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Release Me From My Pit

R Pesach Siegel

Parshat Miketz

Dec 19, 2014

Release Me From My Pit

Parshas Miketz 5775


VeYehi mikeitz shnasayim yamim”[1] – And it was at the end of two years.  Yosef HaTzadik was unjustly imprisoned for a period of twelve years. The word used for the end of his imprisonment is “keitz”. 


In Sefer Iyov the posuk says, “Keitz sam la’choshech”[2] – A limit is imposed upon the darkness. The Medrash tells us that as long as the yetzer hara is in the world, darkness reigns. When the yetzer hara is uprooted from the world there is no more darkness in the world. The reign of evil is limited. It must ultimately come to an end.[3]


Yosef was in the dark when imprisoned. The world is in the darkness with the presence of the yetzer hara.


In both cases, the darkness is limited and must come to an end.


What is the connection between the darkness of Yosef and the darkness that cloaks the world?


Originally, Yosef’s incarceration was to last only ten years. When his cellmate, the butler of Pharaoh was released, Yosef placed his faith in him. He entreated him to plead his case before Pharaoh. By doing so, Yosef placed his faith in man. He was doomed to be imprisoned for two more years.[4]


 The butler forgot Yosef. For two years the memory of Yosef eluded him. But G-d didn’t forget.


The Medrash tells us that Hashem said,


“The butler forgot, but I didn’t forget. Did anyone expect the elderly couple, Avrohom and Sarah to bear a son, the impoverished Yaakov to cross the river and enrich himself, Yosef, who went through trials and tribulations to rule Egypt? Who expected the baby Moshe, cast into the Nile River, to become what he became?


Would anyone envision the convert Ruth restoring majesty to the nation of Israel or for King David to rule until the end of all generations? Who thought King Yehoyachin would be released from prison or that Chananya, Misha’el and Azarya would emerge from the burning furnace alive?  Could one envision the salvation from the evil designs of Haman?


Can one imagine that the exile will result in praise and glory? The fallen Succah of King David will be restored by G-d and the whole world will come together as one, all the nations will call out in the name of G-d and worship Him as one.”[5]


The Medrash is telling us something. It is telling us that G-d does not allow the righteous ones to lead a natural life. One who lives within the confines of the natural world, where everything has a rational explanation, can bear children naturally at a young age. Avrohom and Sarah could not. Had they done so, their offspring would be a product of nature. Their child must be born when all hope is lost, when they give up having a child by natural means, when all options are “forgotten”.[6]


Yosef was mistaken in placing his faith in Pharaoh’s butler. He is ascribing the deliverance of a tzaddik from evil to human intervention.  This is not to be. When one does as Yosef did, darkness descends. G-d’s presence has been hidden from the world.


And Yosef waited. He waited two years. Those two years were not a punishment. They were a time of reflection. For two years he contemplated his imprisonment. After two years, understanding dawned upon him. He understood that there is no human way to be released from his imprisonment. Only through divine intervention would it be possible. He gave up hope on the natural means. When he did so, a “keitz” came to the darkness. His light burned brightly. Against all natural odds he rose from the pit of his prison to rule over the Land of Egypt.


Yosef’s imprisonment is our imprisonment. We are imprisoned in a dark pit. All natural means are ineffective and pointless.


The yetzer hara affects how we conduct ourselves. The yetzer hara also affects our perception of reality.  The yetzer hara fills us with false hope in the natural order of the world.


World events are unfolding before our very eyes. As long as we view the world events through the perspective of nature, we will see only darkness. Our imprisonment will be extended, chas veshalom.


There is no hope, none whatsoever. There is no natural way to extricate ourselves from our prison. The butlers of the world forget us.


When we lose all hope in natural means….. The light dawns…..


A lichtigeh Chanukah!!!


[1] Parshas Mikeitz, perek 41, posuk 1

 [2] Perek 28

 [3] Breishis Rabbah, parshash 89, piska 1

 [4] Rashi, Parshas Vayeishev, perek 40, posuk 23

 [5] Breishis Rabbah, parshah 88, piska 5

 [6] Eitz Yosef on Medrash Rabbah

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