Miketz: Chapter 13

"And he saw Benjamin"


"Hope deferred is a heart sickness but desire fulfilled is a Tree of Life." Rabbi Chiya comments on this verse, to the effect that the negative angel Satan attends those who pray with a specific result in mind - but God quickly answers the prayers of the pure in heart. Thus, Benjamin came quickly to Joseph. The passage then digresses into a lament for the destruction of the Temple and the pains of Exile.


The Evil Inclination exploits the action of prayer by stimulating feelings of self-righteousness. For this reason, most prayers go unanswered. A holier-than-thou attitude distinguishes the religious approach to prayer from the authentically spiritual perspective. The latter is replete with humility, while the religious approach fosters conceit and certitude in one's own purity and devotion. The cleansing power of this passage purifies our souls, so that we may humbly ask the Creator for what we truly need.