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Parshat Miketz - Rabbi Berzansky

Many people would come to Yeshivas Slutzk looking for a shidduch for their daughters. Most of them were offering very generous dowries, including beautiful apartments, for the best bochurim in the yeshiva. Eventually, all the best bochurim became chasanim and received their apartments, except for R. Shach. Although he was by far one of the best bochurim in the yeshiva, both in his consistency and in his understanding, for some reason he was one of the last bochurim of his caliber to find his shidduch. And even when he did find his shidduch, he did not receive any dowry.

After the wedding, R. Shach and his Rebbitzen moved into his shver’s apartment to share a room with his brothers-in-law. They split the room with a dividing curtain. His brothers-in-law slept on one side of the curtain and R. Shach and his Rebbitzen on the other. Although his colleagues felt for him because they had their luxurious apartments and R. Shach did not, nonetheless R. Shach was very Parshas Mikeitz content. He had his most precious things: the Torah and a wife to support him in it.


Shortly thereafter, the war broke out and the Nazis conquered Poland. The Polish ran for their lives to Lithuania and whoever else was able to run ran. Since R. Shach and his Rebbitzen did not have an apartment “tying them down,” they were able to pick themselves up, leave Poland and save their lives. From Poland, they went to Vilna and from Vilna to Eretz Yisroel. His friends and colleges, however, found it tremendously difficult to pull away from their beautiful apartments, and unfortunately, when they finally did, for most of them it was too late. In retrospect, their apartments were their biggest downfall, but for R. Shach, not having an apartment was his salvation.


No matter how far we can see, we still fall short of seeing the whole picture.

The Medrash also teaches us this lesson with Yaakov Avinu. (It is important to note that we cannot make any judgments of Yaakov Avinu. His level of saintliness and greatness is very far beyond our comprehension. We are merely just trying to learn from him on our levels in order to better ourselves).


Yaakov Avinu’s hardships and suffering weighed very heavy on his heart, in particular, the loss of Yosef. The Medrash tells us that Hashem was somewhat disappointed in Yaakov for living with such a weight on his heart. “I [Hashem] am busy coronating his son over the whole of Mitzrayim and he feels that he is being treated bitterly?”


What seemed to be R. Shach’s misfortune was his biggest blessing, and what seemed to be his colleagues’ blessing was their biggest misfortune. Our job is not to understand why the darkness is good; it is to believe that it is good and to accept it lovingly

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