Leah’s Blog Parashat Mikeytz 2022
Mikeytz – FOLDING THE DOUGH December 23 2022
A halo of scent meets you in Jerusalem in the Givat Shaul neighborhood, where Angel Bakery puffs out smoke from its chimney at the crack of dawn. Before moving to Itamar, we lived in Yerushalayim for a year, where I would soak in the delicious flavor of bread baking in the air every morning on my way to school. Like an incense lit up to savor, this is the perfume of Jerusalem. The fragrance is one of bounty, even for the poor and less developed Israel of the 1980’s. Fresh rolls were baked by the thousands for households everywhere. On Fridays all sorts of breadstuffs cakes, pies and cookies were sold with lines of people out the door and down the block, drunk in the scent of the approaching Shabbat – and the challahs, the challahs! Dreams do come true, there was more than a suggestion of plenty- breathe it in, AH!
After moving to a rural hilltop where there was no bakery, I learned from the best of women to roll dough. The staff of life took on a new meaning for me as another layer of Judaism became expressed through preparation. Out here- you were on your own. I found myself exploring organic spelt flour and new/old flours I never knew existed. Rolling the dough and waiting for it to rise pretty much had me learning patience as also the development of our little village progressed excruciatingly slowly. Impressed with Rachel, my Moroccan neighbor (a true eishet chayil), whose golden bangles shimmered on her wrists as she kneaded and folded the dough, her braided challas were wow wow wow beautiful and delicious while I preferred to make buns. It was easier, as I internalized the tradition of baking as a way of life and as an expression of bounty and sustenance even in my Spartan setting. In severe winters it was a good cozy way to warm our little house.
In our Parsha this week, Mikeytz, we read about how Yosef placed the dough AND the money back in his brothers packs. If we review the life and times of Yosef we can easily reveal that his whole essence is the bread. His mother, Rachel is buried in Beit Lechem- literally- The House of Bread. He dreams of the wheat stalks, he deciphers the baker’s dream in prison and he stores the grain that blesses Egypt and enables them to bake. Even Pharoh dreams of the wheat and Yosef mirrors his destiny in not only deciphering his own dreams but of Pharoh’s as well. Every Friday night Jews sit down to Kiddush to remember Yosef and his double blessing in the two loaves- challahs sanctified at the end of the sixth day, the number of the Yesod. Sometimes when I look out the window of my home that faces Yosef’s two mountains- Mount Gerizzim and Mount Eval they appear as challot at Kiddush, a covered dish- El Shaddai. We have a custom not to speak from the time we wash our hands until we taste the bread. Defending memory almost lost to us at this end of time- we remember through baking. Yosef remained silent all through the saga with his brothers. Miketz has Yosef leaving the room to cry at the emotion he felt but did not whisper a word. Sometimes it’s better to be silent.
Patterns are being restored now as we leave galut and enter our land. Shackles are undone, bakeries are again working in our ancient land. We are like dreamers and our dreams are coming true. Yosef was able to not only interpret his own dreams but also those of Pharoh. We have the power and task to bring blessing to the dreams of all world leaders. We have reaped in tears and now returned to Zion, as dreamers eating bread! We have an army, a government, a country. Soon it will be time to speak as we reveal to our brothers and to all that true destiny that is in this story as it patiently rises like dough to exactly this guarantee of restoration, layers of time folded over and over. The scent of baking bread is the theme of our avodat Hashem in His house- here in Israel. On Chanukah we remember our Temple and the miracles and the showbreads, all He did for us and will do!
AT THE END OF THIS FISCAL YEAR I WOULD LIKE TO REMIND ALL OF OUR DEAR FRIENDS THAT FRIENDS OF ITAMAR OUR 501C3 IS WORKING ENDLESSLY TO ENSURE A SOLID AND SECURE PRESENCE RIGHT HERE IN ISRAEL’S HEARTLAND. PLEASE SHARE THIS CHARITY WITH ALL YOU KNOW. TODA RABA RABA AND THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF OUR HEARTS TO YOU THAT CARE ENOUGH TO GIVE!
Chanukah Sameyach dearest friends- Shabbat shalom! Leah