Miketz 5777 - 2016 - From Self-Centered to Looking Outward

Post date: Dec 29, 2016 5:19:25 PM

Parashat Miketz, Genesis 41:1 - 44:17

It's the end of the secular year, which means that we, as a group, are just now 5 years old! At such an auspicious marking of time, it's good to recognize the many blessings we have. Who knows how long any of us really has in this world, so, if we are going to give thanks, sooner would be better than later.

I won't bore you with a litany of the many blessings I am lucky to count, but one of the most precious has been the privilege to be a part of this "kahal", this community we call Ohel, to go through some of the most personal and challenging times with you, to share in our joys and to grieve our losses, together.

This week's parasha continues the narrative of Joseph. One reason why Joseph is among the great figures in Judaism is that when Pharaoh asks him about his ability to interpret dreams, Joseph acknowledges that it is God whose understanding he merely channels. By doing so, he is able to convey two nearly contradictory feelings, simultaneously, humility and greatness. His humility is that he does not take credit for the wisdom. His greatness because he speaks on behalf of the ultimate Authority of the universe.

In this way, also, Joseph models the highest form of mitzvah: that of enabling others (the Pharaoh in this case) to see God's greatness. This is referred to later in Torah as "Kiddush Hashem". Pharaoh himself sees this wise humility, but more pragmatically, sees the greatness in Joseph, appointing him Viceroy over all Egypt.

In last week's parasha, Joseph related to his brothers and their father, his own dreams, in which he was the center of the universe. That attitude of shear hubris was taken down a peg or two, after his brothers left him for dead, he was sold into slavery, and he spent years imprisoned.

By contrast, by this week's parasha, Joseph takes no personal credit for his insights, and is rewarded with great prestige and power. This is a great model for us, and people in any generation.

When we see the best in others, especially people with whom we disagree, people will see the best in us. It works the same way in our personal relationships, as well. After a long time together, it can become second nature, after continuous exposure, to recognize the traits and habits of partners and colleagues that drive us bananas! How much more satisfying would those relationships be if we saw and acknowledged, if only once in a while, the underlying goodness and humanity of our partners?

In this way, we can bring about a lasting peace, in our homes and in our communities. I pray this week and in the weeks ahead, that to the extent we can, we recognize, acknowledge, and give attribution to the beauty of the people around us.

Shabbat shalom,

Happy Hanukkah,

And Happy Rosh Hodesh Tevet,