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Posted on December 14, 2023 (5784) By Rabbi Yissocher Frand | Series: | Level:

These divrei Torah were adapted from the hashkafa portion of Rabbi Yissocher Frand’s Commuter Chavrusah Series on the weekly portion: #1273 – Chanukah Lights Motzei Shabbos: How Early? Havdala Before or After Chanukah Lights? Good Shabbos!

After Pharaoh’s advisors failed to satisfactorily interpret his dreams, Yosef was brought out of the dungeon and in front of Pharaoh. Yosef not only interprets the dream, but he also offers a plan how to mitigate the situation that the dream portends. Egypt must save up during the good years to prepare for the bad years, and a wise and discerning individual must be placed in charge of implementing this plan.

The pasuk says “And the matter found favor in the eyes of Pharaoh and in the eyes of all his servants.” (Bereshis 41:37). Consider the following two scenarios:

Scenario #1: A high-powered law firm is considering a tough case. All the partners are in the conference room trying to figure out what is the best legal approach to the case. They can’t figure out a good plan. Suddenly, the guy from the mail room walks into the conference room and hears the issue that the lawyers are discussing and makes a suggestion. The entire legal team of $650-an-hour lawyers unanimously say “You know what? This kid knows what he is talking about!”

Scenario #2: A group of medical specialists are trying to diagnose a patient and determine a course of treatment for a particularly mysterious illness. They don’t know what to do. Suddenly, an orderly who is merely trained to assist patients’ daily living activities walks in and suggests a plan for how to treat this patient. All the doctors are blown away by the suggestion, and they tell the orderly, “You know what? You may only have a grade school education, but you are right!”

The chances of either of these scenarios actually occurring is between zero and none. “I, the $650 an hour lawyer, should listen to this little kid from the mail room?” or “I, the great physician, am going to listen to an orderly?” People’s egos won’t let that happen. And yet the Torah says “The matter found favor in Pharaoh’s eyes, and in the eyes of all his servants!”

Pharaoh’s advisors said “This guy is right!” How did that happen? Yosef was a slave who spent the last who knows how many years in prison. Go to the detention center downtown. Yosef should have had as much credibility as any of those prisoners.

Yosef was aware of this challenge. Yosef knew that if he merely suggested an interpretation, no one would believe him. That is why Yosef added the other detail that the solution to this problem is “to get a wise and discerning individual and to give him the authority to implement this plan and to thereby become the viceroy to Pharaoh, the second most important person in the land of Egypt.” Every single advisor thought, “Who is this wise and discerning individual? Who is Pharaoh going to appoint?” Each advisor assumed that he would be chosen as the one. Consequently, they all agreed to Yosef’s plan.

The story was similar a thousand years later with Haman. “… And the king said to him, ‘What shall be done to the man whom the king wishes his welfare?’ And Haman said to himself ‘Who does the king wish to honor more than me?'” (Esther 6:6)

That is why Yosef not only explained the dream, but also suggested a solution for it. Who asked Yosef to advise Pharaoh? Yosef was asked to interpret Pharaoh’s dream, not tell Pharaoh what to do! The answer is that Yosef knew what he was up against. He understood that all of Pharaoh’s advisors were going to belittle his interpretations and reject anything he told Pharaoh. But once the advisors heard that this interpretation created an opportunity to be appointed CEO, every advisor thought to himself “Aha! I am CEO material!”

Mixing Up Cause and Effect in World Events

The parsha begins with the words “And it was at the conclusion of two years, Pharaoh dreamt…” (Bereshis 41:1) The Medrash on these words references the pasuk in Iyov (28:3) “Ketz sam l’choshech” (He set an end to the darkness…) and states that “Hashem set an end to Yosef’s imprisonment, determining ahead of time how long he would need to remain in prison. Once the end arrived, Pharaoh immediately had his dream.”

There is a very important vort from the Beis HaLevi, which is an important insight into how to understand life, and how to understand current events and history.

For instance, if a person has property or merchandise to sell and he sells it and makes a windfall profit, how do we look at that? We say, because he had this merchandise or this property and he sold it, that is why he made money. We view the “cause” as the merchandise and the “effect” as the profit.

The Beis HaLevi says that is not how it works. Those labels need to be reversed. The Ribono shel Olam decided that this person will make X amount during this year. It is because it has been determined in Heaven that he will make X amount this year that he got a hold of the merchandise and was able to sell it at the windfall profit.

This is like the old issue of ‘what comes first, the chicken or the egg?’ In Rabbinic terminology, we need to know what is the “Seebah” (cause) and what is the “Mesovev” (effect). Many times in life, we confuse cause and effect. By the story of Yosef and Pharaoh, someone could say “Pharaoh had a dream. He had no one to interpret it. Yosef was a great interpreter of dreams. Therefore, he summoned Yosef to the palace. That is why Yosef got out of prison!” We see Pharaoh’s dream as being the cause and Yosef’s freedom being the effect.

The Medrash views the matter differently. Ketz sam l’choshech (An end was set for the darkness). Yosef needs to get out of prison because he was in there for X amount of time, per Heavenly decree. He won’t stay there a minute longer. (“And they hurried him out of the pit.” (Bereshis 41:14)) Yosef needs to get out. (This is the cause). Therefore, what needs to happen? “And Pharaoh dreamt.” (This is the effect.)

I saw the following interesting incident brought in the name of Rav Yaakov Galinsky, who was the great Maggid of Yerushalayim (1920-2014):

Rav Galinsky’s mother wrote for a newspaper known as Tag Blatt (“The Daily Page”) in Poland, which was published by Agudas Yisrael. There were women there who spoke Polish and understood Polish but could not read Polish. This was not uncommon. There are people who are illiterate even though they can understand and speak a particular language. Especially in Poland in those days, women did not go to school so they did not learn to read. Yet, these women wanted to know the news. What did they do? Every night, they gathered in Mrs. Galinsky’s house and she read the Polish paper to them. This is how they got their news. They understood Polish and Mrs. Galinsky not only understood Polish, she could read it and write it as well.

One night, a certain women came into the Galinsky home earlier than usual. While Mrs. Galinsky was peeling potatoes in the kitchen, the women picked up the newspaper and gave out a shout. She ran into the kitchen. “Devorah!”, she shouted, “A boat sank in the ocean and you are here in the kitchen peeling potatoes?”‘ (The picture was a picture of a new ship that set sail from England. It was such big news that it made the front page of the Tag Blatt.)

Mrs. Galinksy did not know what this woman was talking about. She came into the front room and saw that this woman (who could not read Polish) was holding the paper upside down. Held upside down, it looked from the picture like the boat sank into the water. Mrs. Galinsky showed her the proper way to hold the paper. There was no tragedy of a boat sinking.

Rav Yaakov Galinsky drew a homiletic lesson from this story to understanding world events. He said that we often read the paper upside down! We look at world events and we say “Aha, because of ‘X’, that is why Y happened.” We believe that X is the cause and Y is the effect. But so many times in life, what we see as the cause is really the effect and vice versa.

This is especially true because we know that everything in the world happens because of the Jewish people (“HaKol bishvil Yisrael“) (Medrash Tanchuma Shoftim Siman 9). When there are wars or political turmoil in the world, wait to see what happens. Everything is for the sake of Israel. We look at these events backwards and say because of “X” that is why “Y” happens. We need to approach the matter with wisdom. We need to know how to read the newspaper. We need to read it right side up.e HeH

Transcribed by David Twersky; Jerusalem [email protected]

Edited by Dovid Hoffman; Baltimore, MD [email protected]

This week’s write-up is adapted from the hashkafa portion of Rabbi Yissochar Frand’s Commuter Chavrusah Series on the weekly Torah portion. A listing of the halachic portions for Parshas Miketz is provided below:

  • # 035 – Chanukah Issues
  • # 077 – Prohibitions During Times of Crises
  • # 126 – Dreams in Halacha and Hashkafa
  • # 173 – Dreams in Halacha II
  • # 219 – Chanukah Issues II
  • # 263 – Women and Chanukah Candle Lighting
  • # 309 – “Lo Sechanaim” Giving Gifts to Non-Jews
  • # 353 – Chanukah and Hidur Mitzvah
  • # 397 – Lighting Neiros in Shul; Other Chanukah Issues
  • # 441 – Taanis Chalom
  • # 485 – Miracle Products and Other Chanukah Issues
  • # 529 – Ner Chanukah: Where, When, and Other Issues
  • # 573 – The Silver Menorah and Other Chanukah Issues
  • # 617 – The Bad Dream
  • # 661 – Davening for the Welfare of the Government
  • # 705 – Chanukah Candles, Hotels and Chashunas
  • # 749 – Solomonic Wisdom
  • # 793 – Oops! 3 Candles on the 2nd Night
  • # 837 – Hairbrushes on Shabbos – Permitted or Not Permitted
  • # 881 – The T’reifa Chicken Scandal
  • # 925 – Kavod Malchus – How Far Can You Go?
  • # 968 – The Minyan: Must Everyone Be In The Same Room?
  • #1012 – Preparing for Shabbos – Thursday or Friday? And other Issues
  • #1056 – Oops! I Made A Bracha On The Shammash
  • #1099 – Havdalah or Ner Chanukah – Which Comes First? And Other Issues
  • #1142 – Must I Give Up My Hiddur Mitzvah For Your Kiyum Mitzvah?
  • #1185 – A Smorgasbord of Chanukah Delicacies
  • #1229 – Which Is Better: Lighting Menorah Yourself Later or with a Shaliach/wife at Proper Time?
  • #1273 – Chanukah Lights Motzei Shabbos: How Early? Havdala Before or After Chanukah Lights?
  • #1317 – Oops! I Bentched Shabbos Candles But I Forgot To Bentch Chanukah Licht. Now What?
  • #1361 – Can Women Make Latkes While The Chanukah Candles Are Still Burning and other issues
  • #1405 – Can You Light Chanukah Candles In Your Car and other Chanukah issues
  • #1448 – I Had a Dream
  • #1493 – Should I Worry If I Have a Bad Dream?
  • #1537 – The Annual Issues with Lighting Chanukah Neiros on Erev Shabbos Chanukah
  • (2022) – Solomonic Wisdom

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 [email protected] or visit for further information.