Monday, November 25, 2013

Speak With Wisdom Like A Child (Robert Hunter & Jerry Garcia- " Foolish Heart")

It is not frequent when we get to experience a once in a lifetime event. Yet this week, for Jews throughout the United States, and American Jews throughout the world, they will celebrate Thanksgiving and the first day of Chanukah on the same day.  This unique event has been dubbed Thanksgivukuh. Certainly there are all kinds of cute ways to combine these two Holidays. In terms combining foods, I have seen recipes for Cranberry Latkes.  For those who really want to boost their cholesterol count, I am sure there a numerous recipes for frying the Thanksgiving turkey.  I am sure they have even designed a turkey with its tail feathers shaped like a Menorah that can be used for lighting Chanukah candles.  While our children are certainly having fun preparing for Thanksgivukah and are fascinated how mainstream this event has become, when we sit down to celebrate these two very distinct holidays, I am amazed how neatly they fit together. One Holiday focuses upon God’s everyday presence and offering thanks.  One holiday acknowledges God’s presence through the miracles we have witnessed.
This week’s Parsha is Mikeitz. This is Yosef’s coming out party. He is released from prison in order to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams. First he informs Pharaoh that God has given him this gift, and then he successfully interprets the two dreams. Pharaoh is so impressed, and so trusting of Yosef, that he makes Yosef his right hand man. He becomes responsible for preparing Egypt for the famine that will occur. When the famine struck Egypt, it also affected Canaan where Yosef’s brothers and father lived. They go down to Egypt seeking relief. Yosef recognizes them, but he does not reveal his identity. Rather he tests their moral growth; he purposefully frames the youngest brother, Benjamin in order to determine whether the brothers would finally protect one of their own. After many years in prison, Yosef finally has the opportunity to exhibit the moral growth of his character, and can evaluate the moral character of others. This Parsha demonstrates the effect that his moral character has upon others.
Throughout the Parsha, Yosef experiences numerous miracles. The wine steward remembers Yosef and recommends him to Pharaoh in order to interpret Pharaoh’s dream. Yosef interprets the dream correctly. Yosef’s plan of manipulating the brothers and getting them to bring all the brothers and later the father (in the next Parsha) can also be viewed as a miracle. It’s one thing for his brother’s and his brother’s, his brother’s descendants and Am Yisroel to read the text and see these miracles. It is quite another thing when the Torah tells us that the Egyptian people could also exclaim their thanks and be aware of the miracle that they were witnessing.  VaYarKeiv Oto B'MirKevet Hamishneh Asher Lo VaYikru L’Fanav “AvReich” V’Naton Oto Al Kol Eretz MitzrayimHe [Pharaoh] had him [Yosef] ride in his second royal chariot and they proclaimed before him “Avrech!” Thus, he appointed him over all the land of Egypt (Gen. 41:43). Both Pharaoh and the Egyptians not only think very highly of Yosef but they are all keenly aware of this unique man and powerful spirit that now resides in their midst. The people have given him the tile “Avrech”. The Talmudic Midrash explains that AvReich is a composite of two words: Av (father) in wisdom and rach (tender) in terms of years. Indeed several verses later (41:46), the Torah tells us: V’Yosef Ben Shloshim ShanahNow Joseph was thirty years old. The miracle from the perspective of those who were affected by Yosef and the Thanksgiving that Yosef should be offering to God, was the fact that such a young man, at age 30, had so much wisdom. There are not many 30 year olds who become the second most powerful person in a national superpower. Perhaps the miracle for Yosef was that throughout all of his ups and downs, he was able to learn from all those experiences. Those experiences, coupled with Yosef ability to express himself to Pharaoh suggest that within Yosef’s soul, was a great reservoir of wisdom, so much so that even the Egyptians recognized Yosef’s wisdom “AvReich”.
As we prepare for Thanksgiving and Chanukah in our home, we are all keenly aware of how our children have grown and matured from the previous year. We are both thankful for the fact that we have witnessed their physical, intellectual emotional and spiritual growth. We are aware of the miracle of having arrived at this moment in time and we are able to celebrate it: Baruch Atah Adoshem Elokeinu Melech Ha’Olam Sh’HeChiYanu, V’KiYaManu, V’Higianu LaZMaN HaZeh. Praise be are You O Lord, Our God, Ruler of the Universe who has kept us alive, sustained us and brought us to this season.
Rav Yitz

No comments:

Post a Comment