Thursday, December 18, 2014

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Mikeitz

The following is a brief summary of some of the thoughts said over by R' Frand on the parsha this evening. I have attempted to reproduce these vorts to the best of my ability. Any perceived inconsistency is the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to R' Frand.

The Torah writes in Mikeitz (Bereishis 44-16) that Yehuda said to Yosef after Binyamin was found with the cup - what can I say, Hashem is behind this and we have sinned to Hashem.

R' Frand observed that this was an odd thing to say to Yosef. The brothers thought that Yosef was an Egyptian dictator with no pity, so why say that this came from Hashem?

R' Frand hypothesized - what if a person was charged and brought before Vladmir Putin. Would Putin care that you admit that you did something wrong to Hashem? Putin does not even believe in G-d.

R' Frand also observed that there is a difference between this pasuk and the pasuk in Vayigash (Bereishis 44:18) where Yehuda approaches Yosef. Rashi notes in Yayigash that Yehuda is not deferential and Yehuda lets on that he knows that it is a plant and that Binyamin is being framed.

So what happened in between these two parshios?

R' Frand answered based on the Sefer Nachlas Eliezer from R' Eliezer Cohen the Mashgiach of Gateshead who quoted R' Yisroel Salanter for the concept that in life there is a cause and an effect. People are often blinded as to what is the cause and what is the effect. An outsider viewing this would say that Yosef frames them in order to harass them or keep them. However, this is not the reason that Yosef does this. This happens because Hashem is angry with them and Yosef is just the mechanism, but the reason is because Hashem is upset with them for an act that took place years before.

A G-d fearing Jew realizes that something he perceives as bad is occurring and he identifies Hashem as having a reason to punish him for the act. The actual punishment is only the mechanism, but the reason that it occurs is because Hashem wants it.

R' Frand continued and noted that this is the fundamental difference between Mikeitz and Vayigash. In Mikeitz, Yehuda sees that something has gone wrong and that it is a punishment from Hashem. Then in Vayigash, Yehuda has an understanding that Yosef is the mechanism for the punishment and that he is being too aggressive in framing them.

R' Frand then observed that the same can be seen with positive events. The Medrash says that when Yosef gets his position from Pharaoh - it was all deserved. Since Yosef did not kiss the wife of Potiphar, all that he says will go. Since he did not embrace the wife of Potiphar he was clothed in royal garments. The Medrash tells us that Hashem gives all these things to Yosef, not Pharaoh as Pharaoh was only the mechanism to deliver Hashem's goodness.

R' Frand told a story about R' Yisrael Salanter who met a man who had spent all his money on a special lottery ticket. While waiting for the drawing, the man was unable to pay his bills and he wound up selling the ticket to a friend. Eventually the drawing was held and this was the winning ticket. The man came to R' Salanter and asked why did this happen? R' Salanter said don't you know - its not the number that wins the lottery, its the man that wins the lottery. At least you got your money back, because if you held onto the ticket it would not have been the winning number. If Hashem does not want you to win, you will not win.

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