1) The Mesorah Notes Number of Words and Not Pesukim

We’re going to try to throw in a Chanukah d’var Torah as well because Mikeitz often overlaps with Chanukah.

The first pasuk says, “Vayihi Mikeitz shnasayim yamim.”  Chazal darshan that Mikeitz stands for “Keitz sam l’choshech”.  Hashem puts an end/limit to darkness. What’s very fascinating is that if you look at the end of the parsha, there’s always a mesorah note that notes how many pesukim are in that parsha. Is it ninety-one?  Is it a hundred and ten? Etc. For Parshas Mikeitz, it’s very odd because it actually says the number of words that are found in the parsha which is 2025, but, it does not say the amount of pesukim. Why is this deviation from the norm present here? (See end of Chukas and Balak, in some chumashim, where this words are listed as well, we’ll save that for another discussion.)

It Answers a Debate

Gra says that the reason that here it tells us this is because there’s actually a machlokes in Meseches Sofrim (5, halacha 10-11).  There’s a whole dispute whether the word “Potifera” which is found in our parsha, whether that is two words or one word. By telling us the count here it answers that question.  Now, if you look at this a little more, it’s a little complicated as to whether the counting of one-thousand and twenty-five pesukim is actually accurate or not.  I’m not going to go into that.  But, the point that I love about the Vilna Gaon is that there’s an explanation for every single thing that we find.

2) Chanukah Hint

The second answer Gra gives which is the one that I want to spend a little bit more time on is that it’s a remez for Chanukah. Why is that? Because this is normally the week that Chanukah falls out almost always, and so the mitzvah of Chanukah is ner ish u’beiso, and the gematriah of the word ner, spelled nun-resh, is 250. When you have “ner ish u’beiso”, that’s what we’re supposed to light, times eight days, you get 2000.  So, that explains the 2000. The last 25 is a hint to the date of Chaunah, 25 Kislev, they rested on the twenty-fifth day of Kislev, and that is when Chanukah falls out, and so, therefore, there’s a hint for Chanukah.

Deeper Lesson of Unity

So, obviously we have to understand that this hint must be very significant, and it is because “ner ish u’beiso” that is a connection between man and his household is the idea of unifying the entire household. Ner l’echad, ner l’mei’ah. This is a direct combat against the division of parshas Mikeitz that Yosef’s brothers tried to separate him from the family, and these are the parshios where Yosef was trying to teach them a lesson about taking responsibility for one another and about recognizing what they did wrong. This is precisely one of the reasons that Mikeitz, as the Shlah says, every parsha that falls out around a Yom Tov is shayach to that Yom Tov, and has a lesson about that Yom Tov.  And, that is the lesson of Chanukah to try to unify the Jewish people to bring it back to “ner ish u’beiso”, and that’s what’s going on over here, and the chaf-heih is, again, a very special day that the Jewish people were able to succeed and get together and throw off their enemies.

3) Loss of Ten Years

Another classic vort from Gra that’s just so beautiful is about the Midrash that says that because Yosef heard his brothers refer ten times to their father Yaakov as “avadecha”, therefore Yosef lost ten years of his life. He was supposed to live to 120, but he died at 110, losing two years. And, it’s middah k’neged middah because he lacked in kibud Av v’Aim by not correcting them.  He should have said, “He is not my servant.”

Question: Only 5 Times Are Found?

But, says the Gra, if you go through the pesukim, we actually only find this five times.  We have the first time in (43:28), “Vayomer: Shalom la’avadecha, l’aveinu odenu chai.”  You have a second time (44:24), “Vayihi ki alinu el avadecha avi.”  When we got up to our father, your servant.  And, the third time is (44:27), “Vayomer avadecha avi aleinu.” The fourth time is (44:27), “Va’atah ki bo’i el avadecha avi.” The fifth time is, “V’horidu es seivaso avadecha aveinu.”  That he’s going to be very upset.  And, they call him your servant.

Anwer: What Yosef Heard

Says the Vilna Gaon: If you look at a pasuk in our parsha, it answers the question explicitly.  “V’heim lo yadu (42:23).”  It says that the brothers didn’t know ki shomei’a Yosef, that Yosef understood Hebrew “ki hameilitz beinasam”, because he had put an interpreter, which was Menashe, according to the Midrash, and so, therefore, Yosef really did hear his father insulted twice in each of those five instances. He heard it in the original Hebrew and then again in Egyptian.

Therefore, each of the five times the brothers first said the word “avadecha”, your servant, and then the interpreter said it over in Egyptian another time each.  So, that’s five times two is ten. And, therefore, that’s what the medrash is saying.  And, again, the Vilna Gaon looks at the medrash and says this is what Chazal say. It needs to be explicit.  It needs to be clear.  And, that is the beauty of Torah.  There are so many hints that are found in the Torah.

Importance of Kibud Av V’Aim

We also take an important lesson about the importance of Kibud Av, Kibud Aim, respecting one’s parents, that even by listening to it through an interpreter, Yosef was held accountable for those words, for not correcting his brothers and saying: No, it’s Yaakov, and being respectful towards him.  Even though he had a plan, but nonetheless, there was a tayna against him.  Let us be careful the way we treat other people.


Rabbi Yosef Tropper is a rabbi and psychotherapist. Subscribe at ParshaThemes.com