Parasha Inspiration – Miketz

וַיֹּ֥אמֶר פַּרְעֹ֖ה אֶל־יוֹסֵ֑ף רְאֵה֙ נָתַ֣תִּי אֹֽתְךָ֔ עַ֖ל כָּל־אֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרָֽיִם: וַיָּ֨סַר פַּרְעֹ֤ה אֶת־טַבַּעְתּוֹ֙ מֵעַ֣ל יָד֔וֹ וַיִּתֵּ֥ן אֹתָ֖הּ עַל־יַ֣ד יוֹסֵ֑ף וַיַּלְבֵּ֤שׁ אֹתוֹ֙ בִּגְדֵי־שֵׁ֔שׁ וַיָּ֛שֶׂם רְבִ֥ד הַזָּהָ֖ב עַל־צַוָּארֽוֹ: וַיַּרְכֵּ֣ב אֹת֗וֹ בְּמִרְכֶּ֤בֶת הַמִּשְׁנֶה֙ אֲשֶׁר־ל֔וֹ וַיִּקְרְא֥וּ לְפָנָ֖יו אַבְרֵ֑ךְ וְנָת֣וֹן אֹת֔וֹ עַ֖ל כָּל־אֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרָֽיִם: וַיֹּ֧אמֶר פַּרְעֹ֛ה אֶל־יוֹסֵ֖ף אֲנִ֣י פַרְעֹ֑ה וּבִלְעָדֶ֗יךָ לֹֽא־יָרִ֨ים אִ֧ישׁ אֶת־יָד֛וֹ וְאֶת־רַגְל֖וֹ בְּכָל־אֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרָֽיִם: וַיִּקְרָ֨א פַרְעֹ֥ה שֵֽׁם־יוֹסֵף֘ צָֽפְנַ֣ת פַּעְנֵ֒חַ֒ וַיִּתֶּן־ל֣וֹ אֶת־אָֽסְנַ֗ת בַּת־פּ֥וֹטִי פֶ֛רַע כֹּהֵ֥ן אֹ֖ן לְאִשָּׁ֑ה וַיֵּצֵ֥א יוֹסֵ֖ף עַל־אֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרָֽיִם:

So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Look, I have appointed you over the entire land of Egypt.” And Pharaoh removed his ring from his hand and placed it on Joseph’s hand, and he attired him [with] raiment of fine linen, and he placed the golden chain around his neck. And he had him ride in his chariot of second rank, and they called out before him, “[This is] the king’s patron,” appointing him over the entire land of Egypt. And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, and besides you, no one may lift his hand or his foot in the entire land of Egypt.” And Pharaoh named Joseph Zaphenath Pa’neach, and he gave him Asenath the daughter of Poti phera, the governor of On, for a wife, and Joseph went forth over the land of Egypt.

Genesis 41:41-45

In this week’s Torah portion, we see the transformation of Joseph. In the beginning of the portion, we see Joseph is imprisoned with zero prospects. Then, we see Joseph’s societal position completely reversed. He is appointed second-in-command of the entire nation of Egypt. Only Pharaoh himself surpasses Joseph in the importance in the land of Egypt.

This change for Joseph comes about the way Joseph is remembered by Pharaoh’s staff, Joseph had interpreted dreams successfully before and was called before Pharaoh when none of Pharaoh’s people would interpret Pharaoh’s dreams to him. The Torah does not say that they could not interpret the dreams, rather, the Torah says that they would not interpret the dreams and tell Pharaoh about. Pharaoh’s staff was afraid of him and were afraid of the consequences of giving Pharaoh bad news.

In essence, Joseph had little to lose by simply being honest with Pharaoh. Being a prisoner, he had no stature or position, and so could not be demoted any further. Therefore, Joseph was able to employ his skill as an interpreter of dreams and tell Pharaoh the truth without his judgment being clouded with fear. With Hashem’s help and guidance, Joseph is elevated to the second-highest position in all Egypt and is in a place to be able to easily help his brothers during the famine. Shabbat shalom.

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Rabbi Steven Bernstein

Steve was born on Lag B’Omer in Ann Arbor, MI but was raised in Gainesville, FL. The son of two University of Florida professors, he excelled in the sciences in school. In addition to his normal academic studies, he pursued his Jewish education studying with many Rabbis and professors of Judaic Studies from the University including visiting Rabbis such as Abraham Joshua Heschel and Shlomo Carlebach.