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Beit Midrash Torah Portion and Tanach Miketz

Parashat Miketz

Life of the Individual

3022
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When the Torah refers to Yosef as "adonei haaretz", "the lord of the land" (Bereishit 42 30) (see Shelah, Vayeishev; Guide to the Perplexed, I, 61), it teaches us that the bounty that God bestowed on Egypt during Yosef’s reign as viceroy was in fact bestowed on Yosef and through him on Egypt.

Every nation has an angel that represents it on the level of ideas. The individuals who make up a nation are always changing; yet the nation continues to exist as long as the idea that unites it remains. Life in every land other than the Land of Israel (Taanit 10a) is sustained by God through the mediation of the particular, limited national idea that defines the nation and its land. As a result, even individual existence is colored by the limiting nature of the life-sustaining forces outside of the Land of Israel.

Yosef in Egypt had replaced the angel of Egypt, had subjugated the Egyptian national idea, becoming the conduit of a bounty not tainted by the Egyptian national character. Perhaps he was attempting to soften the blow to his father of leaving Israel when he asked his brothers to inform Yaakov of his role as "the ruler of all Egypt" (Bereishit 45:9).

But Yosef’s rule was both tenuous and temporary. Only productive life in the Land of Israel can establish a relationship with God undiminished by the particularistic national influences of the Galut (Shut Avnei Nezer, Yoreh Deah, no. 554).

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