Parashas Mikeitz starts off with Paroh’s dream and the inability of his wise men to interpret it. The butler suddenly remembers Yosef HaTzaddik from prison; Yosef is called and prepared for an audience with the king. Paroh tells Yosef his dream and Yosef explains it: there will be seven years of plenty, then seven years of famine so bad that the plenty will be forgotten. He ends with a piece of advice to Paroh to appoint a leader to be in charge of saving food during the years of plenty and giving it out in the years of famine. Paroh thinks this is a brilliant idea and appoints Yosef viceroy of Egypt. Yosef sets into place a system of food storage in preparation for the years of famine.
Yosef and his wife Osnas have two sons, Menashe and Efraim. The famine comes; people from every land stream in to get food from Yosef in Egypt.
Yaakov Avinu hears that there is food in Egypt; he sends his sons (minus Binyamin, the youngest), down to Egypt to bring back food. Yosef recognizes his brothers at once and sees the fulfillment of his dream as they bow to him. He accuses them of being spies. The brothers deny it but Yosef refuses to believe them unless they bring their youngest brother to Egypt.
Yosef takes Shimon hostage and sends the brothers back to get the youngest brother with food for the family and their money returned in their bags. The brothers convince Yaakov Avinu to send Binyamin. Although he is not happy about it, he sends him as he has no choice. Yosef is overcome with emotion upon seeing his little brother Binyamin. However, his brothers still don’t realize that the viceroy of Egypt is their long-lost brother!
After eating with his family, Yosef sends them off once again, but he has his silver goblet placed into Binyamin’s bag to test the brothers. Will they let the second son of Rochel Imeinu be captured by the viceroy of Egypt?
Upon discovery of the cup in Binyamin’s bag, the brothers return to Yosef. He insists that rather than keep all the brothers as slaves, he will take just Binyamin, the one who ‘stole’ his cup.
With that cliffhanger ending, the parasha leaves us waiting for next week!
At the beginning of the parasha, we read that the butler finally remembered Yosef, left behind in prison two years ago. What took him so long?!
The commentators explain that Yosef asked the butler to mention his name to Paroh – and he assumed that he would be released shortly thereafter. The one thing Yosef forgot to think about was that Hashem obviously had a plan to get him out of prison. Hashem didn’t need Yosef to figure it out himself.
Don’t we learn, though, that we’re supposed to do the most that we can to achieve a goal before placing it in Hashem‘s domain? Shouldn’t we study for the test as much as possible before we say “and my grade is up to Hashem“?
A constant theme in Jewish thought is that it’s your effort that counts. So you didn’t get an A on that test? Okay, but did you study? Great. You did what you had to do, Hashem determined the outcome.
Maybe you ended up getting angry at your sister – but did you put in an effort not to? Did you lessen the amount of anger you might have expressed had you not decided to work on your anger dilemma?
Hashem takes into account every little bit of effort that you put into doing the mitzvos, the commandments, and toward improving yourself as a person. Like Reuven in last week’s parasha, we are even credited for our intentions! He wants our ultimate good and encourages us to try, even if we don’t think we’ll succeed.
The Greeks had a different philosophy on life. They only cared about the outcome. It didn’t matter if you started washing the dishes. By the Greeks, if the kitchen wasn’t totally sparkling, they didn’t take into account the fact that you had intended to clean it all up before your mother came back.
You know, when the Macabees came back to the Beis Hamikdash (Temple), they couldn’t find even one single jar of pure olive oil to light the Menorah with. Since they so badly wanted to fulfill Hashem‘s will in the purest way possible, Hashem made a miracle and helped them find that one jar. (Some sources say that it wasn’t there; Hashem put it there when He saw how much they wanted to do the right thing!) See, it’s not all about what we do – if it was up to us, we’d never be able to get anything done!
Hashem is standing beside you to guide you every step of your way, every moment of your life. Just show Him that you want to do the right thing, head in the right direction, and He’ll do the rest. Doors will open, bridges will be built and you will find yourself on the other side of your goal.
On Yosef HaTzaddik’s level, he should have trusted that Hashem had it all worked out. In our lives too, we should try our best but remember that Hashem is the One running the show!
It doesn’t matter if you win or lose.
It’s how you play the game.
(inspired by Rabbi Zecharia Wallerstein, TorahAnytime.com)
What would I be listening to except for “Miracle”, the brand new single released by Yitzy Bald’s NYBC just in time for Chanukah? This is my family’s current obsession song – enjoy! In its first two days online it’s already gotten over 9,000 hits! I bought it right away on iTunes. Too much fun to not be able to blast in the car on the way to Krispy Kreme to buy our jelly donuts!!
Happy Chanukah! Gut Shabbos!