SEDRA - RABBI ARNOLD SAUNDERS

Miketz

THIS week is Shabbat Chanucah. We take out two Sifrei Torah. In the first, we read the sedra of the week — Miketz — which opens with Pharaoh having two dreams.

In the first dream, seven obese cows are devoured by seven anorexic ones. In the second, seven thick ears of corn are swallowed by seven thin ones.

Despite consulting all his experts, Pharaoh was unable to receive a suitable explanation of his dreams.

The chief butler decides this is an opportune moment to suddenly remember his former cellmate Joseph. He tells Pharaoh of Joseph’s expertise at interpreting dreams. Joseph is released and brought to the palace. He deciphers the dreams as a prophetic vision that Egypt will have seven years of plenty.

However, these will soon be overtaken by seven years of famine.

Joseph counsels Pharaoh to “fix the roof while the sun shines” to prepare for the years of “austerity”. Not only does Pharaoh heed this advice, he appoints Joseph to oversee the task. The prophecy comes true.

Thanks to Joseph’s successful handling of the economy, there is food during the “recession” — without the need for a “bailout”.

The famine also affects Canaan. Jacob sends 10 of his sons down to Egypt in order to buy food, keeping Benjamin at home.

As ID cards did not yet exist, Joseph — who had recognised his brothers — asked them to prove their identity. He orders them to bring down his brother Benjamin — as a way of verifying their “story”.

He imprisons Simeon as a hostage. When they finally return with Benjamin, Joseph contrives to plant his goblet in Benjamin’s sack. He accuses Benjamin of robbery and imprisons him, but allows the other brothers to return home.

Maftir is read from the second Sefer (Numbers 7: 30-35). It is also Shabbat Mevorchim. Rosh Chodesh Tevet occurs on Monday and Tuesday, the sixth and seventh day Chanucah.

The Torah is read every day of Chanucah and “whole Hallel” is recited. I wish all readers “seasonal greetings” — i.e. Shabbat Shalom and Chag Chanucah Sameach.

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