Parashat Miketz: Cause and Effect
We read in Parashat Miketz of Yosef’s sudden rise to power from the lowest depths of despair. After spending years in an Egyptian dungeon, he is suddenly brought before Pharaoh to interpret his mysterious dreams, and he impressed Pharaoh to such an extent that he was named the country’s vizier.
The Zohar, commenting in this Parasha, briefly cites the verse, “Ketz Sam La’hoshech” – “He made an end to the darkness” (Iyob 28:3). Clearly, the Zohar refers here to the “darkness” of Yosef’s imprisonment. He languished for many long years in a dark, dreary dungeon, until finally this period of darkness ended and gave way to the light of redemption. The question, however, arises, what message does the Zohar seek to convey by citing this verse in reference to the story of Yosef? What does this Pasuk add to our understanding of the story?
The Zohar here is teaching us the proper perspective on the “cause-and-effect” processes in life. We generally tend to assume that our success or failure is the result of the circumstances that unfold. A businessman finds large quantities of merchandise for a terrific price, buys it, sells it for a very large profit, and becomes wealthy. If we would analyze this series of events, we would instinctively say that the man became wealthy because he was fortunate enough to find low-cost merchandise. But from a Torah perspective, the precise opposite is true. Hashem decreed that the man should earn money, and therefore He orchestrated events in a way that led to that outcome. The man did not become wealthy because he found cheap merchandise; he found cheap merchandise because it was time for him to become wealthy.
This is the Zohar’s intent in citing the verse, “Ketz Sam La’hoshech.” Outwardly, it appears that Yosef was freed and rose to power because the butler and baker who were with him in prison had dreams which he successfully interpreted, and then Pharaoh had an unusual dream that needed an interpretation. The Zohar teaches us that it was just the opposite. G-d decided it was time to bring an end to Yosef’s darkness, and He therefore had this series of events unfold to achieve that objective. Yosef’s release from the dungeon was not the result of these events; it was the cause of these events.
This is a fundamental lesson in Emuna that we must all learn and internalize. No matter what happens, there is always only a single cause – Hashem’s will that it should happen. And the circumstances that allow that to happen are only the effect triggered by the Divine Will.