Parshas Mikeitz
Bereishis 41:1 - 44:17

How Is G-d With Us? ©

By Dr. Akiva Gamliel Belk

This study is dedicated in the very loving memory of Mrs. Ethel Bas Channah Sakash Belk, my mother, who passed away on 22 Kislev 5760, 12 - 01 - 1999, may she rest in peace.

Of everyone that I have known, Momma exemplified her faith, that ‘Hashem was with her.’ Even in her last years when it seemed like life was extremely cruel to her, she constantly maintained her faith, that ‘Hashem was with her.’ When I broke my foot on 11 - 23 - 1999, just three weeks before Momma’s passing, Momma reminded me, ‘G-d is with you.’ She has often reminded my brothers, relatives and others as well as myself that ‘G-d is with you.’

Therefore in the loving memory of my mother, Mrs. Ethel Bas Channah Sakash Belk, may she rest in peace, we established The Gan Eden Family Memorial to honor the memory of those we love who have preceded us to the Garden of Eden, Heaven. This is a new “Sight” and it will be a little while before it is fully developed, but you are welcome to visit Gan Eden Family Memorial.

Yoseif was brought to Mitzriam as a slave at the age of seventeen. He was in Potiphar’s service for twelve months. {Bereishis 39:10} This is based upon the expression Yom Yom which our sages teach means one year. See Esther 3:7. Yoseif spent twelve years in prison. {Bereishis 41:46} He served one year for each of the ten brothers about whom he had brought an evil report. {Bereishis 37:2} And he served two more years in punishment for having placed his trust in the chamberlain of cupbearers instead of in G-d alone.

This week’s parsha begins with Pharaoh having a dream which eventually results in Yoseif being released from prison. However, before we get to this, let’s review some interesting points:

Yoseif ‘s Response to Good Luck...
Over the years I have heard the comment emphasized that a poor person does not have any Mazel, {any luck}. The next time you hear such a statement ask, What about Yoseif? Did he have Mazel? Oh, he had great Mazel, he was hated by his brothers who put him in a pit then sold him into slavery. He was accused of attempted rape and imprisoned in a dungeon for twelve years.

Similarly, from time to time we read of people being released who, like Yoseif, were imprisoned for a crime they did not commit. It is difficult imagining how one would feel in such circumstances. Certainly we wouldn’t consider the person in such a situation lucky unless we could see the Cinderella ending so to speak.

Yet many people face similar circumstances.

I know of a man who, after making the decision to return to Yiddishkeit, was disowned by his parents, his siblings, most of his children, his in-laws and friends. He was imprisoned on Erev Shabbos because of false reports by his spouse who on Shabbos day filed a divorce motion with a Jewish attorney. He never spent another night in the family home. He suffered through years of a very difficult divorce. He lost motion after motion and eventually lost custody of his children. He lived in a very humble studio apartment in which bathrooms were shared. He worked for low wages when he could not find employment. He got behind on child support and his rent. Things were not looking very good for this Jew .... but that is only part of the story.

I am not here to tell that the man is now rich or that things have worked out with his parents, relatives, et al. In fact many of his problems still exist. However, I can say with confidence that Hashem was with him!

Monthly we receive heartbreaking e-mail of people in pain reaching out for comfort, kindness, encouragement, help ...etc... Neither Naomi Leah nor I can respond to all the problems... at least not promptly. Yet, our answer is ALWAYS the same. Look for Hashem! He is there!

In the midst of that most difficult time in any situation, Hashem is there. When G-d dictated the words of Torah to Moshe... when He told of the story of Yoseif our Creator wanted the world to know that Hashem was with Yoseif. Hashem was with Yoseif when his brothers hated him. Hashem was with Yoseif when his brothers planned to kill him. Hashem was with Yoseif when he was sold into slavery. Hashem was with Yoseif when he was accused of evil. Hashem was with Yoseif when he went to prison for twelve years. Hashem was with Yoseif in prison. Hashem was ALSO with Yoseif when he interpreted Pharaoh’s dream. Hashem was with Yoseif when he was viceroy of Mitzriam.

The point to this lesson is G-d wants you to know that just as He was with Yoseif ‘Hashem is with you’ regardless of what you are experiencing.

Now maybe you were Yaakov, the father of Yoseif, whose mourning extended beyond the required seven day period. Yaakov mourned the death of his beloved Yoseif for twenty-two years. For twenty-two years Yaakov wore the same uncleaned mourner’s clothes. For twenty-two years Yaakov sat on floors. For twenty-two years the mirrors in Yaakov’s residence were covered. For twenty-two years Yaakov did not study Ha Torah. For twenty-two years Yaakov mourned the loss of his beloved son Yoseif, and in all that ‘Hashem was with Yaakov.’

We know this because Hashem said to Yaakov in a night vision, ’Yaakov, Yaakov.’

And he {Yaakov} said, ‘Here I am.’

He {Hashem} said, ‘I am the Alm-ghty, G-d of your father. Do not be afraid to go down to Mitzriam, for there I will make you into a great nation. I will go down with you to Mitzriam, and I will also surely bring you up again. Yoseif shall place his hand upon your eyes.’ Bereishis 46:2-4

Maybe you were one of the ten brothers who in hatred planned to kill Yoseif but instead sold your brother Yoseif into slavery. You silently watched your father for every one of the 8,030 days of twenty-two years mourn the death of your brother. You listened to mourner’s Kaddish thousands of times knowing Yoseif was alive. Yet in a hardened heart you were more silent than a stone. Everyday at every prayer you were reminded of your deed for thousands and thousands of times yet you hid from shuvah. You hid from repentance. You were the one who sent an innocent person into slavery. You were the one who was responsible for innocent suffering yet ‘Hashem was with you.’

Hashem G-d made sure to include Yoseif’s words to his brothers when He gave Ha Torah to Moshe. They are included in next week’s parsha. ‘I am Yoseif your brother, whom {each of} you sold into Mitzriam. Now do not worry, and do not be angry with yourselves that you sold me here; for it was to preserve {your} life that G-d sent me {here} before you.’ Bereishis 45:4,5

So we see that ‘Hashem was with them’ even in the suffering of Yoseif, even in the mourning of Yaakov and even in the stone cold silence of the ten brothers. This is evidenced by a clear plan for their lives. Hashem speaks of Yaakov revealing that he will become a great nation. In addition Yoseif reveals Hashem’s plan to his brothers.

Now, classmates, even if we were Yaakov or Yoseif we may not be able to see the outcome of slavery, accusations, imprisonment, mourning, deceit, hardness of the heart, etc. twenty-two years beforehand. Yet we can take great comfort in the fact that Hashem wanted us to know, ‘Hashem was with Yoseif.’

Classmates, I received a phone call from our oldest son Joshua recently. He was not his normal happy self. His voice indicated to me that something was bothering him. I asked him if everything was all right. Joshua’s answer was a yes and no answer. He
did not want to worry me. I pressed him a little. I questioned, Son what is the matter?

He told me that he was being deployed to a dangerous part of the world for a second time. I expressed empathy. We talked for about an hour. I shared that he and his brother are always in our prayers. Yet he should not depend upon our prayers but he should rely on his own prayers and his own relationship with our Creator. He assured me that he did. Our conversation took place before I revisited this lesson. This lesson was written in 1999. In fact, this lesson was written for the first time a few days before my mother passed away.

The staff of, and B’Nai Noach Torah Institute and I truly hope the memories of the Chanukah miracles burn brightly.

Happy Chanukah!

Blessings and Peace!

Dr. Akiva Gamliel Belk

Written in 5760
Updated in 5764

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