Echoes of Prophecy
Rabbi David Katz
When we recall the theme in last week's Parasha, quite simply one could stand on one foot and with ease tell over a tale of wisdom vs. prophecy; Joseph was the wise man and his Brothers were the school of prophecy. This week is an entirely new saga, with massive swings in momentum, as Joseph finds his lost tools of prophecy, while the Brothers are reduced a poor man's version of Greek Wisdom. Not for naught does this Parasha fall onto Hanuka, the essence of Torah "Thought" [prophecy] over Greek [finite] wisdom. In a truly Hanuka – like scenario, where Joseph goes up against all odds it seems, we are to lay witness to the rise of the prophet in Joseph, and finally learn the painful lessons of the Torah in matters of Prophecy over wisdom, as evidenced from the Brothers.
The flow of the article will take place from the standing of the end of the Parasha, and then backtrack to the beginning of last week, in an almost review of the incidents, and culminate into a dramatic climax of Prophecy over Wisdom display within this story, sending us on our way to next week's massive revelation of "I am Joseph" that profoundly shakes the World to this day.
Joseph is Viceroy over Egypt, he interpreted Pharaoh's dream by employing his deep reservoir of prophecy, he learned to embrace the Torah of Shem – in that he becomes the master [Man] of Torah Mazal – working with the hand of God, and sees his own dreams come true, as the Brothers are bowing at his feet. While in an ironic twist of irony and fate, Joseph's dreams come true, the Brothers revert to the wise man in face of Joseph the master prophet [a true sign of the School of Shem and Ever], and Joseph reveals a new twist in the story, by revealing a new element to the dreams he dreamed; the Brothers were to be seen as spying on the land. [Do we need to think hard about the ramifications to the Spies and Joseph's Tribe that will commence in the Desert with Moses?!]
The Talmud understands that dreams are 1/60 of Prophecy [while in reality they are totally prophetic, and the 1/60 is a Kabbalistic ingredient] and that dreams contain a bit of foolishness, such that we can all relate to our wild experiences in even our most serious dreams. The foolishness comes into view from our active ego – evil inclination – animal soul level present in the body during sleep – that causes an impure feel to our dreams. The secret matter of this fact is that the dream to become the most powerful, it must be attempted to be interpreted in a pure fashion, despite the challenges of the insanity within sleep. We see this in two very clear examples in the Parasha, with Joseph making it known that the hurdle with his brothers would be in trying to convey that they were spying a land ruled by Joseph?! [Which in real time it becomes quite clear by the end of the Parasha]
And Pharaoh with his attempt to fool Joseph on the fact that he stood on the river [as opposed to the bank; Kabbalistically Joseph IS a river, for in Kabbalah his level is synonymous with "river", thus making absurd Pharaoh's claims] was seen by Joseph to be clearly an insane ego rant, to which Joseph challenged and received the proper answer that he stood on the bank of the river. Thus what may have seemed illogical and foolish to Pharaoh, made sense to Joseph, as he was willing to interpret with God's help by a pure path, and turn the foolishness into the prophetic impetus that allowed him to predict the future. It should be noted that King David brings down in Psalms, that this episode of Joseph brought merit to his name, by God adding the sacred letter "Heh" to his name. The Prophet was born, and now able to live out prophecy.
From there the story between two Parashas is quite simple: we see overtures of prophecy and wisdom, the episodes of Joseph and the Brothers, slavery to majesty, Israel to Egypt, and all in the name of everything as we knew it practically being flipped from last week to this week. He who was a prophet, was now wise, the slave became king, etc.
This story until now is quite interesting, yet all that is missing is the crux of the story itself! An analogy is in the dichotomy of Light and Mitzvah; for we can study the Light within the Mitzvot, but without the actual action itself, of what use if the Light?! Thus just as last week was thin around the bone [half pun intended] within the context of the entire episode revolving an obscure definition of events by the Midrash, that the Brothers quarreled over "Eating the limb of a live animal" – our Parasha this week certainly needs a rally point! We have the scenery, but the stage needs a bit of Broadway.
Look no further than Reuven being the First Born that he is [as the Zohar points out that Reuven, although he "lost" his right, he retained a very great Blessing as the realistic First Born for he has a special role throughout history in aiding Moshiach ben Yosef through the generations until the climatic End of Days. It should be noted that the Zohar hints of this nature by the mere fact that our Parasha's name resonates with redemption by the usage of "the END" in Miketz], for he reveals the entire umbilical cord between both this week and last week's Parshiot, as he says, "And his [Joseph – as he is talking in the presence of Joseph!] Blood, as well – behold! Is being avenged!" [42:22]
The Final Analysis
· The debate between the Brothers and Joseph was over "Eating the Limb of a live animal" according to Midrash.
· The quarrel was a contest of Prophecy vs. Wisdom
· Pre Sinai vs. Post Sinai
· Assumption of "If the Brothers were in sin or not by the view of Joseph and even themselves – based on the Law and/or relevance to Sinai positioning, i.e. as Jews or Noahides.
· Joseph was condemned and thrown gravely into the pit as having desecrated the sanctity of prophetic prowess, and having been seen as something inept.
· This was a final result of dreams in poor taste/interpretation, such that led to God's active Hand in the story…
"Do not eat the limb of a live animal" – [Genesis 9:4] "But flesh; with its soul its blood you shall not eat. However, your blood which belongs to your souls I will demand…" The simple rationale of the verse follows simple logic: Adam was prohibited meat, and this led to mass murderous temptations before the Flood. After the Flood, Noah was given meat, yet with stipulation; should you break protocol, you will find your ways to be savage, seek to kill, and rest assured, your blood that you spilled will be avenged – measure for measure. Thus to eat "kosher" is to become refined and dissolve animalistic temptations that comes with foul methods of meat consumption. It is for this reason that the Torah develops a massive overhaul in the meat department as the Torah progresses, and even comes to typify the Ger Toshav and his journey into Mitzvot, for the connection between the Jew and the Ger is in the charity of meat that only the Ger and Nochri [gentile] can eat. Love the Ger and all treks into Judaism, revolve around this point.
Reuven reminds the Brothers that perhaps "Joseph's blood is being avenged!" Now if we plug that statement into real time, look at what we have – replacement theology at its best. The Brothers would acknowledge by this position that Joseph's blood was being avenged, for they thought that they murdered him. Since they murdered him, it must be as the verse said [and the same word for avenged is used by Noah's commandments] that they ate meat improperly. The penalty is that "you will spill blood and it will be avenged!" The outcome of such a scenario is that perhaps Joseph was right through wisdom [as opposed to prophecy] all along, the Brothers were wrong [which includes the pre/post Sinai scenario – Noahides vs. Jews at the same token] and that their view of Torah was in fact wrong.
At this rate they killed the Truth in Joseph and by proximity Jacob their father! This would be the Torah's account of Chaos Theory at its best. Only the Brothers forgot the most important principle of Joseph – Joseph [always] still lives by the Hand/Mazal of God, and that’s what this journey was/is about, with Joseph playing the tune to perfection that God is practically shouting in their ears.
The greatest irony of all is as they were tearing apart the universe with Torah chaos theory, Joseph was indeed standing there the whole time, which doubles as the only possible outcome that would make the story make sense. Joseph represents the Moshiach ben Joseph figure of the future, by whose hand is responsible for success in redemption by the time of the revealed end, to which we say, "Joseph still lives." We clearly lay witness in these Parshiot that the Torah is consistent and telling a valuable lesson of Life and Mazal that Joseph does indeed live! [The prophecies of Moshiach ben Joseph are that he is to die, much like we thought of his father Joseph, yet God always has a different avenue to take, and revelation of Mazal at its best.]
Interestingly, we see that this story doubles with the life of Jacob, as he also is battling the prophecy vs. wisdom debate in his own soul, as Hashem was quiet with him for these past twelve years that he was separated from Joseph. Jacob begins to come back to life, as he prophetically "sees" that there are provisions/hope in Egypt, that he somehow recognizes as Holiness and a strange Mazal that he is familiar with [i.e. Joseph; interesting to note the word used for "seeing" by Jacob adds up to 217 – "I am Joseph"]
The undertones of these Parshiot are nearly identical from week to week in these past two weeks; yet what is simply amazing is the outcome when prophecy is applied, and provided that we interpret with a side of purity. The Midrash about the eating meat is pretty standard in Torah circles, and the scenic spiritual conditions are quite evident all the way through the stories, even paralleled into the Haftorah each week. Yet when we take the simple meaning seriously - holy and pure, such that the story line only drives home if we use the seemingly benign scenario of the prohibition of improper eating of meat to its absolute destination and conclusion, we can see an entire Torah point of view fall into focus by simple diligence, much like Joseph employed with his dreams.
This is a classic example of a prophetic exegesis [follow through], as opposed to a more shallow attempt from wisdom by product of a weekly bailout. To say that the Brothers never blinked, provides tremendous context to a plotline that began like a snowflake last week, and suddenly this week we find ourselves bowled over by an avalanche that is terribly easy to lose of where it came from. Thus from one little act of persistence, we find relevancy in the Parsha, one that contains epic proportions for today's pre-redemption World – should they be true in our day. [Prophecy, Wisdom, Noahide Laws, Sinai, etc.]
The good news is, is that the Torah is eternal and doesn't change, and with a simple adherence to the prophetic discipline, we have gained insight to the true Tree of Life – by witnessing real life echoed through ancient sacred ink. While we have made perfectly clear the wisdom vs. prophecy points of view, and proven them to a practical conclusion, it’s the hidden aspect that remains in the shadows that perhaps sheds the most light – the act of diligence to sanctify God, such that defines Joseph. Joseph didn't let go of anything, not his dreams, their interpretations, and the purity of slavery. By that token, the Brothers never severed cord with the incident of that fateful day that led Joseph to his plight, one that was borne of those dreams.
And yet the most important application is not in Joseph and the Brothers but in the Messiah son of Joseph and ALL of the Brothers that will exist in the End of days, a team of Jews and Gerim, who will together fight for the Redemption of the Gerim [Ramchal commentary on Ruth], a struggle that personifies not only Joseph, Miketz, etc., but sanctifies the Name of God to the highest order, and is an expression of the entire Torah, from that one foot position - 1/70 Faces thing again. But to Gerim and Jews of Light, it's simply called Prophetic Truth.
Audio Class [Parasha in - depth based on article] Monday 11 P.M. Tzfat Time