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Parashat Miketz 5778 — 12/16/2017

Parashat Miketz 5778 — 12/16/2017

Bereishit 41:1-44:17

The matter appeared good in Pharaoh’s eyes and in the eyes of all his servants. (41:37)
…Yosef’s interpretation was so simple that any Egyptian farmer could have said the same thing. Why, then, did it resonate so strongly with Pharaoh?
First of all, it’s important to understand that Pharaoh recognized that his dream was clearly prophetic and that the true meaning was blurred by images and metaphors that reflected but still obscured the simple message. Deep down the dreamer has an innate sense of the dream’s meaning. The correct interpretation simply triggers the proper response. When the interpretation is correct, the dreamer suddenly feels in the depths of his soul that this is exactly what he saw.
Yosef’s interpretation went straight to Pharaoh’s heart. He was not interpreting the dream. He was only revealing what Pharaoh already essentially knew. (Abarbanel)
While a baby develops within the womb, an angel teaches him the entire Torah. Just before birth, the angel touches the child on his mouth causing him to forget all that he has learned (Niddah 30b)
Knowledge is structured in Consciousness, where all the laws of nature reside. (Rig Veda)

We have a sense that some knowledge is innate. We know that animals have some innate knowledge – instinct that is “hard-wired” in their nervous systems. And humans too, seem to have features in the mind that transcend cultural boundaries – notions such as fairness and altruism for example. It is not clear whether such notions are inculcated by society, or if they are also “hard-wired” in the brain.
Abarbanel, apparently following the Talmud, argues that there is much more innate knowledge within us than we believe, only we are, generally blocked from accessing it. When someone who is sufficiently perceptive comes along, they can point out to you “what you already know.” We have similar ideas in other cultures.
Socrates believed that anyone could understand philosophy if the knowledge were drawn out of the person by an astute series of questions (Bueller? Bueller??). In the dialog Meno, Socrates takes a slave boy who has had no mathematical training, and guides him through proving that if you construct a new square using the diagonal of an original square as the side of the new square, then the new square will have twice the area of the old one. This is by no means an obvious result, especially to the ancient Greeks who didn’t have algebra, nor the real numbers (like √2) at their disposal. One could argue that in fact the knowledge came out from the sequence of questions Socrates asked, and those questions and their sequence were structured by Socrates’ prior knowledge of the result. The web site referenced in the link above concludes:

According to Socrates, the boy’s ability to reach the truth and recognize it as such proves that he already had this knowledge within him; the questions he was asked simply “stirred it up,” making it easier for him to recollect it. He argues, further, that since the boy didn’t acquire such knowledge in this life he must have acquired it at some earlier time; in fact, Socrates says, he must have always known it, which indicates that the soul is immortal. [my bold]

Similarly, as indicated at the head of this article, the Sages of the Talmud held the same view – while in the womb the baby is taught “all the Torah” (“all” being variously defined), but is made to forget it just before being born. Apparently women and non-Jews, who have no obligation to study Torah, are, in fact, taught those areas of Torah that are relevant to them.

Why do they lose the knowledge at birth? I think the reason is that while the soul, which is infinite and immortal, can absorb the knowledge, once the soul enters the body, the sheer physicality of the body blocks the soul’s vision. It is only through bringing the mind out of the field of the physical, back to the spiritual source of Torah, that one can recapture one’s pre-natal learning.

In Pharaoh’s case also, we have a case where knowledge is somehow “hidden.” In this case, Pharaoh must have had some intuitive understanding of what was going to happen over the next decade and a half (one could hardly say that such knowledge of specific, and contingent, circumstances was innate from birth), but he could not articulate what it was he sensed, and therefore he could not act upon it. Gd, or Pharaoh’s subconscious (depending on your outlook) presented the knowledge to him in cryptic form, in a dream. It took Yosef’s subtler perception to find the message in the symbolism.

What about us? The great majority of us don’t have a Socrates to draw knowledge out of us, nor a Yosef to interpret life’s messages for us. What are we to do? We have often discussed that there is an infinite, transcendental layer to our life, often identified as the soul, and that this transcendental level is remarkably parallel to the Unified Field of Physics. Just as the Unified Field vibrates in different modes to manifest different particles and their interactions, and thereby the entire material universe, so too the transcendent becomes lively and vibrates in waves of consciousness, waves of knowledge. The trick is to bring our conscious mind into alignment with the transcendent, so that those vibrations are directly perceptible. In this way we gain access to the source whence all knowledge springs, and we can act appropriately on it.


Commentary by Steve Sufian

Parashat Miketz
We have two sayings that help inform this parshah:
“Gd is in the details”;
“The Whole is Greater than the Sum of the Parts”.

In this parshah, Joseph, an unwilling representative to Egypt-Mitzraim, the Land of Restrictions, from Canaan, the Land of Synchronicity, of Harmony, success-fully interprets two dreams of Mitzraim’s ruler, Pharoah, and is given de facto control of Mitzraim.

This is Harmony bringing the parts together so they can make a Whole.

Joseph correctly interpreted Pharoah’s dreams. Seven fat cows devoured by seven lean cows and seven healthy stalks of wheat devoured by seven lean stalks meant that seven years of plenty would be followed by seven years of famine and therefore, Mitzrayim should store up during the fat years so it would have enough to last through the lean years.

Joseph’s Harmony was so great that Pharoah recognized the validity of Joseph’s interpretation and Joseph’s integrity was so great that Pharoah gave him control of organizing the stocking up, organizing which gave him de facto control of the kingdom.

Meanwhile, Harmony in Canaan had already been disturbed by Jacob’s failure to raise his children so that all felt equally loved—even though each might have different skills, some might be wiser, some more skilled in battle, some more skilled in leadership, in peace….
Jacob has failed to completely attend to detail and to reveal Gd in the details of everyday life and relationships in Canaan: Canaan is only partially Canaan, only partially and superficially, The Land of Synchronicity.

And the Harmony was broken further by the sons not learning to flow with Jacob’s behavior and to give love from their side to raise themselves and him to the level where they could feel Full Love, no matter what the surface appearance.

This resulted in betrayal of Jacob’s trust, selling Joseph into slavery, lying to their father, and, eventually to famine in Canaan—a solid breakdown of the Plenty that exists when Canaan is Whole, functioning to bring all details into synchron-icity, into harmony, and to Reveal Gd as the Wholeness, the Totality, which brings Complete Synchronicty, The Wholeness that is Oneness, of which all the parts are Expressions.
With the famine in Canaan, in Synchronicity, Jacob’s sons had to go to Mitzrayim, raised by Gd through Joseph, to a land of Synchronicity, Fullness.

And they will abandon the land Canaan to settle in Raised Up Mitzrayim, until eventually Wholeness breaks down there and several hundred years later, they need to escape restrictions, return to Canaan within themselves and to the physical land of Canaan. Of this we will learn more in the next Parshah.

This Parshah teaches us, that even in the midst of the ups and downs of life, we can maintain our purity, our Joyful and Reverent Daily Routine, so that we can Love Gd with all our Heart and Soul, Love our Neighbor as Our Self, and bring Harmony into fragmentation, Wholeness into limitations.

Of course, there are deeper levels of interpretation: All is Gd’s Plan as Joseph later tells his brothers. There are no mistakes in Torah, no villains, no heroes, only Gd telling stories and at the deepest level, Gd Humming Torah within Himself, within The Self.

Baruch HaShem