Last week we saw that Yosef, before telling its details, told his brothers that he had a dream. This was meant to convey that he was divinely chosen to be the prophet/leader and that this was done to try to put their acrimony to rest. We also posited that, with the content of the dream, Yosef reassured them that even though he would be the continuation of the forefathers, they would still have a positive role to play, which had not happened in previous generations.
In Paroh’s dream, he was standing on top of the Nile (Bereishit 41:1). Chazal stressed that this is a hint at the phenomenon that the evil exist “on top of their gods” (Bereishit Rabba 69:3). The Nile is the god of Egypt because it gives them life, turning the river course, found in the midst of a scorching desert, into a flourishing pearl of growth and sustenance. An Egyptian god is a god to the extent that it “produces results,” providing needs and desires. The idol of a defeated nation stops being their idol. Egypt knew that they developed because of the Nile and knew how to value the provider of food and water. They knew, in their eyes, how to provide treats and tributes for the Nile. If one sacrifices before a god, it is based on the assumption that it will provide the one who offered it a net gain.
Last week we saw that all of the patriarchs were seriously involved in conversion and thus in welcoming people into the fold. We mentioned that we should look to help three categories of people who live in Israel but could find themselves excluded from the Jewish community. 1) Proving the Jewishness of born Jewish who, due to the horrors that befell the Jewish people in previous generations, cannot prove it. 2) Providing valid conversions for the children of Jewish fathers. 3) Dealing with those without Jewish blood who still were able to enter Israel under the Law of Return. This week we will focus on group #1.
Hundreds of years before Bnei Yisrael received the Torah on Mt. Sinai, including the laws of Shemitta, the story of Yosef and Paroh’s dream, which is told in Parashat Miketz (which is always read on Chanuka), occurred. We will try to find the connection between all of these matters.