July 19, 2024 ~ Shabbat BALAQ. Maqam MAHOUR.

Shabbat Miqes - שבת מקץ


יביעון שפתי שירה נשמת
אור כשלמה שמחים
יצא למלוך מבית סורים פזמון ספר תורה

One Long Paragraph

ויהי מקץ שנתים ימים - The Talmud teaches that the word ויהי, as opposed to והיה, is applied to foreshadow times of trouble (Megillah 10b). The portion of Miqes (Genesis 41:1-44:17) opens with this ominous word foreshadowing such events. Although this narrative is about Joseph's rise to power, the amount of turmoil experienced by the Israelites in this story is extremely unsettling. What makes Miqes stand out compared to any other Torah portion is that this perasha, consisting of 146 verses, is essentially one long paragraph. From beginning to end, Miqes has no "open portion" (פתוחה) divisions, but rather, the entire portion is one single "closed portion" (סתומה) division. The unusual layout of Miqes is a metaphor for how one must behave during times of trouble. Having the entire portion without any interruptions is a reminder that during times of trouble, in order to survive, one must remain alert, keep moving, and not allow any interruptions. Tiqqun Highlights, Beth Torah Bulletin, 12/8/18.


ויריצהו מן הבור - When Joseph was in jail, in an effort to secure his freedom, he asked the cupbearer to relay to Pharaoh about his experience with him. For over two years, Joseph was waiting for his salvation, but it did not come, because the cupbearer forgot about him. Then, suddenly, when he least expected it, he was "rushed out of the pit," as the words ויריצהו מן הבור (Genesis 41:14) indicate, and his deliverance came. He was released from incarceration so fast, that he barely had time to change clothing or to shave. Joseph had a complete reversal of fortune. The message from this story is that it is God that controls the world and the fate of all mankind. While it is imperative on all of us to continue to make efforts to accomplish our goals, ultimately, if God desires to save you from your problems, He can do so effortlessly and in the blink of an eye, just like He did for Joseph (Beth Torah, 12/31/16).

Forget the Past

כי נשני אלהים את כל עמלי - Throughout the whirlwind of activity mentioned in Genesis 41, the reader generally remains unaware of Joseph's emotional state. It is when Joseph names his children, however, that we have a window into his innermost thoughts. Menashe, his first born son, is named such in gratitude to God for allowing him "to forget all my sufferings... in my father's household." Throughout our society, it saddens me to see those with a bitter outlook on life; blaming their failure to progress on people or events of the past. The hatred, rejection, and setbacks that Joseph experiences throughout his youth certainly qualifies to be damaging enough to negatively impact him and prevent future progress, and yet Joseph always remains resolute. With God's help, Joseph is elevated to such high dominance economically, socially, and mentally, that he is gifted with the ability to forget his painful past and not allow it to infringe on his future. Beth Torah Bulletin, December 16, 2017.  

Do Not Ignore

וייקץ פרעה ויישן ויחלם שנית - One night, Pharaoh has an ominous dream. In this dream, as he was standing by the Nile, he sees seven beautiful robust cows. Then, seven ugly and scrawny cows approach and devour the first set of cows. From this disturbing dream, “the Pharaoh woke” (Genesis 41:4), but then immediately, “he fell asleep and dreams a second time." It was not until his second dream, which is similar to the first, that Pharaoh is alarmed and takes the action of pursuing an interpretation. The question is, why does Pharoah go back to sleep after the first dream? The same message needed to be repeated twice before he realizes its importance. Sometimes we, too, receive signs from our environment or symptoms from our bodies that something is not quite right. When this happens, we must immediately inspect what is going on, either with the help of a doctor or someone more knowledgeable, and take action. The worst thing that we can do is fall back asleep and ignore the signs. Beth Torah Bulletin, December 28, 2019.

Maqam of the Week: SIGAH

For Shabbat Miqes (Genesis 41:1- 44:17), Maqam SIGAH is applied according to all Aleppo sources, because we are celebrating Hanukah, the festival of the Menora. Maqam Sigah is familiar to most, because it is used for Torah Readings. There is a connection between the Torah and light, as it says in Proverbs, "Ki Ner Missva VeTorah Or." Whenever there is a reference to the Menora, SIGAH is applied, because Yebiun Sefatai Shira (page 472A), a pizmon that mentions the Menora, is in this maqam, and is traditionally applied for Nishmat. PIZMON SEFER TORAH: Yassa Limlokh MiBet Surim (page 363). Sephardic Pizmonim Project, www.pizmonim.com.