Weekly Reading Insights: Miketz 5766


Overview of the Weekly Reading: Miketz

To be read on 30 Kislev 5766 (Dec.31)

Torah: Genesis 41:1-44:17, Numbers 28:9-15 (Rosh Chodesh) Ibid. 7:42-47 (Chanukah-6th day);
Haftorah: Zachariah 2:14-4:7; Isaiah 66:1, 66:25 (Rosh Chodesh); I Samuel 20:18, 20:42 (Erev Rosh Chodesh)

Miketz is the 10th Reading out of 12 in Genesis and 10th overall, and 4th out of 54 in overall length.

Miketz 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.


From the holy Zohar, teachings of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (Z:1066/Miketz)

[It is the] river from which all of the levels below are blessed, because this river is drawn down and goes forth to irrigate and nourish them all. Joseph is the river for whom all of Egypt was blessed.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

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From the holy Ari, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria of Safed (A:1066/Miketz)

Therefore Joseph said to Benjamin, "What spiritual level do you personify? I know that you embody neither of the two sides [who are party to the spiritual union], for you do not embody any partzuf whatsoever, neither masculine nor feminine."

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From Rabbi Chaim (ben Moshe) Ibn Atar (S:1066/Miketz)

The purpose of the various exiles is to isolate elements of holiness which are scattered within various branches of the kelipa, the "peel" surrounding the kernel which is all sanctity. Inasmuch as Egypt was full of abominations [manifestations of such kelipa] and impurity had its "headquarters" in that country, it was no more than natural that many such segments of sanctity were scattered throughout that country. In fact, the amounts of such scattered segments of sanctity are usually proportionate to the amount of impurity and defilement that abound in a certain area or environment.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.



"Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion; for behold I come, and I will dwell in your midst, says the L-rd." (from the haftorah, Zech. 2:14)
Our Sages taught that the Divine Presence only rests upon someone who is joyful. G-d therefore advises the Jewish people to rejoice, as preparation for His presence among them.
(Tzavarei Shalal)


"Yaakov learned that there were provisions in Egypt" [42:1]
Yaakov saw that there were sparks of extremely elevated holiness in Egypt that fell there at the time of the "breaking of the vessels" and this is the meaning of "provisions in Egypt" [the Hebrew term used here for provisions-shever- is the same as the word for 'break']. This is why he told his sons to go to Egypt, in order to elevate those sparks to their divine source.
from the Maggid of Mezritch [translated from Sichat HaShavuah 207]


from the Chabad Master series, produced by Rabbi Yosef Marcus for

www.ascentofsafed.com and www.kabbalaonline.org



"For behold, I will bring My servant Tzemach." (from the haftorah, Zech. 3:8)
Why is Mashiach referred to by this name, which means "branch"? To emphasize that even though it may seem as if the branches of the royal House of David have been cut off, the "root" still exists, and when the proper time arrives, Mashiach, a descendent of King David, will be revealed. In the same way that a root can lie dormant and concealed for many years, yet germinate and develop into an entire tree under the right conditions, so too will Mashiach arise to redeem the Jewish people when G-d determines the right time has come.


"At the end (keitz) of two years…" (Gen. 41:4)
Hashem set the time (keitz) in advance for when Yosef would be set free. Hashem also set the time for when everything else will happen. He set the time for the Geulah (Mashiach redemption); the time for techiyas hameisim (when the dead will come back to life); and the time when He will take away the yetzer hara (evil impulse). The same way Yosef's time came, so too our time will come, and we will have Mashiach and the redemption very, very soon!

[Reprinted with permission from L'Chaim Magazine (www.lchaim.org).]

An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent

(for a free weekly email subscription, click here) (W:1066/Miketz)

Nearly all Jewish holidays, including Shabbat, center around festive meals. The only exception is Chanukah, where by Rabbinical decree, the lighting of the candles is not only the primary celebration, it is the only celebration. This serves to focus our attention on the miracle of the oil staying lit for eight days, and not on the military victory over the Greeks.

The Greeks did not seek to kill us; they sought to make us accept their philosophies (see the "al hanisim" prayer added in the amidah and in Grace after meals). The basis of Greek and other secular philosophy is to only accept ideas compatible with human intellect. Anything incomprehensible to the intellect is out. Therefore, the Greeks denied G-d's providence and the Torah commandments-'Does the Creator really care if we eat meat with milk, or not?'--Judaism teaches that G-d is higher than any level of wisdom and knowledge, that no thought can contain the Almighty at all, even the most lofty. The whole purpose of our ability to think is to understand that our intellect IS limited, and to believe in the basic foundations of the Torah. The miracle of Chanukah is G-dly wisdom superseding human intellect.

This is the message of the Chanukah candles. Just as the number of candles increase night by night as more and more light dispels the darkness, so we are also empowered to increase the use of our intellect to reveal Godliness in the world. Chanuka candles shine outwards, to be seen by others, so too each of us should also be like candles shining outwards, examples of positive action to others.

The beginning of Parshat Miketz is similar to last week's parsha, Vayeshev, in that both relay dreams: first the dreams of Yosef, then the dreams of Pharaoh himself. All of these dreams were instrumental in the moving of Jacob's children to Egypt, which evolved into the Egyptian exile. This first exile is the root of all the other exiles until the coming of the Mashiach. What is the connection between a dream and exile? While we often dream about events currently happening in our lives, dreams use our power of imagination, allowing us to connect two opposites and make the impossible into reality. When we wake from sleep, the intellect takes control. Exile is the same. Exile is a dream. To us it appears we love G-d, but our actions prove that we love ourselves even more and will go so far as to even violate G-d's will-we do the impossible! How do we remove ourselves from this dream, this exile? The answer is to wake up, to see the truth that there is a G-d who cares how we act. This will hasten Mashiach's arrival.

There is a big difference between the dreams of Yosef who represents holiness, and Pharaoh who represents klipah, the antithesis and concealment of holiness. Yosef's dreams began with 'We were sheaving sheaves', emphasizing how everyone was working. Not so in Pharaoh's dreams, where there is no aspect of work, only the images of cows and corn. This comparison indicates that with holiness, there is no free lunch; Holiness is always rising. Therefore its positive results come only through effort. With klipah, there is no need for toil; it's all downhill and diminishing. The reason is that klipah is not an independent existence. It only exists to test a person in the fulfillment of his mission and deter him from revealing his inner strengths. When someone succeeds in overcoming the obstacles, in conquering the klipah, the klipah no longer has a purpose and therefore ceases to exist. May our efforts succeed and may we merit to light the menorah in the Third Temple with Mashiach this Chanukah.

Shabbat Shalom and Happy Chanukah, Shaul

P.S. Please also read my weekly Shabbat Law, below.)

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