The home is at the center of Judaism, not the synagogue
No Place Like Home
Joseph requests (Genesis 40:14) to get him out of this home. But he was in a pit, one of Egypt’s jails (Genesis 40:15). He calls it home to signal that he doesn’t want to be free because he feels terrible in prison. Mandela avant la lettre wants to leave because he understands he has not yet used all his talents to further G^d’s plan. But his use of the word home is also a hint towards Chanukah—the Jewish Festival mostly connected to the home.
The synagogue functions as the Temple in miniature but the home (Bayit) is named like G^d’s Temple on the Temple Mount (Har haBayit).
On the right, when entering a Jewish home/room, we find the mezuzah. It’s on the right doorpost so that men entering read: Shema’: listen. A hint at “Whatever Sarah tells you, heed her voice” (Genesis 21:12). The woman is the head of the household. When we leave, it reads: Ayin Sham: There’s an Eye there (Mishnah Avot 2:1). Don’t sin; we’re watched from Heaven.
But the Chanukiah stands left of the door. When we enter, it says: Ro’ay: Look [but shut up]. When we leave it says: Or: May light be on your path.
I don’t know about you, but when I read the Joseph story, I’m reminded of the Esther story of Purim. There are so many ‘coincidences’ that it can’t be a coincidence anymore. Those who want can clearly see G^d’s Hidden Hand, the Miracles behind the scenes. The Weekly Reading of Mikaytz mostly falls on Chanukah, the Festival known for its miracles. The Rabbis suggest that, each time it says King in the Scroll of Ester, it’s also hinting at the King of kings of kings. Is there such a word in the story of Joseph?
In Mikaytz, the word Echad appears thirteen times. G^d is called Echad all over the place (based on Deuteronomy 6:4). (In the reading for Chanukah it appears 5 times; in the reading for Rosh Chodesh it shows up 4 times.) G^d has Thirteen Facets of Mercy (Exodus 34:6-7).
Echad hints at G^d being the Only One. But the Hebrew doesn’t read Only (Yachid). (Why it says Echad and not Reeshon is a long story I explain elsewhere.) It means that G^d was First, before Creation. He’s first but there is no second (‘Adon ‘Olam). He is first and last (Mishnah Avot 5:7).
The two Rabbinic Festivals center around G^d’s hidden powers and His love for us. A message that was dearly needed in the Diaspora.