Parshat Mikeitz opens up with Yosef in jail. Instead of sitting alone in his misery, Yosef gets up and talks to his fellow inmates, including the royal baker and butler who have had strange dreams. Yosef interprets 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 2 years later, when Pharaoh has a strange dream, he remembers Yosef. Pharaoh calls Yosef to explain the dream, which he does successfully, predicting the upcoming famine. Yosef is then appointed as Pharaoh’s most trusted adviser. Amongst 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 for this name was because Hashem had “caused him to forget his father.” 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 meaning Hashem “caused me to forget” as a way to remember Yaakov and honor him.
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. This 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. Shabbat Shalom!
By: Rena Kahn (12th Grade)