Shabbos Parshas Miketz / December 4, 2021 – Sixth Day of Chanukah 2021

Chabad of East Lakeview

December 3, 2021 -Thursday Night – Fifth night of Chanukah

We had our 2021 Chanukah party.   Thoroughly enjoyed by everyone.  Serka received a Tory Burch purse The boys and Mordy received a colorful pair of socks.  Mordy showed up in shorts.  I received a blue and white Chanukah gnome candle.  We had three types of pizza, eggplant parmesan, mac and cheese, and of course potato latkes.  For dessert an assortment of Sufganiyot.

Joseph Interprets the Dream of Pharaoh (19th Century painting by Jean-Adrien Guignet)

Friday Night:

Davened at Sidney’s Bais Ment Shul.  Great Shabbos meal from Serka, food was the perfect amount.  Went to sleep at 9:00 PM.  

Shabbos Morning:

Got up at 4:00 AM and prepared for my Shiur.  I left my house at 8:45 AM to walk to Chabad of East Lakeview.   Walk seemed to go by fast as I was thinking my speech.  At the parking lot of Target on Ashland and School, a Streetwise vendor asked if I was Jewish and I showed him my Yarmulka.  His name was Gary (Steve) Cole.  His mother was Jewish, last name Frank, and his father was a hillbilly. I told him to bring his sister to Chabad.  Arrived at Chabad at 10:45 AM, by Chazras Hashatz.

Paul Fruend was there, along with the rest of the Chevra.  Nice crowd.  I received an Aliyah.  

Kiddush was sponsored by Dr. Stuart Sprague for the Yahrzeit for his father.   Dr. Stuart Sprague is a specialist who offers services and treatment options in Nephrology (Kidneys).  Magnificent Kiddush.  Chicken wraps, lean corned beef, turkey roll, coleslaw, and a great Pesach Cholent.

The Dr. Leonard Kranzler Memorial Shiur started at 2:15 PM.  In attendance were Paul Fruend, Marcel, Tamar, Peggy, Ray Miller, and Herb.    I started out with a question.  Miketz is always read during Chanukah. Is there a connection between Mikatz and Chanukah?  Rabbi Efreim Goldberg answered that Yosef at the end of last week’s Sedra was languishing in prison.  In Mikatz, Yosef goes from the bottom to the top of the world.  In the Chanukah story, the Jews were ruled by the Greek empire. The Greeks did not want to annihilate the Jews as in the Purim story.  They wanted Jews to take on Greek culture.  Circumcision was forbidden.  The Greeks worshiped perfection of the body. The Olympic games celebrated the human body.  Jewish athletes undid their circumcision.  Many Jews wanted to be Greek, the dominant culture in Israel at that time. Dana Horn who wrote the book, People Love Dead Jews, talks and writes about the historical need for Jews to assimilate and turn against themselves. https://www.tabletmag.com/sections/arts-letters/articles/the-cool-kids

She talked about the tragedy of Jews undoing their circumcision to gain acceptance.  The Chasmonean, a ragtag group of freedom fighters fought against the Greeks to restore Jewish culture.  Israel went from almost losing their identity and brought back not only the Jewish religion, but also sovereignty to the Jewish people.  Both tell the story of rising from the depths of despair to greatness, to freedom.

Verse 41:1 – וַיְהִ֕י מִקֵּ֖ץ שְׁנָתַ֣יִם יָמִ֑ים וּפַרְעֹ֣ה חֹלֵ֔ם וְהִנֵּ֖ה עֹמֵ֥ד עַל־הַיְאֹֽר׃

Yosef was sent to prison, falsely accused by the wife of Potiphar.  I always thought that the incident happened within a year of his coming to Egypt.  This means that Yosef was in prison for ten years, plus the additional two years or twelve in total.  This year I revisited  this question.  Maybe the incident with Potiphar happened after Yosef had been in Egypt for ten years and he was only in jail for two years. Rabbi Dovid Kotlarski said last week that the incident with the Chief Baker and the Cupbearer happened because the gossip of Egypt was about Yosef and Potiphar.  Hashem made a new scandal so that Yosef’s story would be yesterday’s news and stop being talked about.  The news cycle moved on.  This is a Rashi and I was glad the Rabbi mentioned this Rashi.  This means that Yosef was only imprisoned for slightly over two years. 

The יְאֹֽר  is the Nile.  Pharaoh was a God king and in his dream he is standing by the Nile.  The Nile was the lifeline of Egypt.  Pharaoh felt the Nile is his.  

Verse 41:2 – Verse 41:7 – The dream of Pharah.  The way the Torah describes the cows and grain is in different order when comparing what the Torah said when Pharaoh dreamt vs. the language used when Pharaoh told the dream to Yosef.  I do not have an answer.

Good Cows:

Actual dream –        שֶׁ֣בַע פָּר֔וֹת יְפ֥וֹת מַרְאֶ֖ה וּבְרִיאֹ֣ת בָּשָׂ֑ר

Reciting to Yosef –  שֶׁ֣בַע פָּר֔וֹת בְּרִיא֥וֹת בָּשָׂ֖ר וִיפֹ֣ת תֹּ֑אַר

Question 1 – Good cows –  Description of cows are in reverse order

Question 2         Why in one place it is יְפ֥וֹת מַרְאֶ֖ה    and in the second place וִיפֹ֣ת תֹּ֑אַר

                                            Different descriptive words מַרְאֶ֖ה  vs.  תֹּ֑אַר and why in the first recital יְפ֥וֹת 

has a Vav and in the retelling the word  וִיפֹ֣ת does not have a Vav 

Bad cows:

Actual dream        –  רָע֥וֹת מַרְאֶ֖ה וְדַקּ֣וֹת בָּשָׂ֑ר

Reciting to Yosef – דַּלּ֨וֹת וְרָע֥וֹת תֹּ֛אַר מְאֹ֖ד וְרַקּ֣וֹת בָּשָׂ֑ר לֹֽא־רָאִ֧יתִי כָהֵ֛נָּה בְּכׇל־אֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרַ֖יִם לָרֹֽעַ׃

                                  Weak, bad in appearance, and emaciated flesh

Question 3 – Bad cows –    דַּלּ֨וֹת -weak is only mentioned in Pharaoh rendition to Yosef

                                              In the rendition of Yosef Pharaoh adds the word  מְאֹ֖ד. 

Artscoll translates מַרְאֶ֖ה as appearance and תֹּ֛אַר as form.  

Sefaria described  מַרְאֶ֖ה as ugly and  תֹּ֛אַר as ill-formed.

Continuing the narration:

The king’s necromancers and wise men could not interpret Pharaoh’s dream.  The Chief Cupbearer suggests that Yosef be brought in.  The Chief Cupbearer says the following in Verse 41:12:

וְשָׁ֨ם אִתָּ֜נוּ נַ֣עַר עִבְרִ֗י עֶ֚בֶד לְשַׂ֣ר הַטַּבָּחִ֔ים וַ֨נְּסַפֶּר־ל֔וֹ וַיִּפְתׇּר־לָ֖נוּ אֶת־חֲלֹמֹתֵ֑ינוּ אִ֥ישׁ כַּחֲלֹמ֖וֹ פָּתָֽר׃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

Rashi – נער עברי עבד. אֲרוּרִים הָרְשָׁעִים, שֶׁאֵין טוֹבָתָם שְׁלֵמָה, מַזְכִּירוֹ בִּלְשׁוֹן בִּזָּיוֹן

                                                       נער. שׁוֹטֶה וְאֵין רָאוּי לִגְדֻלָּה

                                                       עבד. וְכָתוּב בְּנִמּוּסֵי מִצְרַיִם שֶׁאֵין עֶבֶד מוֹלֵךְ   וְלֹא לוֹבֵשׁ בִּגְדֵי שָׂרִים            

The Chief Cupbearer is telling Pharaoh, I know someone who has the knack for interpreting dreams.  Despite this ability he is a fool, a slave and not fit to be king.  Yes he has a talent, but he has nothing else going for him.   He is an idiot savant like Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man.  The Cupbearer could not be gracious and say, I know a young man who is great, smart, and can interpret dreams.   Why would the Cupbearer be afraid that Yosef would be king?  Joseph is a prisoner and to think that Yosef as a foreigner, a slave and a prisoner would becomed king is preposterous.  Yet the Cupbearer was afraid that Yosef could indeed become king.  I believe the answer is that the Cupbearer recognized that Yosef was successful, smart, a leader of men, and had a graciousness about him that drew people in.   Yosef was not a criminal nor did he behave like a slave.    The Cupbearer knew that if Pharaoh met Yosef, Pharaoh would be impressed and possibly promote Yosef. Yosef’s political stock would rise and ultimately Yosef would become a major leader.  Therefore, the Cupbearer denigrated Yosef by saying Yosef is a nothing, a fool.  

Verse 41:15 through Verse 41:36 is the dialogue between Pharaoh and Yosef; the interpretation of the dream and Yosef’s advice.  Yosef has the confidence and presence before Pharaoh and the entire court.  He talks confidently, articulately and impresses everyone in the room.  They do not see a lowly criminal and slave.  Therefore Pharaoh responded – 

Verse 41:37     וַיִּיטַ֥ב הַדָּבָ֖ר בְּעֵינֵ֣י פַרְעֹ֑ה וּבְעֵינֵ֖י כׇּל־עֲבָדָֽיו׃ – The plan pleased Pharaoh and all his courtiers.

Verse 41:38      וַיֹּ֥אמֶר פַּרְעֹ֖ה אֶל־עֲבָדָ֑יו הֲנִמְצָ֣א כָזֶ֔ה אִ֕ישׁ אֲשֶׁ֛ר ר֥וּחַ אֱלֹהִ֖ים בּֽוֹ 

 And Pharaoh said to his courtiers, “Could we find another like him, a man in whom is  the spirit of God?”

Verse 41:39:    וַיֹּ֤אמֶר פַּרְעֹה֙ אֶל־יוֹסֵ֔ף אַחֲרֵ֨י הוֹדִ֧יעַ אֱלֹהִ֛ים אוֹתְךָ֖ אֶת־כׇּל־זֹ֑את אֵין־נָב֥וֹן וְחָכָ֖ם כָּמֽוֹךָ  

So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has made all this known to you, there is none so    discerning and wise as you.

Everyone is happy.  Pharaoh found a person who should be able to handle running Egypt, gathering the grain, storing it, and the distribution.  All of Pharaoh’s advisers are happy. At this point Pharaoh has buy-in from his court ministers that Yosef should be promoted.  They are thinking that Pharosh will appoint one of us to lead the effort, Yosef will work for us, and we will get all the glory, the glory of saving Egypt.  They will erect statues in our honor.

In the next verse, Pharaoh delivers a shock to his royal court.

Verse 41:40 says  –  אַתָּה֙ תִּהְיֶ֣ה עַל־בֵּיתִ֔י וְעַל־פִּ֖יךָ יִשַּׁ֣ק כׇּל־עַמִּ֑י רַ֥ק הַכִּסֵּ֖א אֶגְדַּ֥ל מִמֶּֽךָּ׃ –  You shall be in charge of my court, and by your command shall all my people be directed; only with respect to the throne shall I be superior to you.”

Yosef is promoted to be the leader of Egypt who will be making all the decisions.  Only Pharaoh has more power, but will not be running the country.  It will be Yoseph.  This is a wondrous turn of events. Why would Pharaoh bypass all of his wise men, his politicians, his necromancers who have been with him for years.   I believe that Pharaoh really wanted to do good for his people.  He realized that Yosef is the best person for the job and he did not want to hinder Yosef from reporting to a boss who would only create another level of management and create roadblocks.  So true in the corporate world.   It would make it harder for Yosef to carry out his mission of saving Egypt during the famine years.   The royal court must have been stunned.  They were in disbelief and rendered speechless.  In all likelihood from that day forward they worked against Yosef.  At every turn they tried to sabotage him.  Yosef could not let his guard down.  This is one of the reasons given why Yosef did not let his father know that he was okay.Yosef was always watched, and if he faltered he would be accused of disloyalty.

Pharaoh gives Yosef a wife, the daughter of Potepher.” אֶת־אָֽסְנַ֗ת בַּת־פּ֥וֹטִי פֶ֛רַע* כֹּהֵ֥ן אֹ֖ן לְאִשָּׁ֑ה”.  In the previous Parsha  Potephar’s wife wanted Yosef and falsely accused Yosef of attacking her.  She is now his mother-in-law.  Awkward,  Thanksgiving must have been tough.    Perhaps Pharaoh deliberately gave Asnas to Yosef as a wife to show that Yosef was innocent and to quell any talk about that incident.    Interesting to note that Potephar’s wife is not identified by name.  Perhaps now that her daughter became the husband of a powerful person and she sees that the prophecy of her family becoming part of Yosef’s was not her but her daughter, she apologized to Yosef and they were on good terms.

Yonasan Ben Uziel says that Asnas was the daughter of the union of Shechem and Dina that Potephar’s wife raised, as follows”

וּקְרָא פַרְעה שְׁמֵיהּ דְיוֹסֵף גַבְרָא דִטְמִירָן מְפַרְסֵם וִיהַב לֵיהּ יַת אָסְנַת דִילֵידַת דִינָה לִשְׁכֶם וּרְבֵיתָה אִיתַּת פּוֹטִיפֶרַע רַבָּא דְטָנִיס לְאִינְתּוּ וּנְפַק יוֹסֵף שַׁלִיט עַל אַרְעָא דְמִצְרַיִם

And Pharaoh called the name of Joseph, The man who revealeth mysteries. And he gave him Asenath, whom Dinah had borne to Shekem, and the wife of Potiphera prince (Rabba) of Tanis had brought up, to be his wife. And Joseph went forth ruler over the land of Mizraim.   

This makes so much sense.  The attack on Dina, terrible when it happened,  ends up being for the good.  Imagine the joy of the family comes down and they discover that Dina’s daughter has been restored to the family.   The family is whole.

Final Thought:

Yosef is asked to interpret the dream, however, in verse 41:33 Yosef offers advice.  Yosef was not asked to offer advice.  I said a Pshat that Yosef did not want to be thrown back in prison, so he offered advice in the hopes that he would become a government official working for an advisor and not be sent back to prison.  He did not think that Pharaoh would praise him and elevate him to the number two person in the entire Egypt.

Verse 34 –  יַעֲשֶׂ֣ה פַרְעֹ֔ה וְיַפְקֵ֥ד פְּקִדִ֖ים עַל־הָאָ֑רֶץ וְחִמֵּשׁ֙ אֶת־אֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרַ֔יִם בְּשֶׁ֖בַע שְׁנֵ֥י הַשָּׂבָֽע׃

The word חִמֵּשׁ֙ according to Rashi is to “prepare” the land .  The Ibn Ezra says it means take a fifth of all the produce.   

Verse 35 says – וְיִקְבְּצ֗וּ אֶת־כׇּל־אֹ֙כֶל֙ הַשָּׁנִ֣ים הַטֹּב֔וֹת הַבָּאֹ֖ת הָאֵ֑לֶּה וְיִצְבְּרוּ־בָ֞ר תַּ֧חַת יַד־פַּרְעֹ֛ה אֹ֥כֶל בֶּעָרִ֖ים וְשָׁמָֽרוּ׃ Let all the food of these good years that are coming be gathered, and let the grain be collected under Pharaoh’s authority as food to be stored in the cities.

Verse 36 says – וְהָיָ֨ה הָאֹ֤כֶל לְפִקָּדוֹן֙ לָאָ֔רֶץ לְשֶׁ֙בַע֙ שְׁנֵ֣י הָרָעָ֔ב אֲשֶׁ֥ר תִּהְיֶ֖יןָ בְּאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרָ֑יִם וְלֹֽא־תִכָּרֵ֥ת הָאָ֖רֶץ בָּרָעָֽב Let that food be a reserve for the land for the seven years of famine which will come upon the land of Egypt, so that the land may not perish in the famine.”

According to Rashi in Verse 34 it does not say that it is a tax or that the government will buy up the food supply, where the government will own this stockpile of food.  It is a פִקָּדוֹן֙ , a deposit.  The Torah seems to say that the people will give the food to the government and will get it back during the years of famine. This Is not what ultimately happened.  Why did it change?  It ended up that Pharaoh owned all the excess grain and while he saved his people, it was done at a tremendous cost to the Egyptians.  They lost their land and their freedom, as much as they had under a Sun God.

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