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The Meaning of Success
By Michael Chessen
The story of Joseph and his brothers occupies a very unique niche in
the book of Genesis. The dramatic turn-about in the fortunes of all
concerned, and the "apparent" absence of direct heavenly intervention in
the unfolding of the narrative, invites comparisons to the book of Esther.
However, whereas the book of Esther does not directly mention the name of
God, in last week's Torah reading of V'yeshev and this week's Miketz,
Joseph illuminates some of the spiritual darkness by very deliberately
mentioning God and His divine providence. Because of this, the story of
Joseph and his brothers is quite appropriate to the holiday of Chanukah.
Upon Pharaoh's summoning Joseph from the dungeon, Joseph chooses not
to boast of his powers of divination, but attributes whatever insights
that he may be able to offer to the grace of God. Whereas the later
Pharaoh who enslaves the children of Israel will "not know Joseph" and
will ultimately ask "who is God?", the current Pharaoh, in praising
Joseph, actually offers praise of God.
However, disseminating awareness of God among Joseph's brothers is
certainly much more important than doing so among the Egyptians. And
Joseph realizes that it will take more than a bit of "soothsaying" to
ascertain that his brothers have indeed repented of the sins which they
had committed in selling him into slavery. Accordingly, Joseph causes his
brothers to "relive" the experience of selling him in order to
retroactively convert their past actions of ill intent into something
The holiday of Chanukah is one in which we daily praise God by
reciting the verses known as the "Hallel". Whereas each occasion for
saying Hallel perhaps causes us to give special concentration to one
special section which aptly expresses something inherent in the special
character of that day, on Chanukah we should probably give special
attention to the verse in which we beseech God to "help us succeed". May
it be God's will to facilitate our success in emulating Joseph in the
sanctification of God's name among Jew and gentile alike.
Wishing you all a Shabbat Shalom!
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