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"Trust Me!"

12/10/2020 06:05:20 PM


Rabbi Reuben Israel Abraham, CDR, CHC, USN (ret)

In this week’s parashah, Parashat Vayeishev, we find the following: “And Re’uven heard, and he rescued him (Yoseyf) from their (Yoseyf’s brothers’) hands; and he said, ‘Let us not strike him a fatal blow.’  And Re’uven said to them, ‘Do not shed blood!  Cast him into this pit which is in the desert, but do not stretch forth a hand against him’ in order to rescue him from their hands to return him to his father.” (Braysheet 37:21-22) This scene seems all fermisht (confused/crazy).  Re’uven, the oldest brother, exhorts his brothers to cease from killing Yoseyf on the one hand, while on the other hand he urges them to throw Yoseyf into a pit in the desert, a pit which is filled with scorpions and snakes.  Our Tradition considers this to be certain death for Yoseyf.  So nu, how can the Torah be telling us that Re’uven “rescued” Yoseyf?  Rebbe Natan of Breslov writes that a son or daughter of Israel should never despair, for Hashem’s mercy and compassion know no bounds.  Our Tradition teaches us that not even when a sharp sword rests upon our neck should we ever give up hope and that we should never stop asking for help from Hashem.  The history of the People Israel is proof that it is HaShem and only HaShem Wh-m we should rely upon in the most dire of circumstances.  Perhaps the following parable will help with an understanding as to how Re’uven was doing with Yoseyf exactly what Rebbe Natan was advising to be done:

            Chaim Yankel was a prankster and a loafer who was allergic to a day’s work.  His beady eyes were always searching for an easy way to make a few kopecks, honestly or otherwise.  It just so happened that the village in which Chaim Yankel lived had just received its first telegraph line.  Now the villagers would no longer have to wait for three weeks until their letters reached their destinations in cities such as Warsaw and Lvov.  Telegrams reached their destinations on the same day with answers being received within a few hours or a day at the most.  There was only one problem: the telegrams were very expensive.  A mere ten-word telegram cost twenty times more than a stamp for a regular letter.  Because of this, only the wealthy merchants of the area were found in the telegraph office.  The butchers, bakers, and wagon-masters could not afford such a luxury.

            Chaim Yankel came up with what he considered to be a brilliant idea: he would open his own telegraph office.  He went about setting up shop in a dilapidated storefront property and began advertising that “Chaim Yankel’s Thrifty Telegraph Service” would send any message to anywhere in Europe for a mere fifty kopecks for ten words.  This price happened to be less than a quarter of the two-ruble per telegram price charged by the official telegraph agency.  He posted a hand-written, crooked-line advertisement on the bulletin board of the local shtiebel.  The results were amazing!  The next morning, a line of gullible people awaited their opportunity to take advantage of Chaim Yankel’s new communication service.

            The day that he opened his shop, Chaim Yankel made thirty rubles.  This was more money than would normally make in two months’ time.  Another day or two passed with his initial customers returning asking if they had received answers to their telegrams.  To be sure, there was no possibility that any answers to their telegrams would be received when there not even a working telegraph line upon which to send them in the first place!  After a week’s time, the angry customers chased Chaim Yankel through the village streets intending to tar and feather him.  The authentic postal clerk who ran the official telegraph office could not stop laughing at the ignorance of those who believed in “Chaim Yankel’s Thrifty Telegraph Service.”  What a lesson they had learned!

          Crying out to HaShem, seeking H-s love and mercy, is akin to sending a telegram from the official telegraph office of this parable.  Our Tradition teaches that we can be certain the message always reaches its destination.  Rav Shalom Arush explains that Re’uven had Yoseyf thrown into the pit because he knew that Yoseyf had complete emunah (faith) and bitachon (trust) in Hashem and that he would cry out with every last ounce of his physical, emotional, and spiritual strength to Hashem.  Re’uven knew that Hashem answers such prayers, and he had complete confidence that Yoseyf would be rescued.

          It costs us so very little to cry out to Hashem in our most dire time of need.  But what we receive in return is like receiving a vast fortune.  May we always turn to HaShem with complete emunah and bitachon in the King of Kings when we need H-m most!



Sun, March 7 2021 23 Adar 5781