Sack Exchange: Miketz 2020

by Adam J. Rosenbaum

Pre-Game Chatter: Have you ever been gifted something you didn’t feel you deserved? How did you address that feeling? Did you offer to return it, pay it forward, or simply accept it?

Upon leaving Joseph in Egypt the first time, his brothers notice that their bags are filled with the food they need, as well as the money they had used to pay for it:

The Pitch: “Then Joseph gave orders to fill their bags with grain, return each one’s money to his sack, and give them provisions for the journey; and this was done for them.” – Genesis 42:25

Swing #1: “The return of their money is … ambiguous: a gift and yet possibly a trap. The final clause must leave the reader, with the brothers, still wondering: Just what has been done to them and why?” – W. Lee Humphreys, Joseph & His Family: A Literary Study

Swing #2: “Joseph is the only figure in the book of Genesis described as ‘wise’. … Joseph’s wisdom is … expressed not only in his ability to interpret dreams, but in his character: patient, optimistic, modest, and of good disposition.” – James L. Kugel, The Great Shift: Encountering God in Biblical Times

Swing #3: “[Joseph] wanted to convince the brothers that he had no hostile intentions toward them provided they could prove that they had spoke the truth. He gave them these extra provisions in order to enable them to bring their youngest brother to Egypt.” – Rabbeinu Bahya

Late-Inning Questions: Joseph is indeed being generous, but he’s also playing mind games with his brothers, who still don’t realize his true identity. Are Joseph’s actions with his brothers more motivated by the prospect of revenge than an incoherent strategy? Is it ever right to play mind games with others in order to prove a point?

On-Deck at Temple Beth Tzedek: Starting next Saturday night (December 26th), we will say Ma’ariv (evening service) on Zoom just before reciting Havdallah. This way, we’ll hopefully provide a minyan for that evening, and hopefully get to spend more time together.

The Big Inning at the End: Even though it might not relate to today’s lesson, I wish to say how pleased I am that Major League Baseball finally recognized the Negro Leagues as official major league. While it doesn’t right the wrongs of the past, it’s at least a step to further appreciate the struggles and triumphs of those who have been overlooked in the past.

Shabbat Shalom!