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Posted on December 6, 2012 (5773) By Rabbi Yissocher Frand | Series: | Level:

Parshas Vayeishev

G-d’s Plans Will Happen

These divrei Torah were adapted from the hashkafa portion of Rabbi Yissocher Frand’s Commuter Chavrusah Tapes on the weekly portion: Tape # 792 – Observing Shiva For Grandparents. Good Shabbos!

The following story may be apocryphal, but it is indicative of a point I would like to make:

A Jew in Europe walked into a shtetl [little village] and saw another Jew walking by. He stopped him and said, “Reb Yid, let me ask you a question.” The Jew responded, “I can’t answer you now. I’m late for shul.” And he ran off. The question the first Jew in fact wanted to ask him is “Where is the shul?”

This second Jew said he was on his way to shul, so the first Jew followed him. When he got to shul, he approached the second Jew who was too busy to listen to his question and said “I have a question for you. In our parsha, it states that Yaakov told Yosef ‘Go now, look into the welfare of your brothers and the welfare of the flock, and bring me back word.’ A man found Yosef blundering in the field and asked him what he was looking for. Yosef told him he was looking for his brothers and asked the man where he might find them. The man responded that he heard them saying they were going to Dosan, so Yosef went after his brothers and found them at Dosan. [Bereshis 37:14-17]

Our Rabbis tell us that this was not a simple man, but it was the Angel Gavriel. In other words, when the Torah said ‘A man found him,’ it was actually the Angel Gavriel out to save him. Now let me ask you a question: In last week’s parsha, when the pasuk said, ‘A man wrestled with him (Yaakov)’ our Rabbis tell us that this ‘man’ was Saro shel Eisav – Eisav’s guardian angel, Sa-mael, an evil Angel. When the Torah uses the word ‘ish’ [man], how do Chazal know whether it refers to a good angel or a bad angel?

The second Jew had no answer. The first Jew responded with an insight attributed to the Sanzer Rav, the Divrei Chaim. After his epic battle with the Angel, Yaakov asked the Angel for a blessing. The Angel responded “I do not have time to give you a blessing. It is Alos HaShachar, time for the Angels to sing Divine Praises to G-d. Leave me alone! Get out of here so I can get back to shul.” [Rashi on Bereshis 32:27] If that is the answer a person receives from a stranger, rest assured that he is speaking to a bad angel. But when someone sees that you are lost and he says “Can I help you?” [Bereshis 27:15], then he is speaking to a good angel – the Angel Gavriel.”

This apocryphal story serves as an introduction to a Ramban I would like to share with you. The Ramban on the pasuk “A man found him and behold he was blundering in the field…” [Bereshis 37:15] says four very important words. It would be worthwhile to look up these words, write them down, and remember them. The Ramban writes: HaGezeira Emes v’haCharitzus Sheker (to be translated soon).

Based on natural occurrences, the Ramban writes, Yosef would never have found his brothers. There was no Mapquest or GPS in those days. He was not looking for a specific address. He was out in the field in the middle of nowhere. He did not know right from left, north from south. Yosef should have gone back to Yaakov and told him “I tried to find them but I was not successful. They were nowhere to be found.” But the Almighty wanted Yosef to find his brothers.

This is Jewish history. This is the whole story of the exile to Egypt. It was all hanging on Yosef finding his brothers. The story of the Jewish people is in this parsha. When G-d wants something to happen, He makes it happen! HaGezeira Emes (what G-d has DECREED is TRUE – it will happen) v’haCharitzus Sheker (AND THE DILIGENCE of man is FALSE). Man can plan and do this and that but in the final analysis, if G-d wants something to happen, it will happen and if He does not want it to happen, it will not happen.

The Ramban sums it up by quoting the pasuk from Mishlei [19:21]: Many are the thoughts in man’s heart, but G-d’s plan will prevail. This has been condensed into the pithy Yiddish saying “A mensch tracht un Gut lacht.” (Man makes plans and the Almighty laughs.) This is the meaning of HaGezeira Emes v’haCharitzus Sheker. If G-d needs to send an Angel from Heaven to take Yosef by the hand and say “Your brothers are over there” to carry out His plan, that is what will happen because He wants it to happen.

This is the lesson of the end of the parsha as well. Yosef is brought down to Egypt. He experiences the incident with Potiphar’s wife. He is thrown into the dungeon. He meets the Butler and the Baker of the King of Egypt there. They have their dreams. Yosef tells the Butler he will get his position back and he tells the baker that he will be hung.

Look closely at the following pasuk: “In another three days, Pharaoh will count you and will restore you to your post, and you will place Pharaoh’s cup in his hand AS WAS THE FORMER PRACTICE (k’mishpat haRishon) when you were his cupbearer.” [Bereshis 40:13] Have you ever wondered about those words – k’mishpat haRishon? They seem to be superfluous! What do they add? What do they teach us?

There is also a difficulty in the next pasuk, which Rashi himself is bothered by: “SO THAT (ki im), if you would think of me with yourself when you will have benefited, and you will please do me a kindness, and mention me to Pharaoh, then you would get me out of this building.” Rashi here says that “ki im” does not have its usual meaning – so that (which would imply some type of causal relationship between the dream and Yosef’s freedom), but it means in this context AT WHICH TIME (asher).

Rabbi Akiva Eiger sent a letter to his son, in which he suggests a novel and insightful interpretation of these pasukim. Yosef tells the butler that he will be returned to his position and once again be Pharaoh’s butler. When the butler heard those words – what went through his mind? Was there a great sigh of relief: “I got my job back! I’m on easy street.”? No. He thought to himself: “I am going to be a nervous wreck for the rest of my life. I came very close to being hung because there was a fly in the cup. What will be if something will fly into the cup again? My hand will be shaking so much that I will never be able to pour a cup of wine for the king again! Good, I got my job back, but how will I cope? I will become neurotic!

To address that fear, Yosef responded: You will have your job back AND you are not going to have to worry because it is going to be K’Mishpat haRishon – exactly like it was before. Why is that? It is because the whole incident of the fly falling into the cup was not your fault. It will never happen again. The only reason the fly fell into the cup is SO THAT you should be here in the dungeon with me SO THAT you will be able to tell Pharaoh what a great interpreter of dreams I am and SO THAT I will be able to get out of jail because of the good words you put in for me with Pharaoh.

This is another example of HaGezeira Emes v’haCharitzus Sheker. Many are the thoughts in the hearts of man, and G-d’s plan is what always finally emerges.

This is the story of the Jewish people throughout history. The Almighty manipulates the strings. The Steipler Rav points out the irony: Pharaoh wanted to get rid of the Jewish boys, so he decreed that all male children be thrown into the Nile. Moshe Rabbeinu himself was thrown into the Nile as an infant. But Pharaoh’s own daughter comes down just then to bathe, saves Moshe, and he is raised in Pharaoh’s own palace. It was as a result of his own plan that the future Jewish leader was raised not as a slave, but as a prince who learned the protocols of leadership. This too is because HaGezeira Emes v’haCharitzus Sheker.

Haman devised the great idea of getting rid of the rebellious Vashti. Who came into the palace in Vashti’s place? It was Esther who saved the Jews and was responsible for Haman’s execution. How ironic! It is not irony. It is HaGezeira Emes v’haCharitzus Sheker. That is the lesson of this parsha: Many are the thoughts in the hearts of man, and G-d’s plan is what emerges.


This write-up was adapted from the hashkafa portion of Rabbi Yissocher Frand’s Commuter Chavrusah Torah Tape series on the weekly Torah portion. The complete list of halachic topics covered in this series for Parshas Vayeishev are provided below:

Tape # 034 – Chanukah Licht on Erev Shabbos
Tape # 076 – Katlanis: The Twice Widowed Woman
Tape # 125 – Ha’Malbim P’nei Chaveiro: Shaming Another
Tape # 172 – The Complex Issue of Child Custody
Tape # 218 – Grape Juice and Yayin Mevushal
Tape # 262 – Yichud and the Open Door Policy
Tape # 308 – Secular Studies
Tape # 352 – “Chamar Medina” — Used for Kiddush?
Tape # 396 – Artificial Insemination Before Chemotherapy
Tape # 440 – Third Night of Chanukah but Only Two Candles
Tape # 484 – The Ubiquitous Donor Plaque
Tape # 528 – Sending Someone on a Fatal Mission
Tape # 572 – Determining Paternity
Tape # 616 – Chanukah – Women Lighting for Husbands
Tape # 660 – Birthdays – A Jewish Minhag?
Tape # 704 – Sparing Someones Humiliation
Tape # 748 – The Menorah – Inside The House or Outside?
Tape # 792 – Observing Shiva for Grandparents?
Tape # 836 – Katlanis: A Third Marriage
Tape # 880 – Lying For The Sake Of The Truth
Tape # 924 – Bitachon Vs Hishtadlus
Tape # 967 – Can Older Brother Object to the Younger Brother’s Engagement?
Tape #1011 – Davening with a Minyan on Chanukah vs. Lighting On Time
Tape #1055 – Can You Kill Someone Who Hashem Doesn’t Want To Die?
Tape #1098 – Doing A Mitzvah in Face Of A Sakana

Tapes or a complete catalogue can be ordered from the Yad Yechiel Institute, PO Box 511, Owings Mills MD 21117-0511. Call (410) 358-0416 or e-mail tapes@yadyechiel.org or visit http://www.yadyechiel.org/ for further information.


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