parasha

Miketz 5779

 

Redemption without Doubt – Miketz

Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, Rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites

This week’s Torah portion, Miketz, begins with a description of the dreams of Egypt’s King Pharaoh and the impact of these dreams on the story of Joseph. As a result of the dreams and the failure of the Egyptian dream interpreters to offer a successful solution, sar hamashkim (the royal butler) remembers Joseph – the Hebrew slave who interpreted his dream in jail. From here, the story unfolds quickly: Joseph is taken out of the Egyptian jail, appears before Pharaoh and interprets his dream, and even offers solutions for the dream’s issues, ultimately leading to his appointment as viceroy, second in command to the king.


One verse clearly expresses the speed in which Joseph rose from the depths of prison dungeon to the highest status in the land of Egypt:

 

So Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they rushed him from the dungeon, and he shaved and changed his clothes, and he [then] came to Pharaoh.
(Genesis 41, 14)


The Sforno (commentator, doctor, philosopher, Italy, 16th century) discerned this interesting observation and explained it:


“They rushed him from the dungeon – like all of G-d’s redemptions that are done in a moment… and this is how it was with Egypt… and how He said it should be done in the future…”


The Sforno proposes a model of redemption that first appeared in the story of Joseph. Sudden salvation that does not necessitate advanced preparation, but “lands” on a person and in one moment raises him from the lowest point to the highest.


According to the Sforno, this model existed in the past and will take place again in the future. He finds evidence for this in the words of the prophet Malachi, “…And suddenly, the Lord Whom you seek will come to His Temple” (Malachi 3, 1).


What is the significance of sudden redemption? This is an expression of a divine appearance that cannot be mistakenly attributed to human action. Sometimes we experience different occurrences, some better or worse, and we have difficulty pointing definitively to divine intervention as directing the events. But there are situations in which there can be no mistake. When events are overturned without process, without stages that occur one after the other, but happen all of a sudden, in one moment, reality changes and a new one appears.


The redemption of the Jewish nation that is the focus of the nation’s anticipation for thousands of years has aspects of both. The Jerusalem Talmud tells of two sages, Rabbi Chiyeh and Rabbi Shimon ben Chalfata who walked in the Arbel valley at dawn and saw the amazing sight of the sun rising, as the red ball of the sun slowly rose in the eastern horizon and gradually became a strong and blinding light. Inspired by the rising sun, Rabbi Chiyeh said to Rabbi Shimon ben Chalfata: Such is the redemption of Israel – at first it is a bit at a time; but as it continues it grows (Jerusalem Talmud, Tractate Brachot, ch 1).

The first stages of the redemption are a process. At these stages we might wonder: Is this divine redemption or a natural-human political act? As long as we remain at these stages, we cannot prove that it is indeed the longed-for redemption. But moments will come when there is no doubt: “And suddenly, the Lord Whom you seek will come to His Temple”. We pray and long for these definitive moments. “May our eyes behold Your return to Zion with compassion”.

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במתחם הכותל המערבי מספר אתרי תיירות ייחודים, אשר מעניקים מבט מיוחד על תולדותיה של ירושלים ועל ההיסטוריה של העם היהודי לדורותיו.
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