Showing posts from January, 2017

The Lesson of Shmos: Don't Underestimate a Woman

This occurred to me today: a common theme in both the text and the Midrashim associated with this week's parsha is that women are the driving force that the powers that be fail to register.  The story recounts how the king of  Egypt put Yosef's accomplishments out of his mind and took a xenophobic view of the Israelites. He stirred up public opinion against them as he appointed tax collectors and then taskmasters over them, pushing them into the subjugation of slavery. Not content with that, though, he started a policy of genocide.

But the genocide was to be effected via the males only. Pharaoh ordered the midwives to only kill the baby boys, figuring the girls pose no threat and can be assimilated into Egyptian society. That is where he erred. The females were not the passive creatures he thought them to be. Even when the midwives gave some indication of that by not carrying out his order (though they claimed that the women managed to give birth on their own, denying them the…

Vayechi, a unique form of swearing

I heard Rav Goldwicht speak last night. Among the things he touched on was a bridge from Sukkos to Chanukah to Asara BeTeves in the parsha. He said that Yaakov died on Sukkoth (interesting, as that is the holiday associated with him) and was then carried out to Eretz Yisrael on Chanukah (due to the delay in the 40 day mummifying process followed by 30 days of mourning within Egypt) and then finally buried on Asar BeTeves because of the 7 days of mournig observed by the family prior to placing him in Maaras Hamachpela. It was soon after, following the death of the shvatim that the children of Israel came down spiritually, as they picked up on the culture and practices of their surroundings,  and then physically when they were enslaved.

My own thoughts on the parsha were this: Yaakov exacts a form of shvua from Yosef that we only see one other place in TaNaCh, and that is when Avraham exacts a shvua from Eliezer. They both request that oath be signified by the other person placing his h…

Yosef's wife's story

In Parshas Mikeitz Yosef has a complete turnabout of fortune when he interprets Pharaoh's dream and is made viceroy. Once he is established, he also marries. His bride is named Osnas and identified as the daughter of Potiphera, a priest of On. The Midrash (in Pireki D'Rabbi Eliezer quoted by Da'as Zekeinim)identifies him as the same Potiphar who purchased Yosef and say that she was his adopted daugter. Her biological parents were none other than Yosef's half-sister Dina and Schem.  How did she end up adopted in Egypt?

There are a few differences in detail in the accounts, though basically, the family of Yaakov did not want this child in their household and insisted on her being cast out. Yaakov fastened a necklace with  a kind of amulet that identified her family origins to protect her. That's what she had on her when all the women in Egypt set out to see the handsome young viceroy and threw over their jewels, so that's what she threw out to him. He read it and…