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Parashat Miketz - Being a 'Light' Listener

Dear Friends;

Please note: Today being Friday - Erev Shabbat, one should light the Chanukah candles before lighting the Shabbat candles at 3:56 pm, and ideally have longer candles (or more oil) for them to burn for at least 65 minutes to ensure they are lit for half an hour after Shabbat has come in.

Being Shabbat, Chanukah and Rosh Chodesh we take out 3 sifrei Torah this week, something not commonly done throughout the year. Most people this week tend to focus on Chanukah, whilst this weeks Parasha tends to get a little less limelight than usual.

The parasha begins with Pharoh's dreams, and Yosef's interpretation of them, which was the catalyst for Yosef to ultimately become the viceroy of Egypt - the ruling superpower of the world at the time.

Why did Pharaoh accept the interpretation of Yosef over the credentialed experts that he initially consulted with? If you look at the word חלום in this chapter, it is sometimes presented in the plural and sometimes in the singular. The Torah describes it as a single dream and so does Pharaoh. But when he tells the dream to the interpreters, they assume it is two dreams and give explanations accordingly, which frustrates Pharaoh tremendously. After listening carefully to Pharaoh’s account of his dreams, the first thing Yosef says is: “Chalom Paroh echad hu” and proceeds to explain it as a single dream. Pharaoh embraces Yosef’s explanation because he felt heard and validated, while he rejects the opinion of the expert interpreters because they weren’t really listening closely to him.

Chanukah is a time where we bring more light into the world, both in our lives and the lives of others. Many times people experiencing pain or distress need to be heard and validated; when someone listens with half an ear and hears them through their own filters, it causes even more frustration. This story of Yosef and Pharaoh illustrates the power of active listening and letting someone know that we are listening carefully to them and not projecting our own assumptions and experiences onto their situation.

Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom, Chodesh Tov & Chanukah Sameach;
Rabbi Shlomo Gabay