Family Corner: Parshat Mikeitz

Wednesday, December 1, 2021
Posted by: Family Corner

Family Corner is a space to offer interactive and thoughtful ideas for family engagement with the Parshat Hashavua (weekly Torah reading). 

This week in the Parsha we encounter themes of remorse, dreams, crediting God with our good fortune, taking action to help ourselves.

Parsha Summary  

  • Joseph interprets Pharaoh's two dreams and predicts seven years of prosperity followed by seven years of famine. (41:1-32) 
  • Pharaoh places Joseph in charge of food collection and distribution. (41:37-49) 
  • Joseph marries Asenath, and they have two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. (41:50-52) 
  • When Joseph's brothers come to Egypt to buy food during the famine, Joseph accuses them of spying. He holds Simeon hostage while the rest of the brothers return to Canaan to retrieve Benjamin for him. (42:3-42:38) 
  • The brothers return to Egypt with Benjamin and for more food. Joseph continues the test, this time falsely accusing Benjamin of stealing and declaring that Benjamin must remain his slave. (43:1-44:17)  

Torah Thought: Who is Truly Pious? 

Who was Yosef. In the Jewish tradition, he is often referred to Yosef HaTzadik. Yosef the righteous one.  Why is that? What makes one righteous or pious. I would like to suggest that there is a hint to the answer in the dreams that Jospeh dreamt. 

When we first meet Joseph, we read of two dreams. 

וְ֠הִנֵּ֠ה אֲנַ֜חְנוּ מְאַלְּמִ֤ים אֲלֻמִּים֙ בְּת֣וֹךְ הַשָּׂדֶ֔ה וְהִנֵּ֛ה קָ֥מָה אֲלֻמָּתִ֖י וְגַם־נִצָּ֑בָה וְהִנֵּ֤ה תְסֻבֶּ֙ינָה֙ אֲלֻמֹּ֣תֵיכֶ֔ם וַתִּֽשְׁתַּחֲוֶ֖יןָ לַאֲלֻמָּתִֽי׃  

There we were binding sheaves in the field, when suddenly my sheaf stood up and remained upright; then your sheaves gathered around and bowed low to my sheaf.”(37:7) 

וַיַּחֲלֹ֥ם עוֹד֙ חֲל֣וֹם אַחֵ֔ר וַיְסַפֵּ֥ר אֹת֖וֹ לְאֶחָ֑יו וַיֹּ֗אמֶר הִנֵּ֨ה חָלַ֤מְתִּֽי חֲלוֹם֙ ע֔וֹד וְהִנֵּ֧ה הַשֶּׁ֣מֶשׁ וְהַיָּרֵ֗חַ וְאַחַ֤ד עָשָׂר֙ כּֽוֹכָבִ֔ים מִֽשְׁתַּחֲוִ֖ים לִֽי׃  

He dreamed another dream and told it to his brothers, saying, “Look, I have had another dream: And this time, the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.”(37:9) 

Joseph first dreams of earthly things and then of heavenly bodies. 

Rabbi Shlomo Yosef Zevin profoundly notes that: “when a person improves the earth, then they also rule the heavens.“  

Joseph dreams that he is “B’Toch HaSadeh”, he is “within the field”, his concerns are earthly, which leads to his dreaming of mastery over heavenly, spiritual concerns.  

There is a beautiful idea here. Piety, as symbolized by the heavenly bodies bowing down to Yosef, can only come when one is also engaged in the earthly pursuit of improving the world.  

If we wish to claim true piety, then we must balance our lives between the heavenly and the earthly. 

Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik once noted that his saintly grandfather, Rabbi Hayim Soloveitchik, when asked what the job of a Rabbi was, replied: "To redress the grievances of those who are abandoned and alone; to protect the dignity of the poor and to save the oppressed from the hands of the oppressor. 

This is approach provides an opportunity to have a conversation with our family about what true pity or holiness looks like. Do you know people you would consider pious or holy? What about them, in your opinion, gives them that quality? 

Activities, Crafts and More! 

  • Family Cooking with a Parsha twist: In the spirit Pharoh's prophetic dreams try these recipes with your families!  The wheat berry salad covers one of his dreams and the lean meat meatloaf covers Pharoh's other dream. 
  • Watch! Don’t let Pharoh’s scary dreams keep you up at night!  Make your own Paper Plate Dream Catcher to help you sleep peacefully. 

PJ Library Recommendation

Bagels from Benny by Aubrey Davis
Ages: 5 to 6 Years
Synopsis: Young Benny loves helping his grandfather work at the bakery and enjoys hearing customers praise the cakes, breads, and bagels his grandfather bakes. He is confused when his grandfather feels that the customers should not be thanking him until his grandfather explains that it is God who should be thanked. Benny works hard to find a way to say thank you to God, learning much along the way. 

Devash (Published by Hadar): Devash is a weekly parashah magazine that makes learning Torah sweet. By engaging directly with texts and taking kids seriously as Jews, Devash helps children and grownups discover new ideas, values, and sweet morsels in the weekly Torah portion. Devash is designed for kids aged 7-11 to read independently, or together with families and teachers. 

The Israel Corner 

On December 5th. 1949, David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister announced that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital city.  

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Category: Family Corner
Category: Family Corner