Rabbi Eisen’s Shabbat Shalom Message

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Torah and Haftarah portions.


Candlelighting for
Friday, December 19, 2014 • 5:04pm

• Our Portion for the Week •

MIKETZ – GENESIS 41:1 – 44:17
In this portion, the Joseph narrative is continued after two years. Pharaoh has two dreams which no one can interpret. The cup-bearer finally remembers Joseph, who is called from jail and interprets the dreams to mean that there will be seven years of plenty, followed by seven years of famine. Joseph advises Pharaoh to store up food during the years of plenty, as a reserve for the famine. Pharaoh designates Joseph to implement such a plan. When the famine comes, Jacob sends his sons to Egypt for food. There they come face to face with Joseph, whom they do not recognize, though he recognizes them. By way of testing their character, Joseph puts his brothers through a series of tests, involving their father and youngest brother, Benjamin, as well. In these episodes we see the prediction of Joseph's dreams realized as God moves His plan inexorably forward through human agency.

• Our Question for the Week •

As they were seated before him, from the oldest in the order of his seniority to the youngest in the order of his youth, the men looked at one another in astonishment. Portions were served them from his table; but Benjamin's portion was five times that of anyone else. And they drank their fill with him.
(Genesis 43:33-34)

What was Joseph thinking? Did he have his brothers seated in age order to inspire them to perceive Divine Providence? To see if they were capable of such spiritual insight? To hint at his own identity, since only he would have known their ages? To establish his own powers of divination (compare Genesis 44:5, 15)? Do you think that the brothers were bothered by the special treatment shown Benjamin? Was Joseph's fivefold generosity to his younger brother yet another test? Yet another hint at his identity? An insidious continuation of his father's fateful favoritism? A brash recompense for his older brothers' earlier betrayal? A device to manipulate their emotions, thereby asserting control over them? A sincere expression of love for his baby brother (compare Genesis 45:22)?