July 15, 2024
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Parshat Miketz

“Vayikatz Shlomo—v’hineh chalom”

“Vayikatz Paroh—v’hineh chalom”

Throughout the years that I have been sharing my thoughts about the weekly haftarah, I have never had the opportunity to discuss this week’s reading from Sefer Melachim A (3:15- 4:1). The reason is simple: 90% of the time, Parshat Miketz is read on Chanukah, whether in the middle of the holiday or on the last day, as the second Shabbat of the chag. This is the first time in years that Parshat Miketz occurs after Chanukah ends and, therefore, the first time that I have the privilege of commenting on this episode in the life of Shlomo HaMelech. Despite the fact that this haftarah is rarely read, I’m sure that its content is well-known to most of us.

The very opening words of the haftarah tell us that Shlomo HaMelech woke up from his dream, “Vayikatz Shlomo—v’hineh chalom.” The pasuk goes on to relate that he goes to Yerushalayim, stands before the Holy Ark, offers sacrifices to Hashem and makes a feast for his servants. He celebrated the message he received in his dream. When we read the parsha of Miketz we hear almost the exact same expression: “Vayikatz Paroh -v’hineh chalom,” Pharaoh also awoke from a dream. The connection between the two readings is obvious to all.

It’s all about dreams!

Or is it?

The Torah proceeds to tell us that Paroh did not understand the meaning of the dream, nor did his necromancers or his wise men. It is only Yosef who can interpret the dream. And the rest of the parsha is very much based on those dreams and their interpretations.

Not so the haftarah. The selection from Sefer Melachim begins in the middle of the perek and doesn’t even include the dream itself! Shlomo celebrates that dream and has no problem understanding—without “necromancers” or wise men to help him. The dream episode that seems to be the connection to our parsha takes up only one verse and, as I mentioned, it doesn’t even let us know what the dream is!!?? It is a seemingly unimportant detail that Chazal chose to omit from the haftarah, while the dream(s) of Pharaoh are described and repeated and interpreted and acted upon.

The dreams do not seem to be a connection between the two readings; they seem to stand in contrast to each other!

So, perhaps, it’s not all about the dreams.

When we take a look at the haftarah we realize that 14 out of the 15 pesukim are seemingly unconnected to the dream itself. The haftarah is about the story of the two women, both of whom claimed to be the rightful mother to the same infant. The problem reaches the king who uncovers the identity of the true mother by threatening to halve the baby and then, based upon the reaction of the respective women, would learn who the true mother was. We all know the story. But its importance for our purposes is to understand what message Chazal were trying to impart to us by choosing this story for this parsha.

I would suggest that the rabbis were not so interested in the dream itself as much as the reaction to the dream. Shlomo awoke from his dream and thanked Hashem for granting his wish (by offering sacrifices) and then celebrated that promise with his servants. But only after he resolves the case of the two women does Shlomo realize—as do we, the readers—that even as a youth, his understanding of a mother’s inexplicable connection to her child was granted to him by God. And that sensitivity reflected divine wisdom. And, similarly, he understood that the gift of wisdom that Hashem granted would remain with him all of his life and make him the kind of king he hoped to be.

Paroh also dreamed, but its message required divine wisdom to understand. The Egyptian regent calls upon Yosef, who properly interprets the dream(s) and then he appoints Yosef as his viceroy. But understand that Yosef told Paroh that he does not interpret dreams but God does. Yet, Paroh does not react. Yosef explains the dreams’ meaning and tells the king, “God has told Paroh that which He is planning” and, again, there is no response by Paroh. Finally, after completing his interpretation, Yosef again adds that Elokim has decided these things and Elokim will bring them about quickly. The regent finally reacts by saying that there are none as Yosef who has the spirit of Elokim within him. He credits Yosef—but not God. He gives Yosef the power but never shows appreciation to or recognition of Hashem as one Who has saved his land. He leaves the responsibility of carrying Hashem’s message to Yosef while he continues to rule with no sign of change.

Yes, both Paroh and Shlomo had dreams, but their reactions were quite different.

And that is what Chazal were emphasizing in establishing this reading for this parsha. We all have hopes and dreams—but how do we react when they come true?

It is not about dreams. It is about what we do with them!


Rabbi Neil Winkler is the rabbi emeritus of the Young Israel Fort Lee and now lives in Israel.

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