30 Kislev 5779 / December 8, 2018
By David Davis
This Weeks Readings:
Torah: Genesis 41:1-44:17; Numbers 7:42-47; 28:9-15
Haftarah: Zechariah 2:14-4:7
Brit Chadashah: John 15:1-5, 11
It took me hours to write this drash. I did not realize that I did not even understand the passage I was writing about until I woke up in the middle of the night for something to eat, and was disappointed when I pulled the grapes out of the bottom of the refrigerator to find them shriveled and losing sweetness. I wondered what kind of grape the L-RD saw me as. I had a really difficult week, and in all honesty, felt like a shriveled grape as well. I had a difficult week at work and in the home. I felt like I had done something to disappoint
G-D. However, looking at the bottom of my refrigerator at 1am, G-d said, “Abide in me,” and I became a juicy grape.
Previously in the Torah portion, Joseph had been betrayed by his brothers, sold as a slave, and thrown into a dungeon under false charges. This Torah portion begins with Pharaoh having a terrible dream and bringing Joseph the Hebrew out of the pit to interpret his dream. When Pharaoh informed Joseph of his reputation as a dream interpreter, Joseph does two things. First, he actually corrects the King of Egypt. He is both bold and very humble. Second, he glorifies the G-d of Israel. “It is not with me. G-d will answer with shalom for Pharaoh.” Through the difficulties of his life, G-d shows us how he makes the least of us into the greatest. He is exalted as second in command of Egypt. He is given the priest's daughter in marriage who bears him two sons. Again glorifying G-d, he calls his first son Manasseh “because G-d has made me forget all the troubles in my father's house,” and then his second son Ephraim “because G-d has made me fruitful in the land of oppression.” Notice that Joseph never blames G-d for his troubles, but glorifies G-d in bringing him out of trouble. Also notice, it is not the firstborn, but the second born that “makes one fruitful in a land of oppression.”
The Haftarah portion is written at a time when the remnant of Judah is rebuilding the Temple, and having tremendous difficulties. The narrative in Zechariah shows the heavenly realities of the earthly conflicts occurring in Ezra-Nehemiah as the Adversary is doing all in his power to prevent the building of the physical House of G-d where Messiah would eventually come. During these difficulties G-d promises Israel that the L-RD Himself is coming and will live with them, that Messiah the Branch would come, and in that day he would remove the sin of the Land in a single day and many nations would join themselves to Israel. He promises they will be fruitful.
In the Brit Chadashah portion, Yeshua had just finished speaking to his talmidim during the Passover meal. They were on the way to cross the brook Kidron to the Garden of Gethsemane at the base of the Mount of Olives. Yeshua knows he is about to be betrayed by his friends, rejected, and executed. During his distress, he reveals the nature of the fruit and the vine in an unusual way. He gives his talmidim two unpleasant choices. They can choose to be unfaithful branches, and they will wither, be thrown away, and burned. Or they could be faithful branches, and be cut by pruning piece by piece. Like most Biblical concepts, Yeshua only offers two options. And then he tells them, “I say these things to you so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be full.” To me, neither being burned nor being cut to pieces seems like an occasion for joy.
This parashah is rightfully named Miketz meaning “the end.” In the Torah, the end of Joseph's imprisonment happens in one day. Zechariah teaches that our sin will come to an end in a single day by Messiah. Messiah Yeshua explains the process of bearing spiritual fruit after he puts an end to our sin and frees us from our imprisonment. Although “we are already clean because of the words he has spoken to us,” being fruitful requires the painful process of being pruned by the L-RD, and also, us wanting to be close to him even when the pruning process is unpleasant. Yeshua promises us that “if we abide him, he will abide in us” so we will never be like grapes that shrivel and lose sweetness after a short time of separation from the vine. Yeshua wants us to have the joy of knowing that when we go through tremendous difficulties in this land of our affliction, our Great G-d and Savior is not throwing us away, but simply pruning us so that we may bear more fruit.