In this week’s Parsha, Parshat Miketz, we are exposed to the ever-present idea of when put in a difficult situation, if one embraces it, and attempts to work it to their advantage, they will be rewarded. In last week’s Parsha, as he arrived in Egypt, Joseph manages to work his way up the social ladder, to find himself working for Potifar, the Ancient Egyptian millionaire. Soon after gaining this status, Joseph finds himself in a difficult position with Potifar’s wife, where he can either chose to stay at his high rank, but compromise his moral values, or deny Eishet Potifar’s wishes, and most likely lose the last light of hope he had after he lost everything when he was sold into slavery. So when Joseph chose to turn against Eishet Potifar, we admire his ability to put morality before desire, but it could be expected that Joseph felt hopeless and that he lost his last chance to ever be more than a prisoner. But as we see in this week’s Parsha, Hashem rewards Joseph for his proper choice and gives him another chance.
As we see in Parshat Miketz, Joseph is put in another challenging position after the Pharaoh has an upsetting dream, to which he calls upon someone who can interpret the dream for him. When Joseph finds himself in a position to help the king of the land, we see that he does not just tell Pharaoh what he thought the dream meant and hope for the best, rather he thinks strategically in his way and delivery of the interpretation. Pharoh’s dream was of seven fat cows coming out of the water followed by seven skinnier cows. His second dream was of seven healthy and fat sheaves of wheat and seven skinny and rotten looking sheaves of wheat. Joseph tells Pharaoh that his dreams are a representation of the seven years of plenty to come and the seven years of famine to follow them. When Joseph comes to interpret these dreams he takes a huge risk of fate, because as Pharoh was the ruler of the land, if he did not like his interpretation he could kill him, but in addition to this he puts his life in more jeopardy by also suggesting a way for the most powerful ruler in the world to fix his empire threatening issue. And this risk proved successful, as not only did Pharaoh take his advice and not kill him, but he also commends him and his god who gave him his interpretive abilities, and then appoints Joseph as second in command over the whole country, to save them from the upcoming famine. The miraculous events of Joseph being saved by Pharaoh and being put in a position of power are a direct response of the risk he took when he decided to take a time of crisis, and manipulate it to bring him opportunity even in the most unlikely of circumstances.
I think this theme of ceasing opportunity is present not just in the Channuka story but also today in Israel. In the Channuka story we know that the Jews were in crisis as the Greeks were killing anyone who practiced religious acts, and yet they still persevered and served god, and in the end it proved fruitful, as they were saved, and their actions lead to the inception of a new Jewish holiday that emphasizes the idea of practicing Mitzvoth in public. And as Channuka quickly approached I feel this theme present, today living in Israel. Since moving here in September I have been put in many situations where I had to decide whether to allow the horrific acts of terrorism stop me from living my life, or to take these times of crisis, and use them as opportunities to continue to live my life, and go to my chessed activities, celebrate a friend’s birthday or attend an rally, because as scary as the situation is sometimes, the minute we allow our enemies to determine how we live our lives, in the minute we lose who we are and what we stand for as Jews. I think as this theme is present not only in this week’s Parsha and the upcoming holiday of Channuka, it is even more present in my mind to keep living my life to the fullest by ceasing the religious and uplifting opportunities Israel has to offer, and making the best of my year. Shabbat Shalom and Channuka Sameach!
Student Studying in Midreshet Lindenbaum