By Rabbi Raymond Beyda
"...They raised their eyes and they saw, behold! -- A caravan of
Ishmaelites was coming from Gilead, their camels bearing spices, balsam
and lotus..." Beresheet 37:25
The drama and intrigue of the story surrounding the relationship between
Yosef and his brothers fascinates every year as we read the parashiyot
[weekly Torah portions] that detail the chain of events that began with a
multi colored coat and dreams of greatness and ended with the migration of
Yaakob and his entire family to sojourn in Egypt. The story begins when
Yosef is 17 years old. He is sold into slavery at 18 years of age. The
libelous wife of Potifar accused him of immoral advances and he is
imprisoned for 12 years. After his release, Hashem provided 7 years of
bounty as predicted by Yosef in his interpretation of Par-oh's dream. Then
two years of famine wherein the brothers come to buy food and are
outwitted by Yosef. It is 22 years from the start of our plot that Yaakob
Abinu a'h moves his family and his property from Canaan to Goshen.
In the verse cited above the Torah gives a seemingly unimportant listing
of the cargo the caravan was transporting to Egypt. Rashi, however, finds
significance in the freight. He explains that the caravans usually carried
unpleasant smelling fuels like naphtha but because Hashem did not want
Yosef to feel ill He sent a group of merchants who -- NOT COINCIDENTALLY --
were carrying pleasant smelling merchandise
When Yosef interpreted the dream of Par-oh the sovereign decreed that the
young Jew would direct the economy of his country to insure that the
bounty of the 7 years of plenty would be preserved to feed the population
during the years of famine. In a seemingly insignificant royal decree
Yosef's name was changed by Par-oh to Safenat Paneah. The importance of
this change did not become apparent until NINE YEARS LATER when the
brothers were duped by the masquerade of Yosef. They stood in fear before
the Minister -- Safenat Paneah -- not before their younger brother Yosef.
The commander of history set the plan in motion years earlier in order to
get Yaakob Abinu a'h to come to Egypt willingly.
Another example of the Lord's complete control of events here on Earth is
the proximity of the false accusation of Potifar's wife to the arrest of
the two royal ministers. Rashi points out that Hashem arranged for the
scandal of the crimes of the royal baker and the royal wine steward to
take place immediately following the slanderous accusations made against
Yosef in order to take the public's attention away from the righteous
Yosef. Human nature is such that people like to talk about the "latest"
news and so Hashem provided a new "hot" story to distract the people's
attention away from Yosef. This is an example of His control of the news
for the sake of the sadeek.
One must not overlook the crimes of these two criminals. The wine steward
had the gall to serve the monarch a cup of royal wine with a fly in it.
The royal baker served the king some bread with a pebble in it. Each
servant was arrested for his negligence. These details are so familiar
that one might -- as the Messilat Yesharim says -- “Not pay proper
attention because of familiarity.” Think for a moment! How often we
say, “There are many messengers for G-d.” But to what degree? A pebble
and a fly strategically placed by our Creator in the wine cup and the
bread of Par-ah bring about the release of Yosef from the pit to the
throne. Such is the Providence of G-d.
One must keep in mind that our holy Torah is not a history book and
certainly not a storybook. It is a teaching book -- one that directs us in
how to do the will of Our Creator -- in deed and in character development.
The intricate story line is laden with details -- each geared to teach us
how to understand the will of G-d. Rabbi Avigdor Miller a'h pointed out
that the amount of space devoted to a lesson highlights its importance in
the eyes of G-d. The Hashgahah Peratit -- divine providence -- with which
G-d controls His creation, is woven through entire fabric of the Torah. In
the weeks in which we read the story of Yosef through the Exodus from
Egypt and the Splitting of the Sea it is the primary subject presented to
us. We should all take note -- study and grow closer to the One who made
us all -- He is the boss -- He is in command – He is protecting each and
every one of us ALL OF THE TIME..
Text Copyright © 2004 by Rabbi Raymond Beyda and Torah.org.