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Nahar U'Pashtei Parshas Vayashev

The Truth Behind Reality

In Parshas Vayeishev, we follow Yosef HaTzadik down to Mitzrayim, and ultimately, into jail with those who had caused offense to Pharaoh. Two of the king’s close servants were thrown into the same jail as he; the baker and the cupbearer - and each one experienced a dream. Yosef told them the meanings, which were that that the baker was going to be executed, and the cupbearer would be reinstated to his former post. Yosef then made his request of the Pharaoh’s sar hamashkim - that he remember Yosef, and ask of Pharaoh that he be released. Now, the first thing we must understand here is why Yosef felt that the cupbearer would feel indebted to him at all. Did the interpretation of his vision have anything to do with this fellow prisoner? Sure, Yosef had made him feel better, and perhaps the cupbearer also agreed that what Yosef told him was probable to happen, but what had Yosef actually done to benefit the cupbearer? The Gemara tells us in Berachos that the meaning of a dream follows the interpretation it is given. Practically speaking, for the most part, even should a dream contain elements that seem ominous, they can be explained away favorably. This being the case, the power to direct visions seen in dreams really does rest with the one who interprets the dream. If so, Yosef surely did the cupbearer a great favor by interpreting his seemingly ominous dream only for the good. Not only did he assuage his feelings of dread, but he truly forged the reality that was to be! (For a discussion as to why Yosef did not try and interpret the baker’s dream for the good as well, see Nahar Sholom, comments to Bereishis 40:14,15 at length). It was for this reason that Yosef felt that he could ask the cupbearer for the favor of mentioning his plight to Pharaoh. Yet, we find that on account of his making this request, Hashem ordained that Yosef be imprisoned for an additional two years! Even one day in a jail is a horrible existence! What was so flawed with Yosef’s reasoning here as to earn him this terrible punishment? We know that it was because Yosef showed reliance on the cupbearer‘a salvation rather than Hashem’s salvation. But, had it not been Hashem Who sent the cupbearer with a dream! Surely Yosef recognized that Hashem was orchestrating the perfect storm for his release by allowing him to help the sar hamashkim, thereby earning his favor. This was Yosef’s logical ticket out of that despicable place! Now, there are those that suggest that Yosef should have realized from all the miracles he experienced until that point that Hashem was holding his hand and constantly guiding him always. As such, there was no need for him to do any sort of hishtadlus, for he was being taken care of exactly as Hashem wanted it. But perhaps we can suggest another point here. When Yosef made his request of the cupbearer, he said the following: But think of me when it shall be well with you, and please show kindness to me, and make mention of me to Pharaoh,, and take me out of this house; For indeed I was stolen away from the land of the Hebrews; and here also I have done nothing that they should put me into the pit. Now, the opening phrases; the request to remember him and to mention his plight to Pharaoh - could indeed have been justified. However, Yosef should have stopped speaking right there. When Yosef sought to add that he had been kidnapped stolen and had done nothing wrong, he was with those words trying to arouse the pity of the sar hamashkim. A person on Yosef’s level must have complete faith in Hashem and understand that the cupbearer had no real bearing on reality. Adding the misery of his experience and making the (true) escapade appear even more tragic may seem like proper hishtadlus to the common person, but for a true believer in Hashem, the pity of the cupbearer was immaterial. We must strive to see things this way as well. The workings of the world around us, its leaders, its medicines, its pains and its joys rest solely in the hands of Hashem. We must continue to daven to Him with a full belief that He can change our reality in but the blink of an eye. A gut Shabbos and A Freilachin Chanukah! A Project of the YSI Alumni Association Written by R’ Moshe Weiss

Nahar U_Pashtei Parshas Vayashev
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