Thoughts on Miketz

It’s worth remarking that the word מקץ (Miketz), the name of this week’s parsha (and it always falls on Chanukah) means “at the end”. Ironically, Ramchal (Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzatto) speaks of this parsha as the beginning of the Geula, Redemption (Otzrot Ramchal: Miketz) although at first reading it appears to lead directly to the Jewish People’s descent into the most abject of slavery in Egypt.

Ramchal talks about the drawing down of the Infinite Light through Da’at, Knowledge (which Yosef applied to Egypt when interpreting Pharaoh’s dreams) which is the combination of Chochmah and Bina (Wisdom/Insight and Analysis), which, themselves reach almost to Keter, the sefirotic realm beyond our comprehension, into Malchut (Kingship, but also refers to our world of action), almost to its very essence (Yosef, remember, rose only to the level of second to Pharoah). With Geula “activated” by the ultimate union of Keter and Malchut, we can, indeed, see these beneath-the-surface energies and influences leading from the very beginning of slavery to the ultimate freedom we experience in Pesach.

The symbolism of the connection to Chanukah should be obvious. As we find ourselves in the darkest days of the year we respond by adding light. In fact, we start to add light even before the very darkest day, paralleling the wisdom of our tradition that God sends the רפואה (Refuah) cure before he sends the מכה (Makah) the disease. We should note that the Refuah always involves our direct action and involvement (in this case, lighting the candles).

The part of reality that is already pretty much resolved to its highest potential doesn’t present much of a challenge. The real work is when we have to get down-and-dirty in the worst muck and clean that out. It isn’t fun, it’s often terribly unsatisfying and unfulfilling, but it’s absolutely necessary to bring the world to the state it has always been intended it should be. Ramchal sees our ancestors’ descent all the way to the 49th (out of 50) level of corruption as our opportunity to begin the Tikkun Olam that begins to manifest at Pesach and should have finally culminated in Matan Torah on Shavuot, had we not broken what we were supposed to repair and preserve, falling off the very peak of holiness back to the corruption of Avoda Zara, Idol Worship at the חטא העגל (Chet HaEgel), the golden calf.

It seems so often that when we think the end is in sight we suffer another fall, another descent into yet another realm requiring our work. Just as Rabbi Akiva, as related in Makkot 24b, responded to the ruins of our Holy Temple with seemingly inappropriate laughter because he saw, underlying the tragedy, the ultimate renewal, may we be empowered to understand that each setback, especially those which are most heart-breaking and difficult, is really an opportunity to further make the necessary repairs to the fabric of reality and to keep the vision of Geula, Ultimate Redemption, always in our vision.

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Urim Sameach

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2 Responses to Thoughts on Miketz

  1. Jacques Ruda says:

    Your comments are very thought provoking. Hashem told Abraham that his offspring would be strangers and afflicted at the Brit bayn Betarim. There must have been some reason why they had to go through that experience before they could appreciate and accept the Torah and be able to subjugate the Erezt Yisroel. Perhaps this teaches us that, as you say, each set back should strengthen us. Also it seems to me Chanukah is more associated to Succot than Pesach. In fact, I believe in the Book of Maccabees it says that in the year the Temple was “liberated” the Jews did not celebrate Succot but had to wait until the Temple was rededicated. That may be the source of the 8 days. (Succot and Shmeni Atzeris). Also both the menorah and the succah are to be made beautiful.I think there are other similarities but you get the gist..Shabbat Shalom and Chag Someach

    • You’re 100% right about the connections between Chanukah and Sukkot.
      On another note, I just (finally) got a copy of Rabbi Rosenfeld’s z”l autobiography. I look forward to reading it this Shabbat.
      Shabbat Shalom, Chag Sameach and Chodesh Tov, too!

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