Insight on the Weekly Torah Reading: Miketz



   
             
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The Meaning of Success

By Michael Chessen

The story of Joseph and his brothers occupies a very unique niche in the book of Genesis. The dramatic turn-about in the fortunes of all concerned, and the "apparent" absence of direct heavenly intervention in the unfolding of the narrative, invites comparisons to the book of Esther. However, whereas the book of Esther does not directly mention the name of God, in last week's Torah reading of V'yeshev and this week's Miketz, Joseph illuminates some of the spiritual darkness by very deliberately mentioning God and His divine providence. Because of this, the story of Joseph and his brothers is quite appropriate to the holiday of Chanukah.

Upon Pharaoh's summoning Joseph from the dungeon, Joseph chooses not to boast of his powers of divination, but attributes whatever insights that he may be able to offer to the grace of God. Whereas the later Pharaoh who enslaves the children of Israel will "not know Joseph" and will ultimately ask "who is God?", the current Pharaoh, in praising Joseph, actually offers praise of God. However, disseminating awareness of God among Joseph's brothers is certainly much more important than doing so among the Egyptians. And Joseph realizes that it will take more than a bit of "soothsaying" to ascertain that his brothers have indeed repented of the sins which they had committed in selling him into slavery. Accordingly, Joseph causes his brothers to "relive" the experience of selling him in order to retroactively convert their past actions of ill intent into something positive.

The holiday of Chanukah is one in which we daily praise God by reciting the verses known as the "Hallel". Whereas each occasion for saying Hallel perhaps causes us to give special concentration to one special section which aptly expresses something inherent in the special character of that day, on Chanukah we should probably give special attention to the verse in which we beseech God to "help us succeed". May it be God's will to facilitate our success in emulating Joseph in the sanctification of God's name among Jew and gentile alike.

Wishing you all a Shabbat Shalom!

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