Our Parshat HaShevua Mikeitz is being sponsored by Moshe and Lauren Pitzele and family from Ramat Beit Shemesh who celebrate their son Yosef Shalom’s third birthday. To the Pitzele family, many thanks for your sponsorship and your continued kindnesses.
You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate a Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring a Parshat HaShevua.
Please forward to your relatives and friends and encourage them to sponsor a Parshat HaShevua. And please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.
Parshat Mikeitz seems to always fall out on Shabbos Chanukah and this author has opened previous vorts on the parsha by harkening back to a vort said over a several years ago at a Shabbos Chanukah Oneg about Yosef in Mitzrayim (Egypt) based on Jay Shapiro’s book “Almost Midrash.” This story of a fictitious second to Yosef was encorporated into a fictional tale entitled “Duaf of Memphis” from Shapiro’s book.
As Shapiro’s yarn goes, Duaf, a former Barber, relating his memoirs about his service and his time with Yosef to an Egyptian scribe. The sometimes humorous fiction depicted how Duaf was drafted and fought bravely in Pharaoh’s army during a war in which Pharaoh and his remaining forces rallied to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Duaf’s role in rallying Pharaoh’s forces earned him a meteoric rise through the ranks of Pharaoh’s army, as well number of important missions on behalf of Pharaoh, culminating in his being appointed as the Viceroy’s right-hand man. In one humorous sideline of the tale, during one of Duaf’s missions, he came to become acquainted with the Habiru people in Cana’an.
The vort contrasted Yosef’s talent for interpretation of dreams and his ingenuity as Viceroy, second only to Pharaoh, in saving Egypt from famine, with the dialogue of Page 13 A & B of Gemora Megillah Esther (the dialogue between Achashveirosh and Haman resulting in the evil decree against the Jews). The point of the Torah Vort was that just as with their longevity in Shushan and throughout Achashveirosh’s Empire, their longevity and assimilation into Mitzri society, after the deaths of Yosef and the brothers, brought the Jews disdain and disparagement by the Mitzriyim as either being useless or too powerful, such as to ally with Egypt’s enemies. In both cases, the antagonists conveniently forgot about Yosef, in direct contrast to the fictional Duaf as he concludes his recitation to the scribe, recounting that “Yosef saved Mitzrayim and will go down in the annals of history.” But we see how quickly Pharaoh and the Mitzrayim subsequently forgot Yosef, despite his ingenuity in saving the Egyptian people from massive famine and starvation, amidst what appeared as a massive integration and assimilation of the descendants of Yosef and the brothers into Egyptian society.
This guy Yosef who interprets dreams soo impresses Pharaoh with seeing from the dreams the onset of drought and famine that he’s made Viceroy, second only to Pharaoh in ruling over Egypt. Here’s this Jewish guy Yosef who makes all the right moves insuring that there is no starvation in Egypt during the famine, and yet, rather than “go down in the annals”, there seems to be no record in all history, other than in our Torah, of Yosef or this period in Egypt. If there were “annals of history” and if Yosef was in fact recorded, such records surely must have been later expunged.
In retrospect, we learn that the resultant slavery and persecution in Egypt welded and melded a nation — the Am Yisrael. However, the lesson of Egyptian enslavement and persecution and the perils of subsequent assimilations and meltings of Jews into alien societies, into the societies of the nations has sadly been unlearned. The error has been repeated again and again throughout history in different ways whenever Jews got comfortable, complacent in where they were at the time, notably in contemporary America, and forgot who and what they are in putting their personal needs, interests, fears and self-loathing above the welfare of Am Yisrael.
Just such an example of the sad lesson unlearned to this day when Aliyah is the easiest since the inception of the Galut, is the mistaken mindset of the Jews of Mainz and Worms, responding to the Jews in Jerusalem upon the building of the Beit HaMikdash Sheini, as recounted in Rabbi A. Leib Scheinbaum’s “The World That Was Ashkenaz” (page 13):
“You stay where you are in the great Jerusalem and we will continue to stay in our little Jerusalem.”
This mindset has its contemporary naive sequels which we’ve all heard more than once: Lakewood Ir Hakodesh, Monsey Ir HaKodesh, Borough Park or Flatbush Ir HaKodesh. Within American Jewry, in the generation of rampant intermarriage which has sapped our numbers, there is also rampant marginalization of Jews toward their Judaism, and thus, toward Israel. So, can Jews still be safe, secure and fully actuate themselves as Jews in the increasingly dangerous and alien venues of Chutz L’Aretz? Have Jews forgotten the lessons of the Nazi-enacted Nurenberg Laws, the direct result of German Jewry’s assimilation and intermarriage?
In forgetting and assimilating into the greater “melting pot” of the society where they reside, many Jews in Chutz L’Aretz have lost their unique Jewish identification. In our time, Chanukah for many Jews evolves into “spin the dreidel”, cutsie, yet shallow assemblies in Conservative Synagogues to make it seem like they are doing something for Jewish youth, yet totally miss the meaning and message of what Chanukah is really all about — the victory of Torah humility and wisdom over Greek contamination.
The parallel here, not only for Jews throughout the world, but particularly for Israelis, both secular and observant, is in how quickly alliances, treaties, agreements or commitments pertaining to Israel and the Jewish people, which either are signed by Arabs, or for that matter, by the nations, including the Superpower, are forgotten or fall by the wayside in the name of expediency, political alignments or realignments, regional, international and economic pressures. We see that agreements, third-party guarantees, either by the US, the EU, the UN and its UNFIL are worthless and worse — totally detrimental to Jewish security and well-being.
But it is not just the demented and corrupted politics, “diplomacy (sic)” and morals of the nations, it is the self-loathing emulation by Israel’s governmental leadership of the ways of the nations, including their dual standards of morality — one morality for them and another, stricter standard for Israel (read as the Jews), in her desperate but futile lust for the love and understanding of the nations.
It’s about the government of Israel’s continuous quivering over accusations by the nations of “disproportional” military or police actions in repelling murderous Islamics in the various and most recent outbreaks of ongoing Islamic war to destroy and eradicate the Jews. It’s about the Israel “Supreme Court” ordering and sanctioning the possible destruction by the Israeli police of a Beit Knesset on a site, falsely claimed to be owned by Arabs, in a Jerusalem neighborhood — what can only be seen and understood as an attack upon all observant Jews and a huge Chillul Hashem. It’s about legislation pending in Knesset which, if passed into law, would take children’s chinuch, i.e. right “to physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development and to develop their talents and personal abilities” out of the hands of parents and into the hands of governmental authorities, i.e. social workers, or “third party[ies] such as a psychologist or mediator…” And it’s about much more, all in a ongoing struggle by the secular vs the Torah-observant for the hearts and minds of Jewish Israel.
There are among us, the modern-day Hellenists who spin each betrayal as other than, and who keep coming back for more changeable third-party guarantees or assurances rather than to “bite the bullet” and admit that they’ve “put good money after bad” by repeatedly putting the security and well-being of the Jews at perilous risk. And in fact, these Hellenists keep spinning and keep brainwashing the masses, even by attempting to pass laws against outreach and Teshuvah, or by attempting to legalize halachically prohibited (gay) marriages, out of disdain and blind hatred of their Jewishness and anything Jewish.
From the precedent of forgetting Yosef, and its comparable events throughout Jewish history, the conclusion, the lesson to be drawn, particularly in these times when we are again in the Land of Israel, is that Jews must look only to themselves, and most importantly, Hashem, to guarantee their own security and wellbeing. We must understand and internalize the adage for the chapter from the book “The Revolt” by Menachem Begin z’l entitled “We Fight, Therefore We Are” — that ONLY Jews, with the Help of HaKadosh Borchu, are capable of protecting and defending Jews and insuring their security. And a substantial part of that “fight” is done with the mind, heart, hands and feet when Jews, young people, young couples with young children, as well as the more established and the retired pick up, transition from their parnossa, their homes, neighborhoods and their children’s schools in Chutz L’Aretz, pack, get on that plane and resettle themselves in Eretz Yisrael.
And so, may our brethren from Gush Katif and the Shomron, together with all intellectually honest and enlightened Jews, including new olim, rise up to do battle for the Jewish mind and soul, just as the Maccabees did in doing battle against the Greeks.
May it be in this year and in all future years, that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif – the vast majority still seeking their permanent places, our brethren in the South — S’derot and the other towns bordering Gaza, and those in the North who still live under threat of Katushyas and Hezbollah, as well as our dear brethren, Jonathan Pollard and Sholom Rubashkin, be central in our thoughts, prayers, chassadim and actions.
May we, the B’nai Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them at leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized gunpoint, that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard’s true freedom — his return home to Israel, and that Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the other MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of 1 1/2 years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!
Good Shabbos and Chanukah Same’ach!
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.