Joseph’s Brothers and the Naked Truth

Joseph’s Brothers and the Naked Truth

Dec 3, 2021 By Howard Markose | Commentary | Miketz

Parashat Miketz, Jacob sends Joseph’s brothers on a mission to procure rations for the family, which is facing starvation in Canaan. The ten sons of Jacob, however, could not have anticipated what was to transpire upon their arrival. An intense interrogation by Egypt’s viceroy is followed by three days in detention, the incarceration of Simon, and a demand to bring Benjamin, their youngest brother, to Egypt. The brothers find no relief from their ordeal, and this unrelenting strain manifests itself both in the way they respond to Joseph’s questioning, as well as how they retell the incident to their father, Jacob, upon their return to Canaan.

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Strangers to Ourselves

Strangers to Ourselves

Dec 18, 2020 By Jan Uhrbach | Commentary | Miketz

The Joseph narrative contains a striking number of contranyms—words that simultaneously convey opposite meanings. Why?

Contranyms are a natural linguistic expression of the Torah’s insistence that a “both/and” perspective is essential to understanding deep truths, other people, and ourselves. The portrayal of Joseph is a prime example.

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Letters Unopened

Letters Unopened

Dec 27, 2019 By Shira D. Epstein | Commentary | Miketz

Several years ago, during a period of intense dreaming, I started keeping what I lovingly referred to as a “luminous journal.” Immediately upon awakening from a dream, I would reach for a notebook on my nightstand and furiously transcribe all I had experienced, inclusive of dialogue, and mood—a verbatim as if recounting a real-life event. I had learned over time that otherwise, the intense narrative and video that had so vividly played for my one-person viewing audience would be lost. No record, no memory of my dreams.

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Hearing the Scream

Hearing the Scream

Dec 7, 2018 By Eliezer B. Diamond | Commentary | Miketz

Perhaps no scream is more famous than the one portrayed in Edvard Munch’s painting popularly known simply as The Scream. The irony is that almost none of us is aware of the scream that Munch intended to portray.

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The Unpardonable Sin

The Unpardonable Sin

Dec 30, 2016 By Marc Gary | Commentary | Miketz

Among baseball aficionados, the name of Ralph Branca is universally known. Branca, who died at the age of 90 at the end of November, was famous (or, for many, infamous) for being the pitcher who gave up the “Shot Heard Round the World.” In the final game of the 1951 National League championship, the Brooklyn Dodgers were leading 4-2 in the bottom of the 9th inning with two men on base when the New York Giants’ power hitter, Bobby Thomson, came to the plate to bat. The Dodgers called on Branca to save the game, but his second pitch flew off of Thomson’s bat and over the green wall in left center field for a home run.

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Joseph, Hanukkah, and the Dilemmas of Assimilation

Joseph, Hanukkah, and the Dilemmas of Assimilation

Dec 11, 2015 By Arnold M. Eisen | Commentary | Miketz | Hanukkah

Ruminations about assimilation come naturally to Jews in North America during the winter holiday season. How much should a parent insist that Hanukkah is part of public school celebrations that give students a heavy dose of Christmas? How often should one remind store clerks who innocently ask Jewish children which gifts they hope to receive from Santa this year that there are other faiths observed in our communities, and other holidays?

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Joseph’s Feast

Joseph’s Feast

Dec 11, 2015 By Michael R. Boino | Commentary | Miketz

In Joseph’s Feast, Joseph struggles with his family trauma as well as his desire for familial love. The title as well as some of the content of the poem alludes to Belshazzar’s feast as told in the Book of Daniel (Chapter Five).

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An Alternative Hero

An Alternative Hero

Dec 19, 2014 By Alisa Braun | Commentary | Miketz

Joseph, not Moses, torn apart
dreams snakes brothers father
sins and returns loves and is silent
wanders between the gleanings of Ephraim and the delight of Manasseh
Joseph knowledge Joseph pain
Joseph summer

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A Blessing of Reconciliation

A Blessing of Reconciliation

Dec 19, 2014 By Lilly Kaufman | Commentary | Miketz

In Parashat Miketz, the masterful Joseph, hashalit al ha’aretz (the sovereign of the land) engages in a series of tests of his brothers’ honesty. Also at stake is the resilience of their father Jacob’s legacies.

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Miketz—Hanukkah—Thanksgiving

Miketz—Hanukkah—Thanksgiving

Nov 27, 2013 By Burton L. Visotzky | Commentary | Miketz | Hanukkah

Hanukkah is the original Thanksgiving. While it is true that our ancestors did not eat turkey (a North American bird), they certainly were cooking with oil.

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The Wisdom of Joseph: Saving Self and Country

The Wisdom of Joseph: Saving Self and Country

Nov 27, 2013 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Miketz

Parashat Miketz opens with Pharaoh plagued by two disturbing dreams pregnant with meaning.

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Fruits of the Land, Song of the Soil

Fruits of the Land, Song of the Soil

Dec 12, 2012 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Miketz | Hanukkah

The Joseph narrative continues its dramatic twists and turns as Joseph, through his talented dream interpretations, rises to become the second most powerful figure in the land of Egypt.

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Why There Is Suffering

Why There Is Suffering

Dec 24, 2011 By Charlie Schwartz | Commentary | Text Study | Miketz | Hanukkah

Who among us has not experienced suffering? After all, loss, sadness, and struggle are as much a part of life as joy, happiness, and triumph. This is as apparent in the emotional arc of Joseph and his family in parashat Miketz as it is in life’s experience.

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From Darkness to Eight Lights

From Darkness to Eight Lights

Dec 4, 2010 By Andrew Shugerman | Commentary | Text Study | Miketz

During the outreach classes I lead for The Jewish Theological Seminary, I have recently fielded questions about evil and suffering with what seems to be greater frequency each week. Is there a connection between the decreased hours of daylight and my students’ concern about why bad things happen to good people?

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From Darkness into Light

From Darkness into Light

Dec 19, 2009 By David Hoffman | Commentary | Miketz | Hanukkah

We Jews know that stories are not simple things. As a people, we tell tales that place us in the drama of world history and connect us with a common past and a shared future. Our national stories challenge us as individuals and as a community; they provide us with contexts to work out moral dilemmas, and help us reflect collectively on what it means to live life well.

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Remaining Jewish

Remaining Jewish

Dec 23, 2006 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Miketz

The First Book of Samuel teaches, “just as his name, so too is his essence” (I Samuel 25:25). Such wisdom reflects more than a kernel of truth.

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Moral Leadership

Moral Leadership

Dec 31, 2005 By Marc Wolf | Commentary | Miketz

“Some writers flatly assert that dreams know nothing of moral obligations; others as decidedly declare that the moral nature of man persists even in his dream–life.” Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams

After interpreting Pharaoh’s dream prophesizing the demise of Egypt as the will of God, with a degree of autonomy that we have yet to see, Joseph applies his own thought process and looks beyond interpretation.

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What’s in a Name

What’s in a Name

Dec 11, 2004 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Miketz

Names and titles speak to our very essence. This truism becomes all the more clear as we explore Parashat Miketz.

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Complete Repentance

Complete Repentance

Dec 27, 2003 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Miketz

Early on in his laws of repentance, Maimonides gives us a definition of the highest form of repentance:

What is complete repentance? When we are confronted with a situation in which we previously sinned and could do so again, but this time we desist not out of fear or weakness but because we have repented. An example: a man has sexual relations with a woman in violation of the Torah. Sometime later he finds himself alone with her again in the same place with ardor and virility undiminished. However, this time he departs without the slightest impropriety. Such a person has attained the level of complete repentance.

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Language of Continuity

Language of Continuity

Dec 7, 2002 By Lauren Eichler Berkun | Commentary | Miketz | Hanukkah

“Assimilation” and “Jewish Continuity” are two pressing issues in our Jewish consciousness which are neither modern nor unique to our history as a people. It is fitting to read the story of Joseph’s political ascendancy in Egypt during this Shabbat Hanukkah. In this week’s Torah portion, and during the Festival of Lights, we reflect upon the persistent challenges of assimilation and Jewish continuity. Paradoxically, we learn that Jewish survival often necessitates a degree of acculturation.

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