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Parashat Mikeitz

Updated on December 16, 2017

Bereishit 41:1-44:17

Yosef is still in jail. Then Pharaoh has his infamous dream of the seven fat cows that were seven years of plenty and seven lean cows that represent seven years of hunger, or famine, which Yosef interpreted; at which time, Pharaoh appointed Yosef the governor of all of Mitzrayim (Egypt). Pharaoh bowed to no one. Yosef had to bow only to Pharaoh. The Egyptian people had to bow to Yosef after they had bowed to Pharaoh.

Yosef marries the daughter of Potiphar, Asenath, and two sons are born of this union, Manashsheh and Ephraim.

The seven years of plenty were indeed plenty, and when the famine hit, it spread even to Canaan, where Ya’akov and his family lived, and even beyond into the far reaches of the world. Ya’akov sends his older ten sons to Mitzrayim to purchase some grain, keeping Benyamin safe at home with him. Yosef recognizes his brothers immediately; but, he himself is not recognized by his brothers. Yosef accuses his brothers of being spies and demands they bring to Mitzrayim their youngest brother, Benyamin, that they might prove this accusation false. Simeon stays, as sort of collateral, to ensure that the brothers will return. On their way home, the [now] nine brothers find that their money paid for their grain has been returned to them.

Ya’akov is distressed by this whole mess, and sometime later, the need for grain again becomes a pressing issue. Ya’akov then has no choice but to send Benyamin with his nine older brothers; Yehuda assumes custodial guardianship over his younger brother Benyamin, promising his very life should anything happen to young Benyamin, the last remaining son of Ya’akov’s beloved Rachel, or so Ya’akov believes.

Upon the brothers' arrival again in Mitzrayim, Yosef welcomes them warmly, releasing Simeon as he had promised. All the brothers are invited to Yosef’s home for a noontime meal. When Yosef meets with his brothers, in his home, he has to leave their presence to cry at the great emotions that welled up within him. When it is time for the brothers to return to their father, they are pursued and arrested, because of a silver goblet found in Benyamin’s sack.

Yosef promises to release the older ten brothers, keeping only Benyamin as his slave.

What does this mean for Believers today?

During the month of Elul and going into the month of Tishrei, as we approach Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and Sukkot, we often hear a lot about teshuva, the idea of returning to our previous state of purity and righteousness … though this is a daily attitude we should have. We see, in this week’s parashat, the idea of teshuva yet again, as Yosef’s brothers, specifically his brother Reuven, start to feel the remorse of what they had done to Yosef many years prior. In fact, in Bereishit 42:22, Reuven exclaims, “Didn’t I tell you, saying, ‘Don’t sin against the child (speaking of Yosef),’ and you wouldn’t listen? Therefore also, his blood is required.”

Reuven knew that he and his brothers would have to account for what they did to Yosef on some [unknown-to-them] specific day, and they believe that that time has come. When we do something that causes us guilt or remorse or shame, we should stop right there, at that moment when we realize what we’ve done and take care of it, not leaving it for some unknown day in the unknown future.

I think another way to put this is … don’t wait and don’t procrastinate, don’t put off until tomorrow what can be done today, don’t put off for later what can be done now. And, trust you me, when I say I’m preaching to myself as well. When one of my children happens to hurt another one of my children’s feelings, in any way, I make both children stop so apologies can be given and received. And, I know when my kids are doing so with sincerity of heart or just doing so in a way that will get through the punishment phase a lot quicker. It’s like the kids are telling me, “I’m just doing this to smooth the way, and get through it quicker.” I’m like that, too. “Let’s just get through this so we can say we’re finished with it.” But, in reality, there is not true repentance of the heart.

The heart of the matter is the matter of the heart.

We have to take an account of our sins at some point in our lives. We can either do it on the Day of Judgement and suffer eternal consequences. Or, we can take account of our sins today, at this very hour, right now, and confess them to Elohim, showing true and sincere repentance, and knowing that our eternities will be paradisiacal.

And, as we practice teshuva daily, an attitude of repentance, a time of returning to the throne of grace, it’s being sincere in heart that that which we do does not produce a pleasing aroma unto Adonai. It’s daily taking stock of what you have stored up for yourself- either things of this world that are meaningless and carry no eternal value or things that are ingrained with the riches of Elohim’s glory (Matityah-ha’Levi (Matthew) 6:19-24).

A Blessing

Selach lanu avinu ki chatanu mechal lanu malkeinu ki pasha’nu ki mochel v’soleiach atah baruch atah Adonai channun hammerbeh lisloach.

Forgive us, our Abba, for we have sinned; pardon us, our King, for we have rebelled; for You are a pardoner and a forgiver. Blessed are You, Adonai, the gracious One Who abundantly forgives.

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