Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Sar haMashkim v'Sar HaOfim - Rosencrantz and Guildenstern?

I remarked over Shabbos that the Sar haOfim v'Sar haMashkim at the end of P' VaYeishev are the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern on Sefer Braishis. (For those who have long forgotten H.S. or college lit., R. & G. are two aides to the King in Shakespeare's Hamlet - they are apparently look similar, their names are constantly confused by the King and Queen, and they have no real personality or features that distinguish one from another.) Aside from Yosef's differing dream interpretation for each, they seems identical straw men just there to move the story to the next phase of getting Yosef to Pharoah's court with a reputation as a dream solver.
However, the truth is not so simple. Look at their offense - what could the Sar HaMashkim have done if a fly landed in the king's cup after he presented it? Yet how can we not hold the baker responsible if a pebble is baked into the flour which should have been thoroughly sifted? Look at the dreams - Saf haMashkim describes every detail of the grape blossoming, growing, being harvested and turned into wine, and finally served. Sar HaOfim starts with the vision of carrying three loaves of bread - who baked them, how did they get there, how did he end up carrying them? All the details are missing!
Sar haMashkim is a process person. He wants to control and watch over every detail of production, and is tripped up only on the smallest detail out of his control. Sar HaOfim is a results person Just get to the bread, and don't bother me too much with the details, which of course end up tripping him up.
There is a little bit of Sar haMashkim and Sar HaOfim in each of us, and the key is to know how to balance the two, i.e. when to attend to the process in every detail, and when to rush to achieve results even if how we get there has some flaws.
Of course, the lesson is not just for us, but there was something Yosef needed to take with him from this story that would prepare him for the future before the story could continue. If I've whetted your apetite, go get a Mei HaShiloach and take a look at the torah of the Ishbitzer on this episode!


  1. Nice mashal for the hava amina, and nice hesber! Thanks.

  2. Considering what Reb Leibel Eiger (you brought it five years later) does with this observation, definitely not the same league.