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Torah Commentary
Mikeitz (December 12, 2015)

Missy Bell,
Program Director
of Youth Learning and Engagement

THIS WEEK’S PARASHAH, Mikeitz, continues the story of Joseph. Joseph is still in prison in Egypt. However, he soon is released because Pharaoh has two dreams that no one is able to interpret until the butler, remembering the time Joseph interpreted his dream in prison, tells Pharaoh about Joseph. Joseph is able to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams, although he gives the credit to God. Joseph tells Pharaoh that his dream of the seven fat cows and seven good ears of corn means that there will be seven years of plenty in the land. The dream of seven lean cattle and seven thin ears of corn means that seven years of famine will follow. Pharaoh rewards Joseph for this interpretation, giving him a wife and putting him in a position of power — supervising the storage of grain during the seven years of plenty and the distribution of the grain during the famine.

There is also a famine in the Land of Israel, so Jacob sends 10 of Joseph’s brothers, leaving Benjamin behind, to Egypt to buy grain. When they arrive, Joseph recognizes them, but they do not recognize him. Joseph asks about their family, and when he learns there is another brother that has been left behind, he holds one of his brothers, Simeon, hostage until the other brothers bring Benjamin to Egypt. The brothers return to Israel with their grain, and Jacob initially refuses to allow Benjamin to return with them. Eventually, they all return to Egypt, where they dine with Joseph. During the dinner, Joseph has one of his servants hide his silver goblet in Benjamin’s bag of grain. The portion ends when Joseph accuses the brothers of stealing his goblet.

Thanks to Joseph’s interpretation of Pharaoh’s dreams, the Egyptians are able to prepare for the famine by storing food during the seven years of plenty. In today’s world, many of us are lucky to have plenty, while others are surviving without. How can we take advantage of what we have in order to help others?

Many of us recently filled our plates and our bellies on Thanksgiving, but then “Giving Tuesday” followed, and we had the opportunity to be generous and share with nonprofit organizations doing important work to help others. During this week of Chanukah, we indulge in fried foods such as latkes and sufganiyot, and we enjoy giving and receiving gifts — not just to friends and family but also to those in need. And in our Religious School, in partnership with the Tikkun Olam Committee, we have been collecting oil that along with cooking utensils will be given to senior citizens through DOROT so that the seniors will be able to cook independently for themselves.

During the first few months of Religious School, our generous families donated nearly $1,500 to our first tzedakah recipient of the year, New York Common Pantry, helping to feed those who don’t have as many resources. And, next month, we will continue to focus on providing food for those in need as our Seventh Grade Mitzvah Corps students experience their next unit and learn about the mitzvah of “Feeding the Hungry”; as part of this unit, they will volunteer with the Sunday Lunch Program and with New York Common Pantry. Last but not least, our high school students will participate in Midnight Run at the end of the month, providing meals to homeless New Yorkers.

Our city, our country and our world are filled with people who do not have enough to eat. How can we channel Joseph and use our resources to make sure there is enough food for everyone?

Join the conversation and post your thoughts. »

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