Kinder Torah - Parshat Miketz
For parents to share with
children at the Shabbos Table
Not By Chance
The famine ravages the Land of Canaan. Yaakov and his sons have no food to eat. There is only one place in the world where they can buy food. Egypt. They make the journey. Everyone must appear before the viceroy of Egypt and buy food directly from him. The brothers receive a very rough treatment from the Egyptian leader. He accuses them of being spies. How do they react? "They said to one another, We are guilty concerning our brother (Yosef). We saw his suffering when he pleaded with us and we did not listen to him. That is why this trouble has come upon us.'" (Bereshis 42:21). Rabbeinu Bechaye comments that this is the way of tsaddikim. When they sin, they admit the truth and thereby proclaim Hashem's justice.
A short time later, they are returning home with their sacks of food. They stop at an inn and one opens his sack to feed his donkey. He finds that his money has been placed in the sack. How do they react? "What is this that Hashem has done to us?" (Bereshis 42:28). The Chofetz Chaim zt"l comments that they did not attribute even the slightest little event to chance. Rather they realize that the Hand of Hashem did this.
Everything that happens is from Hashem. When something nice or pleasant happens, let us immediately say, "Boruch Hashem". Did you get a good grade in the test? Boruch Hashem. Did you finish learning a Perek of Mishnayos? Boruch Hashem. When something not so nice happens, we also have to realize that it is from Hashem. "Ow, I banged my toe on the chair leg. Who put that chair there? How careless of him!" Is that the proper way to react? Yosef's brothers probably would have said something like, "Ow it hurts. Boruch Hashem, it could have been worse. I could have broken my toe. Hashem must be trying to tell me something." One of the hidden tsidkonios of Jerusalem used to give tsedaka and say Tehillim when something unpleasant happened to her. She knew that the Hand of Hashem did this.
We Thought . . .
The brothers sold Yosef into slavery. The Shlah HaKodesh explains that they thought that he and his memory would be forgotten. However, it was not so. "My thoughts are not your thoughts" (Yishaya 55:8). A person's thoughts are in vain. Hashem's thoughts are different. "Many are the thoughts of man, but Hashem's advice endures" (Mishle 19:21). Man thinks one thing, makes a plan and goes ahead. He thinks it is good. However, Hashem knows better. The plan fails, and it is for the best. The opposite can also happen. Man thinks an event or circumstance is bad. It is not so. Hashem makes something very good come out of it. Yosef himself explains to the brothers how his going down to Egypt was ultimately for the good. "Now, do not be sad or regretful that you sold me here, because Hashem sent me ahead to provide for you" (Bereshis 45:5).
"I don't want to go to school today." "Why Esti?" "Because I sit next to a girl who talks too much. Imma please call the teacher and ask her to change my seat." "Just a minute Esti. There is a positive side to everything. Perhaps this is an opportunity for you to help that girl. Try to teach her the importance of being quiet. You may change her whole life. Something good will surely come out of this."
"Oh Abba I'm so disappointed. I had made plans to go learn with Yossie and now he cannot come." "Try calling someone else Eli." "Abba great news! Dovid is learning with me! He is a great chavrusa!" "You see Eli. It was all for the best. Hashem always has your best interest in mind."
The One Behind It All
This is one of the messages of Chanukah. Rav Chaim Friedlander zt"l speaks about the Greeks and their way of life. They accomplished amazing things in the area of science and technology. They were very intelligent and adept at controlling the environment. They believed that knowledge went only as far as human intelligence. What exists is what I can see, feel, and understand. There is nothing beyond that. There is nothing Divine or spiritual in the world. The Greeks were not interested in killing the Jews. They wanted to reduce the Torah to a secular study, like any other subject in the university. If the Greeks were alive today, they would be so caught up in their cellular phones, computers, fax machines, and fancy cars that they would forget all about Hashem. Why do I need Hashem? I can speak to anyone at anytime on my cellular phone. I can go anywhere in my car. I can get along very well without Hashem.
Do you remember who makes the car run? Who makes the cell phone and the computer work? Hashem. Let us not forget that, kinderlach. Hashem is running the world just as He did in the days of the Chanukah miracles. As we say in the blessing over the Chanukah lights, "who did miracles for our fathers in those days, and in our time."
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