Lectures on the weekly Torah reading by the faculty of
Most of the Bibles which we use today give a summation of the number of verses in the parashah at the end of each weekly reading, followed by a word or words whose numerical value equals the number of verses in the reading. This recording was made by the Masoretes. At the end of Parashat Mikketz, however, also the number of words in the parashah is given, as follows: Quf-mem-vav Yehizkiyahu, Amatziah, yihye li eved siman, ve-tevot alpayim kaf”heh. That is, 146 is the number of verses in the reading, and the signs for it are the names Yehizkiyahu and Amatziah, as well as the words “will be my servant,” which occur in the last verse of the reading; and the number of words in the parashah is two thousand and twenty-five.  What is so special about Parashat Mikketz that the number of words in the reading should be mentioned, something which is not done for any other weekly reading in the Torah?
The author of Benei Yissachar, Rabbi Tzvi Elimelech Schapira of Dinov (1785-1841) presents an explanation given by his wife’s father, Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch of Zidetchov (d. 1831), drawing a connection between the masoretic sign and the fact that Parashat Miketz is read on the Sabbath of Hanukkah: 
So that the practices of Hanukkah be in this parashah; the holiday begins on the twenty-fifth day of the month, and one kindles lights for eight days. Now two thousand equals eight times nun-resh [ner, Hebrew for candle or light] (whose numerical value is two hundred and fifty). This is what the masorah was indicating by also counting the number of words, whose total is a clue to Hanukkah.
We do not wish to spoil this nice clue, but in truth Mikketz is usually, but not always, read on Hanukkah. Rabbi Tzvi Elimelech added the following clue to Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch’s remark:
In gematria the numerical value of the words va-yehi mi-ketz [with which the parashah begins] equals bet”aleph [initials: bet alaphim or two thousand] het ner [meaning eight candles; the numerical value of all the letters – bet aleph het nun resh is 261], therefore these days are called Hanukkah, from the initials het nerot u-vehodesh kislev hathalatan [meaning “eight lights and the month of Kislev is when they begin”].
Another explanation was proposed by Rabbi Hayyim Panet, author of Tapuhei Hayyim (Jerusalem 1994, p. 165). The total number of words was given because of the word avrekh, which appears in the reading (Gen. 41:43). An interpretation of this word by Rashi breaks it in two: av (a father) in wisdom and rakh (young) in years. The number of words in the reading was given in order to resolve the question whether avrekh should be read as one word or two.
Below we present a more straightforward
explanation. Examining the extant
Masorah manuscripts of the Torah closely, we observe that
in a small fraction of them, next to the total of verses in the weekly readings
we also find a total of the words in some of the weekly readings.
So, for example, in the
In the edition of Mikraot
Gedolot printed in
Stone capital with menorah relief, 4th – 5th century B.C.E.*
Hanukkah Menorah, bronze,
Hanukkah Menorah, brass,
 On the
general topic see A. Arend, “Ha-
Simanim shel Minyanei
ha-Torah,” Sefer ha-
Yovel le-Rav Mordechai
Brauer (ed. M. Bar-Asher et al.),
 One of them, JTS L44a [Hilleli], Sephardic, from 1241, even gives the number of letters in some of the weekly readings.
 In Benei Yissachar, loc. sit., regarding these weekly readings he writes: “There are several other sedarim for which the total number of words is listed. We have tried hard to find reasons for this, for in truth a reason is needed to explain the difference”.
 Another example of the multiplicity of masoretic notes leading to printers’ errors: in many printed editions the number of verses in the readings of Pekudei and Be-Hukotai was omitted due to the numerous masoretic notes appearing at the end of Exodus and Leviticus respectively.
* Photo from the Knesset internet site, http://www.knesset.gov.il
** Photo taken from the site http://www.talpiot.macam98.ac.il