temple emanu-el
top border
Torah Commentary
Mikeitz (December 31, 2016)

Rabbi David M. Posner

In a well-printed and edited Chumash, both the number of verses and even the number of words of each parashah are given in the traditional manner: the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet used as numbers. In Parashat Mikeitz, there are 146 verses, which correspond numerically to the names of two kings of Judah: Yechizkiyahu and Amatziah. In an almost unbelievable coincidence, the names Yechizkiyahu and Amatziah are the very same as the mnemonics used for the first parashah of the Torah, sidrah B’reishit. B’reishit also contains 146 verses.

Of course, this means that Mikeitz and B’reishit have certain themes in common. B’reishit, the portion of Creation, proclaims God’s all-powerful majesty. As Creator of the universe, only God sustains it and determines its course. In sidrah Mikeitz, we find Pharaoh considering himself a god and Egypt worshiping the Nile as its deity. Through the devices of abundance and famine, God displays beyond doubt that only His is the power. Pharaoh and his people are forced to acknowledge that they are subservient to Joseph, whose distinction is that whatever his position — slave or viceroy — he remains truly a servant of God.

And, there’s more… Only in sidrah Mikeitz is a mnemonic provided for the number of words: 2,025. This is none other than an allusion to Chanukah, which usually falls in the week of Mikeitz, as it does this year. On Chanukah, we light a new lamp — in Hebrew a ner — for each of the eight nights. The numerical value of ner is 250. Thus, the eight lights of Chanukah give a total of 2,000. And Chanukah begins on the 25 of Kislev. Thus, 2,025 is an allusion to the lights and the date of Chanukah.

The theme of Chanukah is especially appropriate to Mikeitz. We commemorate even the first day’s burning, although the oil in the jug was enough to burn for a day without miraculous intervention. By doing so, we testify to our belief that things that seem natural and ordinary — as so many do in Parashat Mikeitz — are actually manifestations of the Divine will.

Happy Chanukah!

Join the conversation and post your thoughts. »

Back to Torah Study
photo of temple
One East 65th St., New York, New York 10065. Phone  212-744-1400
One East 65th Street, New York, NY 10065    (212) 744-1400 horizontal rule Member Log In | Calendar | Site Map | Contact Us | Text Size [+] [-]