VaYaishev: Jews bring 2 types of Success



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    Shifra Vepua

    VaYaishev: Jews bring 2 types of Success

    This week we read the tragic saga of how Yosef; one of the purest souls in history, was sold by his own brothers as a slave to Potifar, and from there sentenced to life imprisonment for a crime he did not commit • Full Article

    This week we read the tragic saga of how Yosef; one of the purest souls in history, was sold by his own brothers as a slave to Potifar, and from there sentenced to life imprisonment for a crime he did not commit.
    But in both instances; in slavery and in prison, the Torah tells us that ….. Yosef succeeded!
    In Potifar’s house it says of Yosef, “Everything he did, G-d caused to succeed in his hands” (39:3) and in prison “Everything he did G-d caused to succeed. (39:23)”
    At first glance this is not clear.
    First of all, if G-d favored Yosef and wanted him to succeed, then why did he have to suffer slavery and prison at all?
    Secondly, why does the first sentence end with the words “in his hands” while the second sentence does not?

    To understand this here is a story. (Siporim Noraim pg. 77)

    Some two hundred years ago lived a great Tzadik (miraculous Jew) called the Magid of Kosnitz. He was known from far and near for his superhumanly deep insights and prophetic advice. Here is an example.
    In the community of Kosnitz were many great Talmudic scholars; Chassidim of pure spirit and impeccable character that spent almost all of their waking hours deeply immersed either in prayer, learning Torah or helping others.
    But one such fellow, we will call him Reb Yitzchak, had a problem. He was a Jew of impeccable character and piety but he was a pauper.
    It’s not that he was lazy or incapable. He was a talented fellow and had tried all sorts of jobs but they all ended in failure. And he wouldn’t have complained if only he suffered but his wife and ten children were constantly on the verge of starvation because of his bad luck.
    Of course, he could always beg for charity… but just the thought of it made him cringe so, with no other choice he decided that he had to bother the Rebbe; the Holy Magid of Kosnitz, for advice.
    In Kosnitz he received an audience almost immediately. The Rebbe heard his predicament, thought for a moment and said,

    “I know the solution. I see that there is one line of work that you can really succeed in but you haven’t even considered it. In fact it will make you a rich man but I’m sure you won’t want to do it.
    “No no!” he protested “I’m willing to do anything. My family is starving! No matter how manual or degrading or even dangerous. If you’re sure it’s for me …. I’ll take it!! I just hope it will leave me even one hour a day for learning and praying.”
    “Oh” the Rebbe answered “This job will leave you a lot of time. In fact, it is clean and quiet and with the proper attitude you will even enjoy it and have a steady income …. but I don’t think you will take it.”
    Reb Yitzchak was almost in tears. Was the Rebbe playing with him? His wife and children were suffering and the Rebbe is playing jokes?!
    “Rebbe!” He pleaded “Just tell me what it is and I’ll do it. What is it?”

    “Stealing” He answered. “To break into stores and houses and steal. You have no idea what a talented thief you are and I guarantee it will make you a rich man.”
    Reb Yitzchak could not believe his ears. “Rebbe!” He gasped. “A thief? A sinner? But…. Rebbe! That is against the Torah!!! I could never …!”
    “See I told you.” He replied shrugging his shoulders as he looked into the book before him indicating that the meeting was over.

    Reb Yitzchak left the Rebbe but that night he couldn’t sleep. The crying of his children and words of the Rebbe gave him no respite. He put on his coat, left his house and walked the quiet, empty streets of Kosnitz accompanied only by his thoughts, his footsteps and the moon shining through the tree tops. He made up his mind; tomorrow he would beg. His back was to the wall.
    Suddenly he noticed that the front door of one of the stores was open and a glittering coin was lying on the floor in front of the counter. It was as though the store was calling to him.
    The next thing he knew was turning the doorknob and entering.
    In fact, the door hadn’t exactly been open, it was just unlocked, and the coin wasn’t exactly on the floor but in the cash box under a bunch of papers behind the counter… but it was so easy to find; so…. obvious! He took one golden coin and left.
    The next morning when the store owner found his door opened and his cashbox on the floor, he let out a bitter cry! He was sure he had lost his week’s earnings… but, lo and behold! The money was there! He counted it and found ….. only one coin was missing.
    The next day when the other store owners heard the news they didn’t pay much attention, it could have just been a mistake. But when the same thing happened a week later, they began to worry and went to the police.
    But it didn’t help. After a week the thief struck a third time and a then a fourth! The storeowners were frantic. They put on new locks, the police added more men, longer hours, promised rewards, increased surveillance; but nothing helped. The thief seemed to always know where and when to go and exactly where the money was hidden.
    But what was most perplexing was that he never stole more than one or two coins.
    The chief of police himself decided to join the battle. This thief was making a fool of him and his entire police force; his job and reputation were at stake! But really, deep inside he was curious.
    Of course, he had to protect the people and his own job. But also, here was a master criminal; a perfect genius! He wanted to see him. And he wanted to discover why did he steal such small amounts!? It simply baffled him. He had to catch him!
    Meanwhile Reb Yitzchak was going strong and, although his conscience bothered him, he was strangely beginning to enjoy it. After all, he was only stealing small amounts, no one was being seriously damaged, his family finally had what to eat, he had every intention to eventually pay back every penny, and last but certainly not least ….. he had a blessing from the Rebbe!!
    But then, he got caught.

    Like every night, he had walked the streets unnoticed, entered a store at the precise moment that the guard and the police weren’t there, found the cash box and just as he was opening it suddenly heard a booming voice from behind him …
    “HANDS UP!! Don’t make a move or you’re dead! So you’re the thief ehhh? Don’t turn around!!” It was the chief of police himself who was also gifted with a sixth sense that had told him exactly where the break-in would be.
    But suddenly the chief had a weird urge. This thief had shamed him and now he wanted to play with him like a cat with a trapped mouse.
    He pulled up his coat collar and pulled down his hat so as not to be recognized and said in a disguised voice; “Don’t turn around. Now listen Rabbi. I know who you are but do you know who I am? I’m the head of the thieves in this town and because of you the town is crawling with police and my men can’t work.
    “So I’m giving you a choice. Either I turn you in, dead or alive, and get the reward… which will shame you and your family for ever or you do what I say.”
    The Rabbi began crying. “Don’t kill me! Don’t turn me in! What do you want?”
    “Good!” the disguised Chief of police continued. “Now listen. I have inside information that the Chief of Police just won a million English Pounds in the British national raffle and it’s hidden somewhere in his house (which was in fact true).
    “I want you to get into his house and tell me exactly where it is hidden. You don’t have to steal anything, just bring the information. If you do it then I’ll give you one hundred gold coins and let you go. If not ….. I turn you in! Shame and degradation!”
    Poor Reb Yitzchak had no choice. Then and there, in the dark of the night, they left the store and went to the Chief’s house. Reb Yitzchak told his ‘captor’ to wait as he swiftly went around to the back of the house, scaled the wall, entered an open window and was inside.
    But just moments later he returned, huffing and puffing.
    “What happened? Did you find the money?”
    “No!” he answered. “Something even better! Listen!” he whispered excitedly. “I got into the house and from the room I was in I overheard two of the house servants saying that tomorrow morning they are going to put poison in the Chief’s tea, find his money and divide it!” He paused to catch his breath and continued. “Early first thing, tomorrow morning go tell the chief and I’m sure he will reward you! You’ll get the money honestly. Listen, if you want you can hold me prisoner till you tell him, I swear I’m telling the truth.”
    The disguised chief couldn’t believe his ears. He managed to conceal his surprise, told Reb Yitzchak to go home and warned him not to leave the town.
    The next morning when his servants served him his tea he pulled out a pistol and ordered them to drink it. Of course, they refused. So he put them in handcuffs, gave a couple drops of the tea to his dog who fell over half dead and then promptly arrested them for attempted murder.
    That day he went to Reb Yitzchak’s home, revealed his true identity and gave him half of the million pounds… and needless to say, from then on transformed into a friend of the Jews.
    Just as the Rebbe said… Reb Yitzchak became rich from stealing!

    This answers our questions about Yosef and his successes in Egyptian servitude and prison.
    Yosef was, in many ways, the ideal Jew. The purpose of the Jewish people is to bring blessing to the world… “To transform this world into a ‘home’ for the Creator.” [As it was in the Holy Temples and something like how Reb Yitzchak in our story transformed himself and the police chief.] and that is exactly what Yosef did in Egypt.

    But in order to accomplish this, Yosef had to enter the lowest aspects of this world and awaken new soul powers previously unknown to humanity to enable him to nevertheless adhere to G-d and His Torah .
    In fact, his very descent into slavery and imprisonment revealed these new soul powers to transform and illuminate the world!! [Just as the Jews are likened to olives which, only when put under pressure, produce pure oil that can illuminate the darkness (also a connection to the upcoming holiday of Chanukah)].
    This is the ‘success’ the Torah is really talking about here. And Yosef revealed that there are two levels of it:

    The first is “G-d made succeed in his hands” In other words the success seemed to be a joint effort of Yosef and G-d.
    But the second is, “Everything he did G-d made succeed”; namely that everyone saw that it was all purely the work of G-d; the ‘hands’ of Yosef were not noticeable.
    So too with us Jews in exile; through our observance of Torah and the Commandments under pressure we first reveal G-dliness in the world though OUR deeds.
    But with the arrival of Moshiach we will ‘transform’ the world so everyone will see that every detail is a miracle of G_d. There is nothing but G_d. As expressed in the ‘Motto’ of Judaism.
    “Listen Israel….G-d is ONE!” (see Rashi Deut 6:4)
    Yosef began the way and the Lubavitcher Rebbe said that ours is the generation that will finish it. We can bring Moshiach even one moment sooner.
    And not much is lacking to make it happen. We are standing on the merits of thousands of years of Jewish suffering, hopes and prayers. Now it could be that just one more good deed, word or even thought can tilt the scales and reveal ….
    Moshiach NOW!!

    27

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