Mikeitz – Sh’vi’i

"Stop, Thief!"

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

Yoseif was so overcome by emotion, he had to step out to compose himself. He washed his face and rejoined his brothers for lunch. He was served separately from his brothers because the Egyptians found it unseemly to dine with foreigners. Yoseif had them seated in the order of their ages, which amazed the brothers. They must have thought Yoseif was some kind of sorcerer, not realizing that he had “inside information.” He had them given portions from his own table and Binyamin was given five times as much as any other brother. Everybody ate and drank. (There was a method to Yoseif’s madness. His troubles had been brought on by the brothers’ jealousy, so he favored Binyamin to see if they had matured past that kind of pettiness. He plied them with wine to lower their inhibitions.)

Once again, Yoseif had his servants place the brothers’ money in their sacks. This time, however, he also had his own special silver goblet placed in Binyamin’s sack. When the brothers prepared to leave, Yoseif sent his guards after them. “Our master treated you kindly and you repay him by stealing his magic cup?” they accused. Of course the brothers denied the charge. They were so confident that none of them would do such a thing that they offered that, if any of them had the cup, that brother would die and the rest would be slaves. The soldiers said, “That would be fair, but if anyone has it, we’ll make him a slave and the rest of you can go.”

Sure enough, the cup was found in Binyamin’s sack. (For the brothers, this was the worst possible turn of events.) They all returned to Yoseif’s palace, where they begged for mercy. Yoseif said, “You didn’t think I’d find out, great sorcerer that I am?” Yoseif’s ten older brothers said that this was punishment for their sin and they offered themselves as slaves in Binyamin’s place. Of course, Yoseif declined, saying that only the guilty one – presumably Binyamin – should be punished and that the rest should run along home.

The Hebrew word for Yoseif’s goblet is geviyah (spelled gimmel-veis-yud-ayin). It’s interesting that in dilug osiyos (“letter skipping” – a method of Torah study called “Equidistant Letter Search” in the “Torah Codes”), the word geviyah only occurs one place in the entire Book of Genesis. It can be found in eight-letter intervals in 44:12 (“He searched, beginning with the eldest, and ending at the youngest. The cup was found in Benjamin’s sack”) – the very verse describing the search for the hidden cup!

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