Miketz 5763

Posted on March 23, 2011

by Helen Bennett

This week’s Torah portion, Miketz, finds us in the middle of the Joseph story. After two years in Egyptian prison, Pharaoh calls on him to interpret confusing dreams. Joseph foretells that Egypt will experience seven years of abundance followed by seven years of famine. Pharaoh puts Joseph in charge of food collection during the prosperous years and then food distribution during the famine to reward him.

And so, as it turns out, Jacob (Joseph’s father) is forced to send his sons (Joseph’s brothers) down to Egypt during the famine to obtain food for the family. When the brothers approach Joseph in request for food, they do not recognize him, for he has changed his clothes and appearance to that of an Egyptian prince. While the brothers don’t recognize their long lost brother, Joseph recognizes them. He makes them go back to their father in Canaan and bring back their youngest brother, Benjamin. After Jacob was convinced that his favorite son, Joseph, was killed from seeing his coat covered with blood, he took up favoring Benjamin. But, in order to attain food, the brothers told their father that Benjamin coming with them was the only way to get it. So, they return to Egypt with Benjamin.

In Egypt, the brothers get their food, but Joseph secretly put his silver goblet in Benjamin’s sack, accusing them of theft. The parsha closes with Joseph holding Benjamin as a slave while letting the other brothers go free.

While looking at this parsha, I noticed how clothing had a major impact on the story. At the beginning of the Joseph story, Jacob believes that Joseph is dead based on his blood-covered clothing (a.k.a. the coat of many colors). Then, when the brothers come to Egypt for food, they totally don’t recognize their brother just because of his new Egyptian clothing.

I think this brings up a very important issue that we are still struggling with today. Look at how easily people can be deceived by clothing. Today, we shouldn’t believe that a person’s clothing means everything about them, but then we shouldn’t be so naïve and think that clothes don’t mean anything. Most of the time, people wear clothes that they like and that express their personality. Other times though, people hide behind their clothes and try to change what outsiders think of them based on their mere appearance. It is always important to not assume things based solely on a person’s exterior. At the same time, it is also important to be aware that others may be judging us on our clothing and appearance.