and have few win over many (as we say in the ‘al hanisim’ for Chanukah: You delivered the strong into the hands of the weak, the many into the hands of the few, the impure into the hands of the pure, the wicked into the hands of the righteous and the wanton into the hands of the diligent students of Your Torah). Everything is done according to God’s will. We saw this in the days of the Maccabbee’s and we saw this during Israel’s wars. If we continue to do our part and trust in God, then we hope and pray that God will help us to become victorious over our enemies.

 
The True Significance of Ma'oz Tzur Print E-mail
Thursday, 06 December 2007

In Parshat Miketz, the chain of events which would eventually bring Yaakov and his family down to Egypt begins to unfold. Yosef becomes viceroy and saves Egypt and the surrounding countries from famine.

The end of the prophecy that God gave Avraham in Parshat Lech-Lecha, Breisheet 15:12-14 is about to be fulfilled: “As the sun was setting, a deep sleep fell upon Avram; and behold, a dread of deep darkness fell upon him (eima chashecha gedola nofelet alav). And God said to Avram: ‘Know for sure that your descendents will be foreigners in a land that is not theirs. They will enslave them and oppress them for four hundred years. Also, that nation that they will serve I will judge; afterwards they will leave with great wealth’.”

Ramban explains that the words “eima chashecha nofelet alav” allude to the servitude of the four exiles. Eima, a dread refers to Babylon, Chashecha, darkness refers to Media (Persia), Gedola, Great refers to the Kingdom of Antiochus (Greeks) and Nofelet Alav, Fell upon him refers to Edom (Rome). This experience came to Avraham because when God made a covenant with him to give the Land to his children as an everlasting possession, He said to him, by way of a residuary of His gift, that during the four exiles the nations will subjugate his children and rule their land, subject to the condition that they sin before Him. God then specifically informed him of the first exile, the Egyptian exile.

Ma’oz Tzur, which we sing after lighting the Chanukah candles was written by a liturgical poet named Mordechai during the mid 13th century. In the different stanzas of the song, Mordechai recalls the various exiles that the Jewish people endured, praises God for redeeming us and prays for the restoration of the Beit HaMikdash.

As we sing Ma’oz Tzur, Let’s hope and pray that the current exile, the exile of Edom (Rome) will swiftly come to an end.

Happy Chanukah and Shabbat Shalom from Yerushalayim!

 

 

 
Unique Gifts from Israel Print E-mail
Thursday, 21 December 2006

In Parshat Miketz, Yaakov is upset when his sons tell him that they must send Binyamin down to Egypt as well. In Breisheet 43:11, Yaakov tells his sons "If so (if you must return to Egypt with Binyamin), this is what you must do: Take .mezimrat haaaretz. of the best of the land in your vessels and take a mincha, an offering to the man. A little tzori, balsam, a little devash, honey, necho.ot, spices or gum, valot, labdanum (a plant resin used in flavorings or perfumes), botnim, nuts and shkedim, almonds."

Yaakov wanted to send unique gifts from the land of Israel to the leader of Egypt (not knowing that he was actually his son Yoseph) in order to please him.

How do we know that many of these gifts were unique to the land of Israel and not available in other countries including Egypt?

Last week.s Parsha, Parshat Vayeshev, described the sale of Yoseph. In Breisheet 37:25-26 we read: "They took him (Yoseph) and threw him into the pit. The pit was empty, there was no water in it. They sat down to eat bread. They raised their eyes and saw, behold a Yishmaelite caravan was coming from Gilad, their camels were carrying necho.ot, u.tzori valot, bringing them down to Egypt." Many of the same products of Israel that Yaakov later sent were imported into Egypt by Yishmaelite merchants.

In Breisheet Raba 91:11, Rabbi Yehoshua of Sachnin said in the name of Rabbi Levy: The things that Yaakov sent "mezimrat haaretz" were some of the best things in the world. Rabbi Yehudah Bar Rebi.s point of view is that the honey was not regular honey, but rather special expensive honey. Yaakov would not have sent plain nuts. Rather, he probably sent expensive nut oils or almond milk which were much more expensive than the nuts themselves.

Today, many of these products are exported from Israel to other countries (especially the US). On Israeliproducts.com, you can find gum, many varieties of hard to find honey, spices, almond-milk body wash, balsam conditioner, perfume candles etc. and literally have the best in the land delivered right to your doorstep.