Parshat Mikeitz begins with Yosef’s rise from prison to royalty through his interpretation of פרעה’s dream. Once he establishes Egypt as the only nation with food during a devastatingly long famine, all of the surrounding countries turn to Egypt to purchase food. Among those consumers are יוסף’s very own brothers, who had previously sold him into a life of slavery.
When naming his son, יוסף calls him מנשה- כי נשני אלוקים את כל עמלי ואת כל בית אבי — thanking ה׳ for enabling him to forget all of his troubles and his father's house. Considering the close relationship that יוסף shared with his father, why did he want to forget about him?
Additionally, once יוסף found himself in a leadership position as viceroy, and again considering the closeness of his relationship with his father, why wouldn’t he have tried to reunite with יעקב during all this time?
The story of the parsha is told from a narrator's perspective but if you take a moment and look at the very same story through יוסף’s lens, you see a completely different view.
Before finding himself in a pit, there were two conversations that are recorded between יעקב and יוסף. The first is when יוסף tells יעקב about his dream of 11 stars, the sun, and the moon bowing to him, and יעקב reacts very strongly with rebuke for יוסף. The conversation they have immediately afterwards is the one in which יעקב instructs יוסף to go to Shechem to check on his brothers, a journey which led to יוסף being thrown in a pit and ultimately sold.
For the past 22 years, יוסף has been wondering whether יעקב was in fact a part of the brothers’ plan. After all, it was יעקב who led him into this compromising position, and יעקב who was terribly upset with יוסף about the dream. This now explains why יוסף named his son מנשה; he wanted to forget any pain inflicted upon him by his brothers and possibly his father. It also explains why יוסף didn’t try and reunite with יעקב. In יוסף’s mind, he isn’t sure if יעקב wants to hear from him, as he thought יעקב orchestrated this plan.
Often in life, our perception shapes our reality. Chanukah reminds us that there is more than meets the eye. One day’s supply of oil will burn for eight. A weak Jewish army will withstand the mighty Greek empire. The Father we perceive as having cast us away, is in reality, longing for our return.
Mrs. Michal Zisquit