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Parshat Miketz - Questions for Self Study

Questions for the Shabbat Table
Questions for Shiur Preparation
Questions on Parshanut

Part I - Questions for the 'Shabbat Table'
1. In what manner are Pharaoh's dreams similar to Yosef's dreams (at the beginning of Parshat Va'yeshev)? [Note primarily their 'double' nature.] Does this help explain how Yosef is able to solve Pharaoh's dream? Can you suggest a thematic parallel as well?

2. As you read Parshat Miketz, note the numerous parallels to Megillat Esther. Can you suggest a thematic reason for these parallels?

3. Note that all of Parshat Miketz is included in one 'parshia' [i.e. there are no 'parsha' breaks until the very end].
Note also that the same was true for Parshat Vayetze. Is there anything else similar about these two Parshiot?
Can you suggest a reason for this?
[Relate to the dreams, and their position in each Parsha.]

4. Notice in the entire Parsha how often Yosef speaks of 'Elokim' in most all of his conversations.
See for example in Yosef's conversation with Pharaoh concerning his dreams in 41:16,25,28,32. Note as well Pharaoh's response in 41:38-39! [Note also how Yosef names his children - 41:51-52.]
Finally, note how Yosef speaks to his brothers [pretending not to be Yosef, but rather an Egyptian official] in 42:18 & 43:23,29. Note as well Yehuda's statement to Yosef in 44:16. In your opinion, and based on these psukim, what 'god' or 'God' does this shem Elokim (that they all talk about) refer to?
Did the Egyptians believe in God?
If so, is it the same God that Yaakov's family believes in?
If not, what then do they mean when they mention shem 'Elokim'? [Relate as well to 20:11, Shmot 1:17 and Devarim 25:18!]

Part II - Questions for Preparation (for weekly shiur)
[Review from Parshat Vayeshev]
1. Review Yosef's dreams in 37:5-10, and compare them to Yitzchak's blessing of Yaakov [intended for Eisav] in 27:28-29.
In what manner are they similar?
Based on this similarity, what conclusion do you think that the brothers arrived at? What was Yaakov's reaction to these dreams. How does Yaakov's treatment of Yosef add to the brothers' fears?

2. Based on the above parallel, do the brothers have ample reason to believe that Yaakov is making a mistake by favoring Yosef?
Do they have a precedent? In other words, is there an earlier instance when someone 'intervened' in this "bechira" process, with good intentions!?

[Now, for Parshat Miketz]
3. Note that after Yosef is sold, he quickly rises to a high position in the house of Potifar, and later on, he rises to the highest position in Egypt. With this in mind, can you explain why Yosef never makes any effort to contact his father, or at least send a letter home to inform his father that he is well and alive?
See Ramban on 42:9, where he deals with this specific question! Does this Ramban explain Yosef's behavior during the entire time since he left home, or only from the time when his brothers come to buy food?
In your opinion, does Ramban's answer make sense?
If not, attempt to explain Yosef's behavior based on your answer to questions #1 and #2 above, and the conclusions of last week's shiur.
As you answer this question, relate to whether or not Yosef knows that Yaakov thinks that he is dead. Is there any way that Yosef could know what his father thinks concerning his fate? Does Yosef have any idea that his brothers wanted to kill him? [Relate to last week's shiur.]
Finally, if the Yishmaelim are indeed 'international traders' who often cross through Eretz Canaan, (from Yosef's understanding) would it have been possible for the brothers to look for Yosef and find out who bought him? Can this help you explain why Yosef never contacted home?

4. When Yosef first sees his brothers, he immediately accuses them of being spies (see 42:8-10). In your opinion, is Yosef simply acting impulsively [possibly in anger], or does he 'have a plan?'
If he does have plan, what is it? What is its purpose?
[To 'test' your answer, see if it explains Yosef's behavior in all of the events that follow!]
According to your answer, does Yosef (sooner or later) plan to reveal himself to his brothers?
If so, at what point, and when does that happen?
If not, what caused him to finally 'break down' in 45:1 [i.e. did he really plan on 'holding out' longer before revealing himself, or had his plan been finally realized]?

5. On the one hand, Yosef would like to find out family information from his brothers; on the other hand, Yosef needs to hide his identity. Explain how his 'spy accusation' solves this problem.
In your opinion, had Yosef heard from his brothers that his father had died, would he have ever revealed himself to them? [Does Yosef have reason to assume that Yaakov is dead? What does he assume in regard to the fate of Binyamin?] How do these considerations affect your answer to the above question?

6. From the Torah's account of this story, does it appear that one of Yosef's goals is for his brothers to repent for their sin?
Attempt to find support for this assumption? [See Avrabanel on 41:54 question #4, and his answer in 42:7.] Does this assumption explain all of Yosef's actions?
If indeed Yosef is waiting for his brothers to repent, why isn't their repentance described in 42:21 and 44:16 sufficient?

7. Similarly, one could suggest that Yosef's plan is to fulfill his dreams. [See Ramban on 42:9.] Does this assumption explain Yosef's behavior throughout this entire incident?
Is it possible for all of his dreams to come true?
Is it logical that Yosef's dreams must come true specifically in a situation where the brothers and father bow down to him while not knowing who Yosef really is? If so, explain why!

8. In your opinion, is Yosef correct in his treatment of his brothers, or should he have revealed himself immediately?
What do think would have happened had he done so?

9. Relate the entire incident of Yosef and his brothers to the future relationships among the 12 tribes.

Now that you've prepared, go to the shiur.

Part III - Parshanut
Read 42:5-8. Note that both psukim 42:7 and 42:8 state that Yosef 'recognized' ["va'yaker"] his brothers.
In your opinion is 42:8 simply a repetition of the same point, or does the second "va'yaker" add something?
If so, what does it add?
If not, why is it repeated?

1. See Ibn Ezra, Seforno and Ramban 42:8 (towards the end). How do they solve this problem? [How does this Ramban relate to Rashi's pirush of this pasuk?]

2. See Rasag [who say: "va'yaker et echav b'va'da'ut"] How is this pirush different than Ibn Ezra and Ramban?

3. See Radak's explanation of "va'yaker." How is his explanation different than everyone else's?
Does this relate to why "va'yaker" is mentioned twice?

4. In all of the explanations of "va'yaker" that relate to 'beards' [see Rashi, Rashbam, Ramban, etc.], did the brothers not recognize Yosef because now he did have a beard, or because he didn't have a beard?
Which explanation makes more sense? [Relate to Ramban's question in regard to Yisachar and Zvulun in 42:8.]