|Questions and Concepts for Parsha Miketz
1. The Parsha begins with a specific reference to "two years" having passed. The sages comment that these were two years that God added to Joseph's prison term for not trusting Him fully and instead appealing to the chief of cup bearers (imprisoned along with him at the time) to "put in a good word for him to Pharaoh."
2. The river in 41:1 is considered to be the Nile river. The Nile was Egypt's source of spiritual as well as physical power. Regarding Pharaoh it is said that hs is, "the ruler of the waters, as it is written of him: 'the great dragon that lieth in the midst of his rivers.' The first of the 10 plagues to later come upon Egypt is directed at the Nile's sustenance of Egypt.
3. As mentioned in the previous Parsha, dreams are one of several ideas associated with Joseph. Dreams can be a source of revelation, but are often clouded and even contain falsehood. It is said that dreams are "one-sixthieth of prophecy," the latter itself being of varying levels (i.e., Moses versus the other prophets). Dreams are a bridge between our physical selves and the "lower spiritual world," (called Yetzirah, "the world of formation"). Yetzirah is also called "the mixed realm" as both "good" and "bad" angels exist here. As dreams connect the physical and spiritual realms, they are comparable to the tzaddik (righteous person) whose actions do the same.
4. The tzaddik is said to be the "foundation" of the world. The word associated with foundation is Yesod. In deeper Hebraic Torah study, Yesod follows Malkut (Kingdom) in the path of teshuvah (repentance) leading to God. Strongly associated with Malkut is the idea of humility. We are taught that we are to "seek first the kingdom (Malkut) then all else will be added to us. (i.e., God resists the proud but reveals Himself to the humble.) We thus see Joseph first being humbled and seeking God, then passing the test of purity for the tzaddik (in refusing Potifar's wife), after which "all else" is added to him.
5. In deeper levels of Torah study, the confluence of wisdom (Hebrew: "chokmah") and understanding (Hebrew: "binah") is knowledge (Hebrew: "da'at") which is associated with the Ruach haKodesh (Holy Spirit) and prophecy. It is by no coincidence that in 41:38 Pharaoh deems that Joseph has the "Spirit of God" and is a true prophet and then in 41:39 says that Joseph is both "understanding" and "wise."
6. The giving of a ring from "the king" to another is symbolic of the tzaddik who has been faithful and helped connect the spiritual and physical worlds. Comapare the story of Joseph in this Parsha with that of Mordecai in Esther chapter 3.
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