Parshat Miketz Vol.10 No.15

Date of issue: 4 Tevet 5761 -- December 30, 2000

This week's issue has been sponsored
in memory of Harav Gershon ben Harav Yitzchak by the Kravitz family:
Eliezer, Sonya, Gershon, and Yehuda.
The Kol Torah staff would like to thank
Mrs. Glasser and Mrs. Chaitovsky for the latkes.

How to sponsor

This week's featured writers:

Rabbi Joel Grossman
Ami Friedman
David Gertler
Oren Levy
Chaim Rapps
Rabbi Howard Jachter
*Taking Medicine on Shabbat - Part I*
Halacha of the Week
Food For Thought
-by *David Gertler*

Content with Life
by Rabbi Joel Grossman

"They drank and became intoxicated with Yosef" (43:34). Rashi comments, "From the day when they had sold Yosef, the brothers had not drunk wine, but on that day they drank wine."

What was so special about this day that the brothers drank wine? There are two answers presented in the Ma'ayana Shel Torah. One is that the brothers felt that if they did not drink the wine Yosef would accuse them again of being spies and refusing wine so they would not be led to give out the secret information they had gathered. A second reason is that they saw that Binyamin had received larger portions of food than they had, yet they were not jealous of him. They realized that they had removed from themselves the envy that had led them to sell Yosef into slavery, and consequently they felt they could drink wine again.

Removing envy is an area in which we should constantly strive to improve. The Mishna in Pirkei Avot teaches that the three traits of jealousy, desire, and drive for honor take a person away from this world. If we want to succeed in this world we must remove these bad traits from ourselves.

We have just completed celebrating the holiday of Chanukah. The last day of Chanukah is known in our rabbinic literature as Zot Chanukah, "this is Chanukah." Why did the last day of Chanukah get this name? One celebrated answer is that the term Zot Chanukat Hamizbeach appears in the Torah reading of that day. Rav Moshe Feinstein, zt"l, presents another explanation. He writes that oil burning, a common event, is also a miracle, and therefore the last day of Chanukah is called Zot Chanukah, this is the Chanukah oil that burns.

There is a story told about a person whose investment made him one million dollars. He was very happy. A week later, he was saddened to find out that his neighbor made a few million dollars on this investment. This story typifies many of our lives. We should be happy with what we have as the Mishna in Pirkei Avot says, "Who is a rich man? One who is satisfied with his lot," and we should not be jealous and envious of what others possess.

If we can look at every event that happens as an event that is divinely ordained to happen, then we will remove envy from our hearts, be able to live longer by appreciating life, be able to drink our wine with a feeling of gratitude, and be happy for the good fortune of others. With that type of attitude there would be more peace in our communities and throughout Klal Yisrael.

Zechut Avot
by Ami Friedman

Rabbeinu Bachya asks, "Why does Yosef dismiss his brothers at the end of this Parsha by saying, 'Go up in peace to your father,' as opposed to a simple, 'Go in peace?'" He answers that Yosef's statement foreshadows the death of the ten great rabbis who "went up peacefully to their fathers." The ten rabbis were punished because Yosef's ten brothers sold him into slavery.

Yosef's brothers took his coat and tricked Yaakov into thinking that Yosef had been killed, so when Yosef really died Bnai Yisrael lost the "coats of their souls," their bodies, by being forced into slavery in Egypt. Later, the Roman emperor Lupinus decreed that ten people had to be held responsible for the kidnapping of Yosef, and these ten rabbis were killed because the prohibition against kidnapping mandates a punishment of death (V'Gonev Ish Umochro Mot Yumat).

Rabbeinu Bachya also interprets Yosef's giving his brothers' money back as an indication of their wrongdoing. He explains that when Yosef says "Sim Kessef Ish B'fi Amtachto", "Place each man's money in the opening of his sack" (44:1), he is indicating that his brothers' souls ("money") had been separated from their bodies ("sacks"), and the two parts needed to be reunited.

Rabbeinu Bachya then explains the actions of Lupinus. Just as a ram was sacrificed in Yitzchak's place at the Akeida, the ten rabbis replaced Yosef's brothers for punishment. We can learn from here that children can be held accountable for their parents' sins if the children continue in their parents' evil ways. However, the opposite is true as well. When King David attacked Amalek, Rashi explains, 400 Amalekim were able to escape because 400 people had chosen to leave Esav instead of staying with him to fight Yaakov. Thus, people can also benefit from the actions of their ancestors. This is what we mean when we mention the Avot in the first paragraph of Shemoneh Esrei: it is because of their actions years ago that our prayers are answered today.

Quick to Forget
by David Gertler

The story of Paroh's dreams and their interpretations is a memorable one. Seven fat cows and healthy stalks of corn come, followed by seven skinny cows and withering corn stalks, which swallow the fat cows and corn but remain skinny and withered. The way that Yosef interprets this is that seven plentiful years will come, followed by seven years of famine that will be so bad that the seven years of plenty will not suffice to sustain Egypt through the years of famine. Often, we see that people forget the good and only remember the bad. There is a story of a man who was asked how his farm was doing. He replied that unfortunately the economy was doing well, and the people who came to buy the produce were very picky about what they purchased. A number of years later, during a famine, he was asked the same question and replied that business was doing well, since during the famine the buyers would buy anything they could get and pay exorbitant prices. This parable illustrates that when good deeds are commonplace they are thought to be facts of life and are overlooked; however, when good deeds are scarce and unique they are appreciated and thought of highly.

Both dreams of Paroh convey the same message: once bad times come, the good times that precede them are forgotten. In life, it is important to weigh the bad within the good and view the bad as if it were scattered amongst the good. If one breaks down his daily activities and looks at every detail, he will see that the vast amount of things done to and for him are positive, while only a few are negative. We would all have a more positive outlook on life if we would pay less attention to the bad and think more of the good.

Why Won't Yosef Write Home?
by Chaim Rapps

Considering Yosef's relationship with his father, one would think that Yosef would make every effort to contact him after arriving in Egypt. Yet even after becoming Paroh's right-hand man, Yosef still does not try to contact his father. Several possibilities are given:

The Ramban answers that Yosef did not communicate with Yaakov because he wanted the dreams he told to his brothers to come true. Yosef understood that the only way for Hashem's plan to work would be if Yosef did not contact his family.

The Abarbanel explains that Yosef did not write so that his brothers could do proper Teshuva. This can explain Yosef's behavior after his brothers arrived, but it does not fully explain why he did not write.

Rav Yoel Bin Nun (Megadim vol. 1) explains that Yosef did not know that his father thought he was dead. He expected his father to come rescue him when he learned about the sale. After many months passed, Yosef began to feel rejected and accepted his fate. This can be explained in two ways:

There is the "conspiracy theory," in which Yosef was unaware that Yaakov was fooled into believing that Yosef was dead. Yosef concluded that no one came to rescue him because Yaakov received a prophecy saying that Yosef would not be part of the chosen nation, and thus sent Yosef to his brothers to do Yaakov's dirty work.

The second theory is that after being sold, Yosef began to feel rejected. He decided to start a new life rather than return to his brothers. He was convinced that his family abandoned him. He decided that just as Esav established himself in Edom, Yosef would establish himself in Egypt. Even though Yosef would not be part of the chosen nation, he would try to bring his values to Egyptian society.

Destroying Envy
by Oren Levy

A certain Tzaddik passed away and was succeeded by another Rebbe. One of the Chassidim, however, entertained the notion that he was better suited to fill the position of his late Rebbe. He decided, though, that he should first travel to visit the new Rebbe to see if the new Rebbe was qualified. When he arrived, he took a seat at the table with the other Chassidim, and throughout the Shabbat meal he observed the Rebbe. Then the new Rebbe invited the man to share some insight in the Torah with those present.

"We find," he said, "that when Yosef's brothers are reunited with him, though they did not realize it, the Torah says, 'And they drank and were merry with him.' On this verse, Rashi comments that from the day they had sold him until this moment they had not drunk wine. This is difficult to understand. It is easy to see why Yosef would drink now, as he already knew that these were his brothers. But if they did not yet recognize him, why would they drink?

"All their hatred of Yosef was based on their envy of his coat of many colors. When they regretted their action, they made efforts to eradicate the despicable trait of envy from their hearts. Still not being certain that they had completely succeeded in this, they did not allow themselves to drink wine. But now that they had seen Yosef give their brother Binyamin five times as many gifts as he gave the rest of them, they realized that they were not at all envious of Binyamin, and it was apparent that they had succeeded in their self-imposed task. They therefore allowed themselves to drink wine.

"And therefore," continued the Chassid, "since after visiting your table I find that I am not envious of your having been chosen Rebbe, I too am in turn for a cup of wine!"

Halacha of the Week

After reciting Havdala on Motzai Shabbat, one should mention our belief in the coming of Eliyahu Hanavi and Mashiach (Rama Orach Chaim 295:1). Eliyahu cannot arrive on Friday or Shabbat to announce the arrival of Mashiach, so we mention Eliyahu after Havdala because he is again able to come. Many in Israel have the practice to recite Rav Kook's poem Le'ad Chaya Bilivaveinu at this time. This poem expresses our hope and desire to return to Eretz Yisrael.

Food for Thought
by David Gertler

1) According to the Midrash, Yaakov and his family had enough food and only went to Egypt in order to make others think that they did not. How does this Midrash fit with 42:2, where Yaakov commands his sons to go to Egypt V'nichyeh V'lo Namut, "so we will live and we will not die," and with 43:2, which says that the second trip to Egypt was, Ka'asher Kalu Le'echol Et Hashever Asher He'viu Mimitzrayim, "when they finished the food that they had brought from Egypt"?

2) The gift that Yaakov sent to Yosef for the second trip included three items that were also mentioned as being carried by the Yishmaelim to whom Yosef was sold (Tzari, Lot, Nachut). Why does the Chumash hint to a connection between these two events? What is the significance of the other elements of the gift that were not also carried by the Yishmaelim?

If you have a response to these questions, please contact us at Responses may be published upon agreement of the provider.

Staff at time of publication:
Editors-in-Chief: Avi-Gil Chaitovsky, Dani Gross
Managing Editor: Moshe Glasser
Publication Editor: Daniel Wenger
Business Manager: Ilan Tokayer
Staff: Josh Dubin, Zev Feigenbaum, Shuky Gross, Michael Humphrey, Yair Manas, Uriel Schechter
Consultant: David Gertler
Faculty Advisor: Rabbi Howard Jachter

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