Torah Reflections; Lessons in the weekly Torah portion and topics of Judaism, spirituality, observance and tradition

Torah Reflections from Torah Readers

Divrai Torah, weekly Torah portion summaries, lessons and essays on topics of Judaism, spirituality, observance and tradition.

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Parashat Mikeitz

For the week of Fri 23rd Dec 2022 - כ״ט בְּכִסְלֵו תשפ״ג
Chanukah day 5
Parashat Miketz

Immutable Points in time

Do we have free will to define our lives, or are our lives predefined by the divine? If we don't have freewill then what of the freedom to do good and evil? The freedom to make good choices and bad choices? This is one of the greatest paradoxes of religious life: the contradiction between free will and divine providence.

Did you know that...

According to the Midrash; The people of Egypt grumbled, "A slave has become Lord over us!".
In order to appease them, Pharaoh gave Joseph Potifar's daughter, Osnat, for a wife. This act also cleared Joseph of any suspicion that he had sinned with Potifar's wife, for if he had, Potifar for sure would not have agreed to give his daughter to Joseph in marriage.
In fact Osnat was not Potifar's daughter by birth but had been adopted by him. Osnat was Deena's daughter from Sechem, who was driven out of Jacobs house. Jacob had tied an inscription around her neck stating who her parents were. The text of the inscription ended with, "Whoever marries this girl, marries one of jacob's family".God's angel brought Osnat to Egypt, to Potifar's house where he was raised.
As a reward for having refrained from sinning with Potifar's wife, Joseph was destined to marry Osnat.

Parasha Summary

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The parasha of Miketz is the second of four parshiot that deals with the story of Joseph. In this installment we follow Joseph's rags to riches story. From prison to the the position of viceroy of Egypt - second only to Pharaoh.

The portion opens with Joseph languishing in prison for two extra years following his interpretation of the butler's dream. Pharaoh has his two dreams and none of his aids can successfully interpret them. It is at this point that the butler remembers Joseph.

Joseph is washed, clothed and brought before Pharaoh where he successfully interprets the dream. and makes suggestions of how to manage the impending famine.

Joseph is made viceroy of Egypt, second only to Pharaoh.

The seven years of famine begin, and the only food available is in Egypt. Joseph's brothers come to Egypt looking for food and brought before Joseph. Joseph recognizes the brothers however they don't recognize him. He accuses them of treachery and imprisons them for three days.

Joseph demands that Benjamin be brought to Egypt and keeps Shimon as a hostage. The brothers return and tell Jacob of the demand however Jacob is unwilling to send Benjamin with them. The increasing famine forces Jacob to concede. Judah guarantees that Benjamin will be safe, and the brothers return to Egypt.

The brothers are reunited with Shimon and invited to eat at the table of Joseph. All appears to be forgiven and Joseph sees Benjamin for the first time in 22 years. Joseph implements a plot against his brothers. He has his cup planted in Benjamin's saddlebag forcing the brothers to return to Egypt and face a very angry Joseph.

Second Opinion

Opinions, Essays, Cultural Observances

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year (for FOMO)”

Some Jews celebrate Christmas. Some Jews are absolutely obsessed with Christmas. Many Jews seem to have FOMO (fear of missing out) when it comes to Christmas. Some blend the lines between two diametrically opposed holidays that have nothing in common.

The Last Word

Social Religous, Cultural and Political Commentary

Living the dream

The old slave thought bitterly about a childhood dream that turned his life into a constant nightmare. Every day he gets up early, works hard until exhaustion and nothing he does is really appreciated, he is considered subhuman. He has nothing of his own. Everything could have been different; if he only knew how to keep his mouth shut.
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