Balancing Faith and Action by Avi Rosalimsky


When Paroh summons Yosef to interpret his dreams, Paroh states, “Chalom Chalamti UPhoteir Ein Oto, VaAni Shamati Alecha Leimor Tishma Chalom Liphtor Oto,” “I dreamt a dream, but there is no one who can interpret it. I heard it said of you that you hear a dream to interpret it” (BeReishit 41:15). Yosef responds by saying, “Biladai Elokim Yaaneh Et Shelom Paroh,” ”That is beyond me! Hashem will respond to Paroh's welfare” (41:16). Rashi (41:16 s.v. Biladai) notes that when Yosef says, “That is beyond me”, he is saying “Yitein Anayah BeFi,” “He (Hashem) will put an answer into my mouth.”

It is truly amazing that when Yosef stands before Paroh, the leader of the superpower of the world at that time, he risks all his chances of greatness by reveal the truth of Hashem’s support and guidance.

  After Yosef finishes interpreting Paroh’s dream and telling him about the upcoming seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine, Yosef boldly offers Paroh some advice: “VeAtah Yeire Paroh Ish Navon VeChacham ViYsheiteihu Al Eretz Mitzrayim… VeYikbetzu Et Kol Ochel HaShanim HaTovot… VeHayah HaOchel LePhikadon LaAretz LeSheva Shenei HaRaav,” “Now, let Paroh appoint a wise and understanding person over the Land of Egypt… [to] gather the food from the good years… and the food will be kept for the land, for the seven years of famine” (41:33-36).

  Here, Yosef appears to portray a very different attitude because he is seemingly relying on Paroh, not Hashem, to assist him.

A very similar series of dialogues occurs in last week’s Parashah, when Yosef interprets the dreams of the Sar HaMashkim and the Sar HaOfim. Yosef says to them, “HaLo Leilokim Pitronim,” “Do not interpretations belong to Hashem?” (40:8).  After he hears the dreams and relates the interpretations, he states to the Sar HaMashkim, “Ki Im Zechartani Ittecha KaAsher Yitav Lach VeAsita Na Imadi Chassed VeHizkartani El Paroh VeHotzeitani Min HaBayit HaZeh,” “If only you would think of me when he (Paroh) benefits you, and you would do me a kindness, if you please, and mention me to Paroh, then you would get me out of this building” (40:14).

In both of these instances, the dialogue with Paroh as well as the dialogue with the Sar HaMashkim and the Sar HaOfim, Yosef rightfully and appropriately gives credit to Hashem in that his ability to interpret dreams is solely due to Hashem’s guidance. However, after the interpretations, in both scenarios, Yosef boldly makes a request from the person to whom he gave the interpretation.

  Through these dialogues, one can see the secret to Yosef’s success. He maintains the critical balance between acknowledging that Hashem is in control of everything and knowing that it is also crucial for one to recognize the importance in adding his own Hishtadlut as well.

The same parallels exist regarding Matityahu and the Chashmonaim in the Chanukah story. It is clear that they are the “underdogs,” as we say in Al HaNisim during Shemoneh Esreih, “Masarta Giborim BeYad Chalashim VeRabim BeYad Me’atim,” “You gave strong ones into the hands of weak ones, many into the hands of few”; however, despite the drastic odds, they have Bitachon in HaKadosh Baruch Hu, put forth the proper Hishtadlut, and are thus ultimately victorious.

Only if we learn from Yosef and the Chashmonaim, realizing Hashem’s role in everything in addition to knowing that we must do our part in everything, will we merit our own Geulah BiMheirah VeYameinu.

Where to Place the Menorah by Meir Levy

Yosef’s Chanukah Story by Zach Margulies