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The Weekly Aliyot of the Parsha

Last week we read parsha Vayeshev that ended with Yosef, the son of Yakov Avinu, in an Egyptian prison. While there, Yosef correctly interpreted the dreams of Pharaoh's chief butler and baker. Yosef asked the butler to mention Yosef's plight to Pharaoh, but, as the Torah told us, the butler forgot about the matter. This week's parsha, Miketz, takes place two years later, with Yosef still in prison.

  • In the first aliyah Pharaoh has a disturbing dream, where seven fat cows are eaten by seven skinny cows, and then a second dream where seven fat ears of grain are eaten by seven skinny ears. None of Pharaoh's wise men can interpret the dreams to Pharaoh's satisfaction. Pharaoh wasn't satisfied because he had dreamt the proper interpretation with each dream, but when he awoke he forgot the interpretation. Nevertheless he could tell if he was being told the correct interpretation.

    In this situation Pharaoh's butler mentions that two years earlier Yosef did a perfect job of interpreting the butler's dream. So Pharaoh hastily gets Yosef out of prison to interpret Pharaoh's present dream.

  • In the second aliyah Pharaoh describes his dream to Yosef, and Yosef interprets the dream about the cows and the ears as one dream. The seven good cows and ears mean that seven years of plenty are coming to Egypt, while the seven skinny cows and ears means that seven years of famine will follow and befall Egypt. Yosef then proposed a plan of putting away part of the produce of the good years to use during the years of famine. This greatly impresses Pharaoh.

  • In the third aliyah Pharaoh gives Yosef stupendous honor and appoints him head of all of Egypt, with the only exception being Pharaoh's throne. Thus Yosef is now second in command only to Pharaoh. Yosef is 30 years old at this point, and he marries Potifar's daughter Osnat. (Our sages tell us that actually this was an adopted daughter by Potifar. Osnat was really Yosef's Niece - the daughter that Dinah had when she was raped by Shchem. This also explains why Potifar's wife made advances to Yosef as recorded earlier in the Torah. She acted so because she knew that she and Yosef would have common offspring, only she didn't know it would be from her [adopted] daughter and not her.

    Yosef has two sons named Menashe and Ephraim.

  • In the fourth aliyah the famine predicted in Pharaoh's dream begins. It was a very grave famine affecting Egypt and many other countries. As planned, Yosef had sufficient stores of food and therefore Egypt had food to eat. Meanwhile Yosef's father Yakov and his other eleven sons were in the land of Canaan.

    Although they were not suffering from the famine, nevertheless, Yakov sends all of his sons other than Binyamin down to Egypt to buy food. On the way, it is the brother's intention to look for Yosef, their lost brother, because they regretted selling him. When the brothers get there, they have to go to their brother Yosef to request food, but they don't recognize him because he has grown up to be a man.

    The brothers bow down to Yosef, fulfilling Yosef's dream of his childhood.

  • In the previous aliyah and in this, the fifth aliyah, Yosef acts in a rough way to his brothers. While they're experiencing this they express regret about what they did to Yosef. Yosef accuses them of being spies, and holds Shimon hostage while sending the rest back to Canaan to fetch Binyamin.

    The reason Yosef kept Shimon was to separate him from Levi. Together, they had defeated the whole city of Shechem earlier in the Torah. Yosef is trying to prevent that from happening again in Egypt.

    When the brothers get back to their father Yakov, he is upset at the thought of another son, Shimon, being missing, and the possibility of even another one, Binyamin, being lost. Therefore Yakov hesitates for a long time to send Binyamin, but in the end, because of the famine, he does send him with them.

  • In the sixth aliyah, Yosef's brothers return to Egypt with Binyamin. They report to Yosef's palace where they are invited in to dine and are immediately reunited with their brother Shimon. In addition, Yosef sees Binyamin, his brother of the same mother, for the first in time 22 years.

  • At the end of the previous aliyah Yosef met his brother Binyamin, and in this, the seventh aliyah, the Torah says that Yosef immediately seeks a place to weep. Rashi says that this happened because upon their meeting, Yosef asked Binyamin if he had any brothers from the same mother. Binyamin replied that he had one, but doesn't know where he is. Furthermore Binyamin said his ten sons are all named after things that happened to his brother Yosef.

    All the brothers sit down to eat and drink, and Yosef gives Binyamin five times everyone else's portion. In the morning they all leave, but Yosef plans a way to cause yet one more bit of trouble for them and frames Binyamin with a false charge of robbery, and claims him as a servant.


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