What Goes Around by Josh Markovic

(2004/5765) This week’s Parsha stresses the theme of Middah Kineged
Middah, literally measure for measure. Middah Kineged Middah is
the way Hakadosh Baruch Hu punishes people in the manner in
which they sinned (and rewards us in a manner that corresponds to
our good deeds). For example, when Am Yisrael was in Mitzrayim,
the Egyptians were punished with the Ten Plagues, each of which
was a form of Middah Kineged Middah. For instance, the Midrash
explains that the plague of blood in the river corresponds to
Pharaoh’s decree to drown all the Jewish first born sons. According
to the Midrash, Parshat Vayigash contains numerous such
instances of Middah Kineged Middah.
The first example is Yosef and his relationship with his
brothers. The Midrash describes Yosef telling his father Yaakov that
his brothers are eating an animal that was not slaughtered. Yosef is
actually wrong in this accusation, since the animal was the fetus of a
slaughtered mother (Ben Paku’ah), which is Halachically permissible
to eat even if it is not slaughtered itself. Because of this false
accusation, Hakadosh Baruch Hu punishes Yosef with Middah
Kineged Middah when the brothers show Yaakov Yosef’s coat
stained with blood after they sold him. Yosef speaks Lashon Hara
about his brothers when he judges them by the sight of animal
blood, so using Middah Kineged Middah, Hakadosh Baruch Hu
judges Yosef, too, with blood.
A second (Midrashic) example of Middah Kineged Middah
in this Parsha is when Yosef tells Yaakov that Leah’s sons are
calling Bilhah and Zilpah’s sons “the children of slaves.” In actuality,
however, the brothers were not calling these children’s mothers
slaves, because they knew that Yaakov had freed the women before
he married them. So Hakadosh Baruch Hu once again punishes
Yosef, dooming him to be a slave himself.
Of course, this concept is true of our everyday lives as well.
If one cheats another person in business, for example, Hakadosh
Baruch Hu may punish the offender with his own monetary loss.
However, Middah Kineged Middah can also go the other way. If one
treats others well and fairly, he will be treated the same way in
return. If we do as Hillel’s famous “summary” of the entire Torah
states, “Do unto others only as you would have done unto yourself,”
we will surely merit similar treatment ourselves.

Powerful Dreams by Ariel Herzog

Peace Without and Within by Rabbi Avi Pollak