Sunday, November 28, 2010


Joseph is obviously talented in many ways.  He is good-looking, as we saw last week here in chapter 39:
ו וַיְהִי יוֹסֵף, יְפֵה-תֹאַר וִיפֵה מַרְאֶה.6  And Joseph was of beautiful form, and fair to look upon.
He was able to interpret dreams, as we saw last week and also this week in chapter 41:
יב  וְשָׁם אִתָּנוּ נַעַר עִבְרִי, עֶבֶד לְשַׂר הַטַּבָּחִים, וַנְּסַפֶּר-לוֹ, וַיִּפְתָּר-לָנוּ אֶת-חֲלֹמֹתֵינוּ:  אִישׁ כַּחֲלֹמוֹ, פָּתָר.12 And there was with us there a young man, a Hebrew, servant to the captain of the guard; and we told him, and he interpreted our dreams for us; to each man according to his dream he did interpret.
He realized that his power was a gift of God, not of his own making, as we read, also in chapter 41:
טז  וַיַּעַן יוֹסֵף אֶת-פַּרְעֹה לֵאמֹר, בִּלְעָדָי:  אֱלֹהִים, יַעֲנֶה אֶת-שְׁלוֹם פַּרְעֹה.16 And Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying: 'It is not up to me; God will give Pharaoh a complete and satisfying answer'.
 He is trustworthy, as we read:
לט  וַיֹּאמֶר פַּרְעֹה אֶל-יוֹסֵף, אַחֲרֵי הוֹדִיעַ אֱלֹהִים אוֹתְךָ אֶת-כָּל-זֹאת, אֵין-נָבוֹן וְחָכָם, כָּמוֹךָ.39 And Pharaoh said to Joseph: 'Since God has shown you all this, there is no one as discreet and wise as you.
He is also manipulative, as you can see if you read what happened when his brothers appeared before him to beg for food the first time (chapter 42) and the second time (chapters 43 and 44).
Finally, in chapter 45 Joseph reveals his identity to his brothers, who return to their father with what must have seemed unbelievable news.

  • What do you think caused Joseph to behave the way he did?
  • What bothers you about Joseph's behavior?
  • What about Joseph's behavior seems fair to you?  What seems unfair?
  • Who changes the most in the story - Joseph?  his brothers?  his father?  someone else?  Explain your answer
An important aspect of the story of Joseph is related to the theme of Hanukkah.  There are two interesting stories in today's NY Times that relate to the theme of identity, a theme that is central to Hanukkah.
The first is about Poland, and the tension in that country between the forces of religion, specifically the Catholic Church, and the influence of secularism, of life independent of the rule of religion.  You may want to read the article here

The second article is about yoga and its relationship to the Hindu religion.
  • What is the relationship between these two stories and the upcoming holiday of Hanukkah?

Be sure to look at last year's post on Miketz here for more ideas

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