Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Mikeitz 5631 Fourth Ma'amar
Note: There are six ma'amarim on Chanukah in the archives. Use the search feature on the right to find them.
At the end of this week’s parsha Binyamin is framed. Yosef has his goblet placed in Binyamin’s sack and then sends a party to apprehend the culprit. When the goblet is found and the brothers are brought before Yosef, Yehuda says, “... מַה־נֹּאמַר לַאדֹנִי ... וּמַה־נִּצְטַדָּק הָאֱ־לֹהִים מָצָא אֶת־עֲוֹן עֲבָדֶיךָ .../… What can we say to my master … and how can we be justified? God has found the iniquity of your servants …” (Breishis 44:16) Yehudah knew that Binyamin was innocent yet he does not argue for his innocence. Instead he says that God has found their iniquity? Strange indeed. What iniquity?
The Midrash addresses this question and, in a play on the word מָצָא/He found, says that God squeezed – מִצָה – the barrel until nothing was left inside beside the dregs. Although Yosef’s brothers were innocent of stealing the goblet, God found some offense on which to pin this calamity. This is why Yehudah does not argue their case. He knows that everything that happens is from God and this would not be happening if they had no sins even if he cannot find them.
The Sfas Emes teaches that everything is revealed before God. Ordinary people can introspect and fail to find any wrong doing in themselves. Yet, God knows that they are full of sins! We have a well developed ability to rationalize our behavior.
Yosef’s brothers though, were really not full of sin. God had to "squeeze the barrel" to find an offense. Still, Yehudah, in an incredible show of humility, says, “How can we be justified?” We must be guilty of something otherwise this would not be happening.
If this is Yehudah’s reaction, how much more so must we be humbled before God for our own less than ideal actions.