the end of the previous Torah portion, Joseph correctly interprets the dreams of his jail mates, Pharoah’s butler (who is pardoned and reinstated) and Pharaoh’s baker (who is found guilty and executed). In the current Torah portion, thanks to that display of insight, Joseph is called upon to interpret the dreams of Pharoah himself. It’s an opportunity that answers Joseph’s prayers, releases him from incarceration, and elevates him to the role of Viceroy of the Egyptian empire.
Using Joseph’s story as a springboard and looking at the Hebrew etymology of the words butler (saar hamashkim) and baker (saar haafot) the Bat Ayin on Genesis examines further the divine mechanics of prayers being answered. He differentiates between those who are more deserving like the butler and those who are less, like the baker.
The root for the word butler, shk, is the same as the root for kissing. The root for the word baker, af, is the same as the root for anger. The Bat Ayin explains that when someone is on God’s good side, it’s as if God is “kissing” the person and their prayers are more easily answered. When someone isn’t really listening to God, it incites God’s “anger” and separation from God, making his prayers much less effective. However, the Bat Ayin states that there is a remedy: if one somehow “joins” with all of Israel in one’s prayers.
The most effective way to “join” all of Israel, is to love everyone of Israel. The only way to love everyone of Israel is to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. By giving everyone the benefit of the doubt, it enables the ability to love everyone. When a person loves all of Israel then they are connected to all of Israel, and no matter how undeserving that individual is, they reach the level of “kissing” God and that opens the gateways of prayers, acceptance, and blessings.
May we learn to be more loving as well as giving people the benefit of the doubt.
Shabbat Shalom and Chanuka Sameach,
To the lighting of the Menorah of Rabbi Baruch and Rachel Posner of the iconic picture in Nazi Germany. It was lit by their grandson in front of the German Prime Minister and his wife, in his grandparents’ home in Kiel, Germany, where the original picture was taken. See pictures below and link to some media coverage: