“Vayehi miketz shanasayim yamim kotz sham l’choshech zman nasan L’Yosef kamah shanim yaaseh b’afelah b’veis ha’asurim keivan shehagiah hakeitz chalam Pharoah chalom”.
Hashem fixed an amount of time for Yosef how many years he would exist in darkness in the prison and once that limit arrived Pharaoh dreamed a dream setting in motion Yosef’s release. Chazal are revealing here to us that many a time the human misunderstands the events that happen especially the cause and effect. In the case of Yosef, one would have thought that because of Pharaoh’s dream Yosef was able to get out of prison. With Hashem’s lenses, we view the scenario quite differently. In other words, the dream was not the cause of his release but rather the termination of the decreed time that Yosef was to be imprisoned was the cause of the dream that brought about his release from prison. A common occurrence we can relate to is that you suddenly realize that the money in your pocket fell out and was lost because there was a hole inside. In truth, it wasn’t that the hole caused you to lose your money and without it, the loss wouldn’t have transpired. It was that Hashem decreed that you had to lose your money so He made a hole in your pocket.
When Yosef interprets the dreams to Pharaoh he makes sure to assign Hashem as the sole interpreter of the dream and not himself. את אשר האלקים עושה הגיד לפרעה. This message he conveyed three times during his interpretation. Pharaoh bought into Yosef’s serving as the messenger of Hashem with the interpretation of the dreams, as Pharaoh himself admitted אחרי הודיע אלקים אותך את כל זאת.
This, unfortunately, is not always the norm in Jewish History and it really depends on who is at the helm of the nation at that time. During the Crusades, the epidemic of Cholera spread all over Europe. However, amongst the Jewish population, the plague took few casualties. When the gentiles realized how little the Yidden were affected by the widespread loss of lives, they rumored that it was the Jews who were poisoning their water sources. As the rumors spread so did the mass pogroms against the Jews. The Gedolim of the generation were perplexed how until now they were miraculously saved by Hashem and suddenly His protection changed to unleashing His wrath upon His people. They concluded that most of European Jewry did not recognize and appreciate that their salvation from the plague stemmed from a miracle of Hashem. Instead, they felt they were saved because of their meticulousness in physical hygiene and cleanliness more than any other nation due to the Torah Laws. When one fails to see Hashem’s hand of “Providence” and salvation, then they, unfortunately, get to see Hashem’s hand that gives a “paatch” to “Provide evidence” of His involvement.
Rav Shavadran ztl, the Maggid from Yerushalayim, said that this same theme appears in the Chanukah Story. In the Al Hanisim that we recite on Chanukah, we enumerate the five miracles that Hashem performed for us. מסרת גבורים ביד חלשים רבים ביד מעטים טמאים ביד טהורים ורשעים ביד צדיקים וזדים ביד עוסקי תורתיך. One can easily understand the miracle of giving over the mighty warriors of the entire Greek Army into the hands of the Chashmonoeem who were weak, untrained, and few. However, what was the miracle of handing over the wicked and defiled into the hands of the pure and tzadikim? Is that such a miracle that it is included in the list together with the mighty in the hands of the weak and the multitudes in the hands of the few?
The Maggid gives two answers to this question. One is that the description of the טמאים רשעים וזדים is not referring to the Greeks but rather to the Hellenists, Jews who became Greeks. If Hashem didn’t turn the hearts of the Hellenists back to the Torah and Mitzovs, the victory over the Greeks would not be deemed a victory at all. The spiritual cancer would still be there and the Hellenists would have once again renewed their spreading of the Greek influence and culture amongst the Jewish Nation. As the saying goes “It is easier to take the Yid out of Galus than to take the Galus out of the Yid“. Hashem’s miracle in the last three descriptions is that the Hellenist Yidden also surrendered their new acquired culture and subjugated themselves to the טהורים צדיקים ועוסקי תורתיך.
His second answer to this question is as follows. Had a small group of irreligious freedom fighters or resistance defeated the Greek Army, they would have assigned their victory upon their strength, guerilla warfare, surprise attacks, determination etc. It was only because the resistance and the victory over the Greek army came from the טהורים צדיקים ועוסקי תורתיך, they were able to interpret their victory wearing the lenses of Hashem and tell Klal Yisrael in absolute conviction, that it was only Hashem who made the impossible happen. With their interpretation of the victory that they themselves fought, there came about a Kiddush Hashem, and Hashem’s name was elevated and sanctified in Yisrael and amongst the nations of the world. This is what we recite and the end of Al Hanisim וקבעו שמונת ימי חנוכה אלו להודות ולהלל לשמך הגדול. Since the resistance was the Kohanim tzaddikim and Torah, the result of the victory was celebrated with gratitude and praise to Hashem’s great name, with deeper commitments to observe the will of Hashem, and not with a Five Star Kohen parade with a marching band, floats, and fireworks.
We find this same concept when Yisro, the father in law of Moshe, came to convert after hearing the miraculous miracles Hashem performed to achieve the exodus of Yisrael from Mitzrayim. As the passuk says Yisro heard everything that Hashem did to Moshe and Yisrael, and that Hashem took them out of Mitzrayim. Yet during the encounter of the two, the passuk says ויספר משה לחותנו את כל אשר עשה ה’ לפרעה ולמצרים על אודות ישראל Moshe related to his father in law all that Hashem did to Pharaoh together with the great miracles of Amalek’s defeat and Kerias Yam Suf. What did Moshe add to the stories that Yisro already knew and which obviously were already sufficient to motivate him to convert to Am Yisrael and come to the desert?
To be deeply impacted, one must hear the news and editorials from the spiritual leaders of Klal Yisrael, from the tzaddikim and talmidei chachamim, for they alone have the deeper connection to Hashem and His hashgacha, and therefore they won’t be easily deceived by natural forces that only are mere messengers by Hashem above. Their interpretation of events comes from looking through the lenses of Hashem ( עיני ה’ אל צדיקים Tehillim 37,16), the tzaddikim possess the eyes of Hashem. They alone have the ability to put in the proper perspective and correct order the cause and effect of events. Such news and interpretation make Hashem’s name to be further elevated and sanctified and not the army’s, navy’s and air force’s, who are total powerless without Hashem’s will. As the passuk states ה’ איש מלחמה the word איש is the acronym of ארץ ים שמים, Hashem is the one who fights on land, sea, and air even though it appears to the naked eye that it is the man of flesh and blood.
This is one of the reasons why we find many allusions to Yosef and his gematriah that relates to Chanukah, יוסף = אנטיוכס, מלך יון, and we also find that the parsha of Mikeitz always falls on Chanukah. It is because Yosef demonstrated to Pharaoh that one must look to Hashem for it is He who gives the real interpretation of world events and even personal dreams of Kings. Yosef was the example of Hashem’s teaching of the true order of cause and effect קץ שם לחשך. We must realize that any political, environmental, financial, sociological, educational changes in the world that will affect Yidden even so slightly wherever they may be, that Hashem’s Hashgacha is involved even though we might not fully fathom how to correctly interpret the order of the cause and effect. Therefore, we must turn to the Chachamim to know what Hashem is asking from us now.