Miketz – The Application of Wisdom

Yoseph’s wisdom was accompanied by Divine communion and revelation, according to Nechama Leibowitz who quoted Benno Jacob to support her argument.  Benno Jacob wrote that “wisdom” was greatly admired in antiquity. Wisdom was a term given to the power of the spirit, science and philosophy, intelligence, as well as artistic gifts and skills. Israel attached importance to wisdom too, and it implied spirituality, thirst for knowledge, study and research. The word wise first appeared in this chapter when the wise men of Egypt, the magicians, were compared with the wise man of Israel, who accredited his perceptiveness to G-d.


When Pharaoh said “I have heard that you comprehend a dream to interpret it”, Yoseph answered “ that is beyond me; it is G-d who will respond with Pharaoh’s welfare”. Rashi explained that G-d would put an answer of peace for Pharaoh into Yoseph’s mouth.  R’ Shmuel Edels was quoted by R Eli Munk as teaching that the dreams in question came under the category of prophetic dreams for which men’s interpretations can involve only points of detail.


Nechama Leibowitz wrote that Yoseph had G-d’s name in his every utterance in Egypt, and in speaking with Pharaoh, interpreting his dreams, he mentioned G-d’s name four times. He said “what G-d is about to do, He has declared to Pharaoh”, and “what G-d is about to do He has shown to Pharaoh”. He also said that “it is because the thing is established by G-d, and G-d will shortly bring it to pass”.  Yoseph repeatedly emphasised that G-d was the power in their history, and even Pharaoh said about Yoseph “can we find such a one as this, a man in whom the spirit of G-d is?”


R’ Jonathan Sacks wrote that we learn that we are not the sole masters of our fate. We could look back on our lives after many years and see a pattern in our lives and understand how Providence has shaped our destiny. In the present, we make our choices, and decide between alternatives. Only looking back does our life take on the character of a story. 



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