THE TORAH READING FOR 4 TEVET 5781 December 18-19, 2020
Chanukah ends at sundown today. Am Yisrael Chai!
From “Mishkan T’filah / A Reform Siddur” p.516
FOR OUR COUNTRY
THUS SAYS ADONAI, This is what I desire: to unlock the fetters of wickedness, and untie the cords of lawlessness; to let the oppressed go free, to break off every yoke. Share your bread with the hungry, and take the wretched poor into your home. When you see the naked, give clothing, and do not ignore your own kin.
O GUARDIAN of life and liberty, may our nation always merit Your protection. Teach us to give thanks for what we have by sharing it with those who are in need. Keep our eyes open to the wonders of creation, and alert to the care of the earth. May we never be lazy in the work of peace; may we honor those who have [served, suffered or] died in defense of our ideals. Grant our leaders wisdom and forbearance. May they govern with justice and compassion. Help us all to appreciate one another, and to respect the many ways that we may serve You. May our homes be safe from affliction and strife, and our country be sound in body and spirit. Amen.
From ReformJudaism.org https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/mikeitz
Mikeitz (מִקֵּץ — Hebrew for “After [Two Years]”) – Gen. 41:1-44:17
At the end of two years’ time Pharaoh had a dream: there he was, standing by the Nile, when seven cows came up out of the Nile, handsome and fat. – Genesis 41:1-2
- Joseph interprets Pharaoh’s two dreams and predicts seven years of prosperity followed by seven years of famine. (41:1-32)
- Pharaoh places Joseph in charge of food collection and distribution. (41:37-49)
- Joseph marries Asenath, and they have two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. (41:50-52)
- When Joseph’s brothers come to Egypt to buy food during the famine, Joseph accuses them of spying. He holds Simeon hostage while the rest of the brothers return to Canaan to retrieve Benjamin for him. (42:3-42:38)
- The brothers return to Egypt with Benjamin and for more food. Joseph continues the test, this time falsely accusing Benjamin of stealing and declaring that Benjamin must remain his slave. (43:1-44:17)
I Kings 3:15-4:1
From Wikipedia.org https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miketz
It is the story of King Solomon and the two women, one with a dead baby and one with a live baby. Joseph’s rule of Egypt “becomes a precursor to wise Solomon’s reign.”
STRUGGLING WITH TORAH
From Wikipedia.org https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miketz
Mikëtz (מִקֵּץ — Hebrew for “at the end”) – Genesis 41:1-44:17
“The [complete] parashah tells of Joseph’s interpretation of Pharaoh‘s dreams, Joseph’s rise to power in Egypt, and Joseph’s testing of his brothers.”
The triennial part of Mikëtz, Genesis 41:53-43:15, tells of the great famine predicted in Joseph’s dream, his opening the warehouses to feed the people, and his father, Jacob, sending his sons to buy grain. Joseph hides his identity from them, accuses them of being spies, and questions them closely about their father and family.
He has them imprisoned but then decides to release them requiring them to return with their youngest brother, Benjamin. As a guarantee he binds and holds Simeon hostage. On their way home they discover their money in the sacks of grain,.“[a]nd their heart failed them, and they turned trembling (וַיֶּחֶרְדוּ – vayecher’du from the word “חָרַד” –charad, translated as “tremble/extreme fear”) one to another, saying: ‘What is this that God has done unto us?’” Gen. 42:28
When they arrive home they recount to Jacob about the man they encountered and what has happened, Jacob refuses to let them take Benjamin. As the famine continues, Jacob relents and allows them to take Benjamin with Judah serving as surety for him. Jacob prays that God show mercy and that the man release Simeon and Benjamin.
In Modern Interpretation
Professor George Coats, former of Lexington Theological Seminary, argued that the Joseph narrative is a literary device constructed to carry the children of Israel from Canaan to Egypt, to link preexisting stories of ancestral promises in Canaan to an Exodus narrative of oppression in and liberation from Egypt. Coats described the two principal goals of the Joseph story as (1) to describe reconciliation in a broken family despite the lack of merit of any of its members, and (2) to describe the characteristics of an ideal administrator.
At last week’s online Saturday morning Torah Study with Temple Sinai, the Darshan (דַּרְשָׁן or דַּרְשָׁנִית – Hebrew for “deliverer of the d’rash”) spoke about Joseph in a way that gave new perspectives on him, his story and his relevance to today. That Joseph is different from his brothers is clear in Torah. How the Darshan described him in modern terminology brought Joseph to life in real and thought-provoking ways. After defining the term in historical and modern usage, Joseph definitely fits the label “queer”, to quote the Darshan who is gender-transitioning. In the end, those individuals and groups that find themselves excluded and/or oppressed may definitely relate to Joseph as “other”.
Then, later that day, in Reb Irwin Keller’s blog, Itzik’s Well, titled “That Light In Joseph”, he provided a similar but distinct take on Joseph. Reb Irwin’s perspective on top of the Darshan’s raised questions for me about the synchronicity and workings of the cosmos, and what this all means. Rather than try to summarize what Reb Keller has to say here is the link to his blog: https://www.irwinkeller.com/itzikswell/2020/12/12/that-light-in-joseph
This leads again to the concept of “Trembling before God”. As written about a few weeks ago, the Darshan during the Temple Sinai Tuesday Morning Minyan that week spoke about the word “חָרַד” (charad) which is translated as “tremble”. In this week’s Torah Portion, a form of the word appears in Gen. 42:28 after the first meeting between Joseph and his brothers when they find their money in their grain sacks as they are on the way back from Egypt to their father, Jacob.
At that time I wrote about reconnecting with that feeling that makes you quake to the very core of your being. It reminds you of who and what you are. I see this as related to “being made in God’s image”, which is “Tov Me’od” (very good), because it reminds us both of our “smallness” and “worth” – we are led to exclaim from Psalms 8:4-6:
“When I behold Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and stars that You set in place, what is man that You have been mindful of him, mortal man that You have taken note of him, that You have made him little less than divine, and adorned him with glory and majesty; You have made him master of Your handiwork, laying the world at his feet,…” JPS Hebrew-English TANAKH 1999 translation
We recite MI SHEBËRACH for the victims of brutality, abuse, fear, natural disasters, pandemics, violence, and war; for all those at home alone; for all those in need of physical, emotional, and mental healing. “R’fuah sh’lëmah” – a complete recovery!
We say KADDISH YATOM for those of our friends and families who have died and been buried this last week; those in the period of Sh’loshim (30 days since burial); those who have died in the last year; and those whose Yahrzeits/Anyos occur at this time; as well as the victims of brutality, disease, natural disasters, war and violence. We remember, too, those victims of the Shoah (Holocaust) who died at this time of year and have us to say “Kaddish” for them. “Zichronam liv’rachah” – May their memories be for blessing.
TORAH STUDY AND SHAZOOM
We will meet as usual at the regular times for Torah Study and Shazoom this, Friday, December 18, 2020.
Zoom continues updating its security and performance features. Making sure you have the latest version of Zoom, please join us online Friday evening:
Topic: Torah Study – Mikëtz (triennial part) Gen 41:53-43:15
Time: Dec 18, 2020 06:00 PM Arizona
Shazoom –Erev Shabbat Service
Time: Dec 18, 2020 07:30 PM Arizona
To join the Torah Study and/or Shazoom click on the following link [you may need to copy it into your browser]: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/72510500854?pwd=Z3VQZWF4U1BBZytNYmh3aHFTWkFDZz09
Meeting ID: 725 1050 0854
Hint: The last character of the password is the number zero.
Shabbat Shalom – Buen Shabbat!