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This week’s Sedra starts in the middle of an exciting confrontation. To recap, Joseph’s brothers have come to Egypt to buy food. Joseph recognizes them and calls them to the palace. Here, we see that Judah, the leader of the brothers, approaches Joseph (whom he does not recognize) and tells him “You are like Pharaoh.” The Midrash in Bereishis Rabbah tells us that he had three reasons to say this: for appeasement, prayer and battle.
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This week’s Sedra starts off with Jacob, at the end of his life, calling to his beloved son Joseph, and asking him not to bury him in Egypt (where they had lived together for the last seventeen years). He uses unusual language: “Please - if I have found favour in your eyes”.
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In this week’s Sedra, Vayeishev, we are told of the incident of the selling of Joseph. This was another in the long list of trials for Jacob.
Poor Jacob. After all his other ordeals (see previous parsha sheets) all that he wanted to do was live in peace in the land where his father had been merely a stranger. He felt that he had a right to a serene existence. However, Divine Providence had a different plan.
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“At the end of two years, Pharaoh dreamed that he was standing over the Nile”
These words introduce this week’s Sedra, Miketz. Poor Joseph is stuck in prison. The Midrash, commenting on the beginning of the sedra, opens with a verse from the book of Job: “He sets an end to darkness”. What do these words have to do with Pharaoh? The Midrash answers us by saying that everything has an end, including the trials inflicted on man. Joseph had to suffer in prison, forgotten by everyone, for twelve seemingly interminable years. His situation must have appeared almost hopeless. Only his belief and faith in G-d could help him bear such a cruel ordeal.