Friday, December 7, 2007

Parshas Mikeitz - "When Opportunity Knocks"

Quickie/Funfact: This week’s Parsha, is one with many themes and scenes. One of the scenes illustrates Pharaoh, acting frightened after having dreamed that 7 stout cows are eaten by 7 skinny cows.

The question is however, what is it about this seemingly tedious dream that scared Pharaoh so much?

Rabbi Shimon Schwab answers that the entire Egyptian royal philosophy was that the mighty are supposed to be sustained off of the weak. This dream therefore shook Pharaoh to his core, because it was contrary to his entire belief system.

Another Quickie/ Funfact: Q: Why did Pharaoh change Yosef’s name to Tzofnas Paneach?

The Lubavitcher Rebbe answers, that when the Chief Butler told Pharaoh about Yosef, the butler referred to him as a Nar (a lad). Thus implying that he was immature and unfit for a high position. After having a face to face encounter with Yosef however, Pharaoh comes to his own conclusion, that in reality Yosef was the right man for the job and thus names him Tzofnas Paneach – “Explainer of hidden things”.

If one were to meticulously follow the course of events that lead Yosef to the viceroy-ship, it is seemingly phenomenal that he managed to fight his way all the way to the top of society. Fore after his initial sale and assumed death the brothers give up all hope and assume that Yosef had eventually died as a result of their actions.

Therefore after observing the trials and tribulations that Yosef went through it seems miraculous to learn that he ended out on top.

How did he manage to pull off such a feat?

The Lubavitcher Rebbe answered in one of his Likutei Sichos that, Yosef, a virtuous man, dreamed about working in the field with his brothers. Pharaoh however, a depraved man, imagined and had dreams that had no effort at all.

The Gemara [Yerushalmi] Orlah 1:3 as well as in the Gemara Megilla 6b, emphasize that all matters of holiness require time and effort. Therefore when people dedicate time to arduous work, they have the promise of success that, “you labored (and therefore) you discovered”. In fact following the pattern of “maalin bakodesh viein moridin” (always ascending when dealing with matters of holiness)a person is even capable of achieving far more than he invested.

In the story of Yosef and his journey getting to the top, he lived by the truism of “Adam laamal yulad” – man was born to work. Paving his own path to success he stopped at no obstacles. He was therefore the paradigm of an achiever by making the appropriate recourse when opportunity knocked.

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