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Vayigash

by Rabbi Yaakov Menken


"Hurry, and go up to my father, and say to him, 'So says your son, Yosef: "G-d has placed me as master over all Egypt; come down to me, do not delay."'" [45:9]

I'm sure that if any of us got a message like this, we would be absolutely delighted. "My son, the Prime Minister of Egypt! This is even better than him being a doctor!"

But this message, of course, was sent to Yaakov, forefather of the Jewish people. Rabbinic Sages want their sons to grow up to be Sages -- people who fear Heaven and learn Torah. Why would he be so happy to know that Yosef is now "master over all Egypt?"

In the Darchei Mussar, Rav Yaakov Naiman answers this question. He says that the important thing was not so much the news that Yosef was now the Prime Minister, as how he explained it.

When a person is appointed to a position, he or she will normally explain who appointed him or her. "I was deputized by the Chief of Police." "I was elected [by the people] to the Senate." "The president appointed me to his commission on crime." The more important the position, the more likely a person will identify the even more important people who did the appointing.

Yosef, on the other hand, says nothing about Paro, or the fact that Paro gave him the position after Yosef explained Paro's dreams so well. This is what anyone would have been expected to say -- but Yosef says instead: "G-D made me master." "G-D gave me this job." This is the voice of a person who acknowledges that everything comes from HaShem. This comes from a person who acknowledges this internally, to the point that when he is appointed to a high position, it's not that so-and-so appointed him -- G-d made this happen.

Now we understand why this was such wonderful news for Yaakov. After so many years outside Yaakov's home, after so many different trials and tribulations, Yosef remained firm in his belief in G-d and Divine Providence. He was the same tzadik, the same righteous man, that he would have been expected to be had he remained with his father and brothers all those years. Nothing had had a bad impact upon him, and he still attributed everything that happened to him to HaShem. Nothing could have delighted Yaakov more.

Yosef definitely could have attributed all of his accomplishments to his own abilities -- but he did not do so. He maintained the same pattern set when he went before Paro to explain the dreams, and said "without me, G-d will answer Paro's well-being." [41:16] Even now, when he had accomplished so much and survived so much, he lay it all at HaShem's feet.

It is natural, and almost to be expected, that when a person achieves something after tremendous effort, he or she will claim credit. When a person goes through difficult trials, it is similarly easy, even likely, that he or she will have complaints, even feelings of anger. These are the times when, if a person has true faith and trust in G-d, it will come shining through. If a person says _then_ that all is from HaShem, that is a person who means it sincerely. Let us work to reach that point!


 

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