Beit Midrash

  • Torah Portion and Tanach
  • Vayechi
To dedicate this lesson

Human or Divine Mission


Rabbi Yosef Tzvi Rimon

The Parshot focusing on the story of Yosef reveal an interesting fact. The root word, shin…lamed…chet, (של"ח), meaning "send", appears 27 times! What does this signify? Let us cite a few of the primary cases in which this appears:

Yaakov sends Yosef to his brothers
The brothers wish to kill ("send a hand") Yosef, but refrain from such action thanks to Reuven
Pharaoh sends for Yosef to bring him out of prison
Yaakov refuses to send Binyamin
Yosef insists they send Binyamin
Yosef sends his father wagons, filled with food and gifts
Yaakov sees the wagons sent by Yosef – and his spirit is revived
This is seemingly a natural occurrence. However, Yaakov prays to Hashem to ensure the success of the mission (Genesis 43, 14):

"And may the Almighty God grant you compassion before the man, and he will release to you your other brother and Benjamin…"

Subsequently, Yosef teaches us that this mission belongs to Hashem. Only He truly decides about the mission. Yosef emphasizes: "… you did not send me here, but God." Man believes that he is the one who is "sending", but Hashem really is in charge. (Genesis 45, 5/7/8):

"But now do not be sad, and let it not trouble you that you sold me here, for it was to preserve life that God sent me before you."

"And God sent me before you to make for you a remnant in the land, and to preserve [it] for you for a great deliverance."

"And now, you did not send me here, but God, and He made me a father to Pharaoh, a lord over all his household, and a ruler over the entire land of Egypt."

We see in Tehillim that Asaph added the name of Hashem to the name of Yosef, calling him Jehoseph:

"For the conductor, on the gittit, of Asaph." (Tehillim 81, 1)

"As a testimony for Jehoseph, He ordained it, when he went forth over the land of Egypt, [when] I understood a language that I had not known." (Tehillim 81, 6)

This appellation is eminently suited to Yosef. Yosef lives his life with an incredible sense of awareness of Hashem’s Providence. He taught Pharaoh: (Genesis 41, 16): "And Joseph replied to Pharaoh, saying, "Not I; God will give an answer [that will bring] peace to Pharaoh." Yosef taught Am Yisrael that, at the end of the day, the results we see in our world are not only due to human acts or a human mission, but rather to a Divine Mission. Yosef was amazingly always under Divine Providence, and Hashem’s blessings were apparent throughout his life.

Yosef is able to act independently, to act in conjunction with nature and to act within reality. At the same time, he never loses sight of Hashem’s presence and influence in all facets of his life. He is always cognizant of the fact that our mission is a Divine Mission – "you did not send me here, but God!"
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