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This Week's The Torah Portion:

Torah reading "Miketz"

Summary:

Pharaoh, king of Egypt, is plagued by dreams. In one dream, 7 thin, underfed cows devour 7 fat ones; in another, 7 thin stalks of grain consume 7 fat ones. None of Pharaoh's wise men can satisfactorily interpret these dreams! But rumor has it that in the palace dungeon there sits a young prisoner named Joseph, a Hebrew, who is a skillful interpreter of dreams.

Pharaoh immediately orders that Joseph be brought before him. "Your majesty, the 7 fat cows and the 7 fat stalks represent 7 years of plenty about to arrive in Egypt... But the years of plenty will be followed by 7 years of famine - famine so severe, that all of Egypt's food will be consumed!". The Pharaoh is greatly impressed by Joseph's interpretation and immediately orders that a grain-storage project take place. And whom does he appoint as the overseer of this project? None other than Joseph!

Years pass; the 7 fat years have come and gone. And just as Joseph predicted, a terrible hunger descends upon the region. Indeed, even in far off Canaan, Jacob and family are worried about their very survival. When Jacob hears that the Pharaoh has stored grain away, he urges his sons to journey down to Egypt and bring back food for the family. But Jacob refuses to allow his littlest son, Benjamin, to join them. A short while later, Jacob's sons stand before the overseer of the grain-storage project – who of course, is their brother Joseph, whom they brutally kidnapped and sold into slavery 22 years earlier! They don't recognize him; Joseph, however, recognizes them all too well. "You are liars!" he bellows. "You claim to have a little brother.

Why then, isn't he here with you? Have you come here to spy on Egypt? Go back to Canaan, and bring your little brother here; only then will I believe you!" The bewildered brothers return to Canaan and plead with their father Jacob to allow young Benjamin to travel with them to Egypt. The hunger by this time has become so severe, that Jacob finally allows Benjamin to join them. The brothers swear to their father that they will return with young Benjamin. And they set out for Egypt with Benjamin, attempting once again to purchase food from Joseph. Joseph sells them grain, but secretly places his silver goblet in little Benjamin's grain sack!

After the brothers depart for Canaan, Joseph pursues them and accuses them of theft. "The one who stole my goblet shall remain with me!" he declares. Clearly, Joseph seeks to keep young Benjamin, the only one of his brothers who did not participate in the kidnapping 22 years earlier. But what will the brothers do now? Will they return to their father Jacob minus Benjamin? The answer lies in next week's Torah portion!

Shabbat Shalom,
Happy Hanukah!

Rabbi Alvin Wainhaus

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