Illuminations #102, Tevet 5777, Parshat Miketz

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Illuminations #102, Tevet 5777, Parshat Miketz

Torah Gems

Let us put ourselves in Yosef’s shoes, writes the Saba of Kelm. Yosef had gone through a lot: He was sold; he was chased by Potifar’s wife; he was thrown into a pit where he was imprisoned for ten years, and then, after hoping that the butler would get him out, the butler forgot and another two years passed, totaling twelve years in jail. Then, finally, there is light at the end of the tunnel – a lot of light. Messengers of the king come and take him out, give him a haircut, change his clothing and bring him before the king. Not only does he have an audience with the most powerful king of that time, this king tells him: “I had a dream and no one was able to interpret it, but I have heard it said that you hear a dream and have the ability to interpret it.” What thoughts would have gone through our minds at that time? Besides all the feelings of honor and haughtiness being singled out as the only person in the whole entire empire who could help the king, just imagine all the grandeur awaiting if we wouldn’t make a wrong move or say the wrong thing. We certainly would weigh each and every word that leaves our mouths so as not to say anything which the king may take the wrong way, resulting in our being sent back to that dungeon. Certainly, we would not mention anything about Hashem to someone who claims to have created the Nile, and himself, for that matter. Surely we would have found enough reasons to substantiate not mentioning Hashem or the fact that He is the One Who gives us the power to interpret. Although most of us would probably have offered a silent tefillah to Hashem that we say the right interpretation or that we don’t mess up, but probably nothing more than that. Yosef Hatzaddik, however, who no doubt knew all these calculations and then some, stated quite frankly: “It is not with me! God will provide an answer that will be peace for Pharaoh.” In other words, I am nothing and know nothing; God (not me) will relay the interpretation! Weren’t our calculations right? Seemingly not! May we all merit being as close to Hashem as Yosef Hatzaddik was!


Parsha Pearls

Chazal teach us that the day Yosef was brought out of the dungeon was Rosh Hashanah. Although the avos, as well as Yosef, kept all the halachos of the Torah, we find that Yosef got a haircut on Rosh Hashanah, something that is prohibited. The reason he was allowed this to be done was to give honor to the king in front of whom he was about to appear. Even more so, someone who even subtly dishonors the king is liable to death. The Ralbag writes that we learn from here that a person must properly prepare himself before he appears in front of an important person. Besides which, if he is well groomed, it is more likely that his words will be listened to. How much more so, he continues, must a person prepare himself before he approaches to daven to Hashem (see Tur – Orach Chaim #91). The Maom Loez, after quoting the above, points out that this is the reason the passuk tells us something seemingly superfluous: “He changed his clothes.” The Torah is coming to teach us that we learn from here that before we approach the King – when we come to daven to Hashem – we must make sure we are dressed appropriately.

Glimpses of Greatness

 The Steipler once made a surprise appearance at a bar mitzvah seudah to which he had not been invited. He wished the father, “Mazel tov,” then sat down next to the bar mitzvah boy, spoke with him for a very short while, and left. After the Steipler left, the bar mitzvah boy explained that several years earlier, the Steipler had seen him enter the Lederman’s Shul on Yom Kippur carrying a large sefer, which the Steipler assumed was a gemara. He told the boy, “Yinge’le (young boy), now we are to daven; learning is for later.” The boy then showed the Steipler that he was carrying not a gemara, but an oversized machzor. The mechilah (forgiveness) of a kattan (boy under bar mitzvah) is not valid, so the Steipler made sure to find out when and where the boy’s bar mitzvah celebration would be held, so that he could ask forgiveness at the first opportunity. (5 Great Lives)


Halacha Weekly

Q. Can a Jew act as a witness testifying in a civil Court of Law? [I-526]

A. We have learned that it is prohibited to bring a legal case between Jews to a civil court. In Shemot 21-1 the Torah says: And these are the Judgments which I place before them.” Rashi (Gittin 88b) notes: “‘Before them’[means before them]and not before idol worshippers. And even if it is known that in one judgment of theirs they judge according to the laws of Israel you are not allowed to bring a case to their courts. Because one that brings the laws of Israel before an Aramean desecrates the Name of G-d and gives precedence to idols causing them to be praised.” However, does this mean that one cannot be a witness in a secular court case – can a Jew act as a witness in a court case involving Jews?

Minchat Yitzchak (4-51, R. Yitchak Yosef Weiss Z”L) writes that if the case involved Jews and Non-Jews, then one can testify only with the permission of the Jew. If the case involves two Jews, one has to determine whether this involves the prohibition of helping the hands of transgressors, that they are bringing their matter before the Secular Courts rather than the Jewish Beit Din.  Sometimes, there is a mitzvah to rescue the oppressed from the hand of his oppressor, who does not want to go to a Din Torah or to fulfill the decision reached in a Beit Din. Therefore, it is necessary in each case to ask a chocham or to obtain the permission of a Beit Din to become engaged in that matter.