Parashat Miketz

Saturday 8th December 2018 30th Kislev 5779

Parashat Miketz

Genesis 41:1-44:17; 1 Kings 3:15-4:1; 1 Corinthians 11: 8-25

“And it came to pass at the end of [miketz] two full years, that Pharaoh dreamed a dream: and, behold, he stood by the river.” (Genesis 41:1)

In this week’s reading, Joseph is finally about to come to the end of his many trials and enter into his destiny.In fact, the name of the Parasha, Miketz, found in the opening verse of this week’s Torah reading, hints at this since this Hebrew word means ‘at the end of’. Joseph is brought out of the darkness of an Egyptian dungeon to interpret the strange dreams of the Pharaoh. In just one day, Joseph is promoted from prison to palace, and his life was suddenly transformed from darkness to light.

Miketz is always read during the 8-day celebration of Hanukkah and this week’s reading has a special Haftarah (prophetic reading) about the prophet Zechariah’s vision of a grand Menorah.

“He asked me, ‘What do you see?’ I answered, ‘I see a solid gold lampstand with a bowl at the top and seven lamps on it, with seven channels to the lamps. Also there are two olive trees by it, one on the right of the bowl and the other on its left.’” (Zechariah 4:2–3)

Two olive trees feed this Menorah with oil. The trees are often considered to refer to Joshua the High Priest and Zerubbabel, religious and political figures. But since prophecy usually reveals the present and future, and since trees in Scripture often represent people, these two trees are seen by some to represent. Yet others suggest that the 2 olive trees represent the Messiah (the Lord’s Righteous Branch) and Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) who are “anointed to serve the Lord of all the earth.” (Zechariah 4:14)

The Prophet Zechariah promises that the darkness that comes from our sin, which separates us from God, will be supernaturally lifted in a single day by His Righteous Branch (Zechariah 3:8–9). God also speaks of the supernatural working of the Ruach (Holy Spirit) to accomplish the Lord’s plans, such as the building of the Second Temple by Zerubbabel: “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.’” (Zechariah 4:6)

In the Holy Sanctuary, the light of the Menorah became a symbol of God’s Divine Presence; its light not only lit up the inside of the Temple, but tradition says it also shined out the windows into Jerusalem where people could bask in its rays during the dark nights. During this time of year, when the winter nights are the longest, we sense our need for light more intensely.