Below is a collection of Parashat Miketz resources created by The Lookstein Center staff or contributed to the site by Jewish educators.
This is a growing collection. Check back soon or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you didn’t find what you’re looking for.
DISCUSSION AND REFLECTION QUESTIONS
Question #1:What happens when you are the person who was wronged? Do you talk to them and expect them to apologize? When Joseph is appointed second in command to Pharaoh, he is placed in charge of the distribution of grain during the years of famine that will be plaguing the area. His brothers come from Canaan to buy grain, he recognizes them, but they don’t recognize him. He gives them a hard time, but also helps them. What do you think about how Joseph treated his brothers in this situation?
Look inside the text (Bereshit 42: 6-8),
וְיוֹסֵף הוּא הַשַּׁלִּיט עַל הָאָרֶץ הוּא הַמַּשְׁבִּיר לְכָל עַם הָאָרֶץ וַיָּבֹאוּ אֲחֵי יוֹסֵף וַיִּשְׁתַּחֲווּ לוֹ אַפַּיִם אָרְצָה – Now Joseph was ruling the land; it was he who gave out food to all the people of the land. And Joseph’s brothers came and bowed low to him, with their faces to the ground.
וַיַּרְא יוֹסֵף אֶת אֶחָיו וַיַּכִּרֵם וַיִּתְנַכֵּר אֲלֵיהֶם וַיְדַבֵּר אִתָּם קָשׁוֹת וַיֹּאמֶר אֲלֵהֶם מֵאַיִן בָּאתֶם וַיֹּאמְרוּ מֵאֶרֶץ כְּנַעַן לִשְׁבָּר אֹכֶל – When Joseph saw his brothers, he recognized them; but he acted like a stranger toward them and spoke harshly to them. He asked them, “Where do you come from?” And they said, “From the land of Canaan, to get food.”
וַיַּכֵּר יוֹסֵף אֶת אֶחָיו וְהֵם לֹא הִכִּרֻהוּ – Even though Joseph recognized his brothers, they did not recognize him.
Question #2: Do you think students and teachers should eat together in the lunchroom? What are the reasons for and against it? What does eating together symbolize? When Joseph orders food for his brothers, he eats separately from them because it was unacceptable for Egyptians to eat together with Hebrews. Do you think this same idea applies to students and their teachers?
Look inside the text (Bereshit 43:32),
וַיָּשִׂימוּ לוֹ לְבַדּוֹ וְלָהֶם לְבַדָּם וְלַמִּצְרִים הָאֹכְלִים אִתּוֹ לְבַדָּם כִּי לֹא יוּכְלוּן הַמִּצְרִים לֶאֱכֹל אֶת הָעִבְרִים לֶחֶם כִּי תוֹעֵבָה הִוא לְמִצְרָיִם – They served him by himself, and them by themselves, and the Egyptians who ate with him by themselves; for the Egyptians could not eat with the Hebrews, since that would be inappropriate to the Egyptians.
Question #3: Jacob is mortally fearful of letting Benjamin go with his brothers to Egypt, even at the risk of losing Simeon, and both Reuben and Judah make dramatic offers to convince Jacob that it is the right thing to do. Elderly people are often fearful of losing their security and independence, even as their decision-making abilities may be compromised. Is it right or fair to try to convince them to accept decisions with which they are not comfortable? How do we know if, in trying to convince them, we are serving their best interest or ours? Can we ever truly know what’s better for someone else, more than they know themself?
Question #4: Joseph displays significant humility when meeting Pharaoh for the first time, insisting that he is incapable of interpreting anything and that only God has interpretations. Humility is a noble trait, but is it always appropriate? Is having low self-esteem the same as humility? What are the differences between them? Can you think of a situation where humility would not be appropriate? How do you decide when it is and when it is not appropriate?