Mikeitz Archive

Parshas Mikeitz

וישלח פרעה ויקרא את יוסף ויריצוהו מן הבור (מא:יד).

“Pharaoh sent to call for Yosef and they rushed him out of jail…” (41:14).

What is the message being conveyed here regarding the fact that Yosef was rushed out of jail? Why is this important?
The Chafetz Chaim says that we see expressed here an important principle. There is a time for everything that happens. Whether it is for the good or bad, there is an exact moment that Hashem starts the event and a precise moment that He ends it. Therefore, in our verse, Yosef was decreed to be in prison for a particular amount of time and the moment that he completed that sentence Hashem rushed him out so that he would not remain imprisoned for an instant longer. This is an axiom of our Jewish faith.

In The Blink of an Eye
So it will be with our future redemption as well. The Gemara in Sanhedrin (98a) states that there are two times that Mashiach can come. The verse in Isaiah (60:22) says, “Ani Hashem ba’eta achishena, I am Hashem, in its (the redemption’s) allotted time, I will speed it up to come.” These two terms are not a contradiction, rather they express the two possible times of arrival. If Klal Yisrael are worthy, then “I will speed it up, and bring it early” but if not, then, it will come “in its allotted time,” there is a set time by which Mashiach must arrive.

Deeper Message
The Daas Sofer asks, why does the verse list these times backward? The earlier time of arrival (if we are worthy) should be offered before the later set time. So why does the verse say the set time, ba’eta (allotted time) first? He answers with the principle that we have thus established. The verse is saying that whenever Mashiach is deemed appropriate to come, it will be rushed and not delayed for even a moment. Thus, the verse needed to be written in its present order so that the word “achishena, I will speed its arrival” would connect to ba’eta as well. It is read to say: Either achishena, I will rush Mashiach to bring him early or if Hashem-forbid you are not worthy I will bring him ba’eta, by the allotted time, but nevertheless, ba’eta achishena, I will rush him to come precisely then and not a second later!

Auspicious Timing
It once happened at a wedding that the wine was poured for the officiating Rabbi to hold and pronounce the blessings on when suddenly it spilled from his hand. The cup was quickly refilled only to be spilled once again. After the third occasion that the goblet tipped over a nervous murmur descended upon those congregated. Some speculated that perhaps it was an ominous sign that the wedding should be called off. There was a feeling of apprehension in the crowd with palpable tension in the air. The Rabbi then spoke up, “Until now, the time was not yet right”, he proclaimed, “it was too early for the young couple to become husband and wife. Now however, the proper time has arrived and everything will be fine”. The guests were calmed and the wedding ceremony continued with great joy!
Whatever the situation we find ourselves in, we must know that every second of our enjoyment or Hashem-forbid our troubles has been weighed out with great precision by the Master of the Universe.

Mikeitz and Chanukah

Very often, Parshas Mikeitz coincides with Chanukah (as it does this year). What is the connection? I will leave you with a few short thoughts:

-Yosef HaTzaddik was put in jail because he refused to sin with his master’s wife. The entire time there, he made it known that he was a faithful Jew and refused to turn away from his religion. When he stood before Pharaoh, he announced, “it is not I who interprets dreams, it is Hashem who gives me wisdom”. Yosef represents the Jew in Galus who remains strong to his faith and refuses to be influenced by the Goyim.
This is what Chanukah is all about. The Jews fought for the preservation of their religion. They refused to be integrated into the Greek culture that was antithetical to Hashem and His Torah.
This is also the idea behind the oil which we light. Oil separates from other liquids, it maintains its independence. So too, the Jews stayed separate from the outside culture.
-The Midrash states that the opening words of Parshas Mikeitz, hint to, “ketz som l’choshech, Hashem places an end to the darkness”. Evil and troubles are represented by darkness. Good and salvation are represented by light. Hashem set a limit on the troubles of Yosef in jail and sent the light, salvation, and redeemed him. So too, Hashem waits to shed light (Mashiach) upon our troubles as well.
This is the exact theme of Chanukah! Maharal states that we light the Menorah specifically at this time of the year, during the winter as is the darkest. This shows that Judaism will bring light to even the darkest of all places. We specifically light as the last people are leaving the public marketplace, to show that we will shed light for everyone.
-Yosef is described as finding “chane, favor” in the eyes of those that he interacted with. His passion for Hashem permeated his existence and made others trust and adore him. The word “Chane, charm” is the root of the word “Chanukah”. Chanukah is a time of appreciation for the beauty and excitement of Judaism. Also, when we follow Hashem and His Mitzvos, we are enveloped by a beauty and charm that is seen by all!

Uplifting Service

ופרעה חולם והנה עומד על היאור (מא:א).
“And Pharaoh dreamt that he was standing on the Nile…” (41:1).

We know that the Nile was considered the Egyptian god. Why was Pharaoh standing on top of his god?
The Midrash (Bereishis Rabbah 69:3) points out from here that evil people try to stand above their gods! On the other hand, righteous people have their God stand above them. By Avraham it states, “behold Hashem was standing above him”.
This Midrash is fascinating and deserves our attention. What is the significance of standing above or below?
When you stand on something, like a ladder, it is generally for the purpose of allowing yourself to get higher through it.
The Midrash is stating that their are two approaches towards service. One can serve like Avraham or like Pharaoh. Avraham saw himself as a conduit for raising Hashem’s name in the world. That’s why he had Hashem stand above him! Avraham’s goal was to raise Hashem! Pharaoh was interested in his own power and desires, thus he used his religion as a means towards self-aggrandizement and the fulfillment of his own personal agenda. He thereby stood on top of his god. He used his god to higher himself.
Let us follow in Avraham’s ways and invite Hashem to stand over us!

פרשת מקץ וחנוכה
Yosef HaTzaddik and Chanukah

After Yosef interpreted the dreams for Pharaoh, he was appointed to be second-in-command to lead Egypt in preparing for the famine. Yosef was named “Tzafnas (hidden things) Paneiach (he revealed)” by Pharaoh on account of his exposing the secret message of Pharaoh’s enigmatic dreams. The commentators ask that linguistically Yosef’s name should have been “Paneiach Tzafun, the revealer of what was hidden,” why was it reversed?
The Shlah HaKadosh writes that each Parsha connects to the time of the year in which it falls out. What then does Chanukah have to do with Parshas Mikeitz? I believe that one answer sheds light on all of this!
Yosef HaTzaddik was up for the biggest challenge of his life in Egypt. He was a healthy 17 year old when he was thrust into the house of Potifar and his master’s wife tried to get him to sin. Yosef had to conjure up all of his moral strength and resolve in order to fight off the temptation for one entire year. Even after that, Chazal tell us that Mrs. Potifar would come by the jail and offer to get Yosef out if he agreed to sin with her. Twelve years went by and Yosef stayed strong to his convictions. The Midrash (Bereishis Rabbah 90:3) says that in the merit of his princely achievement of self-control, he was rewarded accordingly by Hashem with rulership. Every part of him that did not sin got a royal reward. His body which he did not give to sin, was dressed in royal clothes. His mind that pushed away sin, was rewarded with wisdom and insight.
Yosef’s internal strength and efforts were what brought him to greatness. This is why his name stressed the idea of the hidden arena (Tzafnas, hidden). As the Chovos HaLevavos defines the study of personal growth, “Chachmas HaMatzpun, the personal development of internal recognition.” Yosef’s name stressed his focus on the internal conviction to follow truth in a most deep and intimate way. Chazal (Moed Katan 16b) say that one who practices Torah in private, will be rewarded before all in public. It was because of Yosef’s internal conviction (Tzafnas, hidden) that he was granted public greatness (Paneiach, revealed).
The Jews at the time of Chanukah were wavering in their commitment to Hashem. Sources state that one third of the Jews were Hellenized and joined the Greek way of life to avoid persecution and to pursue hedonistic “pleasure.” It was only when the Jews came together and dedicated their hearts and lives to the service of Hashem, then they were granted a most impossible victory against their enemy. When they repossessed the Holy Temple, their first desire was to light up pure oil in the Menorah. This signifies the pure and untouchable internal passion of the Jews. The hidden lights of the truly committed Jewish Nation shined forth and the Jews expressed their conviction to the world. Once again, the hidden (love and dedication to Hashem) became revealed. May we too shine forth this Chanukah with our internal commitment to Hashem and to each other!

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