Weekly Reading Insights: Miketz 5768
Miketz, 10th out of 12 in Genesis, 10th overall, 4th out of 54 in overall length.
opens with two dreams of Pharaoh. In the first, seven lean cows swallow seven
fat cows; and in the second, seven thin stalks of grain swallowing seven fat stalks.
No one could interpret the dream, but finally the butler recalled Yosef who was
summoned from the dungeon and made presentable. He interpreted that both dreams
foretold of seven years of agricultural plenty that would be followed by seven
years of famine. Yosef suggested that Pharaoh seek an administrator to supervise
food storage food during the years of plenty to preserve for the famine. Realizing
that the wisest man for the task was Yosef himself, Pharaoh appointed him viceroy,
named him Tzafnat Paneach, and married him to Osnat with whom he had two sons,
Menashe and Efraim. Yosef built storage cities during the years of plenty. The
years of famine eventually arrive all over the world drawing people to Egypt to
purchase stored food. So too, Yaacov's sons came to Egypt, excluding Benyamin.
Yosef recognized his brothers though they didn't recognize him. He pretended to
be angry and accused them of spying the land to attack it. To prove their innocence,
Yosef told them they must bring their youngest brother, Benyamin, to Egypt and
kept Shimon hostage until their return. Yosef wept when overhearing his brothers
conclude that the episode was punishment for having sold Yosef years before. Upon
relaying to Yaacov what happened, he was grieved, but reluctantly allowed his
sons, this time including Benyamin, to return to Egypt when their food supply
depleted. This time, they bring a gift for Yosef. After seeing that Benyamin also
arrived, Yosef asked that a meal be prepared for himself to eat with his brothers.
Upon meeting them, Yosef asked about his father, and hid his tears when meeting
Benyamin. After the meal, Yosef instructed that his brothers' packs be filled
with food, and in Benyamin's money and Yosef's 'magic' chalice should be replaced
in his pack. After the brothers left the city, Yosef's men pursued them to catch
Benyamin with his 'theft'. The brothers were brought back before Yosef who declared
that Benyamin must remain in Egypt as his slave as punishment for stealing.
An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent
(for a free weekly email subscription, click here) (L:1068/Miketz)
The Baal Shem Tov explains the Midrash as follows: As long as a person's evil inclination, his or her desire to do negative things, exists, it is like being in prison, because they can not freely serve G-d. Pitch blackness and the shadow of death characterize their reality.
The great Rabbi Yitzchak Luria, the Arizal of Safed, describes this in connection with the concept of the extraction of "divine sparks" from the physical aspects of the world with which we come into contact. These sparks were originally part of supernal spiritual "vessels" that were shattered, and their shards became the inner dimension of this physical plane. Our purpose is to extract and elevate these sparks from the inanimate, vegetable, animal and human spheres, and return them to their source on high. This is the Torah way of life and is true in every aspect of the things we do, from mitzvah observance to what we think about when we eat.
The Baal Shem Tov continues saying something revolutionary: The divine spark that exists in every part of the physical world, but particularly in the inanimate and vegetable kingdoms, is made up of the same 248 spiritual limbs and 365 spiritual veins, arteries and sinews that are the spiritual make up of a human person, of which the body is its physical mirror image! As long as this spark is confined in the physical object, it is like a person in prison! And the individual who is able, through thoughts and intentions, to extract and elevate these sparks is fulfilling the Torah commandment of redeeming captives! How much more, if we imagine that these divine sparks are very dear to the King of Kings, that it they are like His son, the prince, who is imprisoned, than how much merit will come to the prince's redeemer!
Who is it that will make an end to the darkness? Just as the Almighty decides when Mashiach will come, so also it is a divine judgment how long each spark will be imprisoned, when it will merit to be released and who will be the vehicle for that redemption to happen. When an opportunity presents itself, do not let it sour. You have been chosen by the King of Kings to redeem the spark from exile.
Shabbat Shalom and Happy Chanuka, Shaul
P.S. Please also read my weekly Shabbat Law, below.
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"Suddenly, seven fat, handsome cows emerged from the Nile... Then, just as suddenly, seven other cows emerged after them, very badly formed and emaciated." (41:18-19)
Pharoah's dream, in which he dreamt of two opposites, is like the exile. In exile we are faced with opposites all the time. One minute we pursue eternal, spiritual goals and the next minute we want things that are mundane and transitory. When the Redemption comes we will no longer feel this dichotomy. We will see how the purpose of everything in the world is purely for holiness and G-dliness.
are three sets of two dreams in this Reading.)
from the Chabad Master series, produced by Rabbi Yosef Marcus for
www.ascentofsafed.com and www.kabbalaonline.org
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See our Kabbalah site, KabbalaOnline.org
for an overview of the recommended articles in the columns:
Ari: Time for Tikun
Joseph had prophetic vision, and he knew that the Egyptians were the sparks of holy souls which Adam had discharged by wasting his seed in the 130 years prior to the birth of his son Seth. Initially, these souls had been incarnated in the time of the Flood. However, they too wantonly spilled their seed upon the earth. They were then reincarnated in the generation of the Tower of Babel but again they did not rectify the sin of Adam and the following generations. Now, once again, they had been reincarnated as Egyptians.
Joseph therefore decreed that the Egyptians be circumcised, in order to rectify this blemish produced in the place of the holy covenant. After the circumcision they began to be rectified to a degree, and during the subsequent 130-year period [prior to the birth of Moses] they were reincarnated in as Israelites. It is for this reason that the Israelites were sentenced to hard labor, in order to rectify, refine and purify them, and particularly to rectify the sin of the generation of the Tower of Babel who built the Tower from mortar and bricks.
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another selection of recommended Kabbalah articles on a variety of subjects,
By Mordechai Brown, from "Lights of Chanukah"
The Chanukah lamp
is here to console us in the long dismal night of exile. It reminds us of the
Menorah in the Holy Temple and of G-d saying to us, "Although the actual
Menorah is gone, I left you an impression of it." This impression is the
Chanukah lamp, and it will last until He sends the Mashiach to redeem us and build
the Holy Temple.
This should console each one of us in our personal exile. Although at times we lose some particular holiness, we must not despair, because G-d is guarding the impression of that holiness in the depths of our hearts and we will some day regain it.
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