Musings of an Orthodox Jew

Thoughts on Torah and the Jewish world today.

Pashas Mikeitz 5771: Actions towards repentance

QUESTION
Yosef’s actions towards his brothers are designed to help them do teshuvah for their actions against him How does he do this?

This weeks Parsha: Mikeitz Bereishis (Genesis) 41:1-44:17

Answer
From Midrash d’Rav Alshich

The five ways the brothers sinned against Yosef are:
1) They had been guilty of hating Yosef and speaking to him hatefully
2) They had plotted to kill him by setting wild dogs on him
3) They had thrown him in a pit
4) They had sold him, an innocent person, into slavery
5) They had caused grief to their father.

In return Yosef’s actions were to highlight these sins and offer atonement for them
1) Yosef spoke harshly to them when they met
2) Since they had tried to kill him without layign a hand on them Yosef accussed them of being spies for which they would have been executed by a court without him touching them
3) Since it had been Shimon who suggested they throw Yosef into the pit, Yosef imprisoned shimon
4) Since they had sold him into slavery, normally a punishment for theft, he accussed them of the theft of the golden goblet so they would know what it is like to be unjustly accussed of the theft
5) the pain and the brother’s grief over the possible enslavement of Benyamin was to highlight the grief of their father when they told him Yosef had died.

November 30, 2010 Posted by | Parshah, Torah | , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Parshas Mikeitz 5770 – Nature and recognising G-d’s bounty

First: An apology for not updating this timeously and keepign track- an unexpected holiday with no internet access is the excuse I give!

Parshah Mikeitz Bereishis (Genesis) 41:1-44:17

Question: What is the significance that the seven fat cows come from the river and stay there, but the seven thin cows are only described as coming from the river, but not as remaining there

Answer: The reason that the river is specificied as a location is a very mundane one: the Egyptian sustenance and agricultural is dependent and the annual flooding of the Nile- thus the seven good years were centered around that area; the farmers along the Nile had bounty crops for the seven good years, but the rest of Egypt remained unaffected. However, the seven bad years were not restricted to the banks of the Nile; after the bad crops were experienced and there was no food to be planted or harvested (the seven thin cows eating the seven fat cows), the effects spread across not just the rest of Egypt, but into all the neighboring countries. Wide spread famine means that the effects of the seven thin cows were not restricted to the banks of the Nile, but they “wandered’ across many areas.

Additional commentary:This incident represents the fact that things happen in a seemingly natural way- but they are directed to happen by G-d.  The Egyptians were used to the Nile flooding in an annual cycle.  Without the dreams of Pharoah and the interpretation of Yosef,  they would have seen the extraordinary years as simply part of the natural order of things, and the subsequent bad years as part of the natural order.  G-d was displayign his mastery of nature to them, emphasising his mastery.  None of the Egyptian magicians, sorcerors, dream interpretets etc could understand the dream but a a lone Jewish slave, being held in jail, could understand, interpret, explain and prepare the egyptians due to the power of G-d.

The incident was a warning for the Egyptians- the Jews were destined to be slaves, G-d had told Avraham Avinu as much; but G-d also said that the nation that enslaved them would be judged according to how the Jews were treated; would they be seen as a beloved servant and held in high esteem, or wpould they be oppressed and suffer?  Here G-d was givign a warning to the egyptians- right at the start as the Jews descended, G-d showed his mastery of the natural world and order- and how the Jews were above it.  The Egyptians were put on notice that the Jews were G-d’s chosen peopel and above the natural order.  Even more than this, Pharoah was rewarded for his actions in appointing Yosef- he gained all the land of egypt, the prdinary egyptians becoming tenant farmers on the land they worked on his behalf.  Pharoah had much to be grateful for, Yosef had made him far wealthier and greater than he had been before.

However, the lesson went unheeded, and instead of the egyptians and Pharoahs heeding the warning of G-d, and showing gratitude to the descendants of Yosef for saving them from the famine, they chose the wrong path and thus they were punished when the Jews left Egypt

December 14, 2009 Posted by | Parshah, Torah, Weekly Question/Issue | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment