First Reading: Language and Leadership
“Thereupon Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and he was rushed from the dungeon. He had his hair cut and changed his clothes, and he appeared before Pharaoh.”
Joseph’s Understanding of Language
When Joseph was released from prison, the archangel Gabriel prepared him for his audience with Pharaoh by teaching him how to speak all the languages of the seventy nations. Since Joseph was coming under the guise of a dream interpreter, it would be important for him to meet Pharaoh’s expectations that he be well-learned. In addition, the sages explain that at that time it was customary for kings to teach their children how to speak the languages of all peoples of the Earth. For Joseph to assume the position of viceroy, he too would be expected to know all the languages. Indeed, when Pharaoh tested him, Joseph was able to respond in all the languages spoken by Pharaoh. But, Joseph did Pharaoh one better, since he knew Hebrew, the Holy Tongue, which Pharaoh did not.
The sages reveal that Gabriel also added another letter to Joseph's name: the letter hei, making his name, Yehosef. This additional hei alludes to the first hei in God’s essential Name, Havayah, corresponding to the sefirah of understanding. Thus, as it turns out, understanding is the faculty with which we learn and comprehend languages. How does language relate to understanding? Understanding, when fully developed is known as the mother principle. There is a well-known idiom that the language a child grows up with as his or her first language is called their mother tongue. In addition, we know with some certainty that language develops and is processed in the brain’s left lobe.
The first hei in God's essential Name Havayah is related to the second hei. Thus, by strengthening his faculty of understanding, the higher hei, Joseph was able to reach down to the lower hei which corresponds to the sefirah of kingdom, and thereby assume the leadership role he was given. The Hebrew word for “mother” (אֵם) can also be pronounced like the conditional, “if” (אִם). Because of this, the Chasidic masters explain that the mind’s ability to make or set conditions and limitations is part of our faculty of understanding. By learning all the languages spoken in the world, Joseph fulfilled the condition necessary for becoming a king.
The archangel Gabriel represents the left axis of the sefirot, specifically, the sefirah of might. In fact, his name (גַּבְרִיאֵל) stems from the Hebrew word for “might” (גְּבוּרָה). Might is the sefirah immediately after understanding on the left axis of the Tree of Life, indicating Gabriel’s connection with the mother principle and language. In fact, the average value of the letters in his name is 41, the value of “mother” and the conditional “if” (אִם). When we add “Joseph” (יוֹסֵף), 156, to “Gabriel” (גַּבְרִיאֵל), 246, their sum, 402, is 6 times the value of “understanding” (בֵּינָהּ), 67.
Second Reading: Joseph: The Master of Time
“The seven healthy cows are seven years, and the seven healthy ears are seven years; it is the same dream.”
Joseph sensed the secret of time; he perceived time as the inner essence of reality. In the Book of Genesis, two portions’ names are related to time: Bereishit and our portion, Mikeitz. Bereishit indicates the beginning of time, while Miketz refers to the end of time. Joseph’s mastery of the secret of time is reflected in the way he interprets dreams.
The objects that appear in dreams usually need to be interpreted symbolically. To properly interpret the dream, one must understand the meaning of the symbols involved.
One key to understanding the symbols in a dream is proficiency in the language spoken by the dreamer. Joseph’s keen sense for dream interpretation is hinted at in the way that Jacob describes him when blessing him: Ben Porat Yosef (בֵּן פֹּרָת יוֹסֵף), which literally means “Joseph is a fertile [or, beautiful] youth,” but the word Porat (פֹּרָת) is an anagram of “interpreter” (פֹּתֵר). Obviously, using anagrams to properly interpret symbols requires a very sophisticated knowledge of the language spoken by the one dreaming. Anagrams, especially in Hebrew, where permuting the letters of a 3-letter root yields meaningful words, allow us to find connections and associations for a symbol that would not normally be recognized. This level of sophisticated understanding of language was afforded Joseph when Gabriel taught him 70 languages before he was taken to Pharaoh. But even before that, the Torah reveals that Joseph has a unique aptitude and affinity to dreams. Joseph is viewed as the master of dreams: “And they said to one another, ‘Here comes this dreamer.’” We recall that Joseph’s own dreams are recorded in the Torah, and when it comes to them, he—the master interpreter and master linguist—interprets them correctly.
It is written in Kabbalah sometimes the letters used in the name of a symbol are not sewn correctly, meaning, one that the letters either do not appear in the proper order, or even are seen as jumble of letters without meaning. The word Porat (פֹּרָת) used to describe Joseph is also an anagram of “tailor” (תֹּפֵר). Thus, the dream interpreter must, like Joseoph, act like a tailor stitching and sewing together the linguistic threads in the dream, allowing him to correctly understand its contents. Jospeh is a master tailor. If we take a bird’s-eye view of his story as told in the Torah, we see that despite being “played” with by others, he is constantly working hard to tailor his own reality, especially his relationship with his brothers, until he can see his dreams fulfilled. But Joseph is not self-serving. His purpose all along is indeed to act as his brothers’ sovereign, but for their eternal benefit.
The Time Dimension in Dreams
Another important ability required of a dream interpreter is the ability to master the dimensions of space and time. Joseph is a master of time. We that consistently, he correctly translates the objects that appear in the dreams he interprets into quantities of time. Pharaoh’s cupbearer told him about seeing a vine in his dream, “And in the vine were three branches: and it was as though it budded, and her blossoms shot forth; and the clusters thereof brought forth ripe grapes: And Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand: and I took the grapes, and pressed them into Pharaoh's cup, and I gave the cup into Pharaoh's hand.” Joseph immediately understood that the vine’s three branches should be understood as days. Thus, he tells him, “in three days Pharaoh shall lift up your head, and restore you unto your place.” He does the same for Pharaoh’s baker. The three baskets the baker sees on his head also represent three days. But this time, “in three days Pharaoh will lift your head from you and shall hang you on a tree.”
Now that Pharaoh is tasked with interpreting Pharaoh’s dream, he once again exhibits his mastery of time and interprets the seven cows and the seven ears of grain as years.
It should be noted that Pharaoh turned to Joseph after calling all the magicians and soothsayers of Egypt to interpret his dream, but none of them could interpret his dream correctly and his spirit remained troubled. Rashi, quoting the sages, writes that the magicians did try to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams, but they could not break free of the space dimension. Their interpretations translated cows into daughter, ears of grain into countries. Joseph on the other hand travels freely in his thoughts between dimensions.
Furthermore, Joseph is sensitive to quantity. In the dreams of the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, the common number was three. In Pharaoh’s dreams, the common number was seven. Joseph strips the numbers from the objects, leaving them dimensionless, and then casts them as units of time. For the more common cupbearer and baker he uses days, but for the regal Pharaoh, he uses years, knowing that a person dreams according to his status.
(from Mivchar Shiurei Hitbonent vol. 15, pp. 79-84)
Third Reading: Reading: Joseph’s New Names
“He had him ride in the chariot of his second-in-command, and they cried before him, ‘Avreich!’”
After Joseph ingeniously interpreted Pharaoh's dreams and went on to instruct Pharaoh how to proceed to save Egypt from the years of famine, Pharaoh wondered whether it would be possible to find someone in whom the spirit of God dwells. Then Pharaoh answered his own rhetorical question and said, “There can be found no one as understanding and wise as you,” referring to Joseph’s intellectual faculties of wisdom and understanding. Pharaoh then handed over the royal ring and appointed Joseph the viceroy of Egypt, ruler of all that would happen in Egypt. Joseph’s first documented act was to go out to be seen by the people. The people gave him a unique name, Avreich (אַבְרֵךְ).
Today, we use this word to describe any young man who devotes himself to Torah study. But, regarding why Joseph was given this mysterious name, Rashi gives three different explanations. The first is based on Onkelos’s Aramaic translation of the Torah and states that this name means, “Father of the king.” Of course, no one thought that Joseph was Pharaoh’s father, rather the term father meant that he was the king’s counselor, the one who advises Pharaoh on what to do to save the land from famine.
The second explanation divides the word in two parts: “father” (אָב) and “soft” (רַךְ). The implication here is that Joseph is a father in wisdom despite being soft, i.e., young in age. This second explanation is the one on which our modern usage of the word is based. In effect, every young man who learns Torah should try to emulate Joseph. This is a contrast of two properties that Joseph has, wise but young.
The third explanation that Rashi offers is based on the word Avreich’s etymology. It stems from the root ברך, which can mean either to bless or as a noun, a knee. Thus, an Avreich is someone before whom everyone in the country kneels in submission. To summarize, the three explanations Rashi gives are: 1) a counselor, 2) wise and young, and 3) the one before whom everyone kneels.
Submission, Separation, and Sweetening in Rashi’s Commentary
These three explanations of the word Avreich can correspond to the Ba’al Shem Tov’s three-part model of submission, separation, and sweetening, in reverse order. Clearly, the third explanation is an illustration of submission. Joseph radiated to all a sense of submission.
The fact that Joseph is unique—wise and yet young—corresponds with what the Ba’al Shem Tov calls separation. To be separate means several things, but it usually refers to a unique state, a Divine state that sets someone or something apart from others. Joseph is a breed apart. Being fatherly and soft also describes Joseph’s character. A father is usually strict, but Joseph is a soft father, again setting him apart as a different individual, especially given the function that he is now required to perform as Egypt’s viceroy.
Sweetening is depicted by Rashi’s first explanation. The whole reason that Pharaoh selected Joseph for his position was so that he could sweeten the famine for Egypt, and ultimately for the entire world. As such, being able to offer good counsel to the king is the aspect of sweetening found in the word Avreich.
Mysteries and Their Dreams
Now, if we correspond the title Avreich to the sefirot, clearly it relates to wisdom. Apart from this name that the people gave Joseph, a few verses later, Pharaoh also gave him a special name, a royal name, allowing him to marry Egyptian nobility. To date, it is commonplace to give a new king a new royal name. This special name was Tzafnat Pa’ane’ach. What does this name mean?
Even though there is no clear proof for the meaning of the second word, Pa’ane’ach, some commentaries suggest that it is close in meaning to “unravel,” or “solve.” This would then render the literal meaning of Joseph’s royal name, “He who solves mysteries.” The Biblical Joseph had the power to solve mysteries. Apparently, Pharaoh chose this name for him because he had successfully interpreted his dreams, thereby unraveling the depths of Pharaoh’s unconscious mind (and the information contained in the dreams, as sent to him from on high).
What does it mean to tap into the unconscious mind to bring out its mysteries? There is a verse in Job that reads, “He brings the depths out of darkness and brings to light [that which was in] the shadow of death” (מְגַלֶּה עֲמֻקוֹת מִנִּי חֹשֶׁךְ וַיֹּצֵא לָאוֹר צַלְמָוֶת). Uncovering the mysteries of the unconscious brings to light that which was hiding in the shadow of death. Being able to do that for someone is akin to redeeming him or her. This was Joseph’s special talent.
(excerpted from The Inner Dimension, Parashat Mikeitz)
Fourth Reading: Do You Really Know Me?
“Joseph recognized his brothers, but they did not recognize him.”
Joseph and His Brothers
Why did Joseph not reveal himself immediately to his brothers? From the outset, Joseph was an enigma to his brothers. He was nothing like them. Where they pursued a life of quiet work with their flocks, Joseph was dreaming about becoming a king. Chasidic thought explains that Joseph was drawn to power because he wanted to change the world. His brothers preferred to live righteous lives, where Joseph wanted to bring others closer to Godliness.
Chasidic thought reveals that they were cut from different cloth. Joseph was a soul able to endure the lowest echelons of material life and still cleave to Godliness, he could lead people to faith where others would lose their faith. Indeed, his brothers’ souls were not up to lead in places that were averse to Godliness. Their failure to understand Joseph’s special talent caused his brothers to hate him.
Transforming Hatred into Love
Verbal declarations of eternal love do not suffice to resolve hatred. Its rectification must come through true knowledge and appreciation of the other. After twenty-two years of separation, “Joseph recognized his brothers”—he had learned to appreciate that where he had thrived, they would have been lost. He now recognized them as his brothers—they were on the same team but had different talents.
“But they did not recognize him”—Joseph’s brothers had not yet come to appreciate his special gifts. Recognizing his brothers’ disposition was the first step to rectifying their hatred. Even if Joseph erred by informing Jacob of their deeds all those years ago, he now identified with them as his brothers. His appreciation ran deeper than superficial acknowledgment. He gradually educated them to appreciate him too.
At first, Joseph could not reveal his identity. Doing so would have added nothing to the decades old feud. Knowing he was still alive would not have changed their assessment of him. After the initial relief of finding him again, the fact that it was indeed Joseph would have been a superficial piece of information that would not break the wall of alienation they felt towards him. Joseph realized that before his brothers became aware of his identity, they would have to appreciate his true worth. This would lead to mutual understanding and love.
In Kabbalah and Chassidut, recognition corresponds to the sefirah of knowledge (da’at). Nowadays, we have easy access to an enormous amount of knowledge about any subject under the sun. Information is a powerful tool that we can utilize in many ways, but this type of knowledge is not essentially good unless it inspires us to change for the better. We cannot blindly equate more knowledge with more virtuous individuals.
Information brings us into contact with superficial facts about the object of our interest. Under these circumstances, the soul similarly participates at a superficial level, remaining uninvolved. In Chassidut, a relationship constructed solely from knowledge is referred to as “back-to-back.” With only computerized data available, one part of society may wish to alienate another because they do not understand one another from afar. We cannot understand or appreciate another individual or group until we interact with him or them face to face.
The soul participates in a deeper knowledge that lies beneath the bare facts. Through it, one connects to the more profound levels of another’s soul. When one begins a new acquaintance with a person, or with a new realm of knowledge, the facts are significant. Together with this superficial knowledge, one must also listen, sense, and integrate the essence that lies beyond the sea of data.
This relates to knowledge of the Divine too. In every bit of Torah we contemplate, we must penetrate its inner aspects by perceiving the meaning that underlies the words. Reaching a deep level of knowledge results in a genuine bond between the individual who knows and the object of his knowledge. In this way, knowledge of God becomes a deep and vital connection with God Himself. Chassidut refers to this deeper level of knowledge as “a sense” (הרגש).
So too when it comes to relationships with other people. A relationship based on information or knowledge alone will not bring us closer to love. Developing an inner appreciation of the other automatically dispels any sense of alienation and nurtures the deep love that emerges. As we stand face to face, my heart faces your heart. At this level, soul touches soul. This allows us to reach an inner knowledge of the other and access their inner self.
Inner appreciation reflects a close interaction between my inner self and someone else’s inner self. When someone loses his or her will to live a fruitful and productive life, communication between us may cease, and there will be no way to connect with him or her. In such a case, all the compassion and empathy that I can muster cannot navigate the chasm.
To connect with someone under these circumstances, we must rise to an even higher level of essential self-knowledge. By becoming aware of my own essence, I experience myself and the other as one unit. Just as I understand myself better than anyone else does, through a sense of total unity with them, I can understand the other. By revealing the essential “non-local” bond between us, I reach out to you wherever you are. Even if you have deteriorated to the lowest depths and it seems that all hope is lost, God is there with you, “If I reach the depths, here You are.”
True recognition manifests as compassion and love. This level of compassion reaches out even to those who have completely estranged themselves from any connection. This is a most profound level of inner knowledge that even a face-to-face relationship cannot achieve.
Types of Knowledge and Marriage
We can apply these same three levels of knowledge—superficial, perceptive, and essential, or inner knowledge—to three types of marital relationships:
- A relationship based on superficial knowledge implies a list of rights and obligations that include what I must do for you and what you must do for me. This is the level of standing back-to-back.
- Perceptive knowledge breeds true love between the couple. Each spouse understands the other and truly identifies with him/her (face-to-face).
- Essential knowledge of the other creates a sense of absolute unity that reaches out to embrace even a spouse who is estranged and detached from their partner, to connect to them with an essential bond. This relationship is “face-to-back.” Eventually the one with their back to the other will turn around and face him in true love.
Joseph aspired to this third level of “essential knowledge.” He bridged the gap between himself and his brothers by uniting with them unconditionally until they reached a mutual understanding of him. The Tzemach Tzedek explains that Rachel alluded to this talent at Joseph’s birth, when she prayed, “May God add me another son.” This was Joseph’s talent to turn the distant “other” into “a son” by knowing and recognizing them even if they are estranged from him.
The consummate rectification of fraternal (and marital) disharmony crowns the process of reconnecting all the tribes of Israel. When we know and appreciate one another from a point of inner recognition and inherent understanding, we will merit the ultimate redemption.
(from a class given on the 26th of Kislev, 5773)
Fifth Reading: Reading: When God says, “Enough!”
“And may Kel Shakai grant you mercy before the man, that he may release to you your other brother, as well as Benjamin.”
Guarding the Covenant
When Rebbe Zusha of Anipoli reached the age of 15, he was orphaned from his father. He was the eldest of the children and Elimelech, who would eventually be the great Rebbe Elimelech of Lizhensk, was just a baby. The responsibility for the entire family's livelihood fell upon him. What did he need to do? There were many people that owed his father money. All he needed to do was go around and collect his father's debts, which was the only source of income at the time after his father's death.
On one occasion, he entered the house of a non-Jewish woman to collect his father's debt, a story very much like Joseph's. She locked the door behind him and assaulted him, trying to have her way with him. He jumped out of the window, "and fled outside" like Joseph, but for Joseph, it was easier; she grabbed his garment and was satisfied with that, and they put him in prison. But this non-Jewish woman was not satisfied with that, and after he jumped, she jumped after him. He ran and she chased after him. He jumped onto a moving wagon, and she jumped after him. A completely crazy story.
At some point, he jumped off the wagon and came across a flour mill. He ran in and put his head between the millstones, having decided to kill himself to prevent her from catching him and seducing him. At that moment, he heard a voice from heaven saying, “Shoyn, genug,” meaning, “Enough already.” At that moment, she either left him alone, or disappeared altogether, and then it is written that from that day on, he began to achieve spiritual insights. All his holy insights were due to this trial, from that day he began to achieve insights.
The voice the young Zusha heard said “Enough” (דַּי), pronounced “dah-y.” This word is also the terminal consonant in God’s Name pronounced Shakai (but written שַׁ-דַּי). This Name is associated with the sefirah of foundation, which corresponds to the procreative organ and the covenant. The sages interpret it as “He who said to His world, ‘enough’” (שֶׁאָמַר לְעוֹלָמוֹ דַּי).
What kind of “enough” is referred to? We live in what is described as a “world of deceit,” where God is concealed and we cannot trust our desires and cravings, especially our sexual desires. If a person subdues and fights against his improper and forbidden desires and makes supreme efforts (even to the extent that he is ready to die from the anguish of caused by the evil inclination), then there comes a moment when from the Heavens comes forth the call, “Enough!”
The Ba’al Shem Tov teaches that every transformation must go through three stages known as “submission, separation, sweetening” (הַכְנָעָה הַבְדָּלָה הַמְתָּקָה). Zusha’s attempts to get rid of his temptation (or temptress) by fleeing from it corresponds to the first stage of “submission.” The moment when the “Enough” emerges from Heaven corresponds to a moment of “separation.” Then follows the sweetening—Zusha experiencing Divine insights from that moment and on.
Since the reality we are experiencing is deceitful when it comes to our ability to perceive God and to attain Divine insight, it is very important to realize that the difficulties we are going through in developing our character are all a type of exercise God is challenging us with. The goal of these challenges and tests is to bring us to a higher level of Divine consciousness, as stated in the verse, “for Havayah your God is testing you, so that you may come to know.” Whoever passes these tests merits a moment when God says “Enough!”
Every “Enough” Is Different
The Mittler Rebbe says something incredible about the tests and trials we all go through in life. Not everyone is able to withstand every test, but we should not give up. God examines the heart and cares about the effort, not what happens on the surface. What happens externally has little meaning. He wants to see if you are trying to flee from the seductress, if you are willing, so to speak, to place your head on the millstones. If you are then he says “Enough!”
In Zusha’s case, God’s Name Shakai, the Name that says, “Enough!” was revealed on the very day he was tested. But even for the greatest tzaddikim, it is not always revealed immediately. Joseph for instance was tested by Potiphar’s wife and passed the test, but the seductress “disappeared” because he was placed in jail. Why? Because there might be ego and a sense of accomplishment in having succeeded. Joseph was so successful at what he did that he needed 12 years of prison to rid himself of his pride, and then it was “Enough!” Everyone experiences the moment of “Enough” differently; it takes a lot of patience, a lot of faith.
Jacob too suffered terribly when Joseph disappeared. He knew inside that something was wrong and was waiting for his “Enough!” Before his 10 sons went down to Egypt a second time, he blessed them with God’s Name Shakai, the Name of “Enough!”: “May Kel Shakai grant you mercy before the man.” Rashi explains that Jacob meant to say, “He who said to His world ‘Enough’ will say ‘Enough!’ to my suffering.”
Indeed, it was then that God said “Enough!” to Jacob’s suffering. At the age of 130, he was reunited with Joseph. Jacob had to wait 130 years until he finally finished with all his suffering and tests in this world. We need to know that God’s ways are hidden, but that everyone has their own “Enough!”
The Gift of Understanding
Many years later, God addresses Moses and tells him that He had revealed His Name Shakai to the Patriarchs, but that He had not yet revealed His Name Havayah to them. The revelation of the Name Havayah here refers to the new Torah that would be given to their descendants, the Israelites upon leaving Egypt. The revelation of Torah at Mt. Sinai was a direct result of the Patriarchs having successfully passed through their tests.
After each of us reaches his or her own “Enough!” particularly after successfully guarding our covenant, we receive a new and deeper understanding of Torah. This new Torah we merit to receive is the teachings of Chasidut, the teachings of the Ba’al Shem Tov.
(From a class given on the 27th of Tevet, 5768)
Sixth Reading: Reading: Joseph’s Essence
“Your servant, our father, is still alive”
In this week's Torah portion, the story of the famine that occurred throughout the world is recounted, leading to Joseph's brothers descending to Egypt twice and meeting their brother Joseph, who was the Viceroy of Egypt. When they came to him the second time, Joseph asked them, “He asked about their welfare and said, ‘Is your aged father, of whom you spoke, still alive?’ They replied, ‘Your servant, our father, is still alive,’ and they bowed down in homage.”
Notice the term Joseph's brothers used for their father Jacob—“your servant, our father.” They referred to Jacob this way because they thought Joseph was the Viceroy of Egypt and did not know, of course, that he was their brother, and this was a way of showing respect. However, despite this, because Joseph did not protest this, the sages harshly commented: “Rav Yehuda said in Rav’s name: ‘Why was Joseph referred to as [merely] “bones” during his lifetime?’”
When is Joseph referred to as “bones” during his lifetime? Before his death, Joseph gathered his brothers, “And Joseph made the Israelites swear, saying, ‘God will surely redeem you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.’” Jacob, in contrast, even when expressing his wish to be buried in the Land of Israel, did not refer to himself as “bones.”
Some commentators ask the obvious question: what could Joseph have done? If he had protested the honor of his father and said it was not appropriate to refer to Jacob as his servant, he would have spoiled the entire plan he had made regarding his brothers. After all, there were already various signs that raised the brothers’ suspicion that Joseph was not exactly a regular Egyptian king, and if this had been added, they would certainly have realized he was their brother Joseph. Why then was Joseph punished?
The obvious question invites a straightforward and direct answer: indeed, to respect his father, Joseph should have abandoned part (or the end) of his plan and revealed who he was.
The moral lesson here is very clear. There is a Yiddish saying that “Man makes plans and God laughs.” Joseph had planned everything perfectly, yet for the sake of his plan, he neglected to honor his father. Everything he did was to rectify his brothers’ sin of selling him, which greatly pained his father, but it would have been better to spoil the entire plan than to transgress the commandment of honoring one's father.
Why was the punishment that he would be referred to as “bones” during his lifetime? The human body consists of four levels: bones, sinews, flesh, and skin. The commandment to honor one’s parents is encapsulated in the phrase “and from there shepherds the stone of Israel", where 'stone' is an acronym for 'father son'. A stone is both hard and heavy. The father gives the child the hardness, which are the bones that the father gives to his son, and the son must give the father the weight, which is "honoring the father". The weight includes all the coverings, and therefore Joseph, by not honoring his father in this respect, lost all the coverings – sinews, flesh, and skin, and was left with only bones, what he received from his father.
When the Israelites left Egypt, “Moses took the bones of Joseph with him.” Joseph’s remains were carried through the wilderness alongside the Ark of the Covenant, with the Tablets of the Ten Commandments in it, and the people would say about them, “This one [referring to Joseph] fulfilled that which is written in these [referring to the Ten Commandments].”
Nonetheless, of Joseph, only the bones remained, while the bodies of many righteous people remained preserved, even after their passing. However, there is also an advantage in this because the Hebrew word for “bones” (עֲצָמוֹת) also refers to the very essence (עַצְמוּת). Joseph’s bones were his essence, and they allude to God’s essence as well.
Image: By Adrien Guignet – http://freechristimages.org, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8021318
. See also Wonders, Issue 79 (Noach 5784), p. 16.
. Genesis 49:22.
. See Berachot 56b for more examples of this method.
. Job 12:22.
. Psalms 139:8.
. Genesis 30:24.
. Deuteronomy 13:4.
. Genesis 43:14.
. Exodus 6:3.
. Genesis 43:27-28.
. Sotah 13b.
. Genesis 50:25.