Monthly Services

In December our Shabbat Service will be held at the UUCOB building
at the corner of Kitty Hawk and Herbert Perry Roads in Kitty Hawk. 

831 Herbert Perry Rd

Please join us!

Upcoming Service:
Saturday, December 8, 2018
Time: 10:00 AM

Parsha Mikaitz
Genesis Chap 41 – Chap 44 v. 17

        The last four chapters in the Book of Genesis describe the life and times of Joseph, the favorite son of Jacob/Israel.  Joseph was the favorite son because he was the first child born by Rachel, Jacob’s favorite wife.  Like Sarah and Rebecca, Rachel had difficulty conceiving, and after Leah (6+1), Leah’s handmaid (2) and Rachel’s handmaid (2) had ten sons and one daughter with Jacob, God finally opened her womb and Joseph was born.  Rachel’s last son, Benjamin, was born many years later, and Rachel died during his birth and is buried near Bethlehem.
        In the preceding parsha, Joseph is sold into slavery by his brothers and ends up in Egypt.  He finds favor with his owner, but is seduced by his owner’s wife.  Although he does not stray, Joseph is falsely accused and thrown into prison, where God watches over him.  He interprets several dreams correctly, and our parsha begins with Pharoah’s dreams.
        Pharaoh’s advisors cannot interpret the dreams, and Joseph is called from his cell to interpret the dreams.  Joseph tells Pharaoh that he is not a professional interpreter, but works through God.  He tells Pharaoh that his dream speaks of 7 excellent harvest years followed by 7 years of famine, and that by carefully storing up half of the harvest from the 7 excellent years, Egypt will be able to cope with the following 7 years of famine.  Pharoah is greatly impressed by Joseph’s wisdom coupled with his belief in God, and not only frees him from prison, but appoints him to the royal position of Grand Viscount.  Pharoah also gave Joseph the daughter of a high priest to be his wife, and to him were born his sons Manasseh and Ephraim.  Lastly, Pharaoh changes Joseph’s name to Sef.  While the Torah consistently talks about keeping the Israelites pure to prevent mixing with idol-worshipping peoples, nothing is said about Joseph and his Egyptian wife.  Perhaps that is because the Pharaoh realizes that Joseph is a god-fearing man, and also that Joseph does not know if his family is alive or dead.  It is as if he is an orphan.  The key feature of this chapter is that while Pharaoh does not worship God, he is tolerant of Joseph’s beliefs and rewards his belief in God.  Obviously the future Pharaoh was not as tolerant.
        I have long believed that the easiest way to explain the unexplainable is by invoking the idea that God has a Master Plan.  As we shall now see, Joseph being sold into slavery is obviously part of such a plan.  After 7 good years, the famine strikes Egypt and the surrounding areas.  Because of Joseph, the Egyptians were prepared to weather the famine; therefore, other nearby tribes affected by the famine flocked to Egypt to buy corn and grain, and amongst them were Joseph’s brothers.  Only Benjamin, Jacob’s youngest son, remained in Canaan because Jacob feared that he himself would die on the spot if something should happen to Benjamin, as, he thought, had previously happened to Joseph.
        Now Joseph recognized his brothers, but they did not recognize him.  If you are counting, it has been 20 years since his brothers sold him into slavery.  And while Joseph could have acted out of revenge towards them, he held his feelings in check until he was certain of their love for their father Jacob, their brother Benjamin, and their sincere remorse for what they had done to him.  Once this all happens, and it is not concluded until early in the next parsha, he will be able to reveal himself and forgive them fully.  The remainder of the parsha describes Joseph’s actions.  He listens to their story but accuses his brothers of spying.  To be believed, he tells them, they must leave a brother in Egypt (Simeon), return to Canaan and then come back with Benjamin.  The brothers recall with remorse what they did to Joseph, but they agree to his demands.  After speaking at great lengths with Jacob, they return with Benjamin.  Joseph is overcome upon their return but is able to keep his emotions under control.  He sells them the grain they need but devises one more plan to test them by secretly hiding a silver cup in Benjamin’s sacks.  After they leave, Joseph has their caravan overtaken and searched.  Upon discovering the silver cup, the brothers offer to have the robber killed and the rest of them put into slavery in Egypt.  They again repent for what they did to Joseph many years ago.
        So Joseph now recognizes that his brothers are completely repentant, but now the parsha ends.  There are many life lessons here.  Fear and love of God, love of their father, turning the other cheek, repentance and complete forgiveness of another’s wrongdoings are all evident.  A great deal is made of the several times where Joseph weeps in private, yet his goal is to prove to himself that his brothers are still good people and realize how their jealousy towards him affected them, their father Jacob and Joseph himself. makes a case for the dysfunctionality of this family and how Joseph’s inconsistent actions towards his brothers were motivated by the fact they he never expected to see them again.  We can also toss in the fact that while Joseph is now a Grand Viscount in Pharaoh’s court, he was a prisoner in the same Pharaoh’s dungeons for 12 years!  This external transformation did nothing to change his personality that caused his brothers to plot against him 20 years before.
        While little is said in the Bible about Manasseh and Ephraim, reminds us that they were normal brothers with normal parents – apparently Joseph was an OK dad – and many Jewish households to this day bless their sons each Shabbat to be like Manasseh and Ephraim.  I guess Joseph didn’t tell them about his past history.  Hopefully he just introduced them to his new uncles and aunt.
        Joseph’s brothers might not have been able to elevate themselves had they not committed such a dastardly deed many years ago.  And the world might have suffered a severe breakdown if Joseph had not been in a position to interpret the Pharaoh’s dreams and prevent a global famine.  God moves in mysterious ways. 

        At this time, I’d like us all to recite the first Haftorah blessing, and then I’ll make my comments about this week’s Haftorah.  Then we will recite the final Haftorah blessings and put the Torah aside.

        This week's Haftorah from Kings I opens with the words "And Solomon awoke, and behold it was a dream," echoing this week's Torah portion which opens with Pharaoh's dreams.  Though not included in this Haftorah, in this dream God granted King Solomon his legendary wisdom, and the Haftorah relates a famous story that made all of Israel aware of his keen intellect.
        The event details Solomon’s decision to cut a newborn in half in order to satisfy a dispute between two mothers, one of whom took the other’s child when she accidentally suffocated her own baby.  The guilty mother did not move to stop Solomon, whereas the true mother leaped forward to beg Solomon to give the baby to the other woman.  Solomon realized who the real mother was, and all of Israel recognized his wisdom, for they knew that the spirit of God was with him.

        Hopefully the readings from the Torah and Haftorah will provide you with some insight as to how to improve yourself and your relationships with others, and how God’s Master Plan will allow you to tap into your hidden personal resources.