In Parshat Miketz, Yosef’s brothers come to him in Egypt, asking for food during the famine. While Yosef immediately recognizes them, his brothers to not know who Joseph, now the second-in-command in Egypt, is. Yosef accuses his brothers of being spies and commands them to go back to Canaan and return with their younger brother, Binyamin, to prove they are who they say they are.
At first Yaakov refuses to send Binyamin, after all, he has already lost Yosef, and now Shimon. When they finish the first batch of food they brought up from Egypt, however, he has no choice. If he does not send Binyamin, the entire family will perish from starvation.
So what does Yaakov do? As one of our Avot, we expect him to pray to Hashem, asking for His help and for Him to protect Binyamin. Instead, he begins by offering a bribe. He tells his sons to bring Yosef gifts and “,כסף משנה” double the money they actually owe. Only then does Yaakov turn to God, saying יִתֵּ֨ן לָכֶ֤ם רַֽחֲמִים֙ לִפְנֵ֣י” הָאִ֔ישׁ וְשִׁלַּ֥ח לָכֶ֛ם אֶת־אֲחִיכֶ֥ם אַחֵ֖ר וְאֶת־בִּנְיָמִ֑ין.”
His actions are paralleled by the Maccabees during the story of Chanukah. Rather than simply davening to Hashem to save them from the Greeks, they gathered arms and fought for themselves.
While both the Maccabees and Yaakov trusted that God would help them, they both recognized that salvation would not just come to be and that they needed to create channels for Hashem to save them.
We can learn a very valuable lesson from Yaakov and the Maccabees. Our relationship with God is not one sided. Although miracles abound in the world, they are not our primary source of sustenance. Moreover, even miracles require action, as demonstrated by the Maccabees. True believers in God do not sit and wait for Him to act on our behalf. Rather, they put everything they have into their tasks, sure that whatever result they receive will be part of God’s plan.
Student Studying in Nishmat