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Weekly Chizuk

Parshas Vayigash

Hashem Did It

Hurry - go up to my father and say to him, "So says your son Yosef: 'G-d has set me as master over all Egypt; come down to me, do not delay.'"?(Bereishis 45:9) Adapted from Darchei Musar by R. Yaakov Neiman, as cited in Yalkut Lekach Tov, vol. 1, p. 290, cited in Trust Me!

It seems strange that Yosef's message to his father was that he ruled over Egypt. Our forefathers wanted their sons to grow up to be G-d-fearing men, whose lives centered on Torah study. Why would Yaakov be so happy to know that his son is now "master over all Egypt"? Yaakov dreamed of Yosef becoming a talmid chochom, not a politician. In answer to this question, R. Neiman says that the important thing was not so much the news that Yosef was now the viceroy of Egypt, but how he explained his appointment.

When chosen to take an important position, one will generally make it known who it was that arranged it: "I was deputized by the Chief of Police," or, "the Mayor appointed me.…" or "the President appointed me to his commission on crime." The more significant the position, the more likely that the person will identify the important people who selected him.

This is what most people could be expected to do. Yosef, on the other hand, says nothing about Pharaoh; he makes no mention of the fact that the Egyptian ruler gave him the position for having interpreted his dreams so well. Instead, he said: "Hashem made me master." "Hashem gave me this job." This is the voice of a true ba'al bitachon who acknowledges that everything comes from Hashem; it is the outlook of a person who has internalized this idea so well that, when appointed to a high position, he unequivocally states that so-and-so did not appoint him - Hashem did.

Now we understand why this was such wonderful news for Yaakov. After so many years outside of his father's home, after undergoing so many different trials and tribulations, Yosef's belief in Hashem and Divine Providence remained firm. He was the same righteous man that he would have been expected to be had he remained with his father and brothers all those years. None of his travails or successes had had a negative impact upon him; he still attributed everything that happened to him to Hashem. No news could have pleased his father more.

Yosef could definitely have attributed all of his accomplishments to his own abilities - but he did not do so. He maintained the same pattern he set when he appeared before Pharaoh to interpret his dreams, and said, "It is not me; Hashem will answer Pharaoh's well-being" (Bereishis 41:16). Even now, after persevering and accomplishing so much, he assigned it all to Hashem.

It is natural, and almost to be expected, that when a person achieves something after tremendous effort, he will claim credit. Similarly, when a person endures difficult trials, it is understandable that he might have complaints and feelings of anger. But it is precisely at these times that one's faith in Hashem - or the lack thereof - is revealed. If at such moments a person says that everything is from Hashem, he sincerely means it. Let us work to reach that point!

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Along this vein, Rav Elimelech Biderman comments: The brothers told Yaakov that Yosef was still alive, as it states "they told him that Yosef was still alive and he is the ruler over the entire Mitzrayim. But Yaakov's heart didn't accept their words; he didn't believe them" (45:26). The next possuk states, "they told Yaakov everything that Yosef said… and Yaakov's spirits were lifted." This time Yaakov believed them. What changed? The first time, they told Yaakov that Yosef said that he became the king over Mitzrayim. Yaakov thought, how could it be that Yosef said that he became the ruler, as though the matter was up to him? Doesn't he know that he cannot become the ruler without Hashem? This is the reason, at first, Yaakov didn't believe them. He knew that Yosef had emunah, and he wouldn't say such a thing.

The second time, however, they told Yaakov "kol divrei Yosef - everything that Yosef said," including that Yosef said that Hashem made him the ruler, etc. (see 45:5-8).

This time, Yaakov believed them.

Screensaver Aquarium

From Chizuk! P. 126

Rav Ephraim Wachsman of Monsey once related the following: He was sitting in the waiting room of a doctor's office. Everyone knows that sometimes, when you are very bored, it is amazing what you might find fascinating. In the office, there was a computer screen, and on the screensaver there were some fish bouncing back and forth. They were swimming around and randomly bouncing one off the other. Whenever they hit the side of the aquarium (the sides of the screen) they would also bounce back. And he's sitting there observing this, waiting to be called.

Suddenly he had a thought. If these fish could think, they would certainly think they were swimming on their own. They're waving their fins around, they're about to crash into each other, and then they go off in different directions. Are these fish aware that there was a computer programmer who spent hours writing down the screensaver program? He produced millions of bytes of information that programmed exactly how the fish are to move, and how they're meant to wiggle, and what they're supposed to do when they come to an obstacle. There is absolutely nothing they can do to go out of the program. And this was all thought out and planned with a mind that is so beyond these little cartoon figures on the screen they could never even imagine such a thing happening. "What do you mean I'm not swimming on my own, I'm not moving on my own? Of course I am! Look at me, I'm swimming!" And he couldn't move an inch if it wasn't written into the program.

And here we are. We all think we are in control of our lives. HaKadosh Baruch Hu, in His infinite wisdom, programs every single thing that happens to us, every nisayon that comes our way. We imagine that we are in charge of our lives, all the ups and downs. In reality, they are all proclamations from Above. "A person doesn't bruise his finger here below unless they announce it above" (Chulin 7b). Imagine that there is an event in your neighborhood and they want to publicize it. So they set up loud speakers, they have cars driving up and down the streets announcing the event. They put up notices in every shul and beis midrash; people should know there is an event. That's an announcement.

The Chazal don't say that there is a decree from above. The gemara says they announce it. That means that in all the Spiritual spheres, in all the Heavens there is an announcement, "Ploni ben Ploni is going to nick his finger today." They announce above in Heaven every single thing that happens to us. The Ribnitzer Rebbe was a very great tzaddik. He was an Ish Kodesh, a holy person. He had a reputation as a wonder-worker. People came to him with the most difficult tzoros and his tefillos brought people many yeshuos.

The Ribnitzer Rebbe was once coming down from the Aron Kodesh when he slipped on one of the steps and fell. Everyone ran over to him to help him, but they saw he wasn't getting up. They asked, "Is the Rebbe all right? Why isn't the Rebbe getting up?" "I'm fine," he answered. "I'm just thinking to myself. Why did I fall? If I fell, HaKadosh Baruch Hu made me fall; there must be a reason for it. I need to think. HaKadosh Baruch Hu is talking to me."

Wishing Everyone A Gut Shabbos!

© Rabbi Eliezer Parkoff
4 Panim Meirot, Jerusalem 94423 Israel
Tel: 732-858-1257
Rabbi Parkoff is author of "Chizuk!" and "Trust Me!" (Feldheim Publishers), and "Mission Possible!" (Israel Book Shop Lakewood).
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