Mikeitz: When Not to Believe In Hashem

We have a neighbor who’s an older Moroccan woman.  Like many Moroccan’s here, she’s not religious, but has strong ties to Judaism.  As we were lighting the Menorah last night, and were singing Maoz Tzur, she was walking by in her bright-pink jumpsuit.  She immediately stopped and stood next to me while I was singing.  So, here you have this bearded man in his hat and jacket, singing Maoz Tzur, with an older woman in her bright-pink jumpsuit stretching her hands towards the candles, bringing them to her eyes, and kissing her hands, over and over again.


It was a very “Only in Israel” moment.


“It would be sacrilegious for your servants to do such a thing!” (Bereishis 44:7). 

At the end of this week’s parsha, Yosef has his servant place his silver goblet in one of the brothers' sacks, before sending them away, setting them up for a crime they didn’t commit.  When they are "suddenly" caught and accused, they were in complete shock.  To steal?  How could that be?


In fact, earlier in the parsha, they "somehow" received the money that they had used to pay for food.  At the first opportunity, they went to return the money.


Just this week, an interesting incident occurred.  My second-grade son returned and showed us a note, that his class is going to do a game called “klikerim,” which uses phones for the kids to answer questions.  We were “requested” to send a cellphone with him the next day.  The note assured us that the cellphones were going to be stored away and kept out of the kids hands during the day.  My older son had the game a week earlier, and he told us that the rebbes took them away immediately and gave them back only for the game.  I wasn’t a fan of sending a second-grade boy with my phone, but, what choice did I have?


Needless to say, he returned that afternoon with a small crack in the screen.  Of course, his teacher did not take it away, and while it was in his coat, another child threw his coat on the ground.  It gets even better.  During the lunch break, many of the kids were calling the police and fire department while the teacher was busy with his other projects.


So, I received a call from the teacher asking me to check the phone logs to see if my phone had been used for any of the calls.  Thankfully, my son did not make any calls.  I told him, though, about the phone, and he quickly dismissed it, since he was in enough hot water.


I wrote an email to him with a photo of the phone asking him why the phones were not being watched.  His answer shocked me.  Not only did he refuse to take responsibility, he accused me of not having haKaras haTov (being thankful) for doing such a game (which I did not want in the first place).  He told me that I should speak to a rav about it and then deal with the principal of the school.


I was more than a bit flabbergasted (that’s a nice word to describe my feelings).


Let’s compare him to somebody else.


I work nights for a telecommunications company. Many years ago, I was speaking with one of the higher-ups and I asked him, “There are many companies out there that have cheaper options; how is our company still doing so well?”  He replied that he believes it’s in the merit of the company’s founder.  He said that he is very careful with other people’s money and honesty.  If a customer has issues, he will have no problem returning their money, even if the customer is leaving.  He simply believes that Hashem provides the money if you use the money He gives you properly.


The Brisker Rav was once asked, “If everything in this world can be used for serving Hashem, how can a person use the concept of ‘not believing in Hashem’” (sorry for the poor translation).  He replied, “When dealing with other peoples’ money and property, THEN you act as if Hashem doesn’t exist and do whatever it takes to protect them”