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Beit Midrash Torah Portion and Tanach Miketz


Rabbi Stewart WeissKislev 23 5778
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All of life is essentially about one thing: Growth. We are put on this Earth to grow our neshamot, to grow in faith, in wisdom & in integrity. This is the story of each & every one of us - & it is Yosef’s story, too.

Yosef begins his life in glorious fashion: The beloved son of Yakov the Patriarch, heir to the leadership of the family (as evidenced by his royal coat of many colors); blessed with charisma, good looks & physique. He has it all.
But soon it all goes south. Yosef enrages his brothers, is almost murdered by them & then sent into exile in morally-depraved Egypt. There, the road back will begin.

When we are babies, immature in the extreme, we think we are the center of the universe. All of our needs are attended to; our slightest cry is quickly answered; we are the King of the Crib! But, as we grow, we must learn that we are not the end all & be all; we are but a part of a much greater whole – an important part, yes, but not exclusive.

The key to our growth spurt is Humility; humility before Man & G-d. Yosef expresses this trait in just 1 word - "Bil'a'dye." When Paro remarks that Yosef is said to have interpretive powers, Yosef says: "Bil’a’dye – this is beyond me; only
Hashem has the power to probe the future." Paro is stunned & impressed by this confession. Others would surely have grabbed the credit for themselves; now Paro knows that Yosef is no threat to his throne. His humility, combined with his wisdom, is a rare & valuable commodity in totalitarian society. And so, he vaults to Viceroy.

Yosef will rise to leadership not from above, having being chosen by Yakov, but from below - way, way below. - the dungeons of Egypt. And that is what defines the great leaders of history: Men of the people, who struggle, who emerge from humble beginnings, as did Moshe & David, shepherds both of them, the lowliest of all professions, say Chazal.

Humility, I suggest, is also the centerpiece of Chanuka. The brave Maccabees are referred to in the Al HaNisim prayer as "Chalashim," weak, so as to temper their ego & remind them that their power emanates from G-d. And the holiday’s central icon, that lone, solitary cod of pure oil? It, too, oozes with humility. This little, unassuming cruse of oil, though tiny in volume, had the ability to fuel a marvelous miracle that would light up millions of homes for thousands of years. Amazing what just a little faith in a bottle can do, right?

So stay humble, little Israel; keep your ego in check. As long as you do, you will grow stronger & stronger & you will undoubtedly surpass all of your bigger & older "brothers."
Rabbi Stewart Weiss
Was ordained at the Hebrew Theological College in Skokie, Illinois, and led congregations in Chicago and Dallas prior to making Aliyah in 1992. He directs the Jewish Outreach Center in Ra'anana, helping to facilitate the spiritual absorption of new olim.
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