My dvar Torah for parshat Mikeitz is dedicated to the women of the Efrat/Gush Etzion Raise Your Spirits Summer Stock Company, a performance company that I had the zechut to found exactly ten years ago.
Ten years ago Israel was plagued by what it called "The Second Intifada". Arabs were bombing restaurants, buses, city streets and just random places. They were shooting people in their cars, in their homes, wherever. It was a frightening time and one where we all asked ourselves seriously, who shall live and who shall die.
Everyone I knew was broken hearted and it seemed our communities would never heal. I thought that perhaps if we had something happy, exciting, positive to think about and work towards then I would be able to give people the will to go on.
I founded a women's community theater company in June 2001, and I planned a show for September, so that there'd be something to do all summer and something to look forward to that would take everyone's mind off the Arab violence and murder all around us.
Our show was to be JOSEPH and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat - the story of Yosef HaTzaddik and his brothers, Yosef's rise and greatness in Egypt, and the fulfillment of his dreams.
I produced the show and played Pharoah.
In this week's Parsha, Mikeitz, we meet Pharoah, the ruler of Egypt, the most powerful man in the world. While I might have played him comically, Pharoah was wise enough to admit that he himself couldn't solve the mystery of his troubling dream. And once its meaning was revealed, he was wise enough to know that there was one wiser than he, who could and should handle the challenge of the upcoming plenty and famine. And he accepted him on his merits, even though he was a youth, even though he was a Jew, even though he was an ex-prisoner. He was wise enough to do what was best for Egypt, and not what was best for his own ego, or "what will the other countries think..."
“Can there be another person who has ’s spirit in him as this man does?” Pharaoh asks his advisors. “There is none as understanding and wise as you,” he says to Joseph. “You shall be over my house, and according to your word shall all my people be ruled; only by the throne will I outrank you.” (Bereishit 41:38-40)
If you weren't sure that Pharoah is very brilliant, take a look at the upcoming dialogue in next week's parsha, Vayigash, when the king of the physical world meets the king of the spiritual world. It is fascinating, and you will surely agree that Pharoah deserved his kingship.
A last note about this Pharoah. Unlike Moshe's Pharoah who said, "Who is Hashem that I should heed His voice to send out Israel? I do not know Hashem, nor will I send out Israel!", Joseph's Pharoah acknowledges Hashem. When Pharoah summons Joseph to interpret his dream, Yosef says, "This is beyond me; it is G-d Who will respond with Pharoah's welfare."
Pharoah never says, "G-d!! What are you kidding!!!?? Who is your G-d? I've never heard of Him." In fact, when speaking to his courtiers, Pharoah recognizes Hashem, when he says the quote above, “Can there be another person who has ’s spirit in him....?"
That was Pharoah's strength. He was not afraid to recognize the wisdom and abilities of others, or acknowledge the power of G-d.