Parshat Miketz: December 4, 2021 – 23 Kislev 5782

Erev Shabbat

Friday, December 3

  • Candle lighting: 4:32 pm

Parshat Miketz

6th Day of Chanukah ~ Rosh Chodesh Tevet ~ Shabbat of three Torahs! 

Shabbat, December 4

  • Stone Chumash p. 222
  • 146 Psukim (verses)
  •  Haftorah: Stone Chumash p. “Rani VeSimchi bat Zion”

Important Shabbat Times

  • Candle lighting: 4:32 pm
  • Vasikin (Sunrise): 6:57:36 am
  • Latest Morning Shma: 9:25 am
  • Earliest Mincha: 12:18 pm
  • Havdalah: 5:31 pm
  • Zoom Havdalah: 5:45 pm

Parshat Miketz

Our Parsha continues where last week’s ended. Joseph is in prison for two years. At the end of that time, Pharaoh dreams two dreams in succession. In the first, seven fat cows rise from the Nile, then seven lean cows follow and swallow the fat cows whole, yet remain skinny. In the second dream, seven healthy sheaves of grain rise from the Nile, followed by seven sickly ones. The sickly sheaves swallow the healthy ones whole and yet remain sickly. Joseph is eventually called; he interprets the dreams as seven years of economic boom, followed by seven years of famine. He recommends preparations for this impending catastrophe, and Pharaoh appoints Joseph Viceroy of Egypt. Joseph’s brothers go down to Egypt to seek relief for the famine, and are brought before Joseph but do not recognize him. Joseph decides to test the brothers to ascertain if they truly regret what they have done to him. He takes Shimon as a hostage, and demands they  bring him Benjamin when they return. The brothers are forced to comply. Jacob is astonished and initially refuses to send Benjamin. Eventually he relents, and Joseph prepares a feast and gifts for his brothers. Then he tells his servant to plant his “magic cup” in the sack of Benjamin. The brothers return to Canaan. En route, Joseph’s soldiers stop them and discover the cup in Benjamin’s sack. The entire group returns to the court of Joseph to await their sentences.

Mitzvah of the Week: The Rule of Precedence

When Shabbat, Rosh Chodesh, and Chanukah all fall on the same day, which Torah portion should we read first? The rule of thumb (based on a mishnah in Zevachim), states: תדיר ושאינו תדיר-תדיר קודם – the more frequent the mitzvah, the greater the priority. Therefore, since the regular Torah reading is more frequent, it is read first.

Rosh Chodesh occurs more frequently than Chanukah and its reading, therefore, comes second. Chanukah is the least frequent (just once a year), so it is read last.

This rule only holds if all readings take place during the service; if we have to choose one out of many readings, which takes precedence? Since we may only recite one reading, we obviously must read the least frequent, otherwise we would never read it at all!  That is why the Haftorah is the Haftorah of Chanukah!

The Miketz Chanukah Connection

In the book of Psalms (81/6) we find a most interesting verse. עֵ֤דוּת ׀ בִּיה֘וֹסֵ֤ף שָׂמ֗וֹ בְּ֭צֵאתוֹ עַל־אֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרָ֑יִם שְׂפַ֖ת לֹא־יָדַ֣עְתִּי אֶשְׁמָֽע –  “(G-d) made a testimony out of Yoseph, he went forth from the land of Egypt; I heard a language that I knew not.”

The word testimony is found rarely in Tanach. It refers to a phenomenon heretofore unknown in the world; then suddenly, usually through a miracle, the world sees for the first time that G-d and not nature rules the world. We see this with the paschal lamb, which also referred to a testimony, and which demonstrates for the first time that G-d , not Pharaoh nor his nation, has control over the world. The story of the Exodus shows us that G-d runs the world.

So what is the unique Testimony of Joseph? I believe it is that man can change his actual nature, the course of his destiny, through choosing not to sin. No matter how compelling the circumstances, or attractive the object of infatuation, a young man or woman can just say NO!

This was a new idea, one which the ancient world never heard of or rejected totally. Our verse continues, “I heard a language that I knew not,” meaning that Yoseph taught the world a new “language,”  that there is nothing stronger than the obligation or the urgency of fulfilling the Will of Hashem. This obligation has a wide variety of applications, not only in the realm of human sensuality.

Chanukah is also a story of a “new language,” which was taught to the world by one man, Yochanan the Hasmonean. When he and his son Mathathais, realized that Judaism was in danger of disappearing forever, they fought back. No matter what the world thought of them, they risked it all, in order to teach the world “a new language” of liberty, of freedom of conscience and freedom of religion.

The Greek steamroller must be overcome! And by whom? By a small band of guerilla warriors whose only real weapon was an abiding faith in Hashem, and their willingness to change their destiny.

The “Edut” or the Testimony for all of this was the Chanukah flame, which burned continually for eight days, and which contradicted all the laws of nature and the laws of physics.

Edut then is God’s way of letting us know that He is with us, that He is continually watching over us. It is a new language for the entire world. But it is not enough to simply espouse lovely platitudes.  We must do our part too. We must be willing to fight incredible battles, heretofore unheard of in the annals of human history.

We must succeed! This is our Edut, and our destiny!

Shabbat Shalom and Happy Chanukah!