The Importance of Faith by Yitzi Rothschild


Parashat VaYeishev contains the story of Yosef’s imprisonment in Egypt. While in jail, he notices two men who seem distressed, and he is told that the two people had been the chief baker and chief butler of Par’oh. They each had a disturbing and confusing dream that no one was able to interpret. Yosef tells them, "Halo Leilokim Pitronim Sapru Na Li," "Only God can interpret your dreams, but I can help" (BeReishit 40:8). Yosef proceeds to interpret each of their dreams, telling the chief butler that he will live and the chief baker that he will die.

Yosef then asks the chief butler, "VeAsita Imadi Chased VeHizkartani El Par’oh," "Do kindness to me and remember me when you see Par’oh" (40:14). When Yosef says this, Hashem becomes infuriated and adds two more years onto Yosef’s prison sentence (Rashi 40:23 s.v. VaYishkacheiyu). However, it seems rather strange that Hashem would be disappointed with Yosef for wanting to save himself from being wrongly imprisoned. Nevertheless, Hashem is disturbed that Yosef is not looking towards Him for help, but is instead turning towards Par’oh.

A recurring theme throughout Sefer BeReishit is a phrase known as Ma’aseh Avot Siman LeBanim: the events which happen to our forefathers are symbolic of what will happen to their sons. Throughout history, there have been many times when leaders looked to a foreign nation for help and were resultantly punished by Hashem. For example, when Moshe is traveling to Eretz Yisrael, Hashem tells him to ask the nation of Amon if the Bnei Yisrael can pass through their land. Amon refuses, and Moshe resorts to begging for the Jews to gain passageway. This incident is a possible explanation for why Hashem punishes Moshe by not allowing him to go into Israel. Moshe disregarded the directive given to him by Hashem by asking the King of Amon a second time. When the Jews forge alliances with foreign nations instead of relying on Hashem, terrible consequences arise. Similarly, Shlomo HaMelech marries Bat Par’oh in order to gain peace with Egypt, yet after Shlomo's death, Shishak, the King of Egypt, attacks the Jews. Furthermore, when King Chizkiyahu makes an alliance with Bavel, Bavel attacks the Jews a few generations later and ultimately destroys the Beit HaMikdash. Our history has proven that our alliances with foreign nations have only ended in destruction, war, and minimal gain.

Recently, because of the tension concerning Har HaBayit, Jordan has threatened Israel that it will revoke its 1994 peace treaty.  After Muslims were banned from praying on Har HaBayit for one day,[1]Jordan began to call Israel a “terrorist state.” However, quite the contrary is true. Israel has only ever wanted to make peace with the Arab countries and to stop all of this terrible hatred and controversy. However, if Israel wants to survive, it is not going to be able to depend on the surrounding nations to help, but rather it must be independent of them and rely on Hashem.

We always have to remember that no matter what we do in life, we always have to depend on Hashem. There are many times when one person helps another, but we must always remember that we should always first look to Hashem first for help.

Small but Clear by Rabbi Steven Finkelstein

Reuvein’s dilemma by Yehuda Feman