Rabbi's Blog
Nov 26th, 2021

Torah Reading: Genesis 37:1-40:23

Haftarah: Amos 2:6-38

Triennial #3

Aliyah #1: 39:1-6
Our Torah portion picks up in the middle of the story of Yoseif (Joseph), the eldest son of Raḥeil (Rachel), Ya’akov’s (Jacob) favorite son who is cast away into slavery by his brothers. This this Aliyah, Yoseif finds himself as a servant in the house of Potiphar, a ranked official in Parah’s court. But Yoseif was being looked after and blessed by God, and everything in which Yoseif undertook was met with success. Potiphar takes note of Yoseif, and makes Yoseif his right-hand man.

Aliyah #2: 39:7-10
It was not long before Potiphar’s wife (who goes unnamed in the text) attempts to seduce Yoseif. However, Yoseif, being grateful to God and Potiphar for the success he has achieved, consistently turns down Potiphar’s Wife’s advances.

Aliyah #3: 39:11-18
After a number of failed attempts, Potiphar’s Wife grows impatient and frustrated. For reasons that are not clear in the text, she decides to frame Yoseif. She approaches him and grabs him by the clothing, insisting that he sleep with her. While Yoseif does escape her grasp, he accidentally leaves behind a piece of his clothing in her hands. At that point, she screams and calls out to her servants, accusing Yoseif of attempting to rape her. When Potiphar returns home, she repeats her accusation to her husband - Yoseif’s master.

Aliyah #4: 39:19-23
Hearing the accusation, Potiphar becomes very angry (although the text in unclear whether he is angry at his wife or at Yoseif). In what seems like a very minimal punishment for the time and accused crime, Yoseif is sent to prison by Potiphar. However, even in Prison, God continues to look after Yoseif. Yoseif befriends his jailer, and is given rank within the prison itself.

Aliyah #5: 40:1-8
Elsewhere in Egypt, Pharaoh becomes displeased by both his cupbearer and baker and sentences them to the same prison in which Yoseif is being held. Given his position of authority over the other inmates, Yoseif notices one day when the two of them seem upset. They inform Yoseif that they each had a disturbing dream that they wish they could have interpreted, but since they were in prison there was nobody available to interpret. Yoseif suggests that God can surely interpret their dreams for them and suggests they share their dreams.

Aliyah #6: 40:9-15
The cupbearer goes first. He shares a dream of 3 branches of grape vines which he squeezes into a cup and offers to Pharaoh. Yoseif interprets this dream to mean that the cupbearer will be returned to his position by Pharaoh’s side in 3 days. Yoseif, knowing he is in the presence of someone who will have Pharaoh’s ear, asks the cupbearer to put in a good word for Yoseif when the time comes.

Aliyah #7: 40:16-23
Excited by the positive interpretation the cupbearer received, the baker steps up for his turn. In the baker’s dream, birds are eating out of three baskets of food sitting upon his head. Unfortunately, Yoseif’s interpretation of this dream is far more grim than the first. In 3 days time, Pharaoh will have the baker killed and impaled, and birds will eat his body.

Three days later, Pharaoh celebrates his birthday and calls for the baker an cupbearer to be brought from prison. Our parshah ends with both of Yoseif’s prophetic interpretations coming true. However, the cupbearer does not mention Yoseif to Pharaoh at this time.