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Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Parashat Miketz: Who Moved My Cheese?

Caught between this section of Torah and last week in the idea of pairs and numbers. 

Jakob and Esau

Jakob and Israel 

Ten older brother two younger

Benjamin and Josef

Josef and the dreams, two dreams. Two prisoner's dreams, two dreams of the pharaoh. Pharaoh's dreams containing pairs in opposition: sick and well kine, dry and healthy crops. 

7 years plenty, 7 years of drought.

A Hebrew and an Egyptian at the same time. Josef like his father has two names.

A strong sense of duality is laid out before us yet we have a new patriarch who consistently reafirms its is all from g!d.

Humans crave a world in stark contrast, it makes decisions easier. But life is a multi layered affair full of nuance and interplay. We'd be robots otherwise. 

Egypt has spent a long time making Egypt stay very regular, very perfect. Perhaps that is why our story set us in contrast to Egypt. We come from a messy family, and messy circumstances. Where parents are suddenly forced to make decisions, and not always good ones. Where children are forced to suddenly make decisions, and not always good ones. The story of a people who are constantly on the move, setting up pillars, digging wells, crossing borders.

I think students of the mystical tradition would say yes, of course this is a story that illustrates all of the ten s'ferot. That each player, or better each pair are the dualities that make up the layers between this world and the unknowable.

It's a Parsha about making miracles, not waiting for them. A story where we have a man illustrating a righteous path that hopefully influences and calls down a righteous helper' s influence but also acts upon his understanding of the world around him.

We have very real decisions to make, decisions that can be yes or no. A chain of these yes and no decisions make up a logic circuit. Logic circuits make up the subroutines of our thoughts, the sub routines compound and build and grow to the totality of our minds.

Did the Pharaoh really need Josef to tell him how his own country would work in good weather and bad, and plenty ending drought? So why couldn't Pharaoh Act? Why were there no others in the Pharaohs Court who could see that the land would be in a cycle of good and bad and not prepare for it?

Perhaps as the psalmist recorded: Their gods have mouths but cannot speak, eyes that cannot see, ears that cannot hear, noses that cannot breathe, hands that cannot feel, legs but cannot move, throats that cut out under. It was the make such Gods, those that believe in such Gods, will become like them.

Spencer Johnson wrote in his book who Moved My Cheese: the quicker you let go of old cheese, the sooner you find new cheese.

Perhaps the lesson in Miketz is to look past dichotomy. 

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