Posted on March 23, 2011
by Emily Mostow
Happy Chrismahanakwanzakah! USY, I’m probably not the first person to greet you this way. Although we make up a small percentage of the population, everyone seems to know that it’s Chanukah.
As a result, around Chanukah, we may especially find ourselves looked upon as representatives of the Jewish people. Anyone from our friends to teachers to dental hygienists may ask us questions about Chanukah and our traditions. What are we supposed to do if we don’t know the answers?
In this week’s parsha, Miketz, Joseph is in a similar situation. A very prominent non-Jew, the Pharaoh, asks him to interpret his dream. Joseph replies, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh an answer of peace” (Bereishit 41:16, JPS translation). Joseph is humble, and recognizes that it is not his job to invent an answer, but to deliver G-d’s answer.
We can all learn from Joseph’s behavior. As tempting as it can be to appear to know everything, we should not be afraid to admit when we don’t know the answer. As it says in Pirkei Avot, “Ben Zoma said: Who is wise? He who learns from all men, as it is written (in Psalm 119:99) ‘I have gained understanding from all my teachers’” (Mishnah Avot 4:1). Joseph and Ben Zoma both teach us that wisdom doesn’t come from pride, but from being humble enough to learn.