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Mikeitz Summaries

Mikeitz 5779-2018

“Why Did You Treat Me So Badly”

There was but a single instance in Jacob’s life where he complained to G-d about being treated badly. Jacob’s faithful attitude teaches the importance of having faith in G-d at all times, and that even in times of darkness, we must look forward to the dawning of a beautiful sun-filled tomorrow.

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Mikeitz 5778-2017

“Returning the Stolen Goblet to Joseph”

Returning the stolen goblet to Joseph raises many fascinating Jewish legal questions regarding returning lost and stolen objects to non-Jews.

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Mikeitz/Chanukah 5777-2016

“Pharaoh Was Agitated”

Why was Pharaoh agitated and disturbed by his dream. Certainly Pharaoh knew that most dreams are mere fantasy?

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Mikeitz 5776-2015

“Joseph’s Bold Advice to Pharaoh-–Revisited”

The commentators suggest many answers to the question of why Joseph, the lowly slave boy, has the audacity to tell Pharaoh what to do, in the event that his country is stricken by famine.

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Mikeitz 5775-2014

“Why Did Joseph, the Viceroy of Egypt, Never Contact His Aged Father?”

Joseph had already served for nine years as the second most powerful person in Egypt when his brothers come to Egypt to buy food. Why hadn’t the all-powerful Joseph previously contacted his family in Canaan, or at least informed them of the impending famine?

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Mikeitz 5774-2013

“What’s in a Name? Zaphenath-Paneach”

While it is necessary for Pharaoh to add to Joseph’s public stature by dressing him as a noble Egyptian, why was it necessary for Pharaoh to rename Joseph?

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Mikeitz 5773-2012

“Two Long Years in Joseph’s Life”

The commentators are puzzled by the delay of two years from the time that Joseph interpreted the butler’s and the baker’s dreams, until he is called to interpret Pharaoh’s dream.

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Mikeitz 5772-2011

“Joseph Takes His Brother Simeon Hostage”

Joseph’s decision to take Simeon hostage was not at all coincidental. Why was Simeon singled out from among all Joseph’s brethren? When analyzing this episode in depth, the commentators reveal that many subliminal issues were in play.

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Mikeitz 5771-2010

“Joseph’s Bold Advice to Pharaoh”

The commentators are troubled by Joseph’s temerity. How does a young Hebrew slave boy, a prisoner, have the chutzpah to instruct the great Pharaoh how to save his country and its citizens from impending famine?

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Mikeitz 5770-2009

“Pharaoh’s Dream: The Variations and Nuances”

When it comes to the bible, the story is often in the details. The repetitious narrative of Pharaoh’s dreams is an important source of new information about Pharaoh, Egypt and Joseph’s subsequent interpretation of Pharaoh’s dream.

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Mikeitz 5769-2008

“Measure for Measure”

One of the great contributions of the Jewish people to civilization is the idea that a third innocent party may not be punished for the actions of another person. The practice of “an eye for an eye” has always been interpreted in Judaism as monetary compensation for an eye, thoroughly rejecting Lex Talionis, physical retaliation as the ancients practiced. Notwithstanding all this, our rabbis understood the G-d’s heavenly justice does operate on the principle of “measure for measure.” The story of Joseph in particular contains many proof texts to underscore how human beings are indeed held accountable by Heaven for their actions.

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Mikeitz-Chanukah 5768-2007

“Unexpected Parallels between Mikeitz and the Story of Chanukah”

Parashat Mikeitz is always read on the Shabbat of Chanukah, not only because Joseph may be viewed as an assimilationist who regains his identity, but also because of the numerous parallels to the festival of Chanukah that may be found in the text of parashat Mikeitz.

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Mikeitz 5767-2006

“A Jew Rises to Power”

Pharaoh is faced with the dilemma of appointing Joseph, a Jew, over all of Egypt. Troubled by the choice, he eventually hearkens to the advice of the insightful adage: “Better a wise enemy, than a foolish friend.”

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Mikeitz 5766-2005

“Marketing G-d by Living Example”

Too often in the history of Judaism the lesson of the sanctification of G-d’s name has been taught by those who were required to give up their lives. There is unfortunately little opportunity to learn the lesson of Kiddush Hashem (sanctification of G-d’s name) by living example. Yosef Hatzadik, Joseph the Righteous, is probably the first and most prominent example of one who sanctified G-d’s name, and through whose actions and words was able to influence others to acknowledge G-d in their own lives.

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Mikeitz 5765-2004

“Pharaoh’s Dream: Learning Through the Nuances”

The Torah is a book that uses language sparingly and economizes every word. Nevertheless, the dream of Pharaoh is repeated three times. What could possibly be the reason for these reiterations, omissions and additions? There is much to learn from these internal textual nuances.

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Mikeitz-Chanukah 5764-2003

“Chanukah–The Struggle of Joseph and Judah”

Clothed in his coat of many colors, Joseph was betrayed by his brothers and eventually sold to Egypt. His subsequent involvement in Egyptian society is contrasted by Judah’s purist, more conventional philosophy. These two viewpoints are echoed in the struggle of Chanukah, as Jews throughout the ages question how much to participate in the culture of the day.

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Mikeitz-Chanukah 5763-2002

“In Those Days, in These Times”

The story of Joseph may be seen as the saga of an assimilator struggling with his identity, very much paralleling the struggle of the Traditionalists and the Hellenists in the 2nd Century B.C.E. It appears to be an ancient story with an ancient theme. What contemporaries often fail to acknowledge is that a subtle assimilation that is taking place today as well. This powerful force is exacting a heavy toll on our people today, even among some of the most committed Jews. To resist its influence, it is necessary for all to affirm and reaffirm their commitment to the ethics and morality reflected in our Torah. As the honored values of the Jewish past are whittled away by the pernicious values of the contemporary environment, the battle of Chanukah continues today.

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Mikeitz 5762-2001

“A Dysfunctional Family becomes Functional”

The saga of Joseph and his family is fundamentally the story of an immature young man who must outgrow his narcissism and self-absorption. It is the story of the assimilationist, Joseph, who shaves off his beard, changes his clothes, is given an Egyptian name and an Egyptian wife. But in the end, Joseph stands up and declares: “I am Joseph, I’m not an Egyptian, I’m not an assimilator. Is my father still alive?” He answers with a resounding, “Yes, my father is alive. I am Joseph.”

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Mikeitz-Chanukah 5761-2000

“What is Chanukah really about?”

Given the massive assimilation in our times, it is no longer enough to passively light our candles on our windowsills or in our doorways. We must light our candles in our homes, on our tables and in our hearts, thus reaffirming our Jewish commitment. In this manner we may increase the light of our Chanukah candles, until the entire world is illuminated by these lights spreading the values of our Torah and our traditions.

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Mikeitz 5760-1999

“Who was Osenath the Wife of Joseph?”

The Midrash relates that Dina, who was raped by Sh’chem, gave birth to a child, Osenath. This child was driven from Jacob’s home and is eventually adopted by Potiphar and his wife. Despite the terrible tragedy, Dina’s daughter marries Joseph and becomes the progenitor of two tribes of Israel–Ephraim and Menashe. It is Osenath, the secret heroine, who raises these two children, and keeps them from assimilating in Egypt.

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