There is a commandment given to Israel that once every 7 years, during the Festival of Sukkot, they should assemble ALL the people to hear the Torah read to them. (Deuteronomy 31:10-12). Chazal (a Hebrew acronym that means, “our sages of blessed memory”) instituted a continuous cycle of reading the Torah. They defined weekly sections so that Jews would be reading and hearing Torah every single week and complete the 5 Books of Moses in a set time. The teachers I learned under taught me to follow the yearly Torah cycle and I discovered that Chabad divides their Torah study into daily aliyot. When the Torah portion is read in its entirety on Shabbat in the synagogue, there are seven sections, seven aliyot. The Chabad tradition is to study one aliyah each day, starting Sunday and going through to Shabbat. One who does this can get a double dose of the same Torah Portion each week.
Additionally, the Ashkenazic and Sepharidc, that is Eastern European and Spanish or Iberian Peninsula communities sometime differ on how they divide the Torah Portions.
It’s time to explore Torah Portion Miketz, aliyah by aliyah.
Miketz Genesis 41:1-44:17
Aliyah 1 – Genesis 41:1-14
Genesis 41:1 At the end of two years, Pharaoh had a dream: he was standing beside the Nile River;
The end of chapter 40 says that Joseph asked the cupbearer to remember him, but then explicitly mentions that he did not remember him, and that he forgot. 41:1 says “at the end of two years” but I ask at the end compared to what? What was the start of this two year period? Is this two years later on Pharaoh’s birthday? Was it two years since Joseph trusted in a man to save him from his wrongful imprisonment instead of trusting in HaShem? What is the two year period and what started it?
Genesis 41:13 And it came about as he interpreted to us — I was restored to my office, and he was hanged.”
Nothing sells like success. Joseph had a proven track record and that got him an audience with Pharoah. It wasn’t his plan, but it put him in the position to get to Pharoah.
Genesis 41:14 Then Pharaoh summoned Yosef, and they brought him quickly out of the dungeon. He shaved himself, changed his clothes, and came in to Pharaoh.
Was Joseph’s clean up a common procedure, his idea or a special request? I could see it going either way. He is mentioned as concerned about his appearance, so maybe he wanted to clean up to make a better impression. We do live in a material world and there are certain mundane rules and practices that are wise and good for godly people to adopt and utilize. On the other hand, I could see a king refusing to see a dirty, smelly, unkempt prisoner in his royal chamber. On the other hand, maybe Joseph just wanted the chance to get cleaned up. I have no idea what an ancient Egyptian prison is like. On the other hand it sounds like he was given the new garment, so perhaps it was a common procedure for someone coming to meet Pharaoh to look their best.
Aliyah 2 – Genesis 41:15-38
41:32 Why was the dream doubled for Pharaoh? Because the matter has been fixed by G-d, and G-d will shortly cause it to happen.
I love that Joseph presents the question and then answers it. That is probably a rhetorical or persuasive tool or technique that I do not know the name of, but I do know it is cool. More than that, I find the implications here interesting. First: did Pharaoh get this dream from HaShem only because being Pharaoh he could do something about it? Second: If anyone dreams of something twice does that mean it is sure to happen and soon? Third, if that is true, do both dreams need to be in the same night? Fourth, if so, do the dreams need to parallel each other like this?
Aliyah 3 – Genesis 41:39-52
Genesis 41:49 Yosef stored grain in quantities like the sand on the seashore, so much that they stopped counting, because it was beyond measure.
They stopped counting the stored food because it was too much? I guess when HaShem decides to bless abundantly, He means abundantly!
Aliyah 4 – Genesis 41:53 – 42:18
Genesis 42:18 On the third day, Yosef said to them, “Do what I say, and stay alive, for I fear G-d.
I don’t remember Joseph ever telling his brothers that he knew G-d. That might have been a clue to his true identity.
Aliyah 5 – Genesis 42:19 – 43:15
Genesis 42:28 He said to his brothers, “My money has been restored — there it is, right in my pack!” At that, their hearts sank; they turned, trembling, to one another and said, “What is this that G-d has done to us?”
I have commented previously in 5782 that we see echoes in the lives of the patriarchs. For example, Jacob had the “goats and coats” incident and the bridal deception. In John 9:1-3, Messiah seems to rebutt the idea that we suffer due to our sins. Was that the case for that particular blind man? Were the 10 brothers wrong? Joseph shared an evil report about his 10 brothers and was in prison for 10 years, plus 2. Did he bring that on himself in some way? Did the brothers make themselves ripe for Joseph’s punishment? Clearly yes, to some extent. They hated him in their hearts and wanted to kill him, their failure to do so absolves them to a degree, but how much? He sort of made slaves of them after they had sold them into slavery. This is a larger matter I will leave alone for now.
Aliyah 6 – Genesis 43:16-29
Genesis 43:16 When Yosef saw Binyamin with them, he said to his household manager, “Take the men inside the house, kill the animals and prepare the meat. These men will dine with me at noon.”
Were these special animals? Were they kosher? Were they simply being kept alive through the famine? Were they both? I ask because it seems oddly specific.
Aliyah 7 – Genesis 43:30 – 44:17
Genesis 43:32 They served him by himself, the brothers by themselves, and the Egyptians included at the meal by themselves — Egyptians don’t eat with Hebrews, because that is abhorrent to them.
Does that include Joseph? It seems like the Egyptians didn’t eat with Joseph based on the reading of this verse.
That concludes my journey through Vayishlach for the year 5782.
I hope these words have been a blessing to you.
May our Heavenly Father give you peace and joy.
This is Matthew and I am Walking In Liberty.