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Rabbi Riskin on Parshat Miketz — “Torah Lights” 5774

“Joseph Repents” — Rabbi Shlomo Riskin’s Insights into Parshat Miketz

Weekly Torah Portion: Miketz

The story of Yosef’s descent into the darkness of Egypt and his rise to leadership coincides each year with the eight day festival of Chanukah. They likewise share the same deep lesson: All of life’s seemingly chaotic randomness is, in truth, directed by G-d. Our role is not merely to trust in G-d’s benevolence but to work without rest to insure our own part in His great plan. This is what distinguished Yosef and this is what distinguished the Chashmonean kohanim who led the Jewish revolt against the Greek oppressors.

Miketz (Genesis 41:1-44:17)
Parashat Miketz is read on Shabbat:
Kislev 27, 5774/November 30, 2013

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Miketz 5774 – I Have A Dream

Dreams of kings, dreams of commoners

Weekly YouParsha show read by Rabbi Herschel Finman ( YouParsha is produced and at the Specs Howard School of Media Arts in Southfield, Michigan (248) 358-9000. YouParsha is made possible in part by a grant from the Paul & Leslie Magy Foundation. Torah, Parsha, Rabbi, Chasidic, Miketz Chanukah 5774

Rosner’s Weekly Torah Talk: Parashat Miketz with Rabbi Yehuda Mirsky

Shmuel Rosner talks with Rabbi Yehuda Mirsky about this week’s Torah Portion, Parashat Miketz. Visit for more information.

The lights of Chanukah

Shiur given at Manhattan on Parsha Mikeitz December 13th, 2011

Rabbi Kogan on Parsha Miketz, Chanukkah is About Sharing the Light

Weekly TorahByte #10: Parashat Miketz

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Call Torah : Parashat Miketz

Rabbi Shai Finkelstein of Baron Hirsch Synagogue

Parshat Miketz

Collection of short insight into this weeks Torah Portion

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Miketz : Rabbi DovBer Pinson

Miketz – An Honest Man Is Hard To Find

Rb Svirsky Yosef and his brothers
Kislev 25, 5774 · November 28, 2013
The Rebbe’s Son and the Chassid

For G-d has caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction (41:52)

Once, when Rabbi DovBer of Lubavitch, the son of Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, was a young man, he was visiting with his father-in-law in Yanovitch. There he met with one of his father’s chassidim. The chassid noticed that the young ‘rebbe’s son’ was all too aware of his achievements in scholarship and meditative prayer and felt that some cutting down to size was in order.

Said the chassid to Rabbi DovBer: “Considering who you are and how you’ve lived, what’s the big deal? Your father – well, we all know who your father is. You were certainly conceived under the holiest of circumstances, and I’m sure that your father secured a most lofty soul to bring down into the world. Then you were raised in a rebbe’s home and great care was taken to mold your character and safeguard you from any negative influences. All your life you’ve been exposed to scholarship and sanctity and to this very day you’re preoccupied only with the study of Torah and the teachings of chassidism. So you’ve amassed a certain amount of knowledge and you pray with fervor and devotion. Big deal.

“Now, take me for example. My father was a simple man, and we can well imagine what was on his mind when he scraped out some dreg of a soul out the bottom of the barrel. My upbringing? I was raised as a goat and basically left to my own devices. And do you know what I do with my life? Let me tell you how I earn my living. I loan money to the peasants during the planting season and then, during the winter months, I make my rounds of their villages and farms to collect the debts before they have a chance to squander their entire harvest on vodka. This means setting out several hours before sunrise, well before the permissible time for prayer, equipped with a flask – for without a drink one cannot begin to talk business with a peasant. After drinking to his health, one must share a ‘l’chayim’ with the woman in the house as well – otherwise she can ruin the whole deal for you. Only then can you sit down to settle part of the account.

“After three or four such stops I make my way home, immerse myself in the mikveh1and prepare for prayer. But after such preliminaries, what sort of prayer would you expect…?”

The words of this chassid, who was, in truth, renowned for his refined nature and soulful prayers, made a deep impression on Rabbi DovBer. The young man immediately travelled home to his father and poured out his heart. He bewailed his spiritual state, saying that his service of G-d is worthless, falling so short of what is expected from him.

The next time the chassid from Yanovitch came to Rabbi Schneur Zalman, the Rebbe said to him: “I am most grateful to you – you have made a chassid out of my Berel.”

1. Ritual bath.
By Yanki Tauber    More articles…  |   RSS Listing of Newest Articles by this Author
Yanki Tauber is content editor of
Kislev 25, 5774 · November 28, 2013
An End And A Beginning
Mikeitz; Genesis 41:1-44:17

Adapted from
Likkutei Sichos, Vol. V, p. 198ff; Vol. XXIII, pgs. 37-38
Sichos Shabbos Parshas Mikeitz, 5751

The Truth of the Torah

In the world at large, there are many opinions regarding the narratives of the Torah. Some maintain that all the stories should be understood as symbolism and allegory. Their intent, they say, is to teach us lessons in Divine service, not to chronicle history.

The traditional view holds that every narrative in the Torah must be considered a record of events which actually transpired.1

Chassidic thought takes a third approach. To quote a kabbalistic expression:2 The Torah speaks about the upper realms, and alludes to the lower realms.

This means that the narratives of the Torah are descriptions of the interrelation between Divine attributes in the spiritual realms. Nevertheless, since material existence is an outgrowth of spiritual existence, whatever happens in the spiritual realms is reflected in this world. Thus, every narrative in the Torah is a record of an actual event, but that event represents far more than what transpires in the material world. It is a dynamic movement beginning within the sublime spiritual planes and having ramifications on all levels of existence.

This approach expresses the positive dimensions of both the views mentioned. On one hand, the historical integrity of the Torah is preserved. Conversely, the relevance of the Torah is not as a book of records,3 but as a guide, reflecting spiritual truths that should be applied in our Divine service.

Infinity in Shackles

These concept are reflected in this week’s Torah reading, Parshas Mikeitz, which focuses on the release of Yosef from prison. Yosef serves as an analogy for the entire Jewish people.4 For the name Yosef, meaning “increase,” refers to an infinite and unbounded potential for growth,5 i.e., the soul we all possess, which is “an actual part of G-d from above.”6

Moreover, the prayer Rachel recited when naming Yosef,7 “May G-d add on (yosef) to me another son (ben acher),” reflects the spiritual mission of the Jewish people. Entities which have hitherto been acher (“other” estranged from their G-dly core) are brought close and manifest the intimacy of ben (“a son”).8

The prison in which Yosef is held refers to the body, and to material existence as a whole. These tend to confine the infinite power of the soul and deny it expression. Although G-d gave man His Torah, His will and wisdom,9 the Torah is also affected by the limits of material existence, and its G-dly source is not always evident.

An End to Limits

These concepts are alluded to in the opening phrase of this week’s reading: Vayehi mikeitz shenasayim yamim, “ And it came to pass at the end of two years.” “Two years” refers to the Torah, which contains two elements, the Written Law and the Oral Law.10As the Torah exists within the confines of material existence, its power appears to have a ketz, an end and a limit. Nevertheless, because Yosef in analogy, the Jewish people is essentially unlimited, the ketz, the restrictions of worldly existence, ultimately become vayehi, a thing of the past. Yosef leaves prison and becomes the ruler of Egypt.

In the analog: a Jew is sent into this world to reveal G-dliness. This is the purpose of his being, and eventually this purpose will be achieved. The material nature of worldly existence may initially restrict the expression of a Jew’s true nature, but the constraints will be temporary. Ultimately, just as Yosef became the ruler of Egypt, every Jew will become a source of influence and power, showing how infinite G-dliness can permeate finite material existence.

Making the End a Beginning

The latter concept can be amplified by coupling a point of Hebrew grammar with a mystical concept. The word mikeitz can mean either “at the beginning”11 or “at the end”.12 Similarly, the Zohar speaks of the ketz dismola, “ the left end,”13 and the ketz hayamin, “the right end.”14

To apply these concepts to our Torah reading: the question is whether mikeitz refers to the end the final two years of the trials and tribulations Yosef suffered in Egypt, or to the beginning the two years leading to his assumption of power. According to the first interpretation, mikeitz refers to the most difficult challenges Yosef faced in Egypt, for it is before daybreak that the darkness becomes most powerful.15 According to the second interpretation, mikeitz refers to the dawning of Yosef’s redemption.

There is a connection between the two. Hidden within the challenges of ketz dismolathe last moments of exile are G-dly sparks. Confronting these challenges taps these G-dly energies and brings ketz hayamin, the beginning of the Redemption.16

The entire Jewish people are at times referred to by the name Yosef. May the transition experienced by Yosef become manifest for our people as a whole. For we too have confronted the hardships of exile and are awaiting the revelation of ketz hayamin, the first rays of the Redemption. May this take place in the immediate future.

1. 1.See the Responsa of the Rashba, Vol. I, Responsum 413.
2. Asarah Maamaros, Maamar Chakor HaDin, sec. 3, ch. 22; Shaloh, p. 13b, 161a.
3. See Zohar, Vol. III, p. 152a, which states: “Woe to the sinners who say that the words of the Torah are just ordinary stories.”
4. Therefore the entire Jewish people are at times referred to by the name Yosef, as Psalms 80:2 states: “You lead Yosef as [a shepherd leads] sheep.” See Rashiand Metzudas David to that verse.
5. See Toras Chayim, Bereishis, 87b.
6. Tanya, ch. 2.
7. Genesis 30:24.
8. See Or HaTorah, Vayeitzei, p. 202a.
9. Tanya, ch. 4.
10. Torah Or 31b.
11. See the gloss of Rav Avraham Ibn Ezra to Numbers 13:25, Deuteronomy 15:1, 31:10, Psalms 119:96. See also the gloss of the Maharsha to Niddah 58b.
12. Rashi in our Torah reading.
13. Zohar, Vol. I, p. 193b.
14. Zohar, Vol. I, p. 54a; cf. the conclusion of the Book of Daniel.
15. Likkutei Dibburim, Vol. I, p. 68a, b [English trans. p. 150].
16. This enables us to appreciate the interrelation between the name Mikeitz and the Torah reading which follows. Even according to the interpretation that mikeitzrefers to the last two years of Yosef’s imprisonment, it is still appropriate that it serve as the name of the reading dealing with his redemption. For it was the final challenges of his imprisonment that brought about his redemption.
By Eli Touger    More articles…  |   RSS Listing of Newest Articles by this Author
Two Prototypes of Spirituality
Kislev 25, 5774 · November 28, 2013

What is our image of a spiritual person, a man or woman of G-d? Torah teachings present us with a number of different possibilities. In our Parshah we learn about a highly interesting figure: Joseph.

Joseph and all his brothers are regarded by the Sages as having been highly spiritual men. The Torah records some of the conflicts and paradoxes in their lives. Nonetheless, each of them had sufficient spiritual power to found an entire tribe, a whole section of the Jewish people. In fact, Joseph founded two tribes: Ephraim and Menasseh.

The Sages point out an interesting distinction between Joseph and his brothers. Joseph was the creator and administrator of a vast system which centralized the food production of Egypt. By contrast, his brothers were shepherds, leading quite solitary lives pasturing their flock on the slopes of the ancient Canaanite countryside.

The Sages tell us this contrast indicates a difference in spiritual stature. For some people, an intimate relationship with G-d can only be maintained in a quiet atmosphere, remote from the hurly-burly of daily life. The brothers, contemplative mystics, are in this category. But Joseph was on a higher level. He could maintain his bond with the Divine at the same time as playing a highly active role in a complex civilization.

For us in the 20th century, both examples are relevant. The contemplative style of the brothers relates to certain moments in the day, and Shabbat. The vigorous active style of Joseph provides the example of how we should be during the week, with every moment full, significant and effective — while at the same time, continuously, we maintain our awareness of and bond with G-d.

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Dr. Tali Loewenthal is Lecturer in Jewish Spirituality at University College London, director of the Chabad Research Unit, author of Communicating the Infinite: The Emergence of the Habad School and a frequent contributor to the weekly Torah reading section.
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All of the people involved in the human drama described for us in this week’s Torah reading are haunted by their past actions, behavior and attitudes. Pharaoh is disturbed by his dreams of an empire where the strong overwhelm the weak and suddenly this past dream turns into a nightmare of the weak devouring the strong. Pharaoh’s butler thought that he had placed his past indiscretions behind him and could safely forget everything and everyone associated with his time in prison. He is now forced to recall the young Jewish Yosef and once again bring back the entire sordid story to the attention of Pharaoh. Yosef rises to power and position and attempts to build a new life for…

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CHASSIDIC DIMENSION: Pharaoh’s Dreams and Yosef’s Interpretation -Mikeitz
Kislev 25, 5774 · November 28, 2013
Pharaoh’s Dreams and Yosef’s InterpretationThe Torah portion of Mikeitz begins by relating Pharaoh’s dream, and the fact that the wise men could not provide a satisfactory interpretation. Yosef was then called for and he interpreted the dreams to Pharaoh’s satisfaction.The commentators ask a number of questions regarding Yosef’s interpretation. The thought that seven handsome healthy-looking cows and seven fat, good ears of grain were symbolic of seven years of plenty, while seven emaciated, bad cows and seven shriveled ears of grain were symbolic of seven years of famine seems obvious.1

Handsome, healthy-looking cows are a direct result of a plenitude of grass and grain — a clear symbol of a time of plenty. And surely this is so with regard to fat ears of grain. Conversely, emaciated cows denote a lack of food, and shriveled ears of grain indicate a lack of water.

Moreover, Pharaoh saw in his dream that the cows emerged from the Nile, the annual flooding of which provided Egypt with vitally needed water for irrigation and growth. Since the healthy cows and grain appeared first, it is understandable that a period of plenty would precede a time of famine. Furthermore, since the cows and grain were seven in number, it clearly indicated seven seasons of growth.

Why did the wise men of Egypt fail to understand something that was so self-evident? What got Pharaoh so excited about Yosef’s wisdom that he appointed him viceroy?

Yet another question: As soon as Yosef interpreted the dreams, he immediately went on to say:2 “And now, Pharaoh must seek out a man with insight and wisdom and place him in charge of Egypt.” Why did Yosef see fit to go on and give advice? Pharaoh had only asked him to interpret the dreams, not to advise him on affairs of state.3

The difficulty in interpreting the dreams resulted from the fact that the “other seven, ugly lean cows emerged from the Nile, and stood next to the cows already on the river bank. ”4 If the seven emaciated cows symbolized seven years of famine following seven years of plenty, why were both sets of cows standing together on the river bank?

The Egyptian wise men therefore came up with various interpretations implying that feast and famine would take place at the same time.

Yosef’s approach, however, was different. He correctly interpreted the dream to mean that seven good years would be followed by seven years of famine. In answer to the obvious question of why the cows were standing together, Yosef replied that this meant someone should be appointed over Egypt to ensure that the grain from the seven bountiful years would be stored for the coming years of famine, for in this way the cows could stand “together” in the following manner:

When steps are taken at the beginning of the seven years of plenty to insure that there will be food for the seven years of famine, then the two periods — the two sets of cows — come together. Conversely, during the seven years of hunger, the seven years of plenty are profoundly felt, for the food eaten during these latter years comes from the first seven years.

This is why Pharaoh was so taken by Yosef’s reply; it wasn’t so much Yosef’s ability to interpret the dreams as his ability to account for the juxtaposition of the seven fat and emaciated cows.

On a more spiritual level, Pharaoh’s dreams and Yosef’s interpretation thereof served as the precursor to the Jewish people’s descent into exile, for it was Yosef’s leadership (which resulted from his interpretation) that brought about the circumstances which caused Ya’akov and his family to descend to Egypt. Thus, Pharaoh’s dreams and their interpretation also serve as a parable to exile.

During a dream, it is possible for opposites to unite. Exile is therefore likened to a dream, for during the time of exile, “good cows” (the desire to be good and holy) and “emaciated cows” (the desire to act in an untoward manner) can reside in an individual at almost the same time.

By putting aside provisions during the times of spiritual good, spiritual famine is averted, and Jews are constantly blessed with all manner of good.

Based on Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XV, pp. 339-346

1. See Bechaye, Bereishis 41:8; Akeidah, Shaar 29, question 2; Abarbenel, Mikeitz question 4.
2. Bereishis 41:33.
3. Ramban, Mikeitz 41:4; Alshich ibid., verse 31; Klei Yakor ibid., verse 7; Or HaChayim ibid., verse 33; Abarbenel quoted above question 8.
4. 41:3.
Based on the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson    More articles…  |   RSS Listing of Newest Articles by this Author
Kislev 24, 5774 · November 27, 2013
Genesis 41:1-44:17

Joseph’s imprisonment finally ends when Pharaoh dreams of seven fat cows that are swallowed up by seven lean cows, and of seven fat ears of grain swallowed by seven lean ears. Joseph interprets the dreams to mean that seven years of plenty will be followed by seven years of hunger, and advises Pharaoh to store grain during the plentiful years. Pharaoh appoints Joseph governor of Egypt. Joseph marries Asenat, daughter of Potiphar, and they have two sons,Menasseh and Ephraim.

Famine spreads throughout the region, and food can be obtained only in Egypt. Ten ofJoseph’s brothers come to Egypt to purchase grain; the youngest, Benjamin, stays home, for Jacob fears for his safety. Joseph recognizes his brothers, but they do not recognize him; he accuses them of being spies, insists that they bring Benjamin to prove that they are who they say they are, and imprisons Shimon as a hostage. Later, they discover that the money they paid for their provisions has been mysteriously returned to them.

Jacob agrees to send Benjamin only after Judah assumes personal and eternal responsibility for him. This time Joseph receives them kindly, releases Shimon, and invites them to an eventful dinner at his home. But then he plants his silver goblet, purportedly imbued with magic powers, in Benjamin’s sack. When the brothers set out for home the next morning they are pursued, searched, and arrested when the goblet is discovered. Joseph offers to set them free and retain only Benjamin as his slave.
Kislev 24, 5774 · November 27, 2013

The beginning of our Sidra, which tells in what appears to be excessive detail of the two dreams of Pharaoh, invites a number of questions. Why are these dreams recounted in the Torah at such length? What can we learn from the differences between Pharaoh’s dreams and the dreams of Joseph in last week’s Sidra? Do they characterize some fundamental contrast between the worlds which Joseph and Pharaoh represent? And if so, what is the implication for us?

1. Pharaoh’s Dreams

At the beginning of our Sidra, a long account is given of the dreams of Pharaoh—about the cows and the ears of corn—and the interpretation which Joseph gave them, that they were symbols of the years of plenty and of famine.

But why is this narration given at such length and in such detail? The point of the episode is simple: Joseph forecasted the seven years of plenty and the seven years of famine, and as a result became viceroy to Pharaoh in Egypt. What significant difference does it make, whether this came about through dreams and their interpretation, or by some other chain of events?

Even if the Torah wished to emphasize that it was specifically through Pharaoh’s dreams that Joseph obtained his position, it could have informed us of the fact without narrating every detail of the dreams.

2. The Influence of Joseph

The answer is, that Pharaoh’s dreams must be understood in the context in which they occurred. Pharaoh dreamed because of Joseph. In the previous Sidra we learned that Joseph received Divine communication through dreams. And Joseph was the heir to Jacob’s spiritual heritage, bringing to the world all that Jacob represented.1 He was, in short, a “collective soul,” the medium through which Divine emanations to the world must pass, the “righteous man who is the foundation of the world.” If to him the Divine revelation came through the medium of dreams, then this was to be the order in the world. So that when a communication was necessary for the world, and for Pharaoh, its ruler,2 it came to him in a dream.

3. The Jew and the World

This indicates a fundamental lesson about our service to G-d. When a Jew encounters severe challenges, from harmful attitudes and desires, he must realize that their ultimate source lies not in the world but in himself. It is not true that he must follow the world; neither is it true that in order to live a faithful Jewish existence one must make concessions to the world. The reverse is the case. The Jew himself creates the state of the world he inhabits. If his Judaism is tempered by an inner reluctance, this is mirrored in the world. But it is the nature of the world to conceal its spiritual source. So this fact, too, is concealed, and attitudes hostile to Judaism are sensed as coming from the outside, from the world at large, pulling the Jew away from his faith. But the truth is: The Jew is himself the author of these attitudes. Were he to change his own desires, from reluctance to affirmation, he would change the attitude of the world as well.

This is not all. Even where we cannot find the origin of such conflict within the Jew, because he is personally wholly free of conflict, then it is still because of the Jew that it occurs. For in him lies the purpose of creation. As the Rabbis said: The world was created in the beginning for the sake of Israel who are called the beginning of (G-d’s) produce.3 The conflict occurs as a test of the Jew’s inner strength. And if he refuses to be overwhelmed by it, it will turn out to have had no reality. Because the state of the world is dependent on the state of the Jew in his Judaism.

4.Differences Between Joseph’s and Pharaoh’s

Although Pharaoh’s dreams were dependent on the fact of Joseph’s dreams, they were radically different in their nature. Joseph’s dreams belonged to the realm of holiness; Pharaoh’s did not. Thus we find several distinctions between them, in their structure and detail.4

Firstly, Joseph’s dreams begin with an image of service, of bread earned by labor: “We were binding sheaves.” But this idea is wholly absent from the dreams of Pharaoh, in which food is seen as coming without any effort. Blessings which come from G-d to the Jew are good to the point of perfection.

Thus they must come in response to effort. For that which is received without having been worked for—the “bread of shame”—lacks something, namely, that man has been a partner in its creation. But that which derives from outside the realm of the holy—the food of which Pharaoh dreamt—is not wholly good, and can therefore sometimes come gratuitously, without effort.

Secondly, Joseph’s dreams represent a progression from lower to higher forms of perfection. They begin with “ears of corn”—individual ears, each separated from the next. They progress to “sheaves”—where things which were apart have been bound into a unity. And then, in the second dream, we pass to the sun, moon and stars—the things of the Heavens. Even at the physical level, sheaves are more valuable than ears, and jewels (the earthly counterpart of the stars5) more precious than sheaves.

But in Pharaoh’s dreams, the order is reversed: From cows we descend to corn, from the animal to the vegetable kingdom. The natural order would in any case have been the opposite, for the condition of the cows, both healthy and lean, would depend on whether they feed from rich or meager corn. Within each dream there is the same notion of descent or decline. First appear the healthy cows and corn, then the lean, to the point that the good is wholly consumed by the bad. And this order is preserved in their interpretation. First came the seven years of plenty, followed by the decline to the seven years of famine, until “all the plenty shall be forgotten, and the famine shall consume the land.” (The fact that after the years of hunger, prosperity returned, does not belong to Pharaoh’s dreams at all, but to the blessing of Jacob.)

5.The Sacred and the Secular: Stasis and

These differences between the dreams of Joseph and of Pharaoh disclose the difference between sanctity and its opposite. Sanctity is eternal and unchanging. In the realm of sanctity, if there are changes, they are always ascents, going “from strength to strength”—which is in truth not a change at all, but a more perfect realization of something which remains the same. And even though the Jewish people suffers vicissitudes, sometimes in the ascendant, sometimes in decline,6 these are not real changes. For the Jew always carries with him a single mission,7 and a single faith:8to fulfill the Torah and the Mitzvot, and to be elevated in sanctity. And since “where a man’s will is, there he is to be found”; since, moreover, the descent of the Jewish people is always for the sake of a subsequent elevation an “everlasting peace,” the fluctuations in Jewish history are not ultimately changes but “peace,” the absence of change. A single will and intention runs through them all.

Against this, the realm of unsanctity is subject to change, indeed, to continual decline. For whatever is not holy does not exist in and for itself. It is at most the means to an end, to test man and to evoke his highest powers of sanctity. The more man responds to the test, becomes strong and elevated in his service, the less he needs to be tested. And automatically, the existence of unsanctity becomes weaker, more tenuous. “When this one ascends, the other falls”9—as the realm of the holy is strengthened, the realm of the purely secular declines.

This is also the basic distinction between the Chanukah lights and the sacrifices of the festival of Succot. On Succot, seventy bullocks were sacrificed in the course of its seven days, representing the “seventy nations of the world.”10 And on each day a successively smaller number was offered up (from thirteen on the first day to seven on the seventh), representing a continual decrease or decline.11 But the lights of Chanukah signify sanctity: Thus each day sees an increase in the number of lights kindled. For holiness is always ascending.

6. Effort and Reward

From all this we learn a specific lesson. When a person believes that he can receive benefits or blessings without effort, merely as a result of certain natural causes, he can be sure that this belief derives from his “animal soul,” the unspiritual side of his nature. For at this level, there can indeed be benefit without effort. But he must equally be aware that the things of this realm are continually in a state of decline: He will, in the end, be left with nothing.12 Were he, on the other hand, to labor in the service of G-d, he would be assured of the promise, “You have toiled and you have found.” He will “find” from Heaven more than he has labored for. And always, as he progresses, he will be “ascending in holiness.”

(Source: Likkutei Sichot, Vol. III pp. 819-822)

1. Cf. Biurei HaZohar, 30a. Or Hatorah, 386a. Cf. also Likkutei Sichot, Vol. III, p. 832.
2. Cf. Targum Sheni on Megillat Esther at the beginning.
3. Otiot deRabbi Akiva—letter Beit. Seder Rabbah of Bereishit, 4. Vayikra Rabbah, 36:4. Tanchuma—Buber—3. Rashi, Ramban, on Bereishit 1:1.
4. Cf. supra p. 50 ff. (and notes).
5. Likkutei Torah, Re’eh, Vesamti Kadkod.
6. Additions to Torah Or, 118a.
7. The opposite is by evil, because only in their source is the intent for the sake of Heaven (Likkutei Torah, Chukat, 62a).
8. Rambam, Hilchot Gerushin, end of ch. 2.
9. Rashi, Bereishit 25:23. Tanya, Part I, ch. 13.
10. Sukkah, 55b, mentioned in Rashi, Bamidbar 29:18.
11. Sukkah, 47a; Rashi, Ibid.
12. Cf. Kunteres Uma’ayon, end of seventh discourse.
Adapted by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks; From the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe    More articles…  |   RSS Listing of Newest Articles by this Author
Kislev 24, 5774 · November 27, 2013
Mikeitz Aliya Summary

General Overview: Joseph interprets Pharaoh’s dreams, becomes viceroy over Egypt, and implements his plan to save the region from famine. Joseph is harsh with his brothers who come to Egypt to buy food, and demands that Benjamin be brought to Egypt. When Benjamin eventually comes he is framed and accused of theft.

First Aliyah: Pharaoh had a dream: seven fat cows arose from the Nile, followed by seven emaciated cows. The gaunt cows then consumed the robust ones. He then had a second dream, wherein seven healthy ears of grain were eaten by seven thin and parched ears. In the morning, none of Pharaoh’s wise men were capable of interpreting the dreams to Pharaoh’s satisfaction. Pharaoh’s butler approached and related his past jailhouse experience, when a Hebrew boy, Joseph, successfully interpreted dreams. Pharaoh ordered Joseph’s release, and he appeared before the king.

Second Aliyah: Pharaoh recounted his dreams to Joseph. Joseph told Pharaoh that both dreams contained a singular message: seven years of plenty were destined to come upon Egypt, followed by seven years of severe famine. Joseph proposed a plan to store the excess grain of the years of plenty, to serve as a reserve for the famine years to follow. Pharaoh was greatly impressed by Joseph’s wisdom.

Third Aliyah: Pharaoh appointed Joseph as viceroy of Egypt, and placed him in charge of the impending food collection operation. Thirty-year-old Joseph was placed second-in command of the Egyptian empire, accountable to no one but Pharaoh himself. Indeed, the seven years of plenty arrived as foretold by Joseph, and Joseph skillfully oversaw the collection of the surplus grain. Joseph married Osnat, the daughter of Poti-phera, and she bore him two sons: Manasseh and Ephraim.

Fourth Aliyah: Then the famine predicted by Joseph commenced, a grave famine that affected Egypt and the entire Mediterranean region. Exactly as planned, Joseph had sufficient stores of food, which he personally sold to all who needed. Meanwhile, in nearby Canaan, Joseph’s father, Jacob, dispatched his eldest ten sons – all of them excepting Benjamin – to Egypt to purchase food provisions. The brothers arrived and stood before Joseph, but did not recognize him, as his boyish appearance had changed in the interim years. When the brothers broached their request to purchase food, Joseph dealt with them harshly, accused them of espionage, and incarcerated them all for three days.

Fifth Aliyah: On the third day, Joseph released them all, aside for Simon, whom he held hostage. He bid the rest of the brothers to return to Canaan and return with their youngest brother, Benjamin, and thus establish their innocence. The brothers recognized that this was punishment for the sale of Joseph, and expressed regret for their deed. Joseph instructed his servants to place the monies the brothers had paid for the food in the sacks of grain they were given. The brothers arrived back in Canaan and recounted the entire episode to Jacob. Jacob was highly disturbed by the happenings, and initially refused to send Benjamin, unwilling to consider the possibility of losing Rachel’s only remaining son. Eventually, though, after the food provisions ran low, and Judah personally guaranteed Benjamin’s safe return, Jacob acceded to send him. He sent them to Egypt with a prayer on his lips, and armed with a gift for the Egyptian ruler.

Sixth Aliyah: The brothers arrived in Egypt. Joseph instructed his palace supervisor to invite the brothers to join him for the afternoon repast. The brothers arrived at Joseph’s residence where they were reunited with Simon. Joseph arrived, and the brothers presented him with the gift they had prepared, and they exchanged pleasantries.

Seventh Aliyah: Upon seeing his brother Benjamin, Joseph was overcome with emotion, which he concealed. The brothers sat down and enjoyed a feast, and Joseph presented them all with gifts—Benjamin’s gift greater than all the others’. In the morning the brothers departed, but not before Joseph had his royal goblet planted in Benjamin’s sack of food. Joseph then dispatched a posse to confront the brothers and “uncover” the planted goblet. The brothers were all brought back to Joseph, who demanded that the “thief,” Benjamin alone, remain behind as his slave.


Torah Reading for Mikeitz

Genesis 41:1-44:17
1st Portion | 2nd Portion | 3rd Portion | 4th Portion | 5th Portion | 6th Portion | 7th Portion   |   Complete Reading

Chapter 41

1. It came to pass at the end of two full years, that Pharaoh was dreaming, and behold, he was standing by the Nile. א. וַיְהִי מִקֵּץ שְׁנָתַיִם יָמִים וּפַרְעֹה חֹלֵם וְהִנֵּה עֹמֵד עַל הַיְאֹר:
2. And behold, from the Nile were coming up seven cows, of handsome appearance and robust flesh, and they pastured in the marshland. ב. וְהִנֵּה מִן הַיְאֹר עֹלֹת שֶׁבַע פָּרוֹת יְפוֹת מַרְאֶה וּבְרִיאֹת בָּשָׂר וַתִּרְעֶינָה בָּאָחוּ:
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. ג. וְהִנֵּה שֶׁבַע פָּרוֹת אֲחֵרוֹת עֹלוֹת אַחֲרֵיהֶן מִן הַיְאֹר רָעוֹת מַרְאֶה וְדַקּוֹת בָּשָׂר וַתַּעֲמֹדְנָה אֵצֶל הַפָּרוֹת עַל שְׂפַת הַיְאֹר:
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. ד. וַתֹּאכַלְנָה הַפָּרוֹת רָעוֹת הַמַּרְאֶה וְדַקֹּת הַבָּשָׂר אֵת שֶׁבַע הַפָּרוֹת יְפֹת הַמַּרְאֶה וְהַבְּרִיאֹת וַיִּיקַץ פַּרְעֹה:
5. And he fell asleep and dreamed again, and behold, seven ears of grain were growing on one stalk, healthy and good. ה. וַיִּישָׁן וַיַּחֲלֹם שֵׁנִית וְהִנֵּה | שֶׁבַע שִׁבֳּלִים עֹלוֹת בְּקָנֶה אֶחָד בְּרִיאוֹת וְטֹבוֹת:
6. And behold, seven ears of grain, thin and beaten by the east wind, were growing up after them. ו. וְהִנֵּה שֶׁבַע שִׁבֳּלִים דַּקּוֹת וּשְׁדוּפֹת קָדִים צֹמְחוֹת אַחֲרֵיהֶן:
7. And the thin ears of grain swallowed up the seven healthy and full ears of grain; then Pharaoh awoke, and behold, a dream. ז. וַתִּבְלַעְנָה הַשִּׁבֳּלִים הַדַּקּוֹת אֵת שֶׁבַע הַשִּׁבֳּלִים הַבְּרִיאוֹת וְהַמְּלֵאוֹת וַיִּיקַץ פַּרְעֹה וְהִנֵּה חֲלוֹם:
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. ח. וַיְהִי בַבֹּקֶר וַתִּפָּעֶם רוּחוֹ וַיִּשְׁלַח וַיִּקְרָא אֶת כָּל חַרְטֻמֵּי מִצְרַיִם וְאֶת כָּל חֲכָמֶיהָ וַיְסַפֵּר פַּרְעֹה לָהֶם אֶת חֲלֹמוֹ וְאֵין פּוֹתֵר אוֹתָם לְפַרְעֹה:
9. Now the chief cupbearer spoke with Pharaoh, saying, “I call to mind my faults today. ט. וַיְדַבֵּר שַׂר הַמַּשְׁקִים אֶת פַּרְעֹה לֵאמֹר אֶת חֲטָאַי אֲנִי מַזְכִּיר הַיּוֹם:
10. Pharaoh was angry with his servants, and he put me in prison, in the house of the chief slaughterer, me and the chief baker. י. פַּרְעֹה קָצַף עַל עֲבָדָיו וַיִּתֵּן אֹתִי בְּמִשְׁמַר בֵּית שַׂר הַטַּבָּחִים אֹתִי וְאֵת שַׂר הָאֹפִים:
11. And we dreamed a dream on the same night, I and he; each one according to the interpretation of his dream, we dreamed. יא. וַנַּחַלְמָה חֲלוֹם בְּלַיְלָה אֶחָד אֲנִי וָהוּא אִישׁ כְּפִתְרוֹן חֲלֹמוֹ חָלָמְנוּ:
12. And there with us was a Hebrew lad, a slave of the chief slaughterer, and we told him, and he interpreted our dreams for us; [for] each [of us], he interpreted according to his dream. יב. וְשָׁם אִתָּנוּ נַעַר עִבְרִי עֶבֶד לְשַׂר הַטַּבָּחִים וַנְּסַפֶּר לוֹ וַיִּפְתָּר לָנוּ אֶת חֲלֹמֹתֵינוּ אִישׁ כַּחֲלֹמוֹ פָּתָר:
13. And it came to pass that just as he had interpreted, so it was; me he restored to my position, and him he hanged.” יג. וַיְהִי כַּאֲשֶׁר פָּתַר לָנוּ כֵּן הָיָה אֹתִי הֵשִׁיב עַל כַּנִּי וְאֹתוֹ תָלָה:
14. So Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they rushed him from the dungeon, and he shaved and changed his clothes, and he [then] came to Pharaoh. יד. וַיִּשְׁלַח פַּרְעֹה וַיִּקְרָא אֶת יוֹסֵף וַיְרִיצֻהוּ מִן הַבּוֹר וַיְגַלַּח וַיְחַלֵּף שִׂמְלֹתָיו וַיָּבֹא אֶל פַּרְעֹה:
The text on this page contains sacred literature. Please do not deface or discard.
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