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Torah Tidbits with Rena Kahn, Twelfth Grade Student

Rena Kahn, Twelfth Grade Student

Parshat Mikeitz opens up with Yosef in jail. Instead of sitting alone in his misery, Yosef gets up, roams around, and talks to his fellow inmates, including the royal baker and royal butler who have had strange dreams. Yosef is able to interpret these dreams and tells the butler, who returns to his job, not to forget Yosef and to help him be freed. The butler forgets and only 2 years later, when Pharaoh has a strange dream, does the butler remember to mention Yosef.

Pharaoh calls Yosef to explain the dream and of course he does so successfully, predicting the upcoming famine. Yosef is then appointed Pharaoh's most trusted, top advisor. Amidst all this excitement, an equally significant, less spoken about event takes place. Yosef has his first son and names him Menashe. The Torah tells us that the reason Yosef chose this name was because Hashem had “caused him to forget his troubles and his father's house”. This is very strange. Normally when a child is named, it is an expression of thanks towards Hashem and appreciation, but here we seem to be getting a more negative vibe. Why?

Chazal tell us that while Yosef was in Egypt, he regretted that he couldn’t fulfill the mitzvah of honoring his parents. He felt bad that he couldn’t take care of Yaakov, his father, in his old age and give him the proper kavod, respect. He named his son Menashe with the intended meaning of "Hashem helped me to forget that I wasn't able to properly honor my father." He did this as a way to show respect for his father and honor him belatedly. 

This teaches us a tremendous lesson. We have an important obligation to serve our parents to the best of our abilities and we cannot wait for them to get older to do that.  The truth is that honoring our parents can get harder as we grow older, start families, and move away from our childhood homes. The time is now. We have the special opportunity every single day to listen to our parents and help them with whatever they need, the reward for which is a long life. We need to take advantage of this as this mitzvah brings reward to not only our parents, but each and every one of us as well.

Rena Kahn
Twelfth Grade Student

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