Thursday, December 25, 2008

Parsha Notes (Meeketz)

Not a heck of a whole lot to say this week, I'm afraid. Newbies are invited to consult earlier editions of the series. As a Shabbos Chanuka bonus I have, this week, included links to some ghosts of Chanuka's past. (Aside:I know some of you are sometimes reluctant to comment on old posts, but please don't be inhibited. Thanks to the "recent comments" widget, your remark will likely be seen; aside from that, I try to read all comments, too. You're also free to email me( if you have something you want me to see.) (Note: The old posts often show 0 comments. This is a Haloscan glitch. Click and see (and remember: Comments are almost always better than the post)

New stuff in red

Bizarre Rashi (with twist)

After living in a dungeon for ten years, Yosef asked the king's butler to throw him a life line: כִּי אִם-זְכַרְתַּנִי אִתְּךָ, כַּאֲשֶׁר יִיטַב לָךְ, וְעָשִׂיתָ-נָּא עִמָּדִי, חָסֶד; וְהִזְכַּרְתַּנִי, אֶל-פַּרְעֹה, וְהוֹצֵאתַנִי, מִן-הַבַּיִת הַזֶּה/ But think on me when it shall be well with thee, and show kindness, I pray thee, unto me, and make mention of me unto Pharaoh, and bring me out of this house. Says Rashi: Because Joseph relied on him to remember him, he was compelled to be confined for two years, as it is said:“Praiseworthy is the man who made the Lord his trust and did not turn to the haughty (רְהָבִים)” (Ps. 40:5). He did not turn to the Egyptians, who are called רַהַב, haughty. I - along with many of the commentators - find it odd that Yosef might be punished with two extra years in jail, for exercising ordinary hishtadlut/effort.

Bonus twist: On the spot, the Kli Yakar puns on "who made the Lord his trust" Instead of sam he read shem ie, the name of the Lord was his trust. How? The Tetragrammaton makes use of the four letters with the lowest numerical value, and the name Yah has just two letters: Rather than choosing elaborate titles for himself, God, as it were, behaves modestly - a lesson for us all.

Loan Words
As Sarna tells us, some realism is added to the story of Joseph in Pharoh's court through the use of Egyptian loan words such as y'or, chartumim, 'ahu, taba'at, shesh, and most famously abrekh, a word which has never been satisfactorily translated.

Historical Accuracy
:: Joseph shaves before he sees Pharaoh. In the ANE, only Egyptians were clean shaven.

:: As attested to by several biblical and extrabiblical sources, circumcision was widely practiced in the ANE. Joshua (5:9) tells us that Egyptians thought lack of circumcision was a "reproach." Judges (14:3 etc.) is an example of the Philistines being depicted as "uncircumcised." No nation other than the Philistines are disparaged this way. In Jeremiah 9 other nations are said to pact ice this rite. On Gen 41:55 Rashi gives us a Just-So-Story for how this came to pass, saying that Joseph ordered the Egyptians to do it. (The LR says that just as Abraham circumcised his slaves and bondmen, Joseph had a halachic obligation to circumcise anyone under his control or power -an interesting, yet dangerous -almost fascist - idea.)

::The MT gives raqot (flat or hollow) on Gen 41:19; other ancient versions have daqot (meager)

:: On 41:56 the MT has וַיִּפְתַּח יוֹסֵף אֶת-כָּל-אֲשֶׁר בָּהֶם / and Joseph opened all in which there was. Something, obviously, is missing from this sentence, and Onkelos provides it, telling us that Joseph opened the "storehouses" in which there was "grain." (Alter)

Interesting Idea

When Joseph asked his bothers to bring him Benjamin, he was checking to see if he has been disposed of as well. In the ANE, as in other cultures, it was common from brothers to protect their inheritances by killing each other off, and a very young, half-brother would have been especially vulnerable. (Perhaps this thought is represented in the other commentaries, but I saw it in Alter)

Bible critics say the MT's version of Joseph's sale is two different accounts knitted together. Their evidence includes the question of who sold Joseph, and that both Reuven and Yehuda appear as instruments of his sale. Oddly enough, these two men also appear later in Joseph's court as Benjamin's protector, suggesting they'd repented.


The seven fat years are this world, the seven lean years are the world to come. Here we have everything, and the means to aquire everlasting life. In the next world, our money is worthless, and there is no way to aquire spiritual merit. Lesson: Fill up your storehouses now.


Oy Chanuka in which I explain why Chanuka isn't the festival of freedom, tell you the true origins of the dredal, and more.

Why does Chanuka has eight days? If you're not a newbie, you know the answer, but these are some Chanuka facts you may not know.

Where did the oil mircal come from? ExtraTorah rebuts. Josh Waxman embellishes

Chanuka = Sukkos in which I provide Torah sources for the idea, attested to in the book of Macabbees that the first Chanuka was really a delayed Sukkos.

Toys vs Turkeys explains why Chanuka presents should be abolished. (maybe)

Christmas for Jews is a grinchy post about Chanuka

No GOP Jew should sing Maoz Tzur.

Share some levivot with someone you love.

Remember Yus? (shudder) This Menorah post is where he first appeared, though under another name. When I explained why the Aish Hatorah Chanuka video sucked beans, he came back again, even nastier than before. Little known fact: I switched to Haloscan Comments solely so that I could ban him.

Put on your Yarmulka, its time for Chanuka discusses the dumb Adam Sandler song.

In which I laugh at the idea Shabbos Chanuka has "deep mystical powers"; two years later Bray showed he believes in that crap.

Chanuka ends explains why Chanuka has an unhappy ending. Same point, made a little differently here.

A poorly named post, in which I moan about the stupid dreidal song.

Chanuka in Baghdad, is a short, thin post that knocks Cheney.

President Panderer is a bit more substantive and takes what I still think was a legitimate and well deserved shot at Bush. (Heh. When I wrote it he was "President Forty Percent.")

And because no trip down memory lane would be complete without an undressing of Cross Currents check out this discussion of Toby Katz's mistaken view of Chanuka, too

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Buy my wife a gift (please)

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