Points to Ponder

Mekeitz 5779

וַיְהִ֤י בַבֹּ֨קֶר֙ וַתִּפָּ֣עֶם רוּח֔וֹ וַ In the morning he was distressed (41:8) – Rav Dovid Povarsky ztl. compared Yosef to Pharaoh. When Pharaoh dreams he is out of sorts and demands that the rest of the country be so as well until he was calmed. Yosef, on the other hand, has the calm despite the chaos around him. The critical takeaway, he says, is that one must not allow his physical or emotional sense to overtake his spiritual calm and the ability to properly serve Hashem.

אַֽחֲרֵ֨י הוֹדִ֧יעַ אֱלֹהִ֛ים אֽוֹתְךָ֖ אֶת־כָּל־זֹ֑את אֵֽין־נָב֥וֹן וְחָכָ֖ם כָּמֽוֹךָ: Since God has informed you of all this, there can be no one so discerning and wise as you (41:39) - Why weren’t Pharaoh’s magicians able to interpret the dream?Why was the fact that Yosef knew how to interpret the dream deemed to indicate that there was no one as discerning and wise as him, and that he was fit to be king? Rav Moshe Stav Shlita explained that in the dreams recounted in the parsha, Pharaoh dreamed on a personal level, but also on the level of a king, such that he saw reality through a more universal lens. Usually, Pharaoh dreamed as an individual, and his magicians – who knew him, his personality, his way of thinking, his aspirations, and the longings during the day that affected his dreams at night – interpreted his dreams in a manner that calmed him. But this time, the dream was different. It was on a higher level, deriving from the place where “the heart of kings is in the hand of Hashem.” The dream therefore bothered him, and the chartumim could not understand what he had experienced. As a result, they were not able to provide an explanation that satisfied him. Yosef’s wisdom was not reflected in the fact that he explained the details, but rather in that he experienced the dream from the perspective of Pharaoh. He interpreted the dream in a manner that was psychologically satisfying to Pharaoh. Wisdom and discernment do not simply entail knowledge of details and the ability to draw conclusions, but also the ability to grasp the larger picture. This is the level of perfection of the power of imagination. Many people think that imagination is delusion, but this is a mistake. The power of imagination is the power to paint an accurate picture of reality based on the overall impression of the facts.


וַיִּקְרָ֨א פַרְעֹ֥ה שֵֽׁם־יוֹסֵף֘ צָֽפְנַ֣ת פַּעְנֵ֒חַ֒ Pharaoh called Yosef Tzofnas Paneiach…and Yosef went out into the land of Egypt (41:45) – Yosef name is changed but before the end of the Possuk it seems that the name is forgotten? Why? How? Rav Zaidel Epstein ztl. explained that the name Tzofnas Paneiach was Pharaoh’s way of reminding Yosef that he, was still the boss and Yosef was now a new man under his spell and rule. Yosef understood that this move was a means of assimilating him into the populance and therefore chose to make sure that when he went out it was as Yosef – maintaining his connection to his father’s house at the core.


כִּֽי־נַשַּׁ֤נִי אֱלֹהִים֙ אֶת־כָּל־עֲמָלִ֔י For Hashem made me forget (41:51) – Why is Yosef called a Tzaddik if he was trying to forget his father and his earlier years? Rav Eliyahu Meir Bloch ztl explains that there are some people who are so mired in their pasts that they cannot live in the present or prepare for the future. Yosef was not one of those people. He was ready to take his past and utilize the teachings in his present to build the ideal home based on where he was and where he was headed. That is what Tzidkus is about.


וַיֵּֽשְׁב֣וּ לְפָנָ֔יו הַבְּכֹר֙ כִּבְכֹ֣רָת֔וֹ וְהַצָּעִ֖יר כִּצְעִֽרָת֑וֹ He seated them the oldest by his oldest place and the youngest based on his age (43:33) – Rashi explains that he pretended to rely on his cup as a means of magic. Why were the Shevatim so surprised? They had seen such powers in the past? Why be surprised if a cup could simply give an order? Rav Nosson Tzvi Wachtfogel ztl. explains that while the powers of Tumah were unleashed by a cup, these powers should have only been able to create disarray – but when it created order that was surprising to the brothers and didn’t make sense to them.


וַיִּשְׁתּ֥וּ וַיִּשְׁכְּר֖וּ עִמּֽוֹ: They drank with him (43:34) – Rashi adds that until that point they had not had any wine without him. Rav Eliyahu Lopian ztl. explains that while the brothers had determined that Yosef was a Rodef who needed to be stopped, they still felt a kinship toward him (think of Yehoshua’s treatment of Achan)and therefore shared in the sorrow of his loss and refused to drink as a result until this day.


לָ֛מָּה שִׁלַּמְתֶּ֥ם רָעָ֖ה תַּ֥חַת טוֹבָֽה: Why did you repay me with evil in place of my kindness (44:4) – Yosef’s argument needs explanation. He caught them red-handed in theft. Why does he question their etiquette? The Alter of Slabodka explains that Yosef recognized his brothers’ natures. He knew that accusing them of a specific sin that they knew they did not commit would not bother them. However, accusing them of bad middos and especially a lack of Hakaras Hatov would bother them immensely. Thus, he chose the latter approach.


Maftir – סולת בלולה בשמן למנחה Filled with flour mixed with oil for a Mincha – Rav Pam ztl. noted the Midrash that Torah is often compared to fine flour and the fine flour is combined with oil in the same way that Torah study needs to be combined with good deeds and proper behavior. Torah without middos has little value.


Haftara: לֹ֚א בְחַ֙יִל֙ וְלֹ֣א בְכֹ֔חַ כִּ֣י אִם־בְּרוּחִ֔י Not through armies and not through might but through my spirit (Zechariah 4:6) – What did the Nevuah mean? Rav Schachter Shlita would often quote the opinion of Rav Chaim that unlike the conquest of Eretz Yisrael which was via conquest (Kibbush), the conquest of Ezra was based on settlement (Chazaka). Kibbush can be lost through the Kibbush of an enemy but Chazaka is forever. This is what Zechariah saw – that the Kiddush of the second Beis HaMikdash was with the spirit of Hashem and His desire to settle his Shechina in Eretz Yisrael. That would remain in effect until Binyan Bayis Shlishi and beyond.