Parshat Miketz

Torah Reading for Week of December 13-19, 2020
“Dedicated to Miracles”
By Cantor Rebekah Mirsky, ’10
The views expressed in this drash are those of the author. We welcome Torah insights and teachings from all viewpoints, and encourage dialogue to strengthen the diversity of our academy.
Ten years ago my husband and I moved from our apartment on Carmona to one on Orange Street.  While we were moving our cat got out and was nowhere to be found. We were broken hearted.  This was my cat that had helped me to survive single hood and school and all kinds of sadness.  My husband suggested that after we moved, I should go back to our old neighborhood and walk around because maybe I would find him.  I was pessimistic at best, but I had just a sliver of hope-a drop of hope.  I was walking for a few minutes and I saw a flash of red fur and heard his familiar meow.  He looked up at me relieved to be found and let me scoop him up easily and take him to our new place.  I will never forget how that felt.  I had the cat for another precious six years.
In Parshat Miketz Joseph has now become a powerful man in the land of Egypt.  He has not seen his brothers in many years, but now through a series of circumstances he is reunited with them.  He recognizes them but they do not recognize him.  Perhaps they don’t recognize him because he has changed so much.  The circumstances of his life which were once grim have now led him to become powerful.  His talents have come in handy not only to save him but eventually allow him to save many others.  It may be the case that had he not had the misfortune of being thrown into a pit by his brothers and then sold into slavery, he would not have been given the opportunity to interpret the dreams of the Pharaoh and then become the second most powerful man in Egypt.  This story in itself is a plethora of circumstantial miracles.  The pinnacle of the story is actually when Joseph connects with his brothers.
Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come forward to me.”  And when they came forward he said, “I am your brother Joseph, he whom you sold in Egypt.  Now do not be distressed or reproach yourselves because you sold me hither.  It was to save life that God sent me ahead of you- God has sent me ahead of you to insure your survival on earth to save your lives in extraordinary deliverance.  So it was not you who sent me here but God.”(Gen. 45:4-6, 8)
Joseph describes here what I think is the essence of a miracle.  A miracle is a pure connection.  It is a reunion, an ability to see things in a way you once had not.  At once Joseph understands and forgives and is grateful to be a brother again with his brothers.  Truly it is his newly illuminated perception of the happenings of his life that are the most profound part of this chapter.
   “He kissed all his brothers and and wept upon them; only then were his brothers allowed to talk to him.’ (Gen 45:15)
Chanukah has always been about two things for me. The word Chanukah means dedication. What are we dedicated to?
Are we dedicated this year to pessimism and alienation? It would certainly be easy to do so given the year that we have had, given the pattern that has manifested this past year. It would be self- protective to dedicate ourselves to these expectations.
And yet I would ask of myself and those around me that we re-dedicate ourselves to the miracles around us everyday. We have the opportunity to see people through technology. We have hope that grows with the vaccine that we will be able to, like Joseph, embrace our loved ones and weep from the depth of connection the we have been missing.
The second thing that I think about the idea of miracles.
Again, I believe that miracles are largely a figment of our own perceptions. Albert Einstein said “There are two ways to look at life. One is to see nothing as a miracle and the other is to see everything as a miracle.”
Though pessimism and cynicism take over my spirit more often than I wish or wish to admit, my choice is to re-dedicate myself everyday to the latter part of that quote-
to see everything as a miracle. My job is to choose my perception and let miracles
In our Shacharit (morning) service we begin with Nissim b’chol yom, our every day miracles.
When we start our days off with these, it expands our openness to possibilities and adjusts our lenses.
On Chanukah we say “V’Al Hanisim V’al Hapurkan V’al Ha Gevurot V’al Ha T’shuot v’al hamilchamot she’asita avoteinu v’imoteinu bayamim ha’hem bazman hazeh
And for the miracles and for the wonders and for the mighty deeds and for the salvation and for the victories you wrought for our ancestors in their days and on these days.
My dear friend and colleague Juval Porat and I wrote these lyrics to our modern version of Al Hanisim
Miracles happen in moments
The more we give away
The more we have to give
Miracles happen in moments
When we remember to truly embrace
This life we get to live
The scent of the rain
The smile of a child
Waiting and falling in love
Secret surprise
Flowers growing wild
The sparkle of stars up above
Miracles happen in moments
The higher that i lift you up
The more weightless I feel
Miracles happen in moments
Opening my eyes to find
That this dream is real
The thrill of a dance
Swim in the sea
A covenant kept
A struggle then peace
A goal that is reached
A moment of clarity
For there to be Miracles you have to see miracles
Like Joseph, may we all be blessed by the miracles of tearful reunions in the coming year. May we all re-dedicate ourselves to the possibility of miracles big and small.