Sunday, December 16, 2012

zichartani... v'hizkartani: proof that Yosef was a ba'al bitachon

The Midrash comments that the pasuk, "Ashrei ha'ish asher sam Hashem mivtacho," refers to Yosef, who exemplified the trait of bitachon.  Yet in the very next line the Midrash continues and comments on the continuation of the pasuk, "V'lo panah el rehavim,"
that this too refers to Yosef, as he was forced to stay in prison two extra years for saying "zichartani... v'hizkartani" to the Sar HaMashkim and relying on him to get him out of jail   A stira minei u'bei!  Yosef is praised for his trust in Hashem and then is sentenced to two extra years in prison for trusting in the Sar HaMashkim.  How are we to make sense of it?

The classic answer is that it was davka because Yosef was a model of bitachon that he was punished for relying on the Sar HaMaskim, as only someone on a high spiritual level would be punished for so slight a fault.  In past posts we covered a few other approaches (e.g. here and here).  I want to share with you an amazing pshat from the Rebbe Sar Shalom of Belz.  

What is the meaning of Yosef's double language in saying to the Sar HaMashkim, "Ki im zichartani itcha... v'hizkartani el Pharoah"?  The simple reading is that Yosef was pleading with the Sar HaMashkim to the point of repeating himself.  However, the two words, "zichartani" and "hizkartani" are grammatically different and have different meanings.  It's not mere repititon.  "Zichartani" means to remember - active voice; "hizkartani" is to be remembered -- passive voice.  R' Sar Shalom explains that Yosef was telling the Sar HaMashim as follows: I, Yosef, and a ba'al bitachon.  I trust in Hashem and know that he is going to deliver me from the prison.  So you have two choices: Either "zichartani," you choose of your own volition to speak to Pharoah on my behalf and willingly act as my saviour, or "hizkartani," Hashem will find a way to make you willy-nilly speak on my behalf so that I can escape.  Either way, I am sure that Hashem is going to get me out of here.

"Ashrei ha'ish asher sam Hashem mivtacho," it was precisely the double-use of language that proves that Yosef exemplified bitachon.

But why did Yosef need the Sar HaMashkim to serve as the agent of his deliverance at all?  Explains R' Sar Shalom, Yosef saw that the Sar HaMashkim was not a good guy; he was just another low-life bureaucrat in the Egyptian palace.  He was the type of guy that makes you wonder why Hashem even put him on planet earth to begin with.  Yosef wanted to capture the nitzotz tov, the spark of goodness that could be redeemed even from such a person.  Yosef understood what a kiddush Hashem it would be if even such a person could somehow become the channel for something positive to happen in the world.  

For that type of deliverance, Yosef, who exemplified bitachon by saying "zichartani... v'hizkartani," was willing to wait, even if it meant his sitting two extra years in prison.  Not as punishment, but through his own choice, did Yosef wait for the Sar HaMashkim serve as the means of his deliverance.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous2:55 PM

    >>> Yosef wanted to capture the nitzotz tov

    but doesn't every instance of Yosef's contact
    with Egyptian 'elements' risk rubbing off on him,in ways subtle if not gross?
    while managing Potiphar's house might not necessarily corrupt, what of managing the prison? was he aligning himself with a just penal system? what order of the day did he so
    successfully enforce? do we see an unfortunate
    (but reversible) coarsening of Yosef's character
    there? why tell the Sar HaOfim that he'd be hung from a tree, which seems a needless addition of cruel detail? why tell the Sar HaOfim that his flesh would be pecked by birds, which seems the needless addition of a detail cruel? (wouldn't it have been enough to tell the man that his head was coming off, & spare him the added indignities?)