Parashat Mikeitz (from the end) Genesis 41:1-44:17
Maftir: Numbers 7:48-59
Haftarah: Zechariah 2:14-4:7
This Shabbat is also the seventh day of Chanukah. Although the normal parashah is read, the Maftir and the Haftarah are changed to reflect the festival. Last week the Torah reading began to focus on Joseph. Joseph endured much suffering and persecution, despite the fact that he was faithful. Although he had spent several years in a prison (12 years) and was forced to endure hard labor, a day of deliverance was about to happen. This day took place exactly two years after the Chief Cupbearer was released from prison. Joseph had interpreted the dream that foretold that he would be restored to his position.
When this same Chief Cupbearer heard that Pharaoh had a dream that he wanted interpreted, he remembered Joseph. It is not an accident that this incident took place two years after his release nor is it a coincidence that Joseph rode in the second chariot of Pharaoh. The number two can convey a few different thoughts to the reader. The first is that of a “choice” and the second is “submissiveness”. Choice is rooted the fact there are only two things in this world, good and evil, and HaShem commanded us to choose the good. Secondly, submissiveness can also be related to the number two, because number two is called to submit to number one. In regard to Joseph, although he was put in charge over the land, he still had to submit to Pharaoh.
Ultimately, Joseph did not serve Pharaoh, but the true number one, HaShem. For it is only when we bring all of our choices under His authority are we reflecting that we are His people. Pharaoh recognized that the Spirit of G-d was in Joseph, and therefore commanded that Joseph would rule over all. This position carried with it the responsibility that Egypt would be in a better condition because of Joseph’s leadership.
Pharaoh actually had two dreams, but Joseph rightly understood that both dreams had the same message, namely that there would be seven good years to be followed by seven bad years. Joseph understood a critical Biblical principle: one cannot always avoid evil; rather the man of G-d is called to overcome evil with good. This is exactly what Joseph did. He utilized the good that HaShem provided to overcome the evil that followed.
This fact teaches us an important Scriptural truth; G-d provides the resources His people need to overcome the bad times, but one must be a good steward of His resources, so that they are available when they are needed. The problem is all too often believers do not give enough thought to the future. They live for the moment, failing to realize that difficult times are always ahead.
The text tells the reader that Joseph had the Spirit of G-d within him in order to reveal to us that without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit it is impossible to be a good steward and be the over-comers that HaShem expects His people to be. The final point that I would like to bring out from this text is that Joseph’s obedience blessed numerous other people as well. In the end, Joseph took care of His family, Israel, and when Israel is blessed so too are all the nations.
Shabbat Shalom and Happy Chanukah
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