Parshas Vayigash Newsletter

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Dear Parents,
Chanukah is a time of tremendous celebration for our school. Every class and many teachers were involved in the preparation of the celebratory events. None of these events could have taken place without the planning of Mrs. Weiner. Morah J, with the assistance of Morah Beth and Morah Rochel, and Rabbi Jakubowicz and Rabbi and Mrs. Yudkowsky worked hard to create the special Chanukah atmosphere. Thank you! See the enclosed articles for details of the Chanukah festivities.
Our building expansion plans are moving forward. The front renovation is almost fully complete, and we have procured several large gifts toward phase II: Window and Sargent facility renovation. We are also considering the prospect of running a Charidy Match fundraiser, similar to the one run by the New England Rabbinical College. Building projects require tremendous emunah and belief in Hashem as funding these projects is challenging and requires parental and communal assistance to ensure they take place in a timely basis. We need everyone’s support with personal pledges, identifying or soliciting donors or volunteering to assist the building committee. The outcome will be a fully renovated facility with handicapped bathrooms, elevators, new flooring, ceiling tiles, classroom furnishings and more (based on amount raised). The Sargent Avenue facility is over fifty years old and these updates are both mandated and crucial. Please see the excerpted article on the topic of emunah from Rabbi Shlomo Katz.
We read (Tehilim 40:5), “Praiseworthy is the man who placed his trust in Hashem, and did not turn to the arrogant.” The Midrash Rabbah comments: “Praiseworthy is the man who placed his trust in Hashem”– this refers to Yosef; “and did not turn to the arrogant” also refers to Yosef. Because he said to Pharaoh’s chief butler (at the end of last week’s parashah, 40:14), “If only you would think of me . . . and mention me,” Yosef remained in prison an additional two years.
Many commentaries point out the seeming contradiction in this midrash. On the one hand, Yosef is praised as a person who placed his trust in Hashem, but on the other hand, he is criticized for asking Pharaoh’s chief butler for assistance!
R’ Avraham Yeshayahu Karelitz z”l (the Chazon Ish; 1878-1953) writes: Yosef knew that his salvation was not dependent on any exertion on his part, and that everything comes from Hashem. However, since human beings are obligated to act, and not depend on miracles, Yosef obligated himself to make use of the opportunity and enlist the help of the chief butler. However, bitachon places limitations on the efforts that one is allowed to make to accomplish his goals. A person must carefully consider any act before he does it, making sure that it is in keeping with the trait of bitachon. In this case, Yosef erred by enlisting the help of an arrogant person (in the words of the midrash), i.e., a person who was not likely to remember Yosef and come to his aid. A desperate person does anything he can—he even takes futile actions—but someone who trusts in Hashem does not do this; indeed, the obligation to act before relying on a miracle does not include an obligation to engage in a futile action.
The Chazon Ish writes further: Lack of trust in Hashem is a fault in any thinking person, and a person who lacks bitachon comes close to having no part in the basic tenets of Judaism. What are the attributes of a person who does have bitachon? He is naturally modest, and one will not hear from him that be belongs to the camp of those who trust in Hashem. To the contrary, he bewails his lack of perfection in this trait. His trust and his feeling of strength based on his belief in Hashem manifest themselves only in action. For example, he will not be afraid when his friend opens a store [in competition with him]; rather, he will make efforts to help him, give him good advice, assist him, and in general be concerned for his welfare. When a person does acts of kindness for someone who intends to compete with him, the world is enriched by this additional holiness. Because of this action, he causes others to honor and praise G-d’s faithful; fortunate are such a person and his generation. (Chazon Ish: Emunah U’vitachon 2:4-6)
We wish our parents and enjoyable winter break!
Good Shabbos,
Rabbi Peretz Scheinerman
Dean