This article was previously published in 2019.
There is a teaching in the portion of Vayeshev about the understanding that nothing ever happens to us; even the most terrible thing that somebody can do actually comes directly from the Creator. And once we realize that, we can bring miracles into our lives, because as long as we blame another person for the things they’ve done to us rather than immediately seeing it as coming from the Light, we close ourselves off from receiving them.
“We can bring miracles into our lives.”
When we look at the story in Vayeshev, Joseph could have a very long list of people to blame. His brothers tried to kill him and sold him as a slave, the wife of Potiphar tried to seduce him and when he didn’t succumb to her, accused him of rape, and he was subsequently thrown into jail. Then, when he was in jail, he asked the wine steward for help, and it says that the wine steward forgot about him.
Why did Joseph have to go through all that? Because as long as he blamed others, he couldn’t become Joseph the Righteous, a channel for great Light and miracles in this world. Therefore, the reason Joseph had to go through this process was to remove any sense of his believing himself to be a victim. After being sold by his brothers, after being almost killed by his brothers, after being falsely accused and in jail, he could have blamed them all. Instead, Joseph came to the understanding that it was all directly from the Light of the Creator.
“It is coming to us from the Creator, so it’s for our best.”
There is a story from King David in the second Book of Samuel, chapter 16, that clarifies this teaching further:
King David’s son Absalom stood up against him and decided he was going to be king. There was an uprising, and King David was forced to flee with his soldiers. He fled to Bahurim, and when he got there, Shimei ben Gera, a relative of King Saul, came out and started not only cursing King David, but also throwing stones at him and all the soldiers who were surrounding him. Then Shimei ben Gera said to King David, “Why is all this happening to you? Why is your son trying to kill you, why do you have to run for your life? Because you forced King Saul out of the kingdom. Therefore, you are being punished by God for all the terrible, negative things you’ve done. The Creator is going to give the kingdom to your son Absalom, and the reason this is happening is because you are an evil person, a murderer.”
One of King David’s soldiers, Abishai ben Zeruiah, heard this and asked him, “Why are you allowing the dead dog (referring to Shimei ben Gera) to behave like this, to speak to you like this, to do this to you? Let me go and take his head off.” King David said to Abishai ben Zeruiah, “You completely misunderstand. He is cursing me and doing this to me because - ki Hashem amar lo kalel - the Creator told him to. And so, if the Creator told him to do it, how can we blame him, how can we be angry at him, how can we even want to harm him?”
It is an amazing statement, and one which I hope we will all keep in our minds throughout our lives—ki Hashem amar lo kalel, “The Creator told him to.” King David understood that everything is from the Light of the Creator, and that the Creator told Shimei ben Gera to curse him. King David did many great spiritual actions in his life and revealed a tremendous amount of Light; however, it says in the Midrash that it was not until this moment when King David said, ki Hashem amar lo kalel, “the Creator is sending him right now to do this to me,” that he became a great channel for the Light and achieved his purpose in this world.
We cannot, therefore, achieve the purpose for which we came to this world either, no matter how much Light we reveal, until we come to this level of ki Hashem amar lo kalel, knowing the Creator is sending the person or situation to us, and that there is nobody to blame; it is coming to us from the Creator, so it’s for our best. And when we get to that point, we not only achieve the purpose for which we came to this world, but we also open ourselves up to miracles. Because as long as we blame another person for something that happens to us, we are not able to bring great miracles into our lives, or this world.
Many of us know this concept, but are not truly living it. We can start working towards it the next time somebody does or says something nasty to us by shutting out any thought of being a victim, or of anger towards them, and instead, remembering those words, ki Hashem amar lo kalel, it is coming directly from the Creator. And if we do this consistently, we can ultimately both grow to the level King David achieved and open ourselves to drawing unlimited miracles.