Vayeishev - The Sin of Hasbara
Chananya Weissman


החטא של הסברה

פרק מ פסוק יד

כי אם זכרתני אתך כאשר ייטב לך ועשית נא עמדי חסד והזכרתני אל פרעה והוצאתני מן הבית הזה:

רש"י לפסוק כג

... מפני שתלה בו יוסף לזכרו, הוזקק להיות אסור שתי שנים, שנאמר "אשרי הגבר אשר שם ה' מבטחו ולא פנה אל רהבים" (תהלים מ, ה), ולא בטח על מצרים הקרויים "רהב":

Q: According to the Midrash, Yosef spent an extra two years in prison because he counted on the Sar Hamashkim to put in a good word to Pharaoh on his behalf.

But what rational person would not have acted exactly as Yosef did? Should he have just hoped that the Sar Hamashkim would do him a favor without his asking for it? Surely Yosef recognized that Hashem had orchestrated this opportunity for salvation, and he would have been foolish not to make the most of it. Even the greatest of tzadikim are supposed to recognize the Yad Hashem in seemingly ordinary events, and to act accordingly. Consequently, Yosef could not have been expected to continue waiting for some sort of miraculous salvation – this was it!

A: Without question Yosef acted correctly by asking the Sar Hamashkim to put in a good word for him, and Yosef never lost sight of Who was running the show. His fault was believing that the Sar Hamashkim, and ultimately Pharaoh, would help him because justice was on his side. Yosef believed that if Pharaoh was made aware of the injustice he had suffered, it was inconceivable that Pharaoh would allow him to remain in prison a moment longer. The morality of the Egyptians, Yosef believed, would play a role in his salvation – all he needed was a chance to tell his story. (This reads very smoothly into Yosefs words.)

For this trust in the basic morality of rehavim (the haughty), Yosef was punished with an additional two years in prison. Indeed, when the Sar Hamashkim finally deigned to mention Yosef, he did so in a scornful way and surely for his own benefit. And Pharaoh never displayed any interest in Yosef beyond what Yosef had to offer him.

This is an enduring lesson that is of particular relevance in this period of crisis for Israel and Jews all around the world. Most Jews, even talmidei chachamim with emunah in Hashem, believe that if we could just get the facts out, if we could just tell the world our side of the story, they would surely acknowledge that truth and justice are with us.

But this is false, and placing any kind of trust in the morality of our “allies” (and kal vachomer our open enemies, those with Jewish blood on their hands), is not only dangerous but sinful. It is certainly proper for us to tell our side of the story, as we must pursue natural means, but we need not try too hard to convince anyone. The truth is clear for all those who wish to see it, and those who don’t will never be persuaded by our hasbarah.

We must never lose sight of the fact that our only hope is with Hashem , and He is directly responsible for every aspect of our salvation. To put any confidence in rehavim will only prolong our troubles, God forbid.