Miketz: The End of Days

Miketz means more than the culmination of a two-year period after Pharaoh had a dream; it symbolizes the end of days. Miketz contains the major elements pointing to the redemption: Mitzraim, the model for the future geulah; Yosef, the sefira of yesod and foundation of the universe, who will usher in the first part of the future redemption; and seven cows and stalks that represent the lifespan of the universe patterned after the seven days of creation, a universe that can end in satiation and glory or possible famishment. 

Mitzraim is the model for the future redemption. The Yerushalmi in Pesachim notes that the geulah of Mitzraim is the rosh for all future exiles and redemption. It’s clear from the order of the seder that Mitzraim and the future redemption are interlinked. After the third cup of redemption, we drink the cup of Elijah, a direct connection between the redemption from Mitzraim and the future geulah

Yosef, as the sefira of yesod, is the foundation of the world. He brings the light and energy from the three sefirot above him down to the lower worlds. He is the connector and vessel of instruction. The seven sefirot represent every day of creation, and Yosef, as the sixth sefira, symbolizes the day man and his desires were created. Yosef stands for the proposition that man must control his desires. He is the tzaddik yesod olam, as the verse says, “The tzaddik is the foundation of the world” (Prov. 10:25).  He exercised his free will against desire, which ensured the continuity of this nation. 

This notion of continuity is beautifully explained by Rabbi Eytan Feiner, shlita, rav of Congregation Knesset Israel in Far Rockaway, NY. He asks a fundamental question. We know the essence of a person is manifested in their name. Now it becomes hard to understand the name Rochel gave to Yosef. She asked that God “add” another son so that she can be the mother that cements the twelve tribes. The issue is that naming a son with the motto, “please bequest me with another son” does not speak to the essence of what Yosef was. In beautiful fashion, Rabbi Feiner explains that Yosef stood for the proposition of rising above the licentiousness of the other nations. He was confronted with the prospect of intermarriage and was able to overcome it. Without Yosef, the continuity of the Jewish nation would be at risk, for if we all intermarried, there would eventually be no Jewish nation based on generational intermarriage. Therefore, he is indeed “adding” one child and then another child and another down the generations within the Jewish fold. He created the potential for our “sof” to be a “sof” of  Jewish perpetuity. 

With this, Rabbi Feiner notes that the Megaleh Amukot says Yosef stands for Chanukah, because the Greek paradigm was conquered due to the powers that Yosef instilled into the Jewish people, of controlling the flame of desire. And furthermore, he quoted the Sefer Gematriot that says that Yosef is “ben zekunim,” the ben of the zayin kanim, the seven arms of the menorah. Building upon this idea, we may add that Yosef is the “base” of the world. The seven arms of the menorah are held up by one base and Yosef is the yesod haolam

Lastly, to understand the final redemption, one must understand the dreams of the seven cows and stalks. Seven is the span of the universe. Man can create a universe that will end in satiation or famishment, which is all dependent on whether one conquers their desires. Yosef, through the exercise of his flame taught us how to be a tzaddik and light up the world. He is the sixth sefira, representative of man himself with all of his desires who was created on the sixth day and is the key figure to summon the final redemption as Mashiach Ben Yosef. 

Parsha Miketz points to the end of days. The three elements of redemption are seen in the first few pesukim. One, the place of Mitzraim, where we are told the final redemption will pattern itself after geulat Mitzraim. Second, Yosef who is "sof," the sixth vessel of the sefira yesod in the universe who will lead the initial phase of the "final" redemption, as Moshiach ben Yosef. And third, seven cows and seven stalks symbolizing the seven days the world was created, a world that can end in "good" years or "famished" ones depending on if we follow the message of the light of Yosef: to conquer the yetzer hara. If we do so, we can enjoy a beautiful sunset going into the seventh day.