Torah Portion: Mikketz (At The End) Genesis 41:-44:17
HafTorah: I Kings 3:15-4:1
This week we read about Joseph from his release from prison until his reunion with his brothers after many years apart. They do not recognize him. Why? What they saw was an Egyptian ruler second only to Pharaoh. What had changed with Joseph? What had not?
I want us to spend a few minutes on this and to start us off I want us to look back to Genesis 3:9. Here we see the encounter between G-d and Adam. It was the first time they had met after Adam’s sin. G-d asked him in Hebrew Ayekah, Where are you? Maybe more accurately, “Who are you?” For sure G-d knew where Adam was. Here he was asking Adam, “Who are you?” What have you become? We live in a world where it is difficult to identify our true self. When someone asks us who are you what do you answer? Who do we see ourselves as being? Are we a husband, a wife a friend, or do we first filter it all through who we are as a believer? Do we answer with what is our main role in life, what is in the forefront or what is the true me. What drives me? Is it my work or is it what I have? We live among a culture that is more dominant than our own. We find ourselves dressing like everyone else. We talk like them and yet G-d’s question echoes down through time, “Who are you?”
It demands of us that we take a stand. What drives everything we do? Where does our true commitment lie? I saw a story awhile back about a Jewish basketball team that made it to the semi-finals of their region. The play off schedule showed that their next game landed on the first night of Passover. What to do? Without hesitation they forfeited their game rather than play on Passover evening. So first they were Jewish and secondly they were basketball players.
Chariots of Fire was a movie based on a true story of a British runner in the Olympics who was a devout Christian. The finals in his race was scheduled for Sunday. Rather than race he forfeited. The point is, what determines the actions we take? Is it our faith, society or our job, etc. So even though Joseph had changed on the outside, inside he was still a man committed to G-d. Like Joseph we must ensure that those things of society do not change our true identity as a child of the King. Our internal GPS must always point us to the Father and we must always keep before us that timeless question, “Who are we?”
My second question had to do with Joseph and the butler. Joseph interpreted the dream of the butler and asked him to mention him to Pharaoh when he got out of prison. The butler forgot immediately and Joseph spent two more years in prison. Do you think he felt abandoned by G-d? Would we have felt abandoned? Our faith requires us to not only pray for G-d’s intervention in our problems but to be alert for any actions that we ourselves can take. We are not to just set back and wait for G-d. So here Joseph did that. He saw the butler as an opportunity to get out of prison. But then he still had to wait another two years. I have often wondered why he had to wait? One possible reason is that maybe after he asked the butler for help he did sit back and wait for the butler to save him. Rather than continuing to trust G-d maybe he began to put his trust in the butler.
There are times when trust as we might, salvation does not appear. What do we do? We trust that G-d’s timing is perfect. He knows more than we and the world is in His hands. If Joseph had gotten out immediately what could have happened? He was not needed to interpret Pharaoh’s dream for another two years. What could have happened to him as an ex-con. G-d had everything under perfect control. Joseph was released at the right time for Pharaoh to see his worth and was there to ultimately save his family. This is really hard for us to grasp. Our world demands quick answers, quick solutions. We have no time to wait. Our Father knows everything and on that we can rely. We do what we can but our trust is always to be in Him as our deliverer.