Blessed Limbs (Miketz)
Even as a tortoise draws in its limbs, the wise can draw in their senses at will. -Bhagavad Gita
Joseph’s story is perhaps one of the most dramatic and incredible rags-to-riches stories in history. In the space of a few minutes, he goes from being a destitute, abandoned, and imprisoned slave to being the Viceroy of the Egyptian Empire, the mightiest empire on the planet at the time. We can only be amazed at his composure when he is suddenly brought from his dungeon before Pharaoh, the mightiest man on Earth, and all of his advisors and he is asked to decipher Pharaoh’s cryptic dream.
Joseph correctly interprets Pharaoh’s dream, predicting the coming years of plenty to be followed by famine. He astutely recommends that Pharaoh should stock the surplus from the years of plenty in preparation for the years of famine. He adds that someone should be in charge and bear responsibility for the nationwide effort. Pharaoh and his advisors can’t think of anyone better than Joseph and thus he’s appointed to the position of Pharaoh’s right-hand man.
The language used to describe Joseph’s newly bestowed powers are interesting:
“You shall be in charge of my court, and by your mouth shall all my people be directed.
And removing his signet ring from his hand, Pharaoh put it on Joseph’s hand; and he had him dressed in robes of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck.
Without you, no one shall lift up hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.”
The Chidushei HaRim on Genesis 41:40 wonders as to why the Torah refers to various body parts when describing Joseph’s role. Mouth, hand, neck, foot all receive mention. He takes us back to Joseph’s incident with Potiphar’s wife and how Joseph resisted her constant seduction. Because Joseph did not sin with any of his body parts, he merited that he should be rewarded through his body parts. The mouth that didn’t kiss Potiphar’s wife would command the Egyptian nation.
Joseph’s strength and control of his limbs purified them and allowed them to be the conduit for great blessings and success.
May we remember who should be in control of our limbs.
Shabbat Shalom and Chanukah Sameach,
To the Yeshiva University Maccabees’ winning streak. Look them up.